IMCDA 2009

Ironman Coeur d’Alene June 21 2009
We got there on the Wednesday night and went straight to the cabin (on the east side of the lake). Nice house with a view and a dock.
Thursday morning was all about a first swim in the choppy lake (not cold at 63 degrees though). Swallowed a lot of water but not too bad. Registration at 10am. It was pretty exciting to visit the expo, see the top bikes and buy some IM stuff. Everyone wearing Mdot temporary tatoos. Then a short run in the mountains, a little out of breath because of the altitude.
After a quick swim in the lake at the house we went to drive the bike course. The area of the course with the hills around Hayden lake is gorgeous. Rest is a bit of CDA lake front, farm roads and freeway and city. Not too hilly in my standards.
Friday same deal. I did one loop of the full swim course. Still choppy but I handled it better than the day before. More accustomed to altitude too. Big confidence boost and excitement for Sunday’s race! Then a quick 40mn cold bike ride in the rain and wind. Yew.
In the afternoon it was time to pack all the race bags. This takes quite a while if you want flawless organization. I took a picture it’s on facebook. The only thing I’d like to recommend is EFS First Endurance liquid shots. Much more nourishing than gels or bars or blox. Rocket fuel!
At night there was the useless athlete “compulsory” meeting. So boring. The banquet wasn’t appealing either. Instead we had a delicious (and greasy!) lamb mediterranean burger at Moon Time on Sherman Avenue.
Saturday was the day of bike and bags drop off. I wasn’t quite sure if I should put a plastic bag over my saddle because of the rain showers that were expected. The bike was under a tree so I figured it didn’t matter and I’d be wet too after the swim.
Back home for a quick last run in the hills and pines. I saw a deer. Good omen! I reflected on what brought me here in Idaho to try out the iron distance! I was not nervous and not even anxious. Quite excited actually.
Lunch of thick whole wheat pasta (my fetish meal for countless races over the past year. Pasta, feta cheese, spinach, capers, olive oil, vinegar, olives). It’s a slow carb load fest. Topped with Endurance Gatorade for extra sodium. It’s become a bit of a sludge so I need a new recipe.
Bed early. Slept pretty well (just like any other race).
Alarm rings like a spaceship at 3:45. Yeepee! This is the day when I get to do all that stuff! Breakfast (coffee, oatmal with berries, dates). Bags loaded in the car. Everyone is remarkably ready! Best crew you could imagine! Here is a deep bow to Justine, Miro and Astro for supporting me the whole time, through travel, being sick, hungry and cold!
As soon as we got to the race venue things got on fire! So much to do. Put on wet suit in the tent. Fix dry clothes bag and go store it. Swim caps, goggles. Miro makes me some warm tea to drink before the swim (I’m freaked out having my core cold – it happened in oceanside and boston). Then moving on to the area of the beach that I thought was the most appropriate. I did a survey of the expected times of the athletes on the beach and settled for the 1:20 pocket of swimmers. I hate some PowerBites.
The gun went and the crowd moved quite slowly toward the water. Swim started! yoohoo! Feeling good moving like a torpedo. Got hit a couple of times, I shoved a couple of people out of the way, I grabbed a couple of butts! I think I placed a bit conservative in the start group. It was sunny, there was an helicopter in the sky, a grand day out! First loop was easy. I heard 41 minutes. Getting back in the water was a bit crowded. Second loop I pushed harder quite in Z4 at the end. Swim done! That was kind of short, I was enjoying myself.
Transition to the bike, put the swim stuff in the bike bag, sunscreen. Run to bike. On the road. This is fun. Until… my stomach started to cramp (all the air and water I swallowed in the lake). But that was OK I’m trained to handle that. What got me there was the cold wind. Chilling me to the core. Red alert! I had strapped a fleece sweater on the bike so I put that on to warm up but it wasn’t really cutting the wind. So I was cold for 65% of the bike leg. There was nice sunny spots around Hayden lake which was nice.
The hills weren’t that tough. I stopped a couple of times at aid stations that were manned by the kindest volunteers in the world! Thanks for that. Kids holding your bike when you go to the porta cabin! I got a bag of accelerade drink from my special need bag. The ride was so cold that I drank a bottle and a half only! No sweat! I stayed conservatively in Z2. Low Z2. Cold makes me lazy. I had visions of fireplaces and comforters and cozy places. After Boston I had vowed to never race in cold places anymore (I was already registered for IMCDA then). Never again.
Anyway I implemented my race plan by the book. Z2 + scheduled nutrition. At the end I was dreaming of running. I couldn’t wait to run. Transition. Once last swig of accelerade (I call it accelerage sometimes) and off to the tent with the run bag. I sent a volunteer fetch my dry clothes bag. I wanted a dry warm shirt out of there. It was starting to rain and get a bit dark (my goal was to finish before it got dark!). A wool hat a running cap another layer my trusted newtons and chop chop chop on to the run. Feeling awesome, so happy to run! Not much wind just rain which is fine with me. I was warm and running. Yeah baby.
I started passing people. This felt good. People who passed me on the bike way back. I passed about 100 people I estimated. I hate gels in the same sequence as a marathon. PowerGel alternating one with caffeine and not. Just water with that. I stayed away from the chicken juice and the cola and the race food. I had one glass of gatorade by the end and it didn’t feel 100% right.
It was raining the whole time. Other runners were wearing ponchos or thermal blankets. I didn’t get any of that, I didn’t even dig in the special needs bag (there was a peach I thought I’d like). A lot of people were walking and it was getting dark. One loop was easy, some climbing but nothing quad busting. Second loop was just the idea that it was the end, I tried to speed up (when I look at the splits I didn’t really speed up). Thanks to whoever put the message on the Ford LED big board. It gave me a boost.
The run was fun and that was the end of it. The last couple of miles… what can I say. There is that turn into Sherman where the finish line is. I finished really strong. I ran down the long alley, saw Justine on the bleachers, standing up. The bright lights, the guy in the microphone saying “Arno, you are … an ironman!”. I thought I would be overwhelmed with joy after the finish but instead I just slowed down picked up my medal and went to pack my stuff texting my family to meet them! I really don’t have much drama queen in me (I’m no Norman Stadler!)
It was pretty easy. I probably didn’t push enough on the bike which left me undepleted at the end. I need to do another race at a more aggressive pace with a tribike. I’m thinking about signing up for vineman to take advantage of a quick maintenance training schedule so I can stay at the peak. I need to budget that first.
Even if it was easily accomplished doesn’t mean it wasn’t some work. Whole saturdays in bike training. The big bricks (80/18). Lots of hills. All the support of advice from everyone, friends and family and other sources. I self coached. Here is a graph of my training load which was built on the base of years of marathon running.
As far as nutrition goes I don’t have any rules except that I don’t eat many starchies or refined sugar and only one serving of animal protein a day. I don’t drink alcohol at all.
Thanks to Justine, Miro and Astro for being the perfect family crew, for being there on the course, it gave me a boost every time. Thanks to my brother for providing the tracks for training (no music allowed in the race though). Thanks to Rich Roll for good advice, Gordo Byrne from for some wisdom and great tips and a great book. Thanks to all those who watched the race online. Thanks for all the encouragement, inspiration and support everyone. I love you.

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