IRONMAN COUER D’ALENE BY THE NUMBERS:
Race start time: 6:25am
Water temperature: 53F
Air temperature: varying amongst the 50′s F
Time it took to be dropped at swim start: 2 seconds
First lap of swim: 28 minutes
Second lap of swim: 31 minutes
Number of times it took to mount my bike heading out of T1: 3
Number of times I wanted to stop, crawl up and go to sleep during the race: too many to count
Number of bikes I gave away on course: 1
Number of IV’s administered post race: 0 (medical crew were extremely stingy on this front in CDA!)
THE FULL STORY:
Sunday saw me start Ironman Coeur D’Alene after being sick all week, with what appeared to be a throat/sinus infection of sorts. I had been resting up, keeping things ticking over in swim, bike and run, and dosing up on Vitamin C, zinc, and plenty of water. I started with a positive attitude and the acknowledgment that I would more than likely feel terrible most it not all of the day. Ironman is a long day and so I decided to just do the best I could with what I had.
A slow start:
Diving into the freezing water I immediately got dropped by the girls I had planned to swim with. Pushing on I completed lap 1 in 28 minutes, on track for a PB swim. The weather was blowing the lake up and pushing the temperature down, reportedly from 59F down to 53F during the course of the swim. Bad news for my super swim time, with the 2nd lap being 3 minutes slower for most of the field! Out of the water I was freezing, almost falling over and just trying to run in a straight line into the changing tent, where I had arm warmers and a bike jersey in an attempt to keep my body warm. My running mount proved a failure with my balance whacked, and it took 3 attempts to get onto my bike. Gumby – I was clearly not in a good way.
Onto the bike it was unfamiliar territory as I watched one girl after another pass me, unable to react or match their speed. I was freezing and feeling so very weak, but I wasn’t ready to give up. I had been looking forward to this race all year. I had a bit of a buffer out of the swim in 4th, but slowly I dropped back in the field, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th . . . things were not good.
Conversations in my head:
You know that feeling when you know things aren’t right, and you also know the correct answer to your question, yet you still continue to question yourself? This went on the entire bike, as I tried to push on and minimize time lost. I kept telling myself Ironman is a long day, and you never know what will happen on that run. What if I get off and run a 3:20? Other’s will surely detonate, perhaps I’ll still make top 5. Then there’s the other thought process, how sick am I and how detrimental is racing in this state to my health? It was climbing the first long climb into the 2nd lap that I made the decision to withdraw from the race once I had reached T2. I backed off a little and made my way, albeit slowly, through the final 60km.
With around 30km to go I noticed a fellow competitor, Heather Wurtelle, standing on the other side of the road, looking pretty distressed and holding a crank in her hand. I called out and then decided to stop and see if I could help, knowing she had been the race leader prior to her mechanical. We clearly couldn’t get the crank back on without some tools, so when an Ironman support vehicle pulled up across the road we requested assistance. No tech support was anywhere nearby, and with Heather already having lost around 10 minutes I asked Heather if she thought she could ride my bike (Heather is 6’2 and my Cervelo P4 is a 51cm!). We asked the Ironman staff member if this was OK and with no real resistance to this idea we swapped shoes and Heather was off, a giant on a mini bike!
Upon being returned to the medical tent (by car, no I didn’t ride Heather’s 58cm with one crank!) I started hearing rumours of the drama unfolding outside. Heather had made it back to T2 on my bike (and managed to gain back 2 minutes on first place), started the run and held a huge 40 minute gap to 3rd place. Unfortunately after completing 13 miles she was approached by race officials and issued a red card, being disqualified from the race. Much protest followed by people at the event, and much banter also started to fill tri forums with people’s opinions and quoted rules from various rule books. Despite this the ruling stood and Heather was unable to complete the race.
Post race I’ve visited the doctor and received antibiotics for a sinus infection, so a few days of easy training and I’m hoping to jump back into it. Bottom line I was sick, there is nothing I could do about it, and I feel happy knowing that I did everything possible to give myself the best chance at racing. So back to business, I look forward to be back racing strong real soon!