Race Report: Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2015

Last year at Ironman Coeur d’Alene the weather was pretty windy and cool. The water temperatures was in the 50’s and it was cool and windy. I signed up for this race specifically because that type of weather suits me well. Cool, damp and even a little rainy. I don’t like the heat. So, when the weather forecast was predicting temperatures of 107+ for raceday, I knew my perfect race day was not to be.

My goal for this race from the minute I finished Ironman Lake Placid last season was to go sub 12 hours along with around a 4 hour marathon time. That goal went by the wayside in the last two weeks leading up to the race. I knew from there it was going to be a matter of just surviving at that point.

Pre-Race

We arrived in Spokane, Washington and made our way to Coeur d’Alene, ID, which is about an hour drive, on the Thursday before the race. We settled into our AirBnB accomodations which were about about 20 minutes northwest of town and about 10 minutes from the bike & run course on Coeur d’Alene Drive.  It was nestled on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding mountains. A perfect location to get away from all the Ironman drama that goes on in town. I have to say though that I think Coeur d’Alene is a little better than Lake Placid in this respect since it is larger and more spread out. Lake Placid is so small and there is just such a high concentration of athletes there, so you can’t get away from overhearing all of the pre-race chatter.

We headed down to Tony’s Restaurant for dinner which just down the road on Coeur d’Alene Drive and overlooks the lake. It is nestled in cove which is great because it gets shaded from the sun in the evening. They have a big outdoor deck and  the food was great. We were fortunate to get a table since we didn’t make any reservations. We ended eating here twice during our stay.

On Friday, we headed over to Post Falls and had a killer breakfast overlooking the Spokane River at LePeep. Then we headed over to the race expo area in City Park for athlete check-in and to check out the expo. I had “All World Athlete” (AWA) status this year, so one of the perks is that you get to go to the front of the line for check-in. This was nice at first, but then you end up having to stand in the regular line with everyone else once you fill out your waiver forms. When I went up to register, I handed the girl my drivers license and she said “Pennsylvania?! There was just another athlete from PA.” I said “is her name Megan?” Sure enough it was Megan, who I met up at the Todd Wiley Lake Placid camp a couple months before. I spotted her ahead in the line and we chatted a bit while waiting in the line. This would be Megans’ first Ironman.

The other AWA perk was that you get an special swim cap for the race. I thought this would be great for my wife to pick me out from the other swimmers. When they gave it to me it was a black cap and the volunteer said that they prefer you not wear them since they are hard to see in the water. Who the hell came up with that color??!! They gave me a typical bright green one along with it which is what I wore anyway. This AWA thing isn’t turning out to be any big deal so far.

One nice thing was the swag backpack they gave out this year. I really liked it since it was kind of a duffle/slash backpack and very functional. I will probably a lot more use out of this than the other ones I got in previous years. I also like the Seattle Seahawk color scheme too!

Ironman Coeur d'Alene swag

Ironman Coeur d’Alene swag

I decided to attend the pre-race meeting this time since it was a new race venue for me and with all the heat concerns. They really didn’t say a whole lot about the heat other than they would meet with local emergency officials on Saturday night and determine if any other changes to race would need to be done. They had already announced that we would be starting an hour earlier at 5:45am for age groupers to help get out of the hottest part of the day. Personally, that would not help me much since I would be getting more run time in the hottest part of the day. I would rather be biking during that time.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Pre-Race Meeting - Notice how everyone is sitting in the shade?

Ironman Coeur d’Alene Pre-Race Meeting – Notice how everyone is sitting in the shade?

I had used TriBike Transport to ship my bike to the race along with a gear bag to put my aero helmet, bike shoes, tools & spare parts and my wetsuit. We were staying in CdA for vacation the week after and I didn’t want to be lugging this stuff around. TriBike Transport is a great service and I will be doing a separate post on that with more details soon. They allow you to check your bike in and out as needed in case you want to take it for a spin before the race. This was great cause I didn’t have any way to transport my bike back to our apartment. I also checked my gear bag out and left my bike with them. They also had mechanics there to pump tires and put your pedals back on.

After the meeting I did a short swim in the lake just beyond the beach swimming area. The water was quite refreshing since it was already around 100 degrees out. I was surprised how cool the water had remained despite the heat of the week.

For the rest of Friday and Saturday I pretty much laid low. I did take my bike out for a ride down CdA Drive on Saturday afternoon to make sure everything was working correctly. It also gave me a taste of the heat and I tested out my new cooling sleeves. I was surprised of the cooling effect that the material provided. It felt like I had menthol on your arms. Ride went well and then I checked it into transition for the race. I had bib #462 for this race so I was pretty close to the bike exit in the transition area. I also checked in my bike and run bags with the essentials in them. I left out any nutrition stuff which I would put in before the race.

On Saturday night we cooked at the apartment and I made my traditional pre-race Chickpea Sweet Potato Coconut Curry. It is just packed with good stuff, but I usually cut back on the spice a bit when I make it before any races. After dinner I prepped and packed all of my race nutrition so it was ready to go in the morning. I loaded up two ziplocs full of 4 chopped up Amrita bars each, 5 bottles of Skratch Labs hydration, 1-3hr bottle of UCan SuperStarch, Base Performance Salt, and 2 PB&J sandwiches to put in special needs bags. I didn’t get to bed until around 10PM though, so with a 3am wake-up 5 hours of sleep is not great for the night before an Ironman. I did sleep fairly solidly though.

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    • Shanna on July 14, 2015 at 06:59
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    You did good Brian. I know a DNF SUCKS ALL CAPS SUCKS but you were so smart to listen to your body and say eff this craziness and call it a day. Who knows what could or would have happened it you continued for another 13.1 miles in that brutal heat! Your swim and bike (especially now that i know what went down … And what came up) on the bike were super impressive.

    Way to go! Can’t wait to follow along for your next ironman! Youve made some truly remarkable progress this year. I have no doubt you will hit your time goal the next time you race.

    1. Thanks Shanna! Yeah I have to keep telling myself that. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I think I did make the wiser decision at the time. There is always more races to come and hopefully that sub-12 too.

    • Steve on July 19, 2015 at 19:17
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    Great report. Living to fight another day was the smart choice even though it’s a tough decision. I’ve done CDA twice and considering Lake Placid for 2016. Which race race do you think is more challenging? Im tall but I weigh about 225 so the lake placid bike has me a bit scared.

    1. Thanks Steve! Lake Placid is a great race. I think it is pretty equally challenging though. I think hills in Placid are not quite as steep as CdA but they just last go forever. From the town of Jay back to Lake Placid seems to be all uphill. It is totally doable if you have done CdA. You just really need to manage your pace well. First loop really easy. I will have to do a side-by-side compare of the courses with the elevation gains and gradients on a future post. Could be of interest to others too. Best of luck at Placid next year. Keep me posted if you do it, would love to follow and hear how you did.

  1. […] won’t get into the full details of my IMCdA race here, so for that you can jump over to the full race report on my blog here. The weather forecast for Coeur d’Alene heading into race day was expected to reach a high of […]

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