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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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15:27 (28 minute PR)

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Race Results: August 2016

August 6-7:

Melissa B raced Ironman Boulder in 15:52.

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Lauren K raced the Lake Logan Olympic Triathlon in 2:44 (PR) for 2nd AG.

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August 13-14:

Meghan M raced the Nashville Urban 5K in 25:38.

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Hope H raced the Leadville Trail 10K in 1:20:46.

August 20-21:

Kaitlyn H raced Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 15:27:37 (30+ minute PR!)

Coach Katie raced Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 13:28.

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August 27-28:

Sarah L raced the Boulder Sunset Olympic Triathlon in 2:55 for 5th AG.

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Ann M completed Hood to Coast with her relay team.

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Monica C swam 28:37 at Rev3 OOB (1st Relay Team).

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Coeur d’Alene 70.3: Athlete Race Recap II

Saturday was filled with pre-race training sessions. We all met at the Pro Bike Express trailer for a short bike ride that took us out on the beginning of the bike course. Next up was a quick run through the neighborhood. Finally, we made our way to the lake to wriggle into our wetsuits and test out the water. Not as cold as I had anticipated. I was glad we took the time to get in the water as it made any concern about water temperature on race morning evaporate.

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After lunch, everyone headed their separate ways until race morning. At this point, my parents had arrived and so we went back to the hotel to pick them up and then headed out to survey the bike course. Again, glad I did this to get a feel for how hilly the course is. I find it is always better to eliminate the fear of the unknown. The rest of the day was uneventful….just rest, dinner and then off to bed early.

Swim

My race plan said to go hard the first 400 yards or so, and I did my best, but honestly at the beginning of the swim I am just looking not get kicked in the head. I eventually got a steady pace going started searching for some feet. Not much luck there for most of the swim but I was happy to find clear water most of the time. The course was a straightforward rectangle so that made sighting easy until the first turn. Now facing directly into the rising sun, it took me a couple tries to find the next buoy. Once I spotted it, I determined I could just follow the splashing of those in front of me and not worry too much. At the next turn, heading back into shore, I had trouble keeping an eye on those buoys and I think I drifted off course a little, but eventually I was seeing the bottom and headed out of the water.

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Bike

So beautiful! So many climbs! The first out-and-back of the bike course was relatively flat and fast, but chilly as it was quite shady. I had debated about how much to wear on the bike and ultimately heeded coach Katie’s advice that if I was cold I wasn’t working hard enough and just went out in my tri kit. Definitely made me work harder to get warmed up in the first 15 miles. Once we rolled through town again the course headed out onto the highway and up! So glad I stuck to the tri kit as it was sunny and warm out there. Goals for the bike were to go strong and keep heart rate up and eat all the calories. Definitely got in all my calories and hydration and met the HR goals for the first 45 miles. In the last 15, the goal was to increase effort, and I did, but not quite as high as planned. Overall, I feel great about my effort and time especially given the amount of climbing (2400 ft).

Run

What a fantastic run course. The spectator support is amazing. And this was the first race I have done where your name is printed on your race bib. This is awesome because as you run by, people cheering actually say your name. Feels like you have a huge cheering section during the whole race. It was also fun to hear, “Go Team Amazing Day!” a couple of times as well. The fun of racing with team gear!

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As far as my run, it definitely hurt….but in a good way. I originally wrote HR goals in my race plan, but coach Katie scrapped that and told me to take HR off my Garmin as it would just stress me out. And, she felt I could run sub 10:00/miles for the whole thing which surprised me as I didn’t know if I really had that in me but I was excited to find out. The race plan was to negative split the whole thing by basically dropping pace by :15/mile every 3 miles. Right off the bat I started out too fast and had to fight the whole time to bring pace down. Who would think that it would be so hard to slow down during hour 5 of a race!?! I struggled a bit the whole time with uncertainty about how much to eat and drink and probably lost too much time at aid stations. But every time I looked at my watch during miles 3-10 I was executing the plan. I think it helped that I was constantly on the the lookout for Katie as I was convinced she’d tell me to push harder. When I finally saw her in the last three miles, she said something along the lines of, “You look great. Drink some Coke. Go hard!” And I did. Coming into the final stretch into town towards the finish line was awesome. Seeing family and teammates cheering along the streets lined with people made for an exciting finish to a beautiful race.

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Post-Race
Leading up to this race has been a very exciting time for me. I have only raced one other 70.3 and that was back in 2012. This was my first Ironman branded event. And my first season training with Katie (or anyone for that matter) and being part of Team Amazing Day. When I started in November. I wasn’t sure if it would be a one season, or even one race thing. But now, after this race, and this experience with a coach and a team, I’m definitely in it for awhile and I’m excited to see what’s next!

 

Race Results: July 2016

Independence Day racing (July 4):

Russ K & Kaitlyn H raced the Superior Mile & Avery 4K.

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Erin D paced a friend to a 10K PR at the Revolutionary 10K.

Monica C ran a local 4.8 miler.

July 9-10:

Lauren K raced the Clemson Sprint Triathlon in 1:21:05 for 2nd AG.

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Rosalyn S raced the Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic Aquabike in 2:07 (6′ swim PR!)

Meaghan W raced the Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3 in 5:50 (2nd 70.3 PR in 3 weeks).

July 16-17:

Kaitlyn H swam 1:33 at the Carter Lake Crossing 5K Open Water Swim.

Russ K swam 1:41 at the Carter Lake Crossing 5K Open Water Swim.

Meghan M took 1st in her division at a local Olympic Triathlon in 2:34:13.

Melissa R completed the Katy Flatland Century in 6:14.

Karin O completed the Ragnar Relay NW Passage.

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July 23-24:

Stephanie S ran 14:20 for a 2 mile APFT.

Nikole V ran 30:53 at the Shoes & Brews 5K.

Emma G finished the 2-day Courage Classic ride in Copper, CO.

Chuck W raced the Tri Boulder Sprint Triathlon & placed 2nd AG, qualifying for USAT Age Group Nationals.

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At Ironman Lake Placid, Chris P finished in 12:50 (PR) & Jay M became a first-time ironman finisher.

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July 30-31:

Ann B raced the Hoot Lake Sprint Triathlon & placed 2nd AG & 6th OA.

Emma G raced the Black Hawk Trail 10K in 1:28:43.

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Coeur d’Alene 70.3: Athlete Race Recap

One of the things that Coach Katie keeps telling me is that a half ironman, done properly, hurts.  Not in the sense of injury, but it should be uncomfortable.  REALLY uncomfortable.  Although I have been entering races for a long time now, I’ve never really been able to piece together “really uncomfortable” and “great performance.”  The “really uncomfortable” part seems to be a prelude to “coasting on the bike” or “a lot of walking in the last miles of a marathon” and I have typically associated “great performance” with “being able to high five my friends and share a smile” as we cross paths on the run out and back.  Earlier this year I was successfully able to combine the two at the Summer Open, a sprint tri in Longmont.  Now was my chance to try to piece the two together in Coeur d’Alene for the Ironman 70.3.

One great thing about this course is that I am doing the full Ironman in August in CDA, so I was really excited – and nervous – to be taking on this course, which has a reputation for being really hilly, difficult, and last year was baked under 105 degree temperatures for the race.  With that in mind, I set out with the following goals (among many) – some on paper, some in my head:  (1) learn the course, (2) stick to my race plan as best I could, and (3) run – RUN – the whole half marathon, other than walking aid stations when eating/drinking.  Learning the course was easy – just get out there, pay attention, and do it.  Check.  Stick to my race plan was under the theory that if I follow the plan, I will get the results I deserve.  And, if I deviate, I will also get the result I deserve…but may not want.  I am happy to say that I mostly was able to stick to my race plan.  Sure, I deviated a little – maintaining over 190 watts going steep downhill at 40 MPH is not that easy (lets just say it didn’t happen).  I also didn’t plan on stopping at an aid station on my bike (A) to use the bathroom, then (B) dropping my bike gloves in the toilet of the port-a-potty (no, I didn’t fish them out), and then (C) breaking the visor off my aero helmet.  But I ate as much as I could tolerate, and drank what I planned and in the end, I am content with my performance on the bike.  So, I’ll throw a check in here as well.

The run is where I really needed to put rubber to road on all of this – because you can fudge your way through the bike if you are reasonably fit and trained, but the run is where your flaws in planning and execution really get exposed.  My mental goal was, in retrospect, modest – I would run the entire 13.1 (other than aid stations).  Modest, but in the many 70.3 races I’ve done, I have probably only “run” the entire 13.1 once.  It would at the same time allow me to push a likely-mental barrier, and also validate that I did a reasonable job of sticking to my plan.  So modest sounding plan, but I think for important objectives.
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The run started off calmly.  I felt ok coming out of T-2, and as I settled in, started to feel better.  A cheer from Ashley (my wife) and a couple of advisory-yells from Katie and I was off.  I stuck to my plan through the first loop, and as I approached the second lap, I found myself in a pack of about 8 or 9 runners.  Your options at this point are go left for the finish, and right for lap 2.  In a short fit of negativity, I just assumed that the pack would all be going left and finishing, and I’d be the lone guy going right for another lap (based on some poorly reasoned assumption that they were fitter/faster than me).  They all went to the right with me, for a second lap.  It was then that I knew that I was in the mix of the race, and not at the back like I just assumed when I came into T-2 and saw a billion bikes already racked.  Feeling good, I headed out and felt strong going out to the turn around at lap 2, and started picking off people.  A few here and there at first, and then at the turn around I saw our coach on a bike near the course, encouraging me at random spots (that she would speed ahead to) to keep running strong and giving advice like “coke is magic!” and “keep picking people off!”  On the last leg back (3.5 miles), I felt like I was passing dozens and dozens of people at a time.  I didn’t deviate from my plan.  Finally, made it back to the park between 12 and 13 miles, and was feeling tired, but got my last boost of energy.  Went into the left lane to finish, into town, and down the finishers chute.  So check!
IMG_6525.jpgThis wasn’t my fastest 70.3, but it was my fastest half marathon within a 70.3 by 6 minutes.  I wouldn’t say the run “hurt” – but it was probably more uncomfortable than I’ve ever been in any long run.  The payoff?  Katie dug through the results, and it turns out that I passed 23 people in my age group, 150 men, and 258 people overall on the run.  As I turn my full focus to Ironman Coeur d’Alene (full) in August, I can say I am finally learning what it means to simultaneously go hard and race smart.

Race Results: May & June 2016

April 30-May 1

Hannah M. raced the Vermont City Half Marathon in 1:56.

May 7-8

Ann M. raced the Gator Grinder Sprint Triathlon in 1:15:37 (1st AG).

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Allison R. raced the Mother’s Day Four Miler in 30:41 (PR).

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(Photo credit Cheryl Young)

May 14-15

Teri W. raced the Barking Dog Duathlon in 2:26:29 (2nd AG).

Dylan L. raced a local 5K in DC in 19:54 (PR).

May 28-30

Erin D. completed her first sprint triathlon in 1:27 (1st AG).

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Our training camp athletes ran the Bolder Boulder 10K in a variety of times and efforts.

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June 4-5

Dylan N. raced the Baltimore 10-miler in 1:14.

Emma G. raced the American Heart Association Heart & Stroke 5K in 27:51 5K (4th AG).

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Teri W. raced the Hawai’i 70.3 in 8:03.

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Nick D. raced the Steamboat Marathon in 4:01.

Allison R. raced the Herndon Festival 5K in 24:08.

June 18-19

Meaghan W. raced the Patriot’s Half Ironman in 5:57 (6′ PR & 6th AG).

Monica C. raced the Patriot’s Half Ironman  in 7:47 (38′ PR).

Kelli R. raced the Mammoth 13.1 in 1:52 (10th AG).

June 25-26

Chuck W. raced the Duathlon National Championships and qualified for Duathlon World Championships with a 7th AG finish.

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Stephanie S. raced the Black Hills Sprint Triathlon in 1:46 (3rd AG).

Ann M. raced the Coeur d’Alene 70.3 in 6:11 (15′ PR).

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Russ K. raced the Coeur d’Alene 70.3 in 6:35 (6′ run PR).

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Race Results: April 2016

April 2-3:

Nick D raced the Charlottesville Marathon in 3:50:08 (10′ PR!).

Hope H raced the Charlottesville Half Marathon in 2:26.

April 16-17:

We traveled to New Orleans for the 70.3.

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Lauren K in 5:49:12 (PR & 7th AG).

Melissa R in 6:09.

Jason B in 6:12 (bike PR).

Russ K in 6:48.

Kaitlyn H in 7:04 (5′ PR).

Jay M in 7:47 (first 70.3).

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April 23-24:

Allison R is 4th OA at the Best Kids 5K in 23:28.

April 30:

Ashley S raced the Western Pacific 13.1 in 2:09:59.

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