Ironman Coeur d' Alene 2010: Race Report

Triathlon Tip: Always find someone who can write.
With all my gear turned in, all I had to do on race morning was wake up early and head over to Coeur d’ Alene. As with just about every race I do, sleeping the night before is always horrible. I struggle to fall asleep and when I finally do, I swear the alarm clock goes off 2 minutes later…Saturday night was no different.

After arriving in Coeur d’ Alene last year, there didn’t seem like there was enough time to get everything done. From getting body marked, dropping off special needs bags, loading the bike up with my nutrition and pumping my tires, but this year everything was done before I knew it and I was able to spend a good 30 minutes just standing around waiting. It is amazing how much easier things seemed the second time around.

Tiff kept asking me if I was nervous and I could honestly respond with “No” as I felt calm and focused. I just wanted to get the race under way, it couldn’t start soon enough…but in all reality I had been saying that for about 2 weeks.

Finally the race announcer made the call that transition would close in 15 minutes and it was time to get the wetsuit on and head down to the water, which is like a herd of cattle, albeit a very fit herd, trying to move along at an extremely slow pace. Reaching the beach, I headed down to get a quick warm-up swim and get use to the water temperature.

The Swim-
My goal for the swim was go out strong and find a little open water. I placed myself right up front with the big boys and planned to catch some feet of a slightly faster swimmer. After my experience last year, I knew the swim wasn’t going to be easy but I had no idea what was in store.

The first loop was brutal. I was fighting for position the ENTIRE way out to the first turn buoy. I think I may have found about a minute of open water but I am probably exaggerating. I don’t recall that many people grabbing and pulling but when you start in the first row…I guess that is what you better expect.

The first turn buoy made the cattle herding earlier seem like a walk in the park, though I guess it kind of was. You pinch all those swimmers down into that small space and you go from swimming freestyle to a modified breaststroke and really you are just trying to keep you head above water.

The toughest part of this swim is going across the back portion of the course. You can’t see anything with the sun cresting Tubbs Hill, the only option is to following the thrashing in front of you. I was eventually able to spot the turn buoy and realized how off course many of us were. We were swimming way left and now had to adjust and move right in order to get around it. I think I might have spotted the buoy a bit before the other swimmers as I was now trying to play a game of modified Frogger and basically swam across the general flow of traffic.

Once you make it around that buoy, you are home free as the waves seem to pull you towards the beach. It was funny how long it felt to get to the yellow buoys on the way out and how fast it was to the orange buoys on the way back. As I exited the water, I looked down and my watch read 32:40 and though I was hoping for a slightly faster first loop I was definitely pleased with my time.

Really need to start smiling during my races!
The second loop was pretty uneventful and before I knew it, I was heading back to the beach. I had set a goal swim time of somewhere between 1:00-1:05, knowing that if I broke the 1:05 mark, I had a great swim. I came out of the water at 1:07:24 and honestly couldn’t be happier. I could have focused a bit more on strong strokes but I had a solid effort and felt much better exiting the water this year.

Swim Time 2009: 1:11:49
Swim Time 2010: 1:07:24

Transition #1-
Have you ever seen that Victoria Secret Fashion show on TV? You know the one where they run backstage, people are yelling and clothes are flying off and then back on to the runway…well T1 is like that just different …basically minus smoking hot chicks in underwear part.

After getting my wetsuit stripped and grabbing my bag, I was into the tent and did my best to get out of there as fast as I could. I really focused on being as quick but organized as possible…which really goes out the window as you heart is about to jump out of your chest and the simple task of putting on your sock requires complete focus.

Soon I had all my gear on and I was off to find my bike.

T1 Time 2009: 3:56
T1 Time 2010: 4:32

The Bike-
After last year’s disastrous second loop, I really focused on trying to stay within myself and not getting caught up in all the excitement and going out too hard. If you have been around triathlon long enough, you know that you do not have a great bike unless you have a great run. I think I may be the exception to the rule this time around.
Heading out of Transition!
Because of the temperatures were expected to reach into the 80’s, I made a decision to add enduralytes into the nutrition routine. Since the weather has as been extremely mild, this would be my first serious extended effort in warm temps and I should have known you don’t do anything new on race day but I feared not getting enough electrolytes since I don’t drink Gatorade and took a chance. If I could do it all over again, these would be the first to go.

I felt strong throughout the entire ride and if it hadn’t been for the almost cramp when I stretched out my back, I may have quite taking the enduralytes and the entire outcome could have been different. You can second guess yourself a thousand times, as I have done, but it doesn’t change anything.
What's that...another picture without smiling. Surprise, Surprise!!!
Even though I was having a great ride, the absolute best part was seeing…ok usually hearing everyone out on the course. From the family and friends downtown, to the people spread out along the course, to this tiny quiet group of people standing out on the corner of Rimrock and Dodd, hearing people cheering is the best.
Now if you were out on the course anywhere in the Hayden area, I am sure you heard the tiny quiet group out there. It was pretty lame;) how they pulled out all the stops with the sound system blasting music, spotters placed up the road with walkie talkies to let them know who was coming and screaming and yelling that went on even as you were far up the road. I can guarantee you there were some jealous athletes out there. TRI-FUSION and IRONFANS…You So Crazy!!!
Still not smiling...but there's the hand again :)
This year I felt strong the entire second loop. Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing more exciting the finally getting off that freakin’ bike but I wasn’t in survival mode and never felt more ready to start the run. I really think I had the perfect effort on the bike and finished a few mintues faster that my goal of 5:30.

Bike Time 2009: 5:51:40
Bike Time 2010: 5:26:24

Transition #2-
This went great and before I knew it, I was out running a marathon…awesome ;)

The “Run”-
Last year entering the run, the back of my knees hurt more than I thought was possible…until now. I was able do the Ironman shuffle and finish with what I think was a respectable 4:10 marathon.
There are definitely not a lot of pictures of me running but here is one!

The first out and back felt great. My legs felt strong and once I got into a groove, I really felt I was going to have a great run. About 15-20 minutes in, I developed a side stitch. Now I have suffered through these before and knew it wasn’t something I could just push to the back of my mind. After a few quick walks to try a few breathing techniques…nothing seemed to work. I would run for a bit, then have to stop and try breathing out real fast…then run again and stop…and eventually run again.

Now I can’t put the complete blame on the use of the enduralytes but it is really the only thing I can think of that would cause this imbalance. I hadn’t experienced this in any of my training and after such a long year…this couldn’t get any worse.

The entire first loop I did my best to try and run between aid stations or whenever I thought I might run past someone I knew. I really didn’t want to walk when all these people came out to cheer for me and I tried to use their excitement even though I knew things were heading south fast. I knew was going to finish this race, it was just a matter of how long it was going to take me.

Not a lot to smile about on this run!
As I headed out on the second loop, my run-walk stragety turned into a walk-run survival. I really hate walking and I am not sure there is anything that frustrates me more. My legs felt strong and I knew I was able to run but every single time I would start to run my stomach would start to cramp up. There is nothing more miserable than watching over 500 people pass you as you struggle along. You have so much time to think about what if I did this...what if I did that and the mental game of trying to finish really begins.

It got to the point where I couldn’t understand how all these people could walk so fast. It was crazy that every time I tried to pick up my walking pace another athlete would go by like I was standing still…and in most cases, I was actually standing there wondering if I could move forward. Though completely physically taxing, mentally this was the toughest thing I have EVER done. Putting one foot in front of the other was near impossible.

As miserable as it is to be walking a marathon of an Ironman there were still a few highlights and can make even the most miserable athletes smile. Seeing familiar faces of my family and friends. I struggled to just keep moving but each time I would see and hear the cheers, it gave me that extra boost. I will be the first to tell you, I definitely didn’t show my gratitude out on the course but if it counts now, I could be more thankful for the continued support throughout the run. From my parents, sister and friends down in the park, the Tri-Fusion teammates along the course, Greg, Nat, Craig, Erika and Matt on bikes popping up everywhere and for my IronFans going crazy 12 hours after it started. There is no way I would have finished this race without you guys out there.

I am not quite sure how I mustered up a jog but I was able to run the last mile or so and though it was close, was still able to finish just under the 12:00 mark.

Here is a video my coworker, Berry, put together. It's a pretty cool bit and if you look at the swim start you will see one guy dive in just before everyone else...about 3/4 the way up the beach. That is ME :)

Run Time 2009: 4:10:19
Run Time 2010: 5:19:17
Here are a couple more videos at the finish line.

Overall Time 2009: 11:20:14
Overall Time 2010: 11:59:42

I have been asked no less than 50 times if I am going to race next year…and I can tell you next year is not in the plans but after having a great swim and bike, I will be back and will do this race again. I have some serious unfinished business and know that I am capable of doing this race under 10:30. That was my goal and coming off the bike and it was within reach. I know there are a ton of outside factors but after this experience, I will someday put all three disciplines together.

My Family!!!

A few of the IronFans!!!
Thank you to everyone who came out and cheered. After examing the highs and lows and what might have been, I really enjoyed the overall experience and can “almost” understand why we put ourselves through such a long training days to get to the start line of an Ironman.

I want to send out a special thank you to my sponsor GU Energy for supplying all my training and racing nutritional needs...couldn't have done any of it without you!!!

Congrats to all the other racers out there. Especially Adam, Jenn and Nate...Welcome to the Ironman Family!!!


Michael W. Bergquist said...

Nice work Steve. It's a tough race, but you're tougher.

Troy Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Troy Nelson said...

Great job Steve. They are all tough, but that one seemed tougher than normal. Way to go.

Matt said...

Way to push through a hard day and finish, it takes more to finish a bad race then a good one, congrats! You will kill the next one :)

Tiffany said...

Awesome post, Keven! Even though the run didn't go the way you had hoped, you had such a smokin' swim and bike - definitely something to be proud of!

Way to push through and finish strong. That's the stuff real Ironmen are made of, and we're sure proud of ours!

Congrats on your second finish!!!

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on fighting through a tough day. It sounds like you are definitely close to putting it all together.

P.S. You looked strong every time you went by us!

jessithompson said...

You are bad ass, Keven! Your IronFans are incredibly proud of you and know that it's flat out harder when it doesn't go as planned. You definitely earned the title and showed what a tough MO FO you are.

So glad we got to share a bit in your big day. You worked so hard and are an incredibly talented athlete.