Race Report: Ironman CDA – part 1

Ironman CDA, Coeur d’Alene, ID – 06/24/2012 (part 1)


My packing list for this trip ended up being 3.5 pages long (8pt font), though one whole page of that was just for my transition bags, which included items from the main list.

I managed to fill my car’s trunk completely. It was impressive.

We (Alida and I) set out about 7am the Friday before the race, making it as far as Sprague Lake before we decided to stop for lunch (vegan nut burgers, veggies, white bean hummus).


We got into town about 1pm, and went straight to the park so I could register and pick up my bib numbers and such. This involved signing a series of waivers indicating I understood what I was about to try to do and that, should things go wrong, I couldn’t sue them. Check and double-check.


Having signed my life away, I was awarded a snazzy blue security bracelet and an AWESOME BAG OF AWESOMENESS. We scoped out the expo and picked up a few souvenirs, then toured the booths and sampled some Gu Chomps, Bonk Breaker bars, and other assorted things.


We found a shady spot in the grass and settled in to listen to the official course overview. I learned a couple of things during this, though I don’t remember what they were. It was very useful, at any rate. I also used this time to more closely inspect all the pockets of my new bag. I love me some pockets.

so many pockets!

We left the park and went to check in at the hotel. I went out for a 30 minute easy run, and found my legs were begging me to go faster while my mouth and lungs were crying a bit over the dry hotness. Interesting.

After a stretch and a shower, we set out to find some dinner. The event hosts an Athlete Banquet that comes free with registration ($30 for non-athlete guests), but I’d checked at registration and the only vegan option there would be salad. No thanks.

The place I’d planned to go to was closed, but some quick smart-phone research found an alternative called Moon Time. My nerves finally started to make themselves known and I was all manner of twitchy. I kept wanting the race to be Saturday. I was tapered and rested and READY TO GO ALREADY!!! But no, not yet… chill. I tried to keep myself from freaking out by playing with my new phone case, but there’s only so far that will take you…

I ate a super tasty “Anasazi Bean Burger” and resisted the urge to have a beer, and before long it was time to head back to the park for the mandatory athlete meeting. This was to be held in the same massive tent the banquet was in.  I’ve seriously never seen a bigger tent. It was HUGE.

I was also an acoustical nightmare. Just as the “mandatory” parts were starting, a big thunderstorm moved in, and rain hitting all that tarp made it impossible to hear what anyone was saying. Oh well. I think it was mostly stuff that had also been covered at the course review, so I wasn’t worried.

We went back to the hotel and I did a little maintenance on the bike (lube this, oil that, etc), and prepped my Bike and Run bags to be dropped off the next day.

Eventually it was time for bed, which made for unintentional hilarity as I hadn’t realized what shirt I’d brought with me for PJs. I take part in a volunteer clean-up effort in the International District every year, and one of the shirts from that made me seem a little overly excited to be in Idaho:


In the morning I went out for one last, easy bike ride, then it was time to finish packing my Bike and Run transition bags and go check those and my bike in at the park. They have excellent security measures, as you have to be wearing your wristband (which has your bib number on it) to get in to the transition area, and they take a picture of your bike (also numbered) on the way in so sneaky persons can’t just swap the numbers around and walk out with a $12,000 rig. I got my bike racked, and then found that my bib number was especially fortuitous, as it meant my bags were at the end of their respective rows:

row upon row upon row upon row…


I also took a peek inside the men’s transition tent. In some events, like this one, where space is at a premium, they don’t let you have your own transition area at your bike. Instead, you have to bag up all your stuff ahead of time, grabbing the bike bag just after exiting the water, and the run bag just after hopping off the bike. All gear changing takes place inside the tents.


At this point my parents and sis showed up, so we found a nice spot in the grass for them to  discuss race day logistics with Alida. That done, they headed back to Pullman where they were staying with my uncle and his family, while Alida and I went to scope out the hilly parts of the bike course on highway 95.




I knew there some big climbs from the elevation profile, but holy crap these were monstrous. I like sharp climbs that are over quickly. These were somewhat steep climbs that went on for miles. I knew I could do it, I just wasn’t sure if I’d have anything left by the end of it to run a freaking MARATHON. Sheesh.

We went back to the hotel and I set about final night-before-preparations (freezing bike bottles, counting out gels, etc). Part of this involved selecting which size rubber bands I wanted to use from a multi-size pack Alida had got for me. I got a little carried away, but I think the sorting calmed me down a bit.

All too soon it was time for dinner and bed… at 6pm. With a 3am wake up call looming I wanted to give myself every chance of getting a full night’s sleep, nerves be damned. Dinner was my usual pasta dinner that I had made and brought from home: whole wheat spaghetti, field roast, onion, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, sea salt, pepper, and lots of olive oil.

I think I actually managed to fall asleep fairly quickly, and slept pretty well until midnight or so. Then it was a game of sleep for 30 minutes, wake up due to nerves or bladder, chug some more Nuun-water, try to sleep again. I finally gave up at 2:50am, turned off my alarm and got going. Race day was finally here.

Continue to part 2.

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