Ironman Coeur d’Alene: Athlete Race Recap

Ironman Coeur d’Alene: all of the stars aligned; apparently the fourth time is the charm!  Yes, I put in a ton of hard work this and had amazing coaching, but in a race this long, a little luck is needed as well.  This race is bundled with a lot of emotion for me.  I was going through a tough divorce the first time I attempted it, my brother passed away suddenly a month before the second time I attempted it and the third time simply wasn’t my day (which by the way happens a lot during a 140.6 mile race – but that didn’t really make me feel better at the time).


After that third DNF I decided to take a break from Coeur D’Alene.  I finished Ironman Arizona in 2014 and Ironman Boulder in 2015 before deciding to race here again. I had unfinished business.  I know attempting a race as a grudge match is not always a very healthy thing to do, but honestly, that’s what it was.  I needed to prove to myself that I was strong enough to conquer the course and try to finally let go of all of the negativity associated with it.


Swim:  1:22 (5 minute PR).  With some minor injuries this season, I had done a lot of swimming – more than ever – and I was very comfortable in the water. There was a little chop – especially on the second loop – but after the New Orleans 70.3 earlier this spring, it didn’t bother me much.  It was a bit combative in spots, but nothing that derailed me.  I felt strong and was happy with my time getting out of the water.


Bike: 8:03 (personal worst for an IM).  I’ve been dealing with some back and hip pain on the bike this season and the bike leg is also where I’ve ended this race three times previously.  My hip pain definitely showed up here and there, but nothing that kept me from moving – and no stomach issues which is a first and a huge success!  However, on the second loop I had a bike mechanical that kept me on the side of the road for over thirty minutes.  My chain dropped and then got stuck against my frame.  I had a moment of panic since that same incident caused a teammate to DNF the 70.3 back in June.  But a mechanic finally came by and was able to get me up and running again.  I saw both Russ and Katie at various points during the bike leg and managed a little wave.  When I saw Katie for the second time on the bike I wasn’t as chipper, but I was focused and pushing to try to make up some of the ground that I lost.


The course is pretty challenging with 5207 feet of elevation gain.  The addition of a 30+ mph headwind on the way out for the second loop did not help!  There were definitely some choice words flowing out of my mouth.  Of course Mother Nature also turned up the heat to the low 90s which really tested everyone.  I’ve never seen so many people walking their bikes during an ironman!  Luckily I was able to push through with the help of lots of ice down my kit at aid stations and a nutrition plan that worked really well for me.  My time was slow with the mechanical, not to mention the heat and wind eroding my energy a bit, but as I finished those 112 miles there was a joy that completely erased all of the negatives.


Run:  5:34 (49 minute PR) Going into this race, my longest run was less than 11 miles due to the ups and downs of my body, but the goal was to get to the start line as pain-free as possible.  This required sacrificing some run training for some SMART training!  The run at IMCdA is an out-and-back loop that we ran three times.  I decided I really wanted to at least run the first loop.  Katie, of course, thought I could run the whole thing and thought my idea of ended up doing 1/1 run/walk intervals was ridiculous – ironmans are supposed to hurt, just run!  But in my head, I was less confident.  Of course, she was right.


I started out and was, as usual, amazed that my legs would run after the swim and the bike.  The crowd support, the support of my friends and my dad and just the fact that I was off that bike helped fuel my determination.  I saw Katie going out and Russ coming back, both were also huge motivators.  I walked through the aid stations but other than that I ran the entire first loop.  My stomach started to rebel a little bit which meant I walked a little bit more on the second and third loops.  I kept running as much as I could and kept drinking the coke, the chicken broth, whatever I could to keep liquid and calories going in.  And yes, I had pickles in my special needs along with ginger ale which both tasted amazing – definitely keepers!


The finish line in CDA is fantastic.  It’s a nice long downhill with wonderful crowds cheering you on.  And the feeling of finishing an ironman is just amazing.  And this one was especially sweet considering my DNF history with this race.  My name is Kaitlyn and I am an ironman!


15:27 (28 minute PR)