It's funny, this whole season, I have been thinking that Coeur d'Alene was going to be so much easier than Canada. I felt like I was in a little bit better shape. My swim times were getting faster, and even though I didn't do a great job at doing any of my markers, I felt a lot better at Wildflower and went 20 minutes faster this year than last. Basically I got on the plane to Spokane Washington, where I would then get a ride into Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, thinking that Sunday wasn't going to be too hard. It would be a long day, but I wasn't really worried about it. I was pretty sure I would do a lot better than I had in Canada, because it couldn't possibly be 95 degrees. I also thought the bike ride was going to be a lot easier. I knew the swim would be cold, but I don't mind cold water too much, so I wasn't worried.
What I learned on Sunday was don't ever underestimate an Ironman. Sunday was harder than I could have ever imagined.
The swim started on a small beach. We were packed in like sardines. It took us about 15 minutes just to get through the mobs of spectators to reach the beach. When the gun went off (was there a gun? I don't really remember, I just know that everyone started running into the water, so I knew it was time to go) I followed the people in front of me into the water. It was cold, but not too bad. I started to swim. Arms kept bumping into my head, I couldn't seem to find a space just for myself like I had in Canada. At one point a guy grabbed my arm and my watch and pulled me down. I actually thought it was George just messing around with me, so I turned to laugh and tell him to stop trying to cheat, and I realized it was just some random guy who apparently wanted to pull me back. I tried to ignore that and swim away from him.
You can see from the video that swimming away was kind of hard. When I finally made the first turn at to come back to the beach for the first loop, the water started to clear out. I found my own space, and was super happy. I thought, ok, this is good. Now I just have about 1.5 miles left, and I can do this. After a little while I realized there was no one around me because I was swimming the wrong way. Once I corrected that, I was again surround by people kicking me in the face and hitting me on the head. I still got out of my first lap in 36 minutes and I thought, "if I just swim a little bit faster on the second loop, I can beat my Canada swim time." So I put more effort into my second loop and was thinking I was doing pretty good despite the deepening waves...but when I got out of the water I realized I was 7 minutes slower than Canada. Oh well, I thought. It was a really tough swim, but my time wasn't too bad: 1 hour 18 minutes.
So then I ran into the changing tent. I got in there and it was crazy. The bad thing about being a somewhat decent swimmer is you get out of the water at the same time as actually really good athletes who are competitive. I was a little overwhelmed and there didn't seem to be very many volunteers in the tent to help people. So I went to the very back corner and was prepared to get ready by myself when a really nice lady came up to me and took my bag. She was really great. She took out all my stuff. Opened my FRS for me and while I drank it put my socks on me. Then she put my arm warmers on, and got my sunblock out. I was out of transition in less than 11 minutes...which isn't the best transition time, but I was happy to be on the bike.
The bike....Ugh. So all year long I thought that CDA would be a lot easier than Canada. I had studied the elevation map and it said there was just 2,300 feet of climbing. Canada had about 4,000 feet, so I assumed all year that CDA would just be a lot easier. Saturday, the day before the race, I realized that the 2,300 feet of climbing was just for one loop and there were two!!!!! At that point I realized my goal of doing CDA an hour faster than Canada would probably not be achieved.
But I started the bike in a positive mood. I kept saying all week, it's all about your attitude, and I was going to have a good one. I'm glad I have a lot of experience consciously being positive, because Sunday's bike ride was challenging. It began with a short out and back which was supposed to be somewhat flat but wasn't really, and then we went back into town and started the hard part of the course...on the elevation map it looked like two climbs and then pretty flat...but it wasn't. It was two long climbs and then a steady, unrelenting uphill for about 15 miles. At times negative thoughts would creep into my head, but I would tell myself I wasn't going to listen to them. I had told my friends to stay positive, and by golly, I was going to follow my own advice. Any time I started to get discouraged, I started to pray that everyone on my team would have a great day. Thinking about them, and hoping they were enjoying themselves, and not miserable helped me not think about how hard the bike ride was.
And truthfully, although it was hard, harder than Canada, with more climbing and strong headwinds, physically I felt pretty good through the whole thing. I had a headache, but I took some advil and then I was fine. My biggest complaint physically was my nose kept running. Yuck! I hope I didn't blow snot on any of my fellow Ironmen. :)
Finally I was at mile 100 and saw Jeannie cheering me on. I knew it was mostly down hill from there. I was disappointed that I hadn't gone as fast as I thought I would have but I was super happy to be done.
Bike: 8 hours and 3 minutes (one minute faster than Canada)
I kept thinking how much I couldn't wait to get off the bike and start the run!
That was until I started the run. :)
I kept a smile on my face most the time (I think). It helped that I had so many friends out there on the course to cheer on.
Ok, so I realize this looks like I am in pain...but it's still a smile, right?
So again...the run wasn't that physically hard. I ran, I walked, I ran, I walked...but after I started going out on my second 13.1 mile loop, all of a sudden it became extremely difficult to stay positive. I started thinking of what a hard course it was, how I hated hills, and wondering why I would be so stupid to sign up for a second Ironman. If it had been my first I could have kept telling myself that I needed to keep going so I could be an Ironman. But I already am an Ironman...so where was my motivation???? Well it came in the form of my amazing teammates and friends and family who came to cheer me on. Every time I would run by 7th and Lakeside there was a huge cheering section for me, and out on the course I saw all my beloved friends struggling, just like I was. I realized that I was lucky to be out there, lucky to have such great people to be sharing the experience with, and lucky that I had this opportunity.
The sun went down as I was climbing that stupid hill before the turn around. I walked all the way up it, then ran/walked down the other side, and then turned around to walk back up it. When I got near the top I saw that I was at mile 21. I had 5 miles left. By then it was completely dark. For some weird reason, when it's dark and my vision is impaired, I can push myself harder. I started to run. At mile 22 I looked at my watch and realized that even though I wasn't going to beat my Canada time by an hour, I could still beat it by a little bit. So I ran, and ran, and stopped to eat some potato chips and grapes, and then ran again.
My friends were waiting for me at mile 25 and when I saw them I got a surge of energy. I started to remember why I was doing this, and how much fun it was. I walked a little bit up the very last hill, so I could run in down the straight away to the finish line. The street was lined with people. It was great. Music was blaring, everyone was cheering. I saw my friends and started high fiving them, and then everyone wanted to high five me, so I obliged!
I was done!!! And I did it about 7 minutes faster than Canada: 15 hours and 48 minutes. Not what I had been hoping for...but considering how hard the course was, both physically and emotionally, I think I did well.
George and Dana and Jasmine and Tyler were at the finish line to greet me. I couldn't ask for a better finishing party!
George helped me get some pizza, and then I got a headache and felt like crying. My head hurt a lot, but I was mostly overwhelmed with the day. I hadn't expected it to be so challenging, and I just felt like I needed a good cry. Some chicken broth and tylenol fixed me right up though. We got my bike, dropped it off at Tri Bike Transport and then walked to the car. We got to see the last finishers come in as we walked there, and it was super exciting to see them.
All day, I had told myself I would never do this again...but that finish line is like no other...so who knows...I heard Ironman Brazil isn't that hard. ;)