I had sort of been considering doing Coeur d’Alene 70.3 for a while but I kept ignoring it and putting it to the bottom of my priority list, thinking I might not actually do it. So by the time I registered a couple weeks before the race, it was the most expensive tiered price ($293USD+processing fees) and when the charge came through on my credit card it was $487CAD. For a half ironman. I pretty much immediately regretted my decision and wished I hadn’t signed up after all! But what was done was done so I actually had to do this thing.
My last 70.3, and actually my last IM branded event other than running in a relay at Calgary 70.3 last year, was at Vineman 70.3 (RIP) in 2015. What happened to the last two years?! I wanted to take a break from the full ironman this year, mostly because of the training. I don’t like training as much as I probably should, especially for a full ironman. I prefer 10-12 hours of training a week (this makes it difficult for my coach Michelle I think! Sorry!) I can do more hours in the summer because of longer weekend rides but I really don’t like feeling ALL I’m doing is training. This obviously limits my potential but I am totally ok with that. So for half ironmans I think 10-12 hours works pretty well for me. But my other problem is I get distracted by so many other things, it’s almost impossible for me to focus solely on triathlon. Ultrarunning – yes! Gravel grinders – sure! Trail running – why not?!
This year so far has been all about the bike. I am not a good cyclist, although I’m trying to become better. The BWR especially took up a lot of my time and focus for the first part of this year and I’ve been spending a lot more time than usual on the bike. It’s been awesome. I feel like I was also sick more often than usual this winter and spring so I had to keep taking little breaks from training to recover. Those breaks plus riding more than usual meant a lot less running than I’ve ever done. So heading into CDA 70.3 I really had no idea where my running was at because I actually can’t remember the last time I ran 20km. Probably early April. But, this was not my first 70.3 rodeo (I think I’ve done more than 10 now?) so I knew I would finish, and I trusted Michelle, so I just had to get it done! No problem!
Standing on the beach of Lake Coeur d’Alene Sunday morning, I *thought* I had lined myself up with the 35-45min sign. It’s a rolling start based on your predicted swim time. Of course most people really overestimate their swim ability, or are nervous, or whatever the issue is, and people who have no business being at the front, or even where they placed themselves, are in the way. The pros went off at 6am and the age group start was at 615am. I had told Rob it was a rolling start from 615am and I was thinking I would swim around 38min, so he was basing his spectating on those numbers. However, they were letting people through single file into the water and somehow before I knew it, I was tossed to the back of the pack. Like the very back of last the wave to enter the water. Maybe I had fallen asleep somewhere along the line?! So much for the 35-45min group! I was in the last 100 people (out of almost 2100) to enter the water. I wasn’t worried about me, it just meant a lot of people to pass throughout the day, but I was worried about Rob because I didn’t get in the water until 6:41am, 25min after he thought I would be starting but I couldn’t find him in the mass of spectators to tell him this.
I swam on the inside, to the left of the buoys on this course, as I prefer to do, because as long as you go around the corner buoys, you can swim wherever you like. It’s always clear water on the inside because everyone else is fighting and punching to be on the right side. I love lake swimming. I love fresh water. As long as I’m not in chlorine, I completely love water and it’s always my favourite part of the race. I chose to swim in my sleeveless Roka wetsuit because I think I swim better in it, and I HATE being hot. Lake CDA has a reputation for being cold but it was absolutely perfect. Because I pretty much got to see everyone go in the water, there were a few people who even swam without wetsuits!
The swim was uneventful, I loved it, swam comfortably, and ended up coming out of the water at 38min. Not bad for 1 swim/week, if that. And the best part was Rob actually found me coming out of the water and got a great photo!
Rob and I had a long (probably too long) conversation in T1 and I also saw my Betty teammate Yvonne who was racked right near me!
I haven’t been on my tri bike outside since July last year. I’ve been riding it lots on the Kickr, just not outside. I was not at all worried about my bike handling skills because I’ve spent my spring on mountain bike trails on my road bike 🙂 so riding in a straight line is a piece of cake. I felt strong right away. Rob told me to go out at a pace I didn’t think I could hold (haha!) and try to hold it. Good advice, right?! It just felt so… easy. It was smooth asphalt, on a fast bike with skinny tires, in a straight line, like what more do you want? Hills or not (CDA 70.3 is pretty hilly) it felt like I was flying compared to what I’ve been doing! And even better, these damn gravel/off-road races have been 6 hours. To only have to ride for 3 hours was the best thing in the world. Oh yeah, and even better, I had most of the field in front of me to try to catch up to and pass, so it was like hundreds and hundreds of carrots for me all day! All of this lead to me overcooking the bike a bit. I probably *should* have rode 3:10 or so but ended up at 2:52 and I REALLY cooked the last 10km trying to get in under 2:50. Sorry Michelle! I was having fun!
As I’ve stated before and I will continue to state, I am the worst triathlon runner in the history of triathlon. I’m a pretty good runner in standalone races (I qualified for and ran Boston!) but put me on a bike before, and I completely suck. I can’t run whether I take it easy on the bike or push it. The running result is the same, but if I slow down on the bike all that happens is I lose 10 or 20 minutes because I don’t run any faster!
So here I was starting the run. I felt good actually! I had absolutely no expectations for this run (or this race) so I just went out, knowing I probably couldn’t hold the pace. And I actually held it for about 13km. I was pretty happy with myself! I stayed positive and most important I did my best to stay cool. It was really hot, over 30c, and as I’ve got older and living in a cold city, I have zero tolerance for heat. I just can’t do it. But, I was doing it!
Rob was out on the course. Near the end of my first lap he yelled some cheers at me, ending with “are you coming back?!” to which I replied “yes!” His response was “good for you!” What kind a response is that? Like I had a choice! I was trying to focus so I didn’t have any energy to waste on replying to that comment!
At 13km I started to suffer a bit. I was quite hungry so somewhere along the line I didn’t eat enough. I could feel the energy draining from my body. My legs were getting harder and harder to turn over, and the heat was getting harder to bear. It was awesome to see so many Betty teammates out there and them to cheer for – Kayla, Jordan, Jess, MacBeth, Yvonne – and I tried to stay strong to be able to cheer for them. At 17km the wheels really fell off and I had a ride on the struggle bus to the finish. I managed to mutter only a couple words to Rob at about 19km, mostly “don’t get me disqualified” as he was riding his bike beside for a few seconds.
The run down Sherman to the finish chute was awesome, and it never ceases to amaze how I can be barely moving to seeing the finish line and suddenly I can run again. My run ended up being 1:58, which is pretty bad for what I think I should be able to run (and what it seemed like everyone else was running!) but actually for me, it’s only the second or third time I’ve ever run under 2hrs in a 70.3. Considering my run training was very, very limited, I can only be happy and I really think I’ll be able to better in a month in Whistler!
As I crossed the finish line, the first words out of my mouth were “Oh! That’s Andy Potts!” as he was handing out medals. So obviously I bee-lined towards him. Sorry to the other volunteers, but it’s Andy Potts! He said something about how I did great and probably went faster than him to which I had no reply other than “uhhhh, I don’t think so!” Very embarrassing!
Overall I am very happy with my effort and results in Coeur d’Alene. I think my result reflected my training, and actually, I probably did better than I should have! The race organization itself was excellent. Coeur d’Alene has the perfect setup for ironman and the local support is wonderful. There were so many aid stations on the run plus random people out on their lawns cheering or spraying us with water. The decision of the mayor to discontinue the full distance is a big mistake and I think the town will come to regret that decision as Penticton has. At least the 70.3 is continuing. It was definitely one of the best 70.3s I’ve done and I would love to do it again.
Thanks as always to Rob for his support and cheers and awesome photos! His photos are better than the ones we pay too much for!