Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IM Coeur d'Alene 2009 Race Report

I've never DNF'd a race before but on June 21th, 2009, that thought crossed my mind...!

I arrived in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday on a connection flight from Seattle to Spokane from SFO with Kara. We waited for Caesar as he was landing at the same time but different carrier. Got bags...got in Kara's rental car...made our way to CDA! Our house was sweet! About 3 blocks to race central and the transition area- score! We basically spent our day getting settled, went to do some grocery shopping and drove the bike course. First impression of bike course- a whole lotta turns- 81 to be exact- 41 per loop on the two loop course and while that may not sound like a lot over 112 miles.. most of the loops were during the first part of the loop!!

Thursday..went to the Gatorade practice swim. Coach had us swim for 40 minutes but we did one loop..20 minutes and called it a day because the water was way too choppy to want to go back in for a second loop of buoys. I was getting pounded in the water and my face got the brunt of it heading out. On the way back, the water was so jerky that it almost felt like the water was jerking you back and forth as the current pushed you forward but having swum in the waters by Alcatraz..we were able to deal!

Friday & Saturday was race prep- getting our T1, T2, special needs bike and special needs run bags together. Checked in our bikes and bags for race day! All week, we've been tracking the weather and up until Saturday, the forecast for race day was cold rain...and more cold rain which led me, Brian, Kara and a lot others to spend the quickest $100 ever on a thin windbreaker for the race! Of course, Saturday came and the forecast for Sunday had gotten a lot better. No rain..just cloudy.. we breathed a sigh of relief! 

Sunday- race day!! Got up at 3:30am..started breakfast at 4am and kept hydration and calories from 4am until 6:30am. The house (myself, Caesar, Mary, Eric, Mai and Ted) walked down to transition at 5:30am..got body marked and got prepped for race! I saw Coach while walking with Kara to the potty and he gave me a hug and asked me if I was nervous. I said, "a little" but really I was about to break out in tears which surprised even me! The swim distance of an Ironman is just about 2% of the race but it takes up about 80% of one's emotions! I just wanted to get started!!  As we dropped our dry clothes bag off and walked down to the beach, I had lost sight of everyone but was able to spot Ariane and Victor on the beach for a little bit of comfort. 7am- canon goes off- comfort goes away..away we go.. over 2000+ triathletes in the 62 degree waters of Coeur d'Alene Lake!!

2.4 Mile Swim- 1:53.59- swim start was not as chaotic as I had imagined it in my head. It was choppy but nowhere near the pounding I got on Thursday when we did a practice swim in there and plus having swum Alcatraz a couple of times in the past helped in dealing with the swells and waves. First loop done..got out..ran around timing mat and back in for the second loop! The second loop of the swim felt a bit longer- I think the wind must have picked up because the swells were definitely heavier going out for the second loop and my time was 10 minutes slower for the second lap- argh! I also started to feel a muscle strain that started from top of shoulder and ran down the middle of my arm. While going out on the second lap and swimming through the swells I had a thought, "Now I know why Chris makes us do head up drills!" The swells felt like wheels barrels that we had to crawl over!
T1- 8:51- Coming out of the water..headed for the wetsuit strippers.. wetsuit off..they turned me around and asked me 
if I was okay? I said.."Yes! Gotta go!" and was handed my T1 bag... into changing tent! My volunteer helper emptied 
my bag on the ground as I told her what I needed and what I can skip.. changed into my bike shorts..put my 
sunglasses on and helmet..volunteer put my cycling shoes on and next thing you know..I am out of the tent headedto my bike! So while in T1, I looked at my heart rate monitor and it read 23 beats..it didn't dawn on me that that wasn't normal and couldn't be right..I thought that I must have been really relieved from getting out of water that I was calm. Started riding... heart rate read 33 and that's when it hit me that hrm wasn't reading correctly so I restarted while on bike but same numbers.. restarted again...instead of numbers.. it gave me two flat dashes...uh oh!! This has never happened before with my HRM..

112 Mile Bike- 7:39:36- So..I was in "uh oh" mode with my HRM since my entire bike plan was based on my heart rate, I tried to stay calm and not go out too fast but my perceived exertion is never quite right as I had found during training sessions. So while I am trying to stay calm, I am really thinking "f*ck f*ck f*ck!" I stopped twice to try to re-adjust the position of the heart rate strap but didn't work.. no heart rate reading. I saw Coach out running in the beginning of the bike and I was very close to stopping (again) to ask him what I should do but that would have required me to make a U turn and well didn't want to do that so just kept riding and hoped for the best. I had an idea of what my avg mph during the longer training rides were and just used that as my base but a little harder- in fear of going too hard or not hard enough- I still felt very lost during my bike not knowing if I was doing the right thing? The good thing was that the course looked a lot tougher in the car than it did on the bike. The second loop of the bike definitely got a lot windier but also more interesting! While riding the second loop, I noticed two men on a scooter next to me. I initially thought they were course refs but I looked over..saw a man holding up a video camera and he said, "tell me about your day!" I said, "Seriously?" Apparently they were, so I gave them a little interview as they rode alongside me. As I found out the next day, an edited version of that interview ended up making the race highlight video! And thank goodness it was edited :-). So looking at my bike splits for the entire 112 miles, they were pretty consistent but I could have definitely pushed harder! 

T2- 6:08- glad to get off the bike! Took the HRM off and left it at T2 but had my garmin and kept arm warmers on since wind was picking up and temperatures were dropping. 

26.2 Mile Run- 6:20:53- 1st couple of miles were good but mentally, I was still bothered by my HRM malfunction and didn't know how to shake that off. I ran the first 14 miles or so and came upon #3 (Miranda Alldritt), a pro woman who was walking her second loop of the run who said, "keep going girl" as I passed her. But eventually that run turned into what felt like a jog. It started to get cold and joints were starting to feel stiff. Then eventually it started to rain and temps were beginning to drop- fast! Took a space blanket that was being handed out but was still very cold! Tried to keep running but mentally, I wasn't at a good place. Physically, joints weren't at a good place either with the cold. Instead of the one little birdie that told me it was okay to walk, I had many other birdies around me that told me it was okay to walk! I've never thought about DNF'ing a race before but during that run in the cold and feeling as miserable as I was..it definitely crossed my mind. I normally like running in the rain but not when it's freezing at the same time and in a tri top and shorts! That $100 windbreaker would have been a lot more useful had it been in my T2 bag vs. my T1 bag!

Finish Line- finally!! Crossing the finish line and hearing Mike Reilly's voice will never get old and the crowd approaching the finish line was AWESOME! They stuck it out through the cold and the rain. My finish photo shows me running across with my space blanket still on- I mean it's only fitting since it was a big part of my 26.2 mile journey! After you cross the finish line, they put a medal around your neck, then bring you to another person who gives you your finisher hat and then another person who gives you your finisher t-shirt but all I really wanted was a heater! Ha ha!

16:09:27- Overall- I know I should be happy and thrilled that I finished another Ironman and I am. I feel extremely fortunate to have the physical capabilities of toeing the line at such an event. At the same time, I am pretty disappointed with myself for letting the malfunction of a HRM trump the race that I could have had with the training that I had put in the last 6 or so months.I am pretty frustrated for not staying more focused on the run and just keep pushing through...but it's a learning! I do want to come back through for a do-over..maybe in 2011 as I am taking on Ironman #3 in St. George, Utah on May 1st, 2010! My 1st Ironman in Louisville...well I didn't really know what I was doing. This second one here at Coeur d'Alene, I learned a lot from. So hopefully, my 3rd will be a charm!! Thanks for reading! Photos from weekend- here! Race photos coming soon! But for now, thank to my friend Hez for my race finish video- if I had waited two minutes, I could have finished with one of the original Ironman's from 1978! And if you noticed how bundled up the woman who finished in front of me..that explains the temperature..apparently 40's??


Michael R Moser said...

This is amazing Yi. I admire your commitment and you should be extremely proud!

t0109 said...

Yi, you beat your last Iron Man time and that means improvement! Although it wasn't your ideal time, you still did great and it is something that many of us [lazy and obese Americans- haha jk.] cannot/will not do. yay for Team In Training! love you :)

Grove Street Journal said...

Congratulations Yi! You are a 2x ironman!!! While a frustrating day, what you took away from it will make you a better athlete in the future. You're an inspiration for pushing through mental barriers! Well done!!! Pizza and root beer is in order to celebrate!!! You're an Ironman!!

Margaret said...

Inspiring, wonderful. It was fun reading your report. I know what you mean about the HR monitor. Gadgets, yikes. Way to go!!!

Unknown said...

Congrats Yi!!! Looking forward to hearing more stories about your race. If you make #3 your last one, I promise to hold off the intervention!! congrats again.