The inaugural Coeur d’Alene IM 70.3. I was excited about this race from the moment it was announced. 2016 was to be my year with a break from the full distance. An opportunity to regain some of the speed I had in 2012, when I was in my best run shape, before 3 years in a row of full IMs. And to give my body a break from the super long stuff. Coeur d’Alene is a great venue. I did the full in 2014. I like the course a lot. It plays to my strengths (hills) on the bike which is my weakest link of the 3. Washington lost our 70.3 (Lake Stevens) so Idaho is the closest one.
Taper week was busy, getting the house ready (my awesome cousin came to stay with the girls) and packing for the race. My bike had a bent derailleur and I got it back from the shop (after some confusion and frustration) the night before we were to leave for the race. In the back of my mind I knew it would be ok, plus if I got in a real jam I could always ride my beloved road bike, Rita the Specialized Tarmac.
We stayed in Spokane, only a 20 minute freeway drive to Coeur d’Alene. Friday afternoon we hit packet pick up. It was raining and windy. I kept staring at the AWA table, knowing this was my one chance to bypass the long line. Something got messed up so my AWA status didn’t register with this race and I had to call to get it changed, which meant a trip to the “solutions” table. It all worked out, the volunteers were excellent and helpful.
Saturday morning I did a practice swim. It was windy and the water temp was 60. Balmy! I love swimming in chop so it was a fun shake out swim. At home, I had been practicing in the cold lake to get ready for the San Francisco triathlon at Alcatraz, so the water temperature wasn’t a concern in my mind. I did end up wearing my neoprene booties and my neoprene cap, if anything just for extra practice for SF.
This was my first race in our new kits. I was really excited to race in the kit. Many thanks to everyone on the team who provided feedback on the design, and to Zoot Sports who took great care of us and made it right after there was an unexpected snafu/delay with our team store. And many thanks to all of our incredible sponsors!
I slept well the night of the race and we were up at 3:30am for strong coffee. I had a banana and some plain full fat yogurt. We left around 4:30am and got to transition shortly before 5am. Always glad to see the Vengeful One waiting for me, rocking his wicked Gray wheels. At this point I had some PlowOn. Checked the tire pressure, set up my transition space, chatted with my neighbors, took my Ucan (lemon mixed in coconut water) then handed my pump and extra stuff to my better half and headed to the swim start.
The swim is a self seed, I went with the 30-35 minute group. My half swims have always been 33 minutes and this one was no exception. My husband jokes that I am nothing if not consistent. The swim was excellent. The slow trickle of athletes into the water made it so the course wasn’t too crowded and I was able to settle into a steady pace. The only big surprise was taking the first turn and getting a eyeball of sunshine. So I sighted on whatever I could see and after the next turn the visibility was better. The lake felt clear and cool and perfect.
The run to T1 is long, but transition itself went quickly. The spot I had was close to bike out. When my coach and I discussed my race plan, he encouraged me to go hard on the bike. He felt like I would have more than enough in my legs for the run. I had done 3 half marathons this year, with the last being a few weeks before this race. They all were strong. I have been working hard on my run. I have also been doing many of the runs fasted, and experimenting with periods of fasting during the day. This has been great for my efficiency and something I will continue to do. My plan on the bike was Ucan mixed with The Right Stuff (sodium), which I took 3 separate times during the ride. In the fuselage was Nuun, which I sipped whenever I wanted it. This plan has works well. The course is really fun. You do an out and back (rolling) by the lake then head up into the mountains to take on what feels like a never ending hill (although there are some downhills) until the turnaround. The rest is fairly fast (except a couple uphills) coming back into town. The ride was me passing the fast guys on the uphills, then they would blow by me on the downhills. Repeat until the finish. I stuck to the plan of going hard. I started to get tired about 2:15 into the ride when something funny that my oldest had sent me popped into my head. “Johnny 3 Tears does not approve of you f*@%ery.” AKA keep pushing it! Finished the ride in 2:54. Long schlep around transition and then down the middle to find my spot. T2 was otherwise quick except I forgot to take off my bike gloves, ha! I realized this a short time into the run when I glanced at my Garmin. I just stuffed them in my back pocket, no big deal, but it made my laugh.
The run was great. It was getting quite warm so at every aid station I would drink a little water then dump some on my head. I had on my lucky Boston 2012 visor which I swear emits good vibes, not to mention my new kit which also came with mojo attached. The run is two loops. It passes through the town and some neighborhoods, out to the lake, then turns around. Its rolly, not much shade, with some hard, uneven spots. There are spectators everywhere and they were so cheerful and encouraging, before I knew it I was on the second loop. I had an even pace until the end when I was feeling the heat a little bit. Run time 1:47.
I ended up with 5:24, good enough for 9th in my AG, which is technically a PR. I had a 5:20 at Victoria last year, but that course is a 53 mile bike. Both my bike and my run were faster than previous 70.3s (with my swim being the same), so I was super happy with that.
Many thanks to my husband who could not be more supportive and incredible. To my coach who has been with me since 2011 and gets me where I want to be. To our sponsors for their continued support. And I cannot say enough about our wonderful team who motivate and lift each other up every single day. You guys make this all so much fun and I am proud to be part of it!