Ironman Coeur d' Alene 2009: Race Report

This journey began just over a year ago when I drove over to Coeur d’ Alene to sign up for Ironman CDA 2009. I was a young naive soul back then and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Well, I kinda did but there were SO many unknowns.

After a LONG winter of training with many BAT’s at the Thompson’s and headlamp runs at the Gallagher’s, I was on my way. There were many ups and downs with successful races and ill timed injuries but all in all, when June 21, 2009 rolled around I was ready to go.

Race morning started early, I mean REAL EARLY, as I didn’t sleep much past 1:30am. The alarm was set for 3:15 but I was up and out of bed by 2:15. I was showered, had eaten and was watching TV by 3:00am. Jessi wasn’t supposed to show up until 4:15am so I had plenty of time to kill. Did you know there is nothing good on at the time? Of course you didn’t you are probably all sleeping like normal people, or at least finishing off your last few beers and really have no interest in the TV anyways.
Ironman Ninjas!!!

I have to give Jessi serious props. Not only was she out until the wee hours of the morning, putting up signs and decorating my front yard but was almost weeing her pants as Tim dodged swarms of bees. She was right on-time and we were off to the unknown and my first Ironman race.

My Crew: A+ in Action!

My Crew: Hanging my AWESOME Sign!

The car ride over was pretty relaxed. Just talking about Ironman experiences and listening to some awesome pre-race music put together by DJ Lil’ B. It was great riding over to Coeur d’ Alene, not only with someone who has been there/done that but with someone who has been by your side for the entire journey. We have sweat together in their basement and froze are asses off during the morning runs this winter.

Getting body marked!

We showed up in Coeur d’ Alene a few minutes before 5am and were off to get body marked and drop off the rest of my bags. Jessi had her first of who knows how many coffees finished in the car and after body marking; she was in search for some more caffeine.

I spent a few minutes getting my T1 and T2 bags finalized and headed to load my bike with my nutrition for the first loop. This is where I ran into my folks who were there before I was. I tried to tell them they didn’t need to get there quite so early but honestly; they weren’t going to miss any of this.
Filling up Nutrition on the Bike.
My Parents before the race!

After getting my tires pumped up it was time to just relax and get ready to start one of the biggest days of my life. I was confident that I would make it through but it was just a matter of how and when I would finish.
Some of the Tri-Fusion crew!

When I started these races, swimming was my absolute worst event by far. Not even a close second to biking or running. But on this day, I felt very calm. I was ready for this challenge. I had heard war stories on how rough the start of an Ironman can be but I was not afraid. I was excited, I knew that no matter what the start handed to me, I was ready to take in on full force.

After a few last hugs and well wishes, I headed to the beach and jumped in the water. It felt warm. I am not sure if it was because of the cold air temperature or all the pee from the nervous athletes about to start Ironman CDA 2009.

My goal for this swim was to swim strong and stay focused. In a practice swim on Friday, I caught my mind wandering off and I really didn’t want to start thinking about what was ahead. I goal was to focus on each pull and each breath and stay in good rhythm.

The start was rough, not crazy rough but rough none the less. I was hoping to swim somewhere between 1:00-1:10 and new that I would be ahead of the main pack but well back of the leaders. As we made our way out to the first turn buoy, there was quite a bit of bumping and grabbing. I am not sure I had that much action since my freshman year in college. But the main point was that I stayed calm and composed and before I knew it I was heading back and starting my second loop.

Exiting the Water!

Overall the swim went well. I was able to find open water for the majority of the swim and was able to race “My Race” and came out with a respectable time of 1:11:47. Though it wasn’t as fast as I would have like, the water was choppy and I had actually never swam 2.4 miles at one time.

Feeling good to be standing up again!

I exited the water and saw many familiar faces right along the fence cheering me on. Natalie and Trish are the ones that stood out as my focus was coming back after laying horizontal for over an hour. I headed up to get my wetsuit stripped and was off to the madness of the changing tent to get on my bike gear.

T1 went very smooth and I was headed out to my bike in a matter of minutes. The bike was going to be interesting. In the last week and a half, I had only been on the bike 4.5 hours TOTAL. I was definitely going to exceed that today.

I jumped on my bike and was feeling great. I had just finished the swim of an Ironman and now onto race #2. The plan was to go out easy. I ate a powerbar requiring me to slow down and not get caught up in all the Ironman hype.

Climbing one of the many hills!

The first loop flew by. I heart rate and effort were scaled back and I still came in with a first loop somewhere around 2:45. I was right on pace. I wasn’t sure if I could actually ride a 5:30 but I knew I could be close. I felt strong but not over worked and was ready to go. And then the second loop began…

My second loop started off pretty good but soon after leaving Coeur d' Alene towards Hayden, the wheels started to rattle. They weren’t coming off by any means but something was loose. My heart rate was dropping, my legs were getting heavy and my speed was slowing. I tried to attack each hill as its own little challenge and set small little finish line at each major corner. When I came back into Coeur d' Alene for the second time, I wanted off the bike.

Out on Lap #2!

Having everyone out on the course definitely helped push me through to the end. They were popping up everywhere and then moving to a new location for the second loop. It was great. From the Thompsons, Byrds, Ali, Nat, Tric, Matt and Nate, to the Rupes and Virginia Knight and anyone else I forgot, it was great to hear so many familiar voices and encouraging words

I have heard people say that you should be able to ride another 20 miles when you get off the bike and there is a chance I could have but I didn’t want too. I had never run a marathon in my life, but I was more than ready as I entered T2 or at least my ass was telling me I was. I had set a goal to ride between a 5:30-5:45. I ended up riding a 5:51 that included 4 pee breaks and a slow special needs transition. Those are all part of the race but I really felt I could have gone faster.

T2 was similar to T1, smooth and fast. There wasn’t a whole lot of messing around. I was in and out of there and ready to start the LONGEST run of my life, literally.

The plan was to stay consistent throughout the run. Of all three disciplines this is where I felt least prepared. I have struggled with knee pain and other leg issues that caused me to miss a few of my long runs. I had never actually run over a half-marathon, EVER, so anything over that was just borrowed time.
Running through the park and seeing my parents!

As I started the run, my legs felt OK. Not great and not horrible but just as expected after 112 miles on the bike. The first two miles where around 8:30’s which was a bit faster than I expected to run the whole race but felt comfortable. At mile 7, I was running 9:00’s and still felt good.

Heading out to the turn-a-round!

As I entered Coeur d' Alene for the start of the second loop, it was all up in the air now. I new once I passed through the park, each step was farther than I had ever run before. I tried to stay focused and just put one foot in front of the other. It was great having all the cheering support spread out throughout the run course. I actually caught myself looking forward to seeing a familiar face and give me that little bit of extra drive.

As I left downtown and headed back out along Lake Shore Drive, the rain began to fall and the winds were picking up. It was getting cold but after over 10 hours of racing, it really didn’t matter. My hands were cold but seriously, this is Ironman and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I got to the point were I was walking each aid station and running between. I am proud to say that this was the method the entire run. I never, even though it sounded SOOO good, stopped to walk between the aid stations.

I have heard stories that a marathon begins at mile 20. I am not sure who really came up with this saying because the first 20 miles definitely happened but I understand that this is where mind over body comes into play. You have to tell yourself that you are going to finish this run and that your legs really have no say in the matter.

A+ Cheering me on!

It was at mile 20, I found my support crew. It started off with Jessi and Tiffany running along side me telling me that I could do this and finished with Timmers voicing a few more words of encouragement as I head out for the final turn around.

Letting me know, I can make it!

It was at this point I started calculating and I figured if I can pick up the pace just a bit I might actually finish under 11:30 (my secret goal). I started to run or at least felt like a run vs the Ironman shuffle that I had been doing for the last few miles. I just told myself that this is just a 10K. You have run many of these and this is no time to think you can’t do it right now.

And off I go into the sunset...wait the rain storm!

I am not sure how many people I passed from the last turn around to the finish but it was a ton. I don’t think anyone passed me and I felt like I was cruising. My effort was up and my legs were pumping. I am not sure how fast I ran, but I felt fast or at least compared to my previous 20+ miles.

As I turned onto Sherman Drive (the greatest part of Ironman CDA) it was going to be all about enjoying the moment. Even though this journey lasted just over 11 hours, in all reality it started 365 days ago when I signed up. But then the triathlete in me got the better of me when the nice volunteer said, 1 more minute. Huh, that’s it? Just one more minute and as I looked at my watch it read 11:18:15 and too my surprise I was going to finish in under 11:20.

Heading down Sherman Ave!

To my trained eye, I knew it was a bit more that just one minute but it was going to be close. I picked up the pace and ran hard through the finish. To me that is just as satisfying as jogging down Sherman Ave. I showed up in Coeur d' Alene to give it my all and that is what I did. I ended up crossing the line in 11:20:14 but was stoked. I had just finished my first Ironman and could walk afterwards...albeit slowly.

Swim- 1:11:49
T1- 3:56
Bike- 5:51:40
T2- 2:31
Run- 4:10:18

Timmers and I at the rain soaked finish!

There were congrats and hugs all around and family members and friends showed up at the finish line. Even though this day was about me trying to do something many thought was crazy, it was the perfect end to a perfect day. I was an Ironman!

My Family. Bart, Jenny, Alex, Mom and Dad!

Joe and Erika. They got up REAL early to come watch. Just ask Erika:)

I want to give a special thanks to my parents, Betty, Uncle Bart, Aunt Jenny, Alex, Joe, Erika, Jon, Jenny and Jed for all making the trip over to Coeur d' Alene to watch a long event they really don’t understand why. Their cheers were awesome and definitely helped get me through the day.

My Cousin Brandi and her girls. Abby and Cali. Brandi is the one who got me into triathlons...Thanks, I think:)

Emma and I. The biggest little cheerer of them all.

Tiffany, Eric and I. They were cheering all day!

I would like to thank all my fellow Tri-Fusionites who were out there cheering their hearts out and being part of this journey. They understand all the hard work and commitment it takes and it was great to share the moment.

Roger and I.

Also to my coach, Roger who set the path for me to get to the finish line. Though there were times when I thought he may have gone a bit crazy, in hindsight, I was prepared for this day and would not have made it through without his guidance.

Tiffany and I after the race!

Jessi and I

My A+ Girls

A+ minus Timmers. He had baby A+ who was out all day and had to get her home.

And to A+! You guys are fawesome. You kept me accountable, day in and day out. You were always willing to join me for a workout and get up at zero hour for swims and runs. The support you have shown me throughout this has been the best. Thank you so much for all the memorable moments, many that should not be made public and would be impossible to actually write out in words. You guys ROCK!!!

Mom and Dad after the race. Thank you for all the support!


Ironman Journey

As I sit here the night before Ironman I think about how I got here. There is no doubt that it takes a lot of personal perseverance and hard work. But for me this journey was more about how the people in my life helped me get there.

From the many BAT workouts in the Thompson's basement, the HLR at the Gallagher's and the many swims at OZ. There were countless times I felt like just staying in bed or coming up with some lame excuse for not showing up but in the end, it was these people who helped get my butt out the door and work hard throughout the winter.

Below are just a few of the pictures of my journey towards Ironman. There were hot days, cold days, wet days and days that were just ridiculous. I am sure there might have even been a few with all of those at once, I do live in Spokane.

I hope you enjoy the pics.

Thank you to all of you who have been there pushing me and keeping me focused on the big picture. It was not an easy journey with many ups and downs but WE made it through. Tomorrow could go a million different ways and even if my face doesn't show it, I will be enjoying every moment.


Blue Lake 2009- Race Report

With Ironman the week after the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon down near Portland, OR, I decided it would be to my best interest to do the sprint distance on Saturday. I really would have like to race the olympic to compare it to last year but I had to look big picture and running a 10k would have been a bit too much.

After talking with the group, they agreed to head out a day early and come cheer me on during the race. I can’t say thank you enough to Roger, Jessi, Tiffany, Eric and most of all Emma for taking the additional day and extra cost of the hotel to allow me to race on Saturday. It was pretty awesome but from them, I am not surprised at all.

So back tracking to Wednesday night before the race, I came across a great deal to upgrade my ride, something I have wanted to do for quite some time but the stars haven’t really aligned. After meeting with Roger and showing him the bike, I decided to get my new bike, a 2008 Scott Plasma. I did a really quick fit and tried to ride it on Thursday just to get comfortable. It felt pretty good but without my seat it just wasn’t quite right.

Friday I was able to put on my seat and transfer over the measurements just in time to load it up and head off to Portland. The first time I would actually ride it was going to be Saturday morning before the sprint. The whole “trying something new on race day” was getting pushed to the extreme.

We arrived pretty late and had just enough time to clean up the bike and get ready for bed.

Race Day
Saturday morning came a bit too early but since I can’t sleep in anyways I was up and ready to go by 5:30am with a race start at 8am. I really need to figure this whole sleeping the night before a race thing. With my luck next Saturday, it will take a tractor to drag me out of bed. OK probably not but wishful thinking.

Roger dropped me off at the race site and for the first time in well ever, I was the only person I knew in transition. One of the many benefits of being a member of such as great tri club is that at every single race you know someone. But since everyone was racing on Sunday, I was there to mingle with my fellow sprint triathletes.

"Elite" Wave Start :)

One unique thing about Blue Lake is that they have an elite wave for the first 20 people who think they will finish in the Top 20. After looking at last years results, I figured I qualified for this and thought it might be nice to race out front instead of fighting through all the other waves on the swim and bike. Turned out only 3 of us thought we might finish in the Top 20 so it made for an interesting start. The other two definitely belonged as the finished 1-2 in the overall race.

Starting the swim and my stroke actually looks pretty good.

The swim went pretty good. After talking with my swim coach Kevin before I left, he informed me that I needed to swim under 12 minutes in order to come back to masters the following week. Well not really but he said that it was an honest goal that I should be able to achieve it.

Exiting the water.

Not having hundreds or even 20 people in front of you during a swim was actually kind of nice. Usually I am sighting of the arms and splashes in front of me, so this time I was able to sight off the buoys and keep a pretty straight line. I felt strong throughout and finished the .5 mile swim just under my 12 minute goal.

Swim Time: 11:57

So now I am on to the true test. How was my body going to react to a hard effort on a brand new bike? In the recent olympic distance races it usually takes me until the turn-around until I start feeling good and my legs really come around. Well by that time in a sprint you are jumping off your bike and hitting the run.

Jumping on my bike for the first time during a race. Trying the flying mount.

I was approximately the 5 person out of the water as a few swimmers from the group behind had caught up and was the second person on the bike. I had a great T1 and was the fastest of the day by 14 seconds. I had my shoes on the bike for the second time and it actually worked pretty well.

Getting off my bike! Glad to have a successful ride.

For my first serious ride on my bike, I felt OK. It didn’t feel great and it didn’t feel bad. I felt a bit sluggish but overall it was a positive first ride.

Bike Time: 32:19

So now I am off to the run. Since I had just jumped off my new bike, I was interested to see how my legs would react. As soon as I dismounted I felt great. I was able to speed through transition and shared the fastest T2 with one other athlete, the next closest was 8 seconds back.

I slipped on my K’Ona’s and from the start I felt good. I tried to focus on good form and quick feet. I had a few carrots in front of me but knew I wouldn’t be able to chase them down. And since I had started in the elite wave, I was racing against my mysterious age-groupers behind me that started 10 minutes after I did.

Heading out on the run.

One my way back.

The run was tough but hearing your name all over the place really helps to push you along. The highlight might have been Emma running across the park cheering. I think she might have been running as fast as me there for a bit.

Heading towards the finish.

Overall the run was good. I felt like I was running faster than the clock showed but then again this is the clock and numbers don’t lie. The course might have been a tad long but after a rough mapmyrun, maybe by only a tenth of a mile. I don’t think it was my fastest 5K off the bike and if I want to break my sub 40 10k goal, I need to run faster.

Run Time: 20:17

I finished 6th overall and 2nd in my age-group. For my first experience on my new bike, I would have to give it 2 thumbs up. It is definitely an upgrade from ole P-Dub and I can’t wait to see what is in store for Ironman.

Overall Time: 1:07:11

The rest of the trip was great, taking a relaxing 1 hour ride to Saturday evening with Trish and Nat, which in hindsight was good just to get more time on the bike.

Dinner after my race and the night before theirs.

Much of Sunday was spent running around the course cheering and snapping pictures of Roger, Jessi, Tiffany, Eric (1st Olympic), Tim, Matt, Jessie (1st Olympic) and Natalie (1st Olympic, I think). They all rocked there races and tons of PR’s were set. It was a completely different experience watching the race from the sidelines, it was fun to cheer and support friends who have provided more support than I could ever dream of on my journey towards Ironman. Thanks a ton for all the encouragement and see you out there on Sunday.

PS: I was suppose to get a 2 hour ride in on Sunday but because of the race and trying to leave at a halfway decent time I was unable to ride before we left. Jessi had this brilliant idea that they could drop me off somewhere along the way and I could ride back to their house to pick up my truck. Perfect, I would still get my ride in since much of it would have been spent in the car anyways.

So as we are heading towards Spokane, I start to calculate the distance of the ride vs. time of day vs. amount of sunlight that is going to be left. Well, we came rolling up to the Tyler/Cheney exit around 8 pm and with your coach not only in the car but also as the driver, he decided I still needed to get my ride in and took the exit. At this point I can honestly say I thought he was joking. It was dusk and we had been driving for the better part of 4 hours. Before you know it, I am changing into my gear and my bike is sitting next to the car. Looks like I am riding home because I don’t think Roger was letting me back in the car anyways.

An hour and a half later, a few streetlights leading the way, I made it back to the Thompson’s in one piece and had my longest ride on my bike. It is amazing how your friends will jump in the car entire day to come cheer you on and one day later, kick your ass out and make you ride home. It was actually pretty cool and they all know how important Ironman is and that I wouldn’t regret it once it was done.

I would like to send out a special thanks to Eric for the encouraging words as they drove off into the sunset, literally, and to yet another great mark in my lead up to Ironman. 76!!!


Moses Lake Triathlon 2009- Race Report

We left Friday night to avoid a 4am wake-up call on Saturday and headed to Moses Lake. This was the site of my very first triathlon in 2006. Back then I signed up for the sprint and really had no idea what to expect. This year would be the first time I have done the Olympic and probably a little bit more prepared. In 2006, I swam about 450 yards in just over 16 minutes. It was brutally slow. I sidestroked the all but about 50 yards and even laid on my back and flutter kicked. Welcome to the sport of triathlon :)

Getting ready for the swim.

This time the swim went great even though I got punched in the eye at the beginning and had to try to empty my goggles. I was able to keep my cadence high and felt strong throughout the entire swim. My sighting was much better and I was able to swim in relatively straight line.

Coming out of the water. It is me, Nate right behind me and Trevor in the background.

Throughout the swim I saw the familiar face of Trevor Blackwell and felt a oh so familiar grabbing of my feet from Nate (see CDA Olympic 08 Race Report). This time the results were much better for Nate as he didn't deserve a quick kick manoeuvre.

Swim: 18:03

I entered transition feeling good and felt ready to go. I had a great T1 and even tried the flying mount with my shoes on my bike. This was my first attempt and just like we always say "never try something in a race that you haven't done in training". Well it worked great and I was on the bike heading down the road.

Coming in off the bike...FINALLY :)

About 10 minutes in I knew something was off. My hips were burning and I just didn't feel that strong. Since I don't really have anything but heart rate and perceived effort to go by, I just kept pedaling. Shortly after the turn around my heart rate began to drop. Eventually reaching my heart rate I hope to keep for Ironman. Definitely not good during an Olympic race. I finally reached T2 and couldn't get there soon enough.

A few highlights of the ride was the nice shower provided by a huge agricultural irrigation sprinkler, the rain that fell and getting off of the bike:)

Bike: 1:02:04

T2 went great, mainly because I was the first bike in the transition area and was off on to the run. Even though the bike was weak, the run felt great. I was hoping to chase down a few of the people who passed me on the bike but they were all good runners.

Finishing the Run!

I felt solid throughout even though I fought a side ache the entire run. The run was long at 6.55 miles so I wasn't able to get a true 10K split but if I average it out it would have been in the 41:12 which would be a new PR. I averaged 6:39/miles so I am slowing working my way to the sub 40 goal.

Run: 43:32

Overall this was a great race and I had a great time. It was awesome to see all the Tri-Fusion athletes out there rocking the race. It is difficult to use the race to see if I had improvements because the swim and bike were shorter than normal and the run was longer. I can take the fact that even though I struggled on the bike I still felt pretty good on the run. It was another pretty good day and another race under my belt.

Total Time: 2:04:38

I am heading down to Blue Lake to do the sprint triathlon on Saturday and cheer everyone on during the Olympic on Sunday. We are now officially under two weeks until Ironman.