IM 140.6 CDA 062611

Executive Summary:
Race Priority: A Race Execution: B+
               Target     Actual     Stats   Notes
Swim:     1:26:14     1:21:51     Link     Good first lap, then got cold.
T1:          8:30 1       9:29                      Hypothermia, couldn’t get dressed
Bike:       6:13:45     6:19:16     Link     Riding a bit cautious
T2:          7:30          8:43
Run:       4:18:27     4:34:50      Link     Faded a bit more than expected
Total      12:14:26   12:44:08
  • Breakfast:  Hammer Bar & Kashi Bar (430 cals total).  2 salt tabs plus vitamins.
  • Swim:  1 GU prior to swim / 1 GU after (200 cals total)
  • Bike:  2 Scoops of Carbo-Pro plus Hammer electrolytes (2 scoops) per 24 oz water bottle, consumed hourly for first 5 hours.  1 IM Perform drink for hour 6.  1 GU at hours 1, 2, 3, 4.   Lost three GU (probably in T1) so I missed two last hours of GU on the bike.  Total cals of 1500 on bike.
  • Run:  1 GU and salt tab at start and then GU every 3 miles, 1 salt tab every 6.  Water every mile, approx 6 oz per mile.  Skipped GU at mile 21.  Added extra salt tab at mile 21.  (800 cals total).

Weather conditions:  Clear skies.  48 degrees at race start, peak of 71 degrees with 31% relative humidity.  Wind WSW at 3 mph for swim, 10 mph for bike, and 3 mph for run. Water temp at 57 deg F.

Notes:  On the Swim link above, I forgot to hit my lap button so part of T1 is shown in the swim.  On the Bike link, my Edge continued to record time after I stopped, so it has a lot of dead space at the end of the charts.


  • What went well:  I finished and avoided the medical tent!  My first swim lap was good (for me), around 38 minutes in spite of the crowd.  My second lap was slightly faster than my first on the bike, as planned.  I stayed focused even when things didn’t go as expected.
  • What could have been better:  My hypothermia and combined loss of GU on the bike may have contributed to my fade on the run.  Obviously not having hypothermia would have been better, but since I was already wearing a hood and neoprene socks, I’m not sure there was a lot more I could have done to prevent it.
  • What I learned:  My body doesn’t like cold water :).  IM Perform at the race isn’t the same as what you buy in powder form (and my stomach doesn’t like it).  Take colored tape with you, it helps your bags stand out in transition.  Expect some type of issues on full length races… look at reality, make a change to your plan, and move ahead… no regrets.

Race Report Commentary:

Warning… this is a long report… and my undergrad is in Engineering so you shouldn’t have to look to hard to find grammatical errors…  🙂

First, I’d like to thank everyone for the support prior to, during and after the Ironman event.  Knowing that many of you cheering me on and tracking me online, kept me moving when my body wanted to stop.

As a whole, I am happy with the results of the race.  I finished the 140.6 miles in 12:44:08.  Although it’s obvious that it is a big day of activity, what most people don’t realize is how much planning and strategy is involved to have a successful day.  Nutrition is a critical element in the race, to ensure you have enough energy to keep going throughout the day. Since your blood supply is diverted away from your stomach, you can only consume about 300 calories per hour to avoid having stomach issues.  My coach, who guided me through the training, had me create a detailed plan for the three days leading up to the race as well as the specifics for each section of the race (there is a link at the end if you are interested). Part of my plan involved timing targets for each aspect of the race, as shown above.

Overall my goals for the race (in order of importance) were:

  1. To finish the race and be considered an Ironman.  Basically to beat the 17 hour cutoff.
  2. To enjoy my day.  I had a couple of people who had done Ironman races remind me to not become so obsessed with numbers / times that you forget to take in the experience as a whole.
  3. To finish with dignity.  I say this somewhat jokingly… but I didn’t want to finish the race and throw up or end up in the medical tent.
  4. To finish within my target time ranges.
After arriving in Idaho on Wednesday, I followed my plan and previewed the course on Thursday.  Basically it is a two-loop course, meaning we did two swim loops, two bike loops and two run loops to cover the race distance.The swim is a large rectangle.  The water temperature was hovering around 57 degrees, which is the coldest water temp they have had in the history of the race.

Almost looks inviting… almost.

The bike course was much more technical than I expected.  Although the hills are not huge, there are quite a few and they are relatively steep.  I also found that many of the hills also involve corners, meaning that I’d have to brake on the way down which takes me out of the aero position.

Ignore that I’m driving and snapping pictures… 

Nothing like a 90 degree left to sap any momentum for the next hill.

My “Nemesis” hill.

On Friday, I figured out that the run course had changed from the prior year, and they made the run go up and over (and back) a significant hill at miles 5 to 8 and then again at 18 to 21.   Most of the run course is along the lake, which makes it very scenic overall.

A scenic view along the lake. We ran on the bike path and biked on the road.

On Saturday before the race, you check in your bike as well as your running and biking gear.  You need to make sure all of your equipment is in the correct bag (along with your nutrition) so you have what you need when you need it.

My bag is the blue one on the left.

Race day started at 2:50 am for me.  I had my alarm set for 4:00 but woke early and decided to just stay up and get ready for the race.  I got ready and arrived at the race site at 5:00 am.  I set up my gear and nutrition, previewed the transition areas, and put on my wetsuit.  Transition closes at 6:30 am, and we stood on the beach for 30 minutes until the race started (it was about 48 degrees outside).  They shoot off a cannon, and you and 2400 of your new friends rush out into the water to start.

I’m the one in the green swim cap.

My first loop of the swim went well for me.  I took a heel to the nose shortly after the start, and an elbow in the eye… but considering the number of people and the congestion… my pacing was good at just over 38 minutes.  We get out of the water, go over a timing mat and then jump back in the water for the second loop.  About a quarter of the way through the second loop I noticed that I was getting cold.  I tried to intermittently pick up the pace to see if it would help, but I continued to get colder.  I knew the only way out was to swim… so I just kept going.  The last quarter of the swim was tough as I was really cold.  I felt like my swim form was really poor and I was swimming slowly, but I trudged ahead toward the swim exit.  Getting out I noticed my swim time was 1:21:51, which wasn’t bad, but my second loop was significantly slower than my first loop.As I got out on the beach I was really cold and simply walked up to the wetsuit strippers.  As I flopped down on my back and they pulled my wetsuit down, they asked me if I needed to go to the warm-up tent.  I don’t think I answered.  They helped me get my neoprene socks off.  I know I was shaking very badly, but I must have been a little blue too, as they again tried to get me to go to the warm-up tent.  Being stubborn (or not thinking clearly), I simply grabbed my wetsuit and then got my transition bag and went into the changing tent.  In retrospect, I experiencing hypothermia, as I was shaking so badly I had a lot of trouble getting dressed.  What should have been an 8 or 9 minute transition took me 19:29 to complete.  I remember sitting there shaking uncontrollably not able to do basic functions in the tent.  Eventually I got my bike and got on my way.The bike course starts off relatively easy along the lake.  I continued to shake very badly on the bike, and found that I couldn’t get down in my aero position because I wasn’t stable.  I tried to ride a little faster to warm up, but didn’t generate much for power either.  After about 15 miles, I stopped shaking.  I was able to get into an aero position on the bike, and felt much better.  On the first loop, I was a bit more tentative going down some of the hills and around the corners.  On the second loop, I became a little more confident… although not as aggressive as some people.  I saw quite a bit of fresh road rash, and actually a pool of blood in one of the corners from someone’s wipe out.

When geeks are cold, they get creative (and don’t care how they look). Those are spare arm warmers on my calves.

For a feel of the hills, on the hill I noted as my “nemesis” in the pictures above, I was white-knuckling down it at over 40 mph without pedaling, and only going 6 mph on the way up (peaking around 300 watts in my lowest gear).  I was also very happy not to have had any mechanical problems with my bike over the race.  Although my chain popped off once, I was able to get it back on while still riding, fiddling with my shifters.  There were a lot of people on the sides of the roads fixing flats or putting chains back on during the ride.  I did stop twice for bathroom breaks and once to put on more sunscreen and put away my arm warmers.  Midway through my second loop I realized that somewhere (probably in my shaking fit in the transition tent) I had lost three of my GU packs (gel for nutrition), so I was short on calories coming off the bike.  My total time was 6:19:16, including about 6 minutes of pit stops.My bike to run transition was much better than my first transition.  I went into the changing tent again and put on running clothes, got more sunscreen, went to the bathroom, and headed out for the run.  My T2 time was 8:43.

Very easy to smile and wave at only 2.5 miles into the run.

As I started my run, I felt good overall and had to hold my pace back.  My goal was to stay around 9:30 a mile for the first 6 miles, and then run faster if I could.  I successfully ran the hills (most people were walking them) and then realized that 9:30 was probably the best pace I could maintain.  I had decided as part of my strategy to walk at the aid stations.  This gave me time to make sure I got all my water, GU  and electrolytes down and a little recovery time for my body.  The first loop went fine at a reasonably consistent pace.

No smiles or waves at mile 18… they take too much energy.

As the second loop progressed, I started to get a little more tired.  I think my hypothermia likely increased my calorie burn for a while, and combined with my loss of the GU packets on the bike, I started to become a little calorie deprived.  Or maybe it was simply fatigue.  I started walking the entire aid station length, as opposed to just the area where I was getting water.  In my mind, I started debating whether it made sense to walk the hills on the second loop.  The nagging voice kept telling me to go ahead and walk… but I decided that I would complete this marathon without walking outside the aid stations.  I plodded up the hills in running form, although realistically I was only marginally faster than those walking.  The last 3 or 4 miles were tough and seemed to take forever.  By this time my whole body ached and I just wanted to be done with the event.  I was probably more relieved than happy as I rounded the last corner and could see the finish line.  I continued to plod forward, and tried to pick up the pace a little… to at least look stronger at the finish than I felt.  I ended up with a 4:34:50 marathon time, which included two bathroom breaks along the way.

How could I have possibly made it without my support team?

After crossing the finish line, they have volunteers to help you walk, take your timing chip off, and get a picture in front of the Ironman sign.  Although I was extremely hot during the run, I once again got very cold after the finish.  My family helped me wrap up, pack up, and get back to our house.  I spent more than an hour in the bathtub trying to get warm.  I bundled up, got in bed, ate some rice

Look at that wingspan…. I really should be a better swimmer than I am.

and called it a night about 11:30 pm.  It had been a long… and good… day.

Monday and Tuesday after the race, I was feeling reasonably normal.  My legs felt about the same as they do after a stand alone marathon (stiff but I can still walk stairs), and I didn’t really have any other stiffness or aches anywhere else.  I had avoided sunburns by coating myself with sunscreen at T1, bike special needs and T2 with spray, and then had the volunteers coat me again with sunscreen cream as well in T1 and T1.  I also avoided blisters by using Liquid Bandage to pre-coat my toes and rub areas of my feet (morning before the race).  Monday I was starving… had about a 1400 calorie lunch and my metabolism was getting back to normal.Again, thanks to everyone for your support both during my training and during the race.  Without all the support… I simply could not have met my four goals for the race.
Thoughts on the Coeur D’Alene 140.6:
  • For me, this was a challenging course… but I liked it.  Overall the temperatures are typically good this time of year in Idaho, and humidity is very low.
  • From what I have heard, the water is always cold on this course for the swim.  The website seems to imply upper 60’s, although everyone I’ve talked to has said upper 50’s to low 60’s.  The water is reasonably clear.  The lake is fairly large, so wind can cause sizable waves.
  • The bike course is very scenic and interesting, but more technical than what I normally ride.  There are a lot of corners where I simply didn’t feel comfortable in an aero position.  Often going down hill you also had to navigate corners, scrubbing speed for your next ascent.  The hills are not terribly long climbs, but there are some steep sections (10+ degrees).  The bike course gets crowded during the first loop when you hit the hills and start climbing.  Overall the roads are fine, not completely smooth but not that bumpy either.  I think people with solid road biking experience won’t really have as much trouble (or be as conservative) as I was on the bike course.  The aid stations are roughly 10 miles apart.
  • The majority of the run course is along the water, making it scenic as well.  They changed the course this year.  Previously it finished the turn around point part way up a 6 ½ percent grade hill.  This year they took the course over the hill and part way down the other side.  This is tough on the first loop, but becomes a bigger challenge on the second as it is around 18 miles.  Most people I saw were walking it.  In town the crowd support is good.  Aid stations are roughly (but not exactly) 1 mile apart.  Note that when you come in for the second loop there is a skip in aid stations so I think I went about 3 miles without water from about 11 to 14 miles.
  • The race is well organized and started right on time.  There aren’t a lot of parking lots downtown, but I found that we could easily park on residential streets a few blocks away without any problems.
  • The volunteers are great, and I believe we were told there were over 3000 volunteers overall.  For the most part, there were plenty of volunteers to help at all the aid stations or transitions.  My first transition seemed a little short on help, but I think that was due to a lot of people struggling after the water temp.  My second transition there was someone to take my clothes, repack my bag, get me water, etc.  When I stopped for to go to the bathroom on the bike, they helped me mix up additional Carbo-Pro.  When I finished, they were there to get me water, chairs, help me change clothes, etc.  Very nice people overall.
  • Overall I would recommend this event.

Additional Links / Resources:


1 thought on “IM 140.6 CDA 062611

  1. Great race report Greg!! You’ll enjoy reading this months down the road. This race is definitely on my radar. I have a bit more built-in thermal regulation than you do, and the cold water doesn’t seem to bother me too bad. The bike course at Knoxville and Quassy were technical, and I know what you mean about not being able to bomb down the hills in aero – that takes practice to get a comfort level. Congrats, again, IRONMAN!

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