If you’re a tri-nerd of any variety, you’ll know by now that Ironman Coeur d’Alene was one of the hottest on record. Now, I’m the first to tell you that I love the heat and that I really enjoy racing in it; mainly because I know that I’m small enough to shrug it off and also because I’m smart enough to know that I can’t control it, so why fret? Simply have a cold beer, eat all of the things and plot your preparations.
So! Off we went, south to the inferno that was Idaho. Liz made it her mission in the days leading up to find the hottest forecast she could. 44C! Good times. We love a good road trip that’s fuelled by caffeine and chip-like things.
We cruised into Coeur d’Alene, moved into our lovely home with the other girls and then it was all the pre-race prep that I loathe. This is the part that gives me anxiety and makes me nervous (not the actual racing part). That said, I know I’m ready to race when I reach the “yeah, I don’t want to do this anymore. I just want to sleep in my pint-size bed all day, thanks” phase. That rolled around at about 2pm before race day.
Pre-race included fun activities like lying around, naps, eating, swimming and meeting new friend Erin. So fun for us to finally meet in real life! Plus, we kept bumping into each other all week – including on the race course. So great and she rocked it.
Rumours were FLYING in the days leading up. Will they cancel? Shorten? Start earlier or later? Reverse the order? (I’m kidding. But not really. Someone legitimately suggested this). I asked around the day before and pretty much confirmed we were going full. Yay! And also, ugh.
Race morning. 5:45AM start! Isn’t that silly? I flat out refused to set my alarm for anything with a 3 on it, so 4AM it was. Choke down breakfast and off we went to the start. Chrissy dropped Liz and I off to make our way to transition.
Now, here’s where I say I was both heartbroken for and super proud of Lizzie. She’d been sick in the days leading up to the race and made the very smart decision not to do the whole thing. It’s a tough call to make when you’re getting caught up in the buzz and have put in all those hours. So once again, she proved to me that she’s a smarty pants. Plus, now she’s just going to crush IMC and I get to turn the tables and cheer!
Here’s a riveting account of how my day went down:
Swim: Terrible. F. What on earth was I doing out there? Oh right, simply confirming my suspicions that I hadn’t been swimming enough. I was way too relaxed when the gun went off. I had a good first lap but then I day dreamed my way through the 2nd lap. I think my first indication that things weren’t going to be record breaking when my arms weren’t tired. Maybe I was wishing for an imaginary current. Whoopsie Daisy.
Bike: It took me a long time to settle in and get my ass in gear. Once I did, I felt a-ok. I passed a whole lot of people out there, and forced myself to eat every 15 minutes. Do you know how un-fun force-feeding yourself every 15 minutes during exercise at 40C is? Yeah, it’s pretty un-fun. But I got it done. I had one of those nifty sun shirts to protect my skin and keep me cool and I swear that thing made my day. I kept myself as cool as I could as I rode by people whom I swear I could see sunburning/melting before my very eyes.
I felt like an idiot because I couldn’t remember the distance of an Ironman bike leg in miles. I’m here to tell you that you get a lot of weird looks when you ask other competitors how far we have to go.
As I was making one of the last descents into town – by this time, 100% ready to get the hell off my bike – I watched as people were walking up hills, sitting in ditches and, in one case, falling off their bike… uphill. Ok, so maybe it was a bit hotter for those folks. Yikes!
Run: I was really looking forward to getting off the bike and back on my feet… until I was actually on said feet. Right. Running. I came off ok, tossed my disgusting sticky bike to a volunteer and trotted into the tent.
I don’t know why, but I had the best time in transition snatching my bags off the ground before the volunteers could get to it, like some kind of racing purse snatcher. Anyway.
In the transition tent, I dumped my stuff out and looked for my body glide. Opened it up and liquid goo spilled onto the grass. Lovely! Undeterred, I smeared my hands in the grass then onto myself. I’m a classy broad that way.
The first mile was horrid. As in, I saw Liz and Laurel and said “how am I supposed to do this?!” horrid. Well, I did it. Kind of. The marathon just became a mile-by-mile thing, aid station-to-aid station mission. Each aid station was the same: stuff ice into every piece of clothing, eat/drink something, high 5 the INCREDIBLE volunteers, and go. On and on it went.
I didn’t even bother to look at my watch. I wasn’t setting records by any stretch, I’d missed my time goals by country miles and at that point, I didn’t care anyway. I wanted to finish safely, that was all. The weird thing was that my legs didn’t really hurt once I got going, but I knew better than to crank my heart rate lest my body shut down in the heat. So I just did what I needed to do to get to the end of the race.
It’s funny that the run is such a blur because I talked to so many people and thanked so many volunteers (new goal for the day). It takes a special kind of person to give up their day in that kind of weather to help others achieve their goals. So, to the pregnant lady to whom I told to go indoors and to the guy who held my hand when I had 3 miles to go and didn’t want to anymore and just said “you got this”, THANK YOU.
That last mile was the longest one on the planet. A guy got right up in my face and yelled “Do you know how many blocks you have left??!” I said something along the lines of “No F#$%ing clue!” and he held up 8 fingers. I think he thought he was doing me a favour but my brain almost melted at the thought of running 8 more blocks.
Finish: the last few races I’ve done, for some reason I feel the need to blast to the line. Not this time. It was weird. There was no one on the boulevard save one guy quite a ways ahead of me. People were cheering and I was smiling — mostly out of glee that it was finally done. The guy ahead of me pulled over in the chute and waved me ahead of him. I’m still not sure why but that was very gracious. I slowed to a walk and crossed the line.
After a few wobbly steps and a few minutes with medical, I was handed off to my girls and it was so great to see them. And here, ladies and gentlemen, was pretty much the first thing out of my mouth (worth the watch, if you ask me):
“There was no part of that day that was fun”.
I guess, in retrospect, there must have been some fun parts, because I said that with a huge grin on my face.
So now what?
I missed my goal by a lot, but I knew that would happen in those temps so I re-evaluated to get it done. I’m proud of the fact that I did. I said to Liz that I was done with Ironman for a while… but now… now I don’t know. I feel like I have all this fitness stored up and I should put it to good use. So…
ps. Ironman aftermath. Those things may or may not have stayed there for a few days…
p.p.s. Just the facts: 11:35:07, 7th AG.