So how did I get here? Who crawls over the finish line at 12:00:03? Surely this must be some kind of misunderstanding....
Let's rewind, I will tell you how I crawled over the finish line at Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 12:00:03. It's quite a journey.
The road to this finish line actually started about 4 years ago. I was about 80 pounds over weight. I ate bad food, I drank too much and did not exercise. I tried to fix the exercise thing and began with an entry level road bike from BMC and a pair of running shoes. I had no ideas about triathlon at that time. I just wanted to get into a bit of shape with a little exercise a "couple times per month". Easy, right?
About that time, I saw NBC's telecast of the Ironman World Championship in Kona. If you have seen the show. They basically boil an 8-hour race down to a 1-hour human interest story. The coverage of the race is fairly thin, while NBC focuses on the people, especially the everyday, average age groupers with some kind of amazing back story that got them a trip to Kona.
I was running one night shortly after seeing the show and i will never forget it. I had just registered for a little sprint triathlon after the badgering of my brother. It was late and I was running not far from my house. I was probably doing 14:00/mile pace and was still those 80 pounds overweight. I thought to myself "I wonder if I could ever do an Ironman"?
Step one was trim down a bit. I figured I was always going to be a bit of a "Clydesdale", but I could stand to lose 15-20 vanity pounds. So, I got myself a nutritionist, because I obviously didn't know anything about how to eat. This women saved my life! She gave me the tools I needed to take 80 pounds off. You can see a bit of what I eat these days and a part of that story here.
Step two was to get serious about training. I joined the Pasadena Triathlon club! What a massive move this was. These guys exposed me to knowledge, training opportunities, races and just general support on so many levels. Before training with these guys, I just had no idea what "far" was or what "fast" was.
Step three, get really serious! I joined Endurance Nation at the end of 2011. Joining EN brought my training to the next level. I had a serious plan for getting stronger and faster and I was now plugged into a knowledge base second to none in the long course community. Here is where I learned that "work works" and that "work is speed entering your body". Without this team and these resources, I think I could have survived Ironman, but EN allowed me to THRIVE at Ironman.
At the end of June 2012, I made the decision to step up and go for it. I registered for Ironman Coeur d'Alene and then had a YEAR to think about it. Along the way to Coeur d'Alene I crashed three times and broke my collar bone, conquered Ironman California 70.3 (1/2 Ironman distance), and was crushed by Wildflower (1/2 Ironman distance).
Getting to Coeur d'Alene the city was much easier than the "road to Ironman". LAX to Salt Lake City to Spokane, then rental car for about 30 minutes to Coeur d'Alene just over the border in Idaho. I got into town late because of a mechanical issue in Salt Lake, so my plan for a ride on my bike was sort of out the the window. But, I didn't stress! Once i got out of bed on Thursday morning, I was on a mission to stay calm, keep smiling and not let anything bother me. Positive thoughts only!
First order of business was the grocery store. I stocked up on drinks, snacks and everything I would need to keep my nutrition simple right up to race day. I was lucky and was able to score a room at the Coeur d'Alene resort (one guys motorcycle accident is another guys lucky day). This made the trip much easier. After checking in and getting settled at the hotel, I was able to walk about 400 meters to the race expo... in the RAIN!
Race registration was a snap and then I just cruised back to the hotel. Again, in the RAIN. Thursday finished with Team EN dinner. It was really great to meet so many folks from all over the country.
The weather cleared up on Friday and I was finally able to take my first swim and test Coeur d'Alene's legendary cold water. Since I was staying just a few hundred yards from the swim start, I slipped into my two piece DeSoto suit in the room, grabbed my neoprene cap and headed for the lobby.
The water was FANTASTIC! 61 degrees, calm and clear! I swam for maybe 30 minutes and perhaps 1,000 yards. It was mainly a big float. I was also happy to see a bunch from EN out doing the same thing.
After the swim and hot shower, I was back at the expo collecting my bike from TriBike Transport. These guys are great. It took about 5 minutes to pick-up my bike and gear bag. Both were in great shape! I walked her back to room to get her dialed in and ready go for bike drop off on Saturday.
After getting my pedals back on, it was time for a quick spin to make sure everything was in working order after the trip to Idaho and being under a tarp in the rain the day before. My initial plan was to ride a section of the bike course, but since I didn't get out on Thursday, I was worried that Friday was too close to race day to risk a "workout". So, I opted for an incredibly easy spin on the run course just to keep loose and get some confidence in my bike.
After the bike ride, the final thing on my Friday Checklist was a tour of the bike course by car. This is really simple drive. Leaving the hotel/start, you just make a quick right for an easy out-and-back along the lake. This is basically the run course except that it extends longer down the lake to a dead end. After returning back to town, you hit Highway 95 and go Left (Southwest) for the long out-and-back on the highway.
The highway out-and-back is really breath taking. It gives you some really big vistas and a look at Idaho's open spaces. This section of the course is about 40 miles long and offers all the real climbs of the day. Once we get back to town from the turnaround on Hwy 95 you have completed the first of the two 56 mile loops.
Once back in my room, it was time to get ready for the MANDATORY athlete meeting on Friday night. I use the word "mandatory" for fun, but the WTC (the race organizers and owners of the Ironman trademark) really does want everyone to go. I was on the fence about going, but decided to attend at the last minute. I figured, I am all the way in Idaho, it's my first Ironman, why I am too to cool for school? I should go and really see every aspect of this event.
I am really glad I went. There was not a ton of new information, but it is a good sort of "pep rally" for the race. They spend some time getting everybody fired up and the review of all the course details is certainly worthwhile.
Once I got back to my room, the final project of the day was room service and getting "stuff" together for the MANDATORY bike and gear bag drop off on Saturday. This time MANDATORY means mandatory. All bikes and gear bags (both BIKE and RUN bags) needed to be dropped off Saturday afternoon. No bikes or bags could be dropped off Sunday morning.
Tech'ing out my bike is easy. Its basically just doing all the stickering, the WTC requires stickers all over your bike, and loading up the top tube bag with food for the race in addition to stuffing a spare inner tube under the seat in case of a double flat.
More worrisome then the bike is the bags. So many bags! This race has clean transition area, meaning no little athlete "campsites" next to your bike rack with all your stuff. You can't have any backpacks or extra gear. You need to organize your stuff into little bags that will help you change sports along the way. So much for my super sharp, transition backpack....
Here is what I started with:
The only way to keep all straight and let me get any worry free sleep was my beloved checklists. Here is how I organized my bags:
You will notice A LOT of sun glasses. Last year, my EN teammate, Bart Stevens, penned the legardey race report "The Case of the Missing Sunglasses" about Coeur d'Alene. Poor Bart left T1 without his shades. The same would not happen to me. I would have ready access to shades all over the course.
The bags above are basically handed to you in sequence. When the contents of the bag are on your body, you refill the bag with whatever you just moved out of . The exceptions are the "special needs bags" which are made available to you during the middle of the bike or run.
When you go to the race in the AM. You pack a "morning clothes" bag with all your swim and morning needs, then once in your wetsuit, you put your dry clothes, wallet, car keys whatever in the morning clothes bag which you collect at the end of the race.
Here is my Morning/Swim needs for my Morning Clothes bag:
With a checklist and a little planning, the mess is managed and I can sleep.
Here is a quick "pro tip". Try and mark your bag. 99% of people don't, so a bit of blue duct tape makes your bag much easier to identify.
I woke on Saturday with very few plans and even fewer goals. My mission was to drop my bags off at the Transition area and then run for it. I did not want to linger around 2,000 other nervous racers and their manic energy. Transition opened at 10:00 AM and after sleeping as late as possible, I grabbed both my bags, my bike and headed over there.
I was among the first, so it made matters super easy.
On race day, you would come out of the water at the left side of this shot. The "wetsuit strippers" would peal your gear behind where I am standing and then you would grab your wetsuit and jog down your row to collect your numbered bag in its sequential spot before hanging a left into the changing tent.
The changing tent is staffed by eager, gloved volunteers (some too eager) ready to lend a hand as you transition from the swim to the bike. That includes, filling bags, helping with shoes, whatever. Then you can dash to your bike while they put your bike bag away now filled with your wetsuit and swim stuff.
Now lighter by one bicycle and my swim and run bags, it was time to meet fellow Pasadena Tri Club guys George and Chris. We had a long meal at the CdA Resort lobby for lunch and reviewed plans, strategies, fears, concerns and race gossip. It was great to decompress around my own kind.
After lunch, I was off to the movies to avoid the Ironman bubble now engulfing the CdA Resort and put my mind someplace else. Coeur d'Alene has a massive newish movie complex just up the road from transition, so there were plenty of choices.
I opted for a double feature.
After the movies it was back to the room, room service dinner and then stare at the ceiling until my 4:30 AM wake-up call.
I woke up on race day and just felt a bit heavy. I think I ate too much, too late. So instead of a bagel with PB&J and protein drink, I started my day with an executive decision and went for just the protein drink and a bottle of sports drink to go.
I had pre-applied sun block before bed the night before, but I reapplied another layer, slipped into my racing kit with sweat pants and jacket on top and headed for the door with my morning clothes bag containing swim stuff in hand.
I got to transition at about 5:15, pumped up my tires, filled my bottles with Preform powder and water, double checked that top tube bag still had my race nutrition. That took about 5 minutes. From there, I emptied all my swim gear out of the morning clothes bag and slid into my two piece wetsuit. After packing up my dry clothes and then dropping that bag at the proper area on the basketball court in the park. I took a nutrition gel and headed to the water at about 6:00 AM hoping everything I needed would be there when I needed it.
The Swim Start
Ironman Coeur d'Alene was the first race where they have used the new "SwimSmart" start instead of the previous mass start. For those who have not seen it before, here is the MASSIVE swim start from last year at Coeur d'Alene:
"The SwimSmart" start is a hybrid. It is like a giant wave start versus a massive, all out explosion of neoprene clad maniacs. The races have just gotten too big for mass starts at places like Coeur d'Alene and others.
They organized us on the exact same beach by ability. We self-seeded in waves based on expected swim times. The corrals were < 1 hour, 1:00-1:15, 1:15-1:30, 1:30-1:45 and greater than 1:45. They had tall poles with ropes connecting them running the depth of the beach perpendicular to the water. After the pros had gone off and ample time had been provided for warm ups, we got ourselves into our self seeded groups. Once we were tightly packed together, they removed the ropes separating the groups. We were now a tightly packed group organized by ability with the fast people to the far East and getting slower as you moved West.
The pro men were to start at 6:00 AM and the women at 6:05. Age Goupers would start at 6:35. The way it works is that your time would begin when the chip on your ankle told the timing system that you crossed the timing mat at the water's edge. The gun would off at 6:35 AM and we would all flood through the timing arch taking our timing chips over the sensor and starting our race clock. The course would remain open until midnight, but you needed to be finished in under 17 hours to be an official finisher. So, if you crossed the timing mat 6:50 AM and crossed the finish line 11:55 PM, 5 minutes before midnight, you would not be an official finisher because your time was over 17 hours. Make sense?
As a result, there was no benefit in seeding yourself either too fast or too slow. That tactic would just get you a tougher swim. All the course intermediate cut offs would remain based on the time of day. For instance, all athletes that wished to continue after the swim needed to be out of the water by 9:20 AM to make the swim cut.
Overall Rank 419; Division Rank 64
I had a brief warm up where I basically just got in and splashed around a bit to get used to the water. Just like the day before, the water was fantastic. The temp of the water was about 5 or 6 degrees warmer than the air and it made for a nice dip before seeding myself in the 1:00-1:15 group.
My training swims in the open water at Belmont had me targeting a 1:06:xx, so I thought I would be well placed toward the front of the 1:00-1:15 corral. The gun went off at 6:35 AM and we all surged forward toward the timing arch. There were a hundred or so athletes ahead of me, but it seemed like I was in the water very quickly. Somewhere I saw that my race actually started about 40 seconds after the gun. I was later told that most athletes were in the water within about 10-15 minutes.
I hit the water hard for a few hundred meters and then just settled into my race pace. There was a little bit of bumping and brushing with other swimmers, but no worse then other wave starts I have done. Within a few moments, It felt like I was in a nice little bubble of clean water. I started counting strokes. Five breaths on my left side and then I would take a quick "sighting peek", course correct as needed and start the cycle again.
The course is dead simple. About 900 meters straight out along a line of 5, numbered yellow buoys. Then at the BIG red buoy and a turn left around it. Swim about 100 yards and then make another left and follow the numbered orange buoys back to the beach. Each loop is supposed to me 1.2 miles long.
Here is a shot of the timing arch. After the first lap, you hit the mat under the arch and then swing left to jog a few feet and then get back in for another lap.
Here is a look at the two lap course:
My swim splits were the following:
The second split seems a bit long. I think it is a combination of the little run on the sand combined with the absence of a hard first 200-300 yards on the first lap. Plus, I was more settled on the second lap and swimming a shade easier.
I found this swim really simple and straight forward. The conditions combined with the new start made for a fast swim. The WTC reported average swim times 3-4% faster than the prior year.
The transition was completely smooth. Probably a bit long by some standards, but I am happy with it. Having never dealt with wetsuit strippers, transition bags, changing tents and everything else, I really wanted to take my time and be sure I was ready for a 112 mile bike ride to follow.
I used the portable urinal in the changing tent, another first. I can't seem to urinate while swimming, so rather than float, I choose to take advantage at the first opportunity versus do it on the bike. The volunteer helping me was great. He handed me everything in the bag, including sunglasses, and confirmed for me that it was empty. While I changed gears mentally and physically, he then stuffed all my wet stuff into the now empty bike bag and spirited it away. On to the bike....
Overall 722, Division 126
The bike is really simple. East out of town for a short out-and-back along the lake and then West out of town for a longer out-and-back on Highway 95. The combination of the two is 56 miles. You do it twice.
Here is the course:
The Highway 95 portion of the course is where the climbs are and it is really the meat of the bike portion. The road is great. The 95 is a big 4 lane highway. The race organizers close down the the Northeast bound lanes and move cars to the Southwest side while out-and-back racers divide the other half.
The couple climbs that exist on the course are mainly at the start and end of the Highway 95 section. These little hills are the settle down and focus type. Very unwise to try and stand up and hammer your way to the top. Here is the profile. This is the 112 mile slice so it shows the outs-and-backs and the repeat.
For the first 8-10 miles along the lake, I was just riding along. Super. Easy. The goal was to warm up my legs, get my heart rate down and then start to focus on the watts goal. During this period of the race you start to wonder if everyone else is planning to run a marathon next. Guys come jamming by like they are doing the local race around town before having beers. It was like I was in reverse at times. This was encouraging! It was exactly what Rich from EN had predicted. I would see most of the these guys toward the end of the ride and the rest I would cruise by on the run while they walked along discussing their great bike split.
I was worried about being cold after the swim before the day warmed up, so I brought a jacket I could shed and trash at an aid station. Here is a shot from the first little leg along the lake.
About an hour later this proved to be a painful mistake. The top of the jacket was just like a hack saw against my throat as I rode along. The sweat made it much worse. As a result, I now have this little reminder of the race:
After the first little out and back, you are breezing back through town headed for the 95. This section on Lakeside can get hairy. There are a lot of spectators! They are all trying to either get a better look up the road for their athlete or they are trying to inexplicably cross the street! A wise rider treads carefully here.
A couple miles after turing on to the 95, the first real climb begins. It's about 2 miles at 5-6%, then down the backside and back up the other side of a narrow canyon. The other side of the canyon is a more mellow 3 miles at 3% grade with a bit of flat before toping out with a final 2 miles at 2%. It is key to watch your power here and be disciplined. On the first lap, I was passed by a bunch of folks on the climbs and then mostly reeled them in on the descents. But, it was still hard to try and just keep it steady.
After this up and down, then up, you roll along the high ground going up and down a bit until you enter the Indian Reservation and know that you are near the turn around at Setter's Rd. The reservation is easy to spot based on the infamous Fireworks stand...
The first loop was really basic. I spent time in the aero bars, I ate, I focused on a steady effort and actually just really enjoyed riding along. I had a few power drops outs on my Garmin, which were annoying, but otherwise manageable. During the first lap I tried not to get obsessive about what these drop outs and what they were doing to my totals and instead focused on 3's power and my 15 minute box for Normal power and hydration.
My nutrition plan was as simple as I could make it and it served me well during my rehearsals. The plan had all my chewable food in the X-Lab top tube bag and the rest of my calories coming from the Perform isotonic drink served on the course by the bottle. Here is how it broke out during my planning:
From a nutrition execution perspective, this is the first time I have planned like this and it is also the fist time that nutrition has not been an issue. This model was simple, clean and very effective for me. It set me up for the run just as I had hoped. By taking it in evenly, I was never hungry or full. I just felt good. In addition to the Perform, I also grabbed a water bottle from most of the aid ad stations. I drank some, poured some on me and then ditched it before the end of the aid station.
I only stopped once on the ride to ditch my jacket and use the potty. It was not the type of thing I could do on the bike and it cost me a few minutes, but was well worth it!
The first lap turned out to be a bit too easy. My goal had been a Normal Power of 172 watts for an IF of 0.70. Because of the power drop outs and spikes my Garmin 510 was falsely reporting, I wasn't getting the aggregates I needed. Combined with an easy first 45 minutes, and i was behind on power. After later analyzing numbers for my second Garmin (910), I discovered the real numbers were a Normal Power of 164 and IF of 0.67. I think a healthy respect for my pending FIRST marathon also had me riding too conservatively.
So What is the Garmin Issue?
To start with, I ride triathlon courses with two Garmins. The first is a Garmin 910xt. I wear this on my wrist and use it for the swim and run primarily. It is a back up device on the bike. On the bike, my primary is the Garmin 510. The main reasons are that the 910 cannot display as many fields as the 510 and it cannot use the lap feature to monitor power in smaller 10-15 minute increments. If you hit the lap feature on the 910 during the bike leg, it will jump to Transition 2. Hit again, and it will jump to the Run. A third hit will end your multisport event.
I like the 910 because it keeps time on the total event well and it really is the best watch to swim with. For running, it is on par with top end run watches, but it just doesn't cycle well. So, to fix it, I use a 510 on the bike and 910 on my wrist. The PowerTap powermeter I use to measure my effort on the bike leg just transmits am ANT+ signal that both Garmin units record. Because they are both made by Garmin and reading the same powermeter signal, they have always in the past agreed and showed the same numbers relative to Power and Cadence.
Beginning with the first turn onto Highway 95 for the second lap my Garmin 510 issues started getting really bad. More often than not, when I would look down at the head unit it would show zero power, zero cadence and then it would beep at me and auto pause as if I was standing still. Then suddenly, It would jump back to life showing 400 watts before settling in on what my rate of perceived exertion said the number should be at around 170 watts.
It was ridiculous. At first, I thought it was the PowerTap in the hub, but the "Auto Pausing" pointed to issues in the 510. Now I had the 910, but it was very hard to use. It was on my wrist and hard to see while aero and I could not create my little 15 minute "boxes" because the lap function will not work in multisport mode. So, I kept my head down, tried to ignore the data except when the 3's power looked right and kept steady.
For a comparison, here are both power files to compare.
The graph does a good job, but it doesn't nearly communicate the frequency. The drops are so close together you get thick lines versus the dozens and dozens I saw on race day.
These drops really impacted aggregates like Intensity Factor (IF) and Normal Power (NP). So, when my confidence faded in the gear, I rode even easier, because I did have the numbers I wanted and was really afraid of cooking my run. Remember, a great marathon was primary race goal.
On Race day, I couldn't really use the 910, but its interesting to compare the real numbers reported by the 910 rather than the corrupted 510 numbers I had on race day.
From a power perspective, it was actually pretty good after analysis. I kept my TSS score to under 300, I rode a very steady ride with a VI of 1.01 and I felt like I was set to run well. The one issue I struggle with is that I rode a bit too conservatively. I missed my target watts by almost 10 and I think that could have created the 6:00 time I was hoping for versus my 6:21.
The turn into town was pretty uneventful. I started to reel some riders in and focused the final 20 miles on riding steady, not letting the 510 numbers get in my head and just getting it done to get to the run.
Here is how the bike netted out....
This one was very clean. Bike goes to the volunteer, jog down the bag row and then into the changing tent. I took more time then I needed, but wanted to be ready. I changed socks to freshen up my feet, put on my hoka's and swapped my helmet for a visor. I also grabbed a cool towel. They advertise on TV as being really cold when kept wet. I soaked it in water, tied it around me neck and then headed out.
Overall 578, Division 98
Coming out of T2, all I could think was "This is THE Ironman run course! I made it to the Ironman run course. Holy heck". Then, after looking at my watch, I was screaming at myself to "SLOW DOWN!" I was not gonna blow it at this point by running the first 3 miles Sub-8 minutes cause I was high on adrenaline. 26.2 miles is a long race at the end of an already long day. My primary goal was to have a good, steady run. No walking aside from 30-40 steps per aid station.
It's actually very hard to run slow for the first mile. You are running up Lakeside and the street is lined with spectators. It takes discipline and patients to keep it at Z1 pace. The first few miles the course goes through some quiet parts of Coeur d'Alene before hitting the side of the lake for the out and back. Here is the two loop course:
Aside from a small mound in the middle and the fairly reasonable grade at the end, the course is generally pretty flat.
The sections along the lake are just beautiful.
The first 6.5 mile leg, I ran easy and tried to just soak it all in. This was pretty well known territory. In my race rehearsals, I had ridden 110 miles and then run 6 miles. I spent most of this time focusing on the big hill before the turnaround. I wanted to get out there and run up the bastard. The first 6 split 9:18, 9:06, 9:16, 9:28, 9:55, 10:16 (hill).
The second 6.5 miles was much the same. I wanted to slide into town and get the first 1/2 of the marathon done. I just focused on easy, steady running. The second 6 miles split 8:55 (downhill), 9:15, 9:34, 9:26, 9:39, 9:30.
I had made it to the turn! I was running the second 1/2 of the marathon. This was a little wild for me. I have never run longer than 13.1 miles in any kind of race situation. In training, the longest I had ever run was 15 miles. So it was with a bit of awe that I trudged along trying to keep my 9:30ish pace. At the turn, I remember thinking "I feel really good right now. I wonder what mile 18 is gonna feel like.
Mile 13 was a bit slow running up hill on Lakeside back out of town away from the start. I felt good but the yards were definitely harder than when I ran this same stretch out of transition 2 hours prior. Mile 13 was 10:42.
Mile 14 started to get really hard. My knees started to ache and my belly had a bit of slosh. Like a fighter in a prize fight, it felt like I took a hit to the jaw in the late rounds and it shook me. Mile 14 was 9:49. I bit my lip and just kept working to the aid station.
I hoped that if I pee'd I would feel a bit lighter and I also hoped that if I took the two advil in my race belt it might help my knees. At about mile 15, I hit the aid station. I waited about a minute for the port-o-potty, but it was worth it. That stop did the trick on the feelings in my lower abdomen. I then pooped my advil and forced myself to start running at the end of the aid station. Mile 15 was 13:23
I suffered along for a little bit, but not that bad. On reflection now, I don't really remember it that badly, but the clock doesn't lie. Miles 16-17 were 10:34, 10:07, respectively.
The clouds seemed to open and the sun was figuratively shining on me again. I started to take stock and I felt really good. I could feel myself smiling. I was starting to crack jokes with the volunteers again. I was at mile 18 and still alive and running! Mile 18 and 19 were 10:28 and 10:18. Mile 19 was up the hill at the turnaround.
From the turn around, I decided that if I pushed it I could go under 4:20:00 minutes for the marathon which would be lower than a 10/mile average. I was unaware of my total race time, but I was very focused on a sub-4:20:00. My original goal was a sub-5 hour run. I decided to pick up the pace, run through the aid stations and get back to the finish to have my next drink. Miles 20-26 were 9:34, 10:09, 8:54, 9:22, 9:05, 9:01 and 9:10.
At this point, I am looking down 9 long blocks to the finish. It's downhill and it looks very close, but I know it's far. My watch says 4:15:00ish for the run and want to get home by 4:20. So I take off. The road ahead has very few athletes and want to finish before them.
At this point, I remember thinking "How awesome would it be if I just leapt into the air and flew over the finish line? Heck, perhaps I will just fly around transition while I am at it!"
Thank god for video and the internet. My whole family was watching the live streaming feed back home. Let's take a look at what they saw.
It all ended well. I got my sub-14 hour finish, in the daylight, with a smile after the best run I have ever had.
Here is a quick recap of the day:
The whole day was really fantastic. Actually, the entire trip was amazing. The WTC really makes Ironman feel like an event. You just get this sense that for so many people, myself included, this day is the culmination of months and even years of dreaming and hard work.
The real highlight, and would tell everyone it is a must, is to go back to the finish for the 11:00 PM to Midnight finishes. The emotions are just so incredible. For a myriad of different reasons, be it fitness, nutrition, mechanical, conditioning or physical health these people have been on the course for a really long time. They have stayed ahead of the cuts and found their way home to the light from the darkness of a largely empty, lonely road. These last finishes are just incredible and Mike Reilly does such a great job of making each finish special.
I was lucky and got a seat in front at the rail. Here is a picture with Ben Hoffman, the men's winner.
I am really thankful for how everything went and as I reflect on the day just over a week later, I realize that it all really comes down to the "4 Keys" from Endrance Nation and the plans that coaches Rich and Patrick built for me. While I consider myself a "self coached athlete", the guidance they provided and and the learning community they maintain on-line were invaluable.
1. "Ironman is about execution on race day, NOT fitness" - I totally agree. While I arrived in Coeur d'Alene in peak fitness, it was about all the execution planning I had done that paved the way. I built a three-ringed binder I called my "war book". It contained checklists, course maps, descriptions, nutrition plans, power information, pace guidance. I arrived ready to execute a fully realized race plan.
2. "The line" - Where is that place on the course where it will get harder to move on or continue at the same speed. In all my planning and on-course self evaluation, I asked myself where is that line and and have I hit it yet.
3. "Stay in your box" - On race day I concentrated on what I could control at the time. I was not worrying about mile 18 while on lap two of the swim. I continually set reminders on the course that kept me in the now where I would look at the situation, asses it and ask myself how am I performing versus my plans and how can I improve on what I am doing.
4. "The one thing" - This is what I kept using to make sure I was gonna keep moving when the piano fell on my head. At miles 14 and 15 when things sucked it was the thoughts around my motivations that I had pre-planned that kept me going during the dark parts of the day. Because Ironman in my experience has highs and lows and when it's low you need things to carry you to the next high.
Well, quite a long wrap up, but it was a 12 hour race and a long weekend....
Thanks for reading. The next stop is Ironman Tahoe in September!