Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2021
Training for an Ironman during a pandemic with a baby was a new and huge challenge. For a long time, there were questions about if this race was even going to happen. As a new mom, I faced a lot of new challenges. In my early training block, I would have to take breaks during my trainer rides to nurse Ryan. There were times where I couldn’t get a baby sitter and had to get my work outs in around the baby’s naps. I wouldn’t have changed any of this though. Triathlon is a lifestyle and something that I will always be apart of. I love the challenge, the sacrifice, and how it makes me an all-around stronger person. I was so blessed to have such an amazing support system during my training which aloud me to have my strongest Ironman build up yet!
Thursday June 24th
We left for CDA. This was Ryan’s first road trip and first time sleeping somewhere other than his crib! We got to CDA around 4:30pm. Tim and I went for a shakeout run for about 20 min to get some heat acclimation! We had Paul Bunyan burgers and a Huckleberry milkshake for dinner! Ryan ended up waking up 2X in the middle of the night. He hasn’t done that since he was 5 months old back in September.
Friday June 25th
Ryan woke up at 4am. I suppose that’s great practice for the Ironman wake up call. I started the morning off with a quick shake out ride down the Centennial trail out to the run course turn around. It was so beautiful biking by the water.
I went to Athlete check in and got everything I needed for the race; swim cap, timing chip, special needs bags. Due to Covid we did an old school style transition area instead of gear bags and changing tents. Everything was set up by our bikes. My bike was located 2nd from the end of an aisle next to a tree. A great marker for where my bike was and I wouldn’t have to run extra.
That night we got pizza for dinner and then headed to the Athlete Village to watch the Opening Ceremonies.
Saturday June 26th
Ryan woke up at 5 am and we slowly got ready for his big race! The Ironkids race started at 9am. It was so cute! He got a bib, pin, and Ironkids tattoo. Ryan was in the 1-3 age group which was a 100-yard dash to the finish line. Ryan was so tired and fussy by the time the race started he wanted me to hold him. The toddler’s started running and Ryan just stood there. I carried him over to where they were blowing bubbles and he loved that. One of the volunteers gave me a bubble wand and I blew a few. There was still one kid behind Ryan so I slowly started moving Ryan forwards towards the finish line. Ryan crossed the finish line and got his first medal! He was so tired and confused! He had never been around that many people before. He took a great nap when we got back to the Airbnb!
I did a quick swim in the afternoon to test out the water. Water felt great! 71 degrees! Warmer than my first trip to CDA in 2017. The rest of the day I spent off my feet and in the shade.
Aunt Michele and Tony got in that night and got to meet Ryan for the first time! It was so great to see them after over a year!
We ordered Olive Garden and ate it at the Airbnb. I had my usual spaghetti with meat sauce and a couple of bread sticks. They forgot the meat in the meat sauce so it was really nice of Michele to share her meatballs with me!
I was in bed my 9 but probably didn’t fall asleep until 10pm. Luckily, Ryan stayed asleep the whole night!
Sunday June 27th
3:10 AM Alarm goes off and it’s time to get the day started!
Tim made me breakfast of oatmeal and half a bagel with cream cheese while I got ready. This was one of the first times I could actually eat my morning breakfast. I am usually way too nervous and nauseous.
4 AM I got to transition and set up all my gear. Everything went very smoothly. I pumped up my tires (but didn’t overfill them with the heat!), laid out my nutrition, filled my bottles, I was ready to go! I squeezed into my wet suit and had a banana.
5 AM After the pros all went off, we got to do a warm up swim. It was nice to get used to the water temp which was amazing! The sun was just coming up and everything was just so beautiful.
5:25 AM Time to line up for the swim corral! I ran into Erica at the swim start and we chatted for a bit. Then I seated myself with the 1-1:10 group.
5:43 AM The beep goes off and I run into the water and started my 2.4-mile swim. I took it nice and easy and tried focusing on staying as straight as possible. I kept veering off to the right and having to swim back over to the buoys. The turnaround came pretty quick. I ran out of the water checked my watch and ran right back in. I was a little disappointed to see a 35 for the first lap but I didn’t let it get to me. It was going to be a long day. I felt like I had open water the whole time. Usually in a 2 loop Ironman I am swimming over people and getting wacked or grabbed. That never happened, which was really nice!
The 2nd loop had a lot more waves! I really noticed it during my breathing. I swallowed water a couple of times. The buoys started ticking by fast and I swam to shore hopped out and ran to T1!
The transition from the water to T1 was pretty long. I had lots of time to unzip my wet suit and take my swim cap and goggles off. I took my wet suit off, quick bathroom stop, helmet on, bike shoes on, nutrition, sunscreen, sunglasses, and I was off on the bike!
I felt really relaxed at the start of the bike. I stayed calm and kept my power in check. I wanted to keep the first loop at around 125 watts and not overdo anything. Bikers were whizzing by me so fast but I knew better than to try and race them.
The first hill came and it was nothing. I have been biking up so many hills. I remember that hill really intimidated me the first time I raced CDA. 20 miles into the bike I started to cramp up on my right side. I took in some Skratch hydration and some Base salt and it quickly passed. I was able to bike up the big hill without any issues and even passed some people!
It started to really heat up out there! I heard one of the staff measured the asphalt to be 136 degrees around 1pm!
I was taking in 1 bottle of water an hour, 1 bottle of Skratch hydration an hour, and Base salt every 10 minutes! The plan was to take a Clif bar every hour and I did my best along with Skratch chews. The Clif bars were melted in the 100-degree heat and tasted horrible. I so badly just wanted liquid calories. Every aid station was about 15 miles apart. Which is about every hour for me. There were a couple of times that I ran out of water before I hit the next aid station.
The volunteers were amazing! I would stop and pull over and ask for 2 waters. They would dump water all over me and put ice in bottles. One volunteer at the special needs station reapplied sunscreen on me. They were all so amazing and there is no way I would have made it without them!
The 2nd loop I was feeling strong. I increased my wattage to 135-140. We had a tail wind going out to the turn around point and had to really work going back into T2. But the breeze felt nice! Haha!
There were some scary moments out there. I have never seen so many people pulled over to the side puking. Athletes were walking their bikes up the big hill. Lots of flat tires. I saw groups of people in penalty tents which I later found out were DNF athletes that couldn’t go on any further.
There were several horrible accidents on the course. I have heard of a number of athletes that were hit by cars on the course. One guy got hit by a car, the volunteers helped bandage him up and he proceeded and finished the race! One lady hit a cone and wiped out into a guard rail. I am just so fortunate that I made it through that course safely.
After the last climb I bumped up my watts and booked it into T2! I was feeling so good!
I got off my bike and ran over to my family! I saw Tim and Ryan standing there and Ryan looked so happy to see me! I gave him a big kiss and told him “Mommy will be right back 😊”! I racked my bike and changed into my run shoes, grabbed my hat, bib number and was off. As I started walking to the exit, I started cramping really bad. My right side seized up and I couldn’t breathe. I tried taking deep breaths but every breath felt like knifes stabbing my side.
As I started the marathon Tim could tell something was wrong. I started crying. I was so frustrated and embarrassed. I wanted to run so badly but I couldn’t! There were people everywhere cheering and there I was just walking. The first loop was very dark for me. I walked for 11 miles. I focused on my breathing and trying to stretch everything out. I took the rest of the Base salt I had and the on-course Gatorade. I needed more salt! I kept doing the math and tried to figure out if I was going to even finish in time.
After mile 11 I took a tums and some pretzels. FINALLY the cramps subsided and I could start running! I felt like a whole new person! I started holding 10 min miles and walking aid stations. I continued to taking in water, Gatorade, and pretzels.
The volunteers and residents of CDA were so amazing! I went through every sprinkler and got hit by all the water that people would spray me with. I got otter pops! I put ice in my hat, down my shirt, down my back, in my hands. Anything to stay cool. The ice would melt within 5 minutes!
Athletes were having such a hard time with the heat. I had never seen so many people on the side lines puking and dry heaving. On my last lap one lady was having a really hard time and puking pretty badly. I ran up to the aid station and yelled medic! 3 volunteers went running down to help the athlete. Another guy walked by a medical van and asked if they could walk with him for a bit until he felt okay to continue on his own. The medical staff was fantastic out there and literally saved lives.
At mile 20 I started taking Coca Cola with water. The sugar and caffeine gave me an extra kick!
At mile 24 I started picking up the pace! I stopped walking and skipped the last aid station. I wanted to finish before the sun went down, I wanted to see my family, and I wanted to cross that finish line!
At mile 25.7 I saw Ryan with my in laws! I ran over, picked him up and gave him a big kiss! It was the best part of the whole day!
I turned the corner and ran down Sherman Ave. The street was lit up and full of people cheering! I put my arms out and flew down the red carpet and into the finish line!
FINISH TIME 15:00:21
That was the hardest Ironman that I have ever done. I had worked so hard for so long and wanted to PR this race so badly! I did end up with a 17 min bike PR on this course and I am incredibly grateful for that, especially in the conditions we were given.
- 3300 athletes registered for this race
- 2085 crossed the start line
- 1537 crossed the finish line including those that exceeded the 17-hour mark
- There was a ~27% DNF rate
- This was the 2nd highest DNF Ironman to ever happen. Apparently the first was also in CDA in 2003
- I burned 7,000 calories
- I biked over 5400 feet of elevation
I couldn’t have done this race on my own.
Tim, for supporting my training every day. For analyzing all my gear and double checking that I have everything I need. Getting up at 3am with me on race day and being out there all day long! For putting in almost 20 miles Iron-spectating and supporting me all the way through to the end.
Ryan, you inspire me to be better every day. The thought of seeing you at the finish line kept me going. Thank you for sleeping through the night on race day!
Dad and Sue, for flying all the way to see me race! Spending all day in the heat supporting me during race day!
Maria, for taking care of Ryan during all of my workouts every day. For supporting my journey. For taking care of Ryan during race day and making sure he would be able to see me at the finish line!
Jon, for helping take care of Ryan and supporting me through my Ironman journey. Thank you for being out there in the heat taking pictures on race day!
Connor, for driving over to help support and watch me race!
Michele and Tony, for supporting me during race day! I am so glad that you could finally meet Ryan!
Coach Kimberly, for getting me through Ironman number 4! I am so incredibly grateful for your coaching. I appreciate you so much!
Ironman CDA volunteers, you were life savers out there. You were out there in the heat all day long helping others and going above and beyond. I could not have done this race with out you!
Collective Beat and Coeur Team, thank you for being such a fun and inspiring group of friends! I love your positive energy and inclusiveness.