So back many months ago—almost 9 months ago now I guess it would be, I signed up for my 2nd rodeo. Everyone had told me that IMCDA was beautiful; challenging hills on the bike (and run) but nothing I wouldn’t be able to handle and just scenic for miles and miles. My motivation behind a second IM was simple and twofold: 1. I wanted a 2nd chance at my age group awards and this was the last year in the 25-29 age group where I felt I could kinda stand a chance and 2. I wanted a better finish line photo (I know I know how silly).
So now in the aftermath I can honestly admit that even as we packed our bags and prepared to head to Idaho I knew that probably both would not be achieved but you still go and give it a shot right because even without a better time or better photo you still can become a 2x Ironman and…that’s more badass than a 1x Ironman.
Anyone who has read my reports and posts from back when I was preparing and reflecting on IMAZ know that that year was insane and my training was nearly nonexistent but that I was blessed and surprised to have done as well as I did on what was a nearly perfect weather day in Arizona. I had had high expectations for my ability to train more appropriately this time around. I had thought we were at a more stable point in our life (not newly weds, not selling a house, mom is cancer free, etc…) but I think the bottom line is that life is NEVER truly as stable as you imagine it is and I may NEVER truly have the time to train the way some people do for these types of races and honestly I am quite alright with that. So this is my way of saying that yes once again I headed into a full Ironman on a minimalists training regimen…I felt a bit more confident about this race versus Arizona simply because it wasn’t my first time going the distance and I had definitely done more running in the past year (and past few months) than I had prior to IMAZ so at the least my marathon would be stronger than it had been. I again had never hit the bike mileage in my training but at least what riding I did do was in the mountains here in NY and it was pretty comparable to the race profile for CDA. My swim training had almost been nonexistent but…I knew I wouldn’t drown and even without the training could get it done in under 1:20 or so.
So when we were about 2 weeks out from race day of course the Facebook training page chatter began to mitigate from
training days and plans to full on paranoia about the weather forecast. Everyday someone (or more like 10 people) would post their chosen weather sites predictions and the initial 10-15 day predictions were calling for a hot day (read high 80s to low 90s) with minimal chance for wind or rain. It looked pretty enjoyable and I began my packing feeling pretty good about what lay ahead. However, each day as the race got closer that definition of “hot” was defined a little bit more and by the time I was making my final preparations we were talking about a high of 106-108 on race day with full sun predicted. The WeatherBug application on my phone had gone from a picture of a sun and welcome little cloud to a sun with a cheerfully cute looking cactus sitting alongside of it and this had me starting to sweat.
Sad puppies as I started to pack
Packing was rough this go around…I just had a hard time getting everything together and just getting the task done. I have been traveling a lot lately and I knew our pup dogs were very aware that this time the whole family was leaving them behind and I had this intense sense of guilt leaving them behind…especially since we’d be gone for 8 days this go around. We got the job done though and I followed my same OCD packing regimen as previously and somehow this time it seemed we had more room in our luggage and were even able to pack a bike pump in our suitcase which made life easier once we arrived in CDA.
Here’s a breakdown of my packing and what I brought in each bag (I only post this for reflection sake if/when I do #3 because apparently this is a sickness that just can’t be quit AND because before my #1 I really had scoured the interwebs for a detailed list of what everyone might be putting in their various race day bags):
So I pack my large suitcase with seven 2 gallon bags, one for each race day bag (Race Morning, T1, Bike Special Needs, T2, Run Special Needs and I also put all my “On Bike” items in a bag and have a miscellaneous bag for training while in town and in case I change my mind on anything prior to race day). When I shared my prepacking pictures with the Facebook group I was apart of they seemed to have a mixed bag review from “AWESOME” to “HOLY OCD” but this works well for me and insures that I don’t forget anything and makes packing the race day bags once there very simple:
Everything spread out on the bed to get sorted and get this thing underway!
Race Morning Bag:
-cap (for prerace swims)
-bag balm (much more effective than ANY chamois cream I’ve ever used especially since it doesn’t wash off in the water during the swim)
-Udderlysmooth chamois cream
-Garmin 910xt and quickrelease strap
(wetsuit (sleeveless) was packed separately in suitcase)
-individual chamois butter packet
-2 Powerbar fruit squeezes
-flask (and 3 GU roctanes)
-skratch labs raspberry drink mix packet
-2 cambelback insulated water bottles both with packets of Skratch Labs inside
-aerobottle and straw
-Saddlebag/Toolkit (tire tools (2), 1 spare tube, CO2 nozzle (can’t fly with C02 cartridges)
-3 GU chomps packages (watermelon)
-1 Skratch lab Chomps (raspberry)
-Fuel belt flask and bike mount (w/ 3 GU roctane gels)
-enduralytes (baggied supply for 7 hours)
-2 Alleeve pills wrapped in washi tape
-chamois butter individual packet
Bike Special Needs:
-ziploc bag (for a PBJ sandwich)
-chamois butter packet
-powerbar fruit squeeze
-2Toms Blister shields (1 for each foot)
-hat/visor (brought both)
-running belt (with pouch and bands)
-flask (w/3 GU roctane gels)
-ziploc bag for PBJ
-1 Powerbar Fruit squeeze
-2 GU chomps packs (watermelon)
-skratch labs drink mix packet
-enduralyte capsules (baggied supply for 5 or so hours)
-2 Alleeve tablets wrapped in washi tape
-baggy of gummy bears
-5-6 peppermint mints
Run Special Needs:
-2 2Toms blister shields
–I may have put more in my special needs bags had they still made the promise to “try” to get the bags back to us but I think maybe all IM races have done away with that now and just dump the bags and given that I didn’t stop for either last time I didn’t want to put anything of any value in them…because if I did I would feel like I needed to stop for them and didn’t want to put myself in that position—
My last bag, the miscellaneous bag just held a bunch of extra nutrition packets and chaffing prevention items and just other random things that I thought I “might” want to add to quantities in the individual bags, but nothing that wasn’t previously put in the other bags. I also put duct tape (pink argyle) in this bag to cover my transition bags in for easy identification.
I also have a bag that I put my race day attire in and my baggy of tritats just to keep everything in one bag and place.
Team Ride to Give Kit!
All this stuff along with my bike pump and 3 awesome (if I do say so myself) Sherpa bags fit into a large suitcase that still managed to be only 42lbs when we flew out.
All the bags packed and ready to load into the suitcase
Wetsuit wrapped and packed and Sherpa bags added and we’re ready to go!
Steven packed up my bike (Maisy) the day before in a borrowed bike box that a friend graciously let us use for the trip. Fortunately, this bike box actually was a foldable box? and not like a totally solid box with the wheels and all so it actually was only “oversized” and not “oversized AND overweight” once it was all packed and getting checked in at the airport. The only issue was obviously that we had to get it from the car to the airport without wheels. Being just the two of us and having three suitcases, 2 backpacks and the bike this was no easy feat but it was manageable and to have the box not be overweight and cost us an additional $75 on top of the $75 for being oversized made it worth it.
We were flying out for Idaho on Tuesday June 23 out of Newark which is an 1.5 hour drive from my parents home. My parents were also flying out from there but their flight was at 7am whereas our flight was at noon (don’t ask how we all were flying from the same place, to the same place and ended up on two different flights) but we didn’t want to have two cars down there and both have to pay the parking fees and all that so Steven, myself and the pups headed to Pine Bush Monday night after work and after final packing, cleaning of the house and getting all the animals staying at home (Johann, Bach, Anna, Maggie and Hilda the guinea pigs, Mogie the bunny, and Popcorn the sun conure) set for the week. We stayed over night there so that we could be on the road at 3:30am and said goodbye to our sweetest little fur babies (tears involved…don’t judge me!).
saying goodbye Tuesday morning </3
All of our stuff…waiting to check in our baggage
We dropped my parents off at their terminal and then navigated to the economy lots and got parked and lugged our stuff to the shuttle and then into the terminal only to find out (after waiting on a significant line) that we can’t check in baggage until 4 hours prior to our flight…we were there 6 hours early. So we literally sat staring at the Southwest check-in counter for 2-hours as we couldn’t really do much with the amount of checked baggage we had with us. You live and you learn I suppose. We flew from Newark to Chicago Midway and then onto Spokane and arrived a few hours after my parents who had just stayed around the airport. I guess one of the biggest disadvantages to flying your bike with you versus shipping it via UPS/FedEx or transport is that you have a giant bike box that you need to stuff into your rental car and that significantly dictates what size vehicle you can rent. My mom had arranged the rental car many months prior to the trip and hadn’t really thought about the box and luggage situation and had reserved an economy-sized vehicle for a great deal. Unfortunately, when they arrived and asked for a larger sized vehicle it was a costly change and we literally got the only larger vehicle that was left. The Spokane airport is a good 30-40 minute drive to Coeur d’Alene so we didn’t have much options such as taking a cab or something with the bike and luggage and just meeting them there…another you live and you learn instance
Oh! And as we landed in Spokane and I turned on my phone I received a dozen messages and facebook tags from friends who had learned that IM had bumped up the race start time to 5:30 versus 6:30am in order to get us out and moving an hour earlier to “beat” the heat. Great in theory for the super fast folks and the professionals who would be done practically before noon but not exactly brilliant for the age groupers who would now be finishing the bike and starting the run in the full brunt of the day’s heat.
We were the first gondola of the day!
The first night we stayed outside of Spokane in a hotel as we had rented a house in Coeur d’Alene from Wednesday-Tuesday and we were a day early. This was fine though because it allowed us to spend the first day, Wednesday exploring Spokane, which was a fun and relaxing way to start the trip. The Ironman Village didn’t open until Thursday so there wasn’t much rush to get to CDA anyways. We spent the day checking out the downtown Spokane area including Riverfront Park where we took a gondola ride, a train ride and went on a carousel from 1909 in addition to doing some walking around the area. We stopped in a run shop in downtown to pick up a handheld water bottle (a bottle with the hand strap) for the run since I couldn’t find mine before we left and I knew I’d want to have water to carry between aid stations if we truly got to experience 105 degrees on race day). The kids working in the shop responded “Oh….we’re really worried about that” when we told them we were in town for the IM. Thanks for the confidence! Haha! They were busy setting up for Hoopfest and the city genuinely seemed like a really nice place to live and work.
We all nabbed some rings on the carousel!
We headed towards CDA sometime after lunch and stopped at Cat Tails a small “zoo” of primarily large cats that have been rescued from various situations. It was a very nice but very small little display but the zookeepers were very nice and informative.
The drive out to CDA from Spokane was gorgeous! Views for miles and just beautiful scenery everywhere you looked.
Our rental house of Foster Ave
We headed towards our rental house and found it without trouble. It was a terribly cute home on Foster Ave, which is about .71 miles from the swim start. The house met all of our expectations and I would recommend renting a house for race week to anyone after this great experience. The only forseeable (and later realized) issue was that the house had no AC…as 105 degree temps is NOT the CDA norm. After we had toured our home for the week and brought in all of our luggage, Steven assembled
Maisy and we made a grocery list. Mom and I walked down to the waterfront and the boys drove and we then went searching for where the IM village would be…we found it without much trouble inside the park where they were in full set-up mode but otherwise the town was pretty quite and it seemed as though maybe we were one of the first folks here in town.
The lake front was breathtaking and the small beach area was crowded with locals and families cooling off in the lake and the first indication of what was about to descend on this town was the large number of folks donning wetsuits swimming out along the buoy line.
Guess this is about to get real?!
We ate dinner the first night in town at a restaurant on Sherman Ave called IronHorse. It was decent, nothing to write home about but in retrospect if might have been the best meal we had in town the whole stay. I was disappointed with my first “Idaho potato” experience as I had ordered a meal that came with mashed potatoes and I am 100% positive that they were box potatoes. After dinner we headed to the grocery store, which was only about 2 blocks from our house, and we stocked up.
At this point speculation on Facebook was beginning to increase as the temperature predictions were remaining steady at the 105-108 mark depending on who you asked. There was speculation that the race would be run as a 70.3 or even cancelled. I won’t say that this got my hopes up, but…those prerace nerves certainly make 70.3 sound enticing and I let it get in my head that it wouldn’t be a full Ironman on Sunday. I think many people probably did the same. There were many people who adamantly wanted the race to remain 140.6, and that is totally understandable, especially if you’ve trained appropriately for a full all year long. That’s a lot of money, time and effort to go into a race that turns out to be not what you had planned or paid for, I get it. I was very worried about the heat because at this point we hadn’t even seen 90+ degrees during our trip and even 89 degrees in the sun was feeling pretty brutal (despite all the “it is a dry heat” statements). I hadn’t trained in the heat at all really outside of having done Raleigh 70.3 in 95 degree heat a few weeks prior so I was worried just about the effects of that long exposure to that type of heat and how it might throw a wrench in my day. I guess the biggest fear really was that with Hoopfest going on in Spokane (brings in ½ a million folks) that there might not be enough medical support to handle the influx from both events plus the typical medical emergencies that would have occurred with or without us all being in town. Rumors were flying left and right with something new being mentioned every hour it seemed. From the notion that the whole event would be cancelled to we’d only do 1 loop of the run and so on…I don’t know…I knew I had to still go about things as if we’d be doing the full. Obviously IM doesn’t want to cancel the event or even change the event because they have a lot of time and money into the event and being that they make a ton of $$ off of people getting to complete their events (merchandise and so such) they weren’t really looking to cancel unless the town really said it had to be. Plus this was one of the prize money races for the professionals so I’m sure WTC wasn’t hoping to pay out the prize money for ½ the race.
I also handed out my Sherpa bags to mom, dad and Steven before we went to bed for the first time in CDA. I was pretty proud of my bags, but the heat made some of the items pointless (ponchos for instance) hah!
mom resting at athlete briefing :-p
Thursday morning I went down to the water and swam a short and quick little swim of about .50 mile just to get in the water and do something. We got to check in that opened at 9am about 15 minutes early and there was already a crowd lining up. As per usual, check-in went super quickly and smoothly and the swag was awesome. A GREAT bag this year! While I was checking in, mom and Steven had gone and bought me “you better do this damn thing” gifts. Mom got me the IMCDA name shirt, a long sleeve workout shirt, the IMCDA water bottle and a car sticker. Steven bought me the beautiful M-dot necklace I had eyed after IMAZ <3. We walked around the village and noted that there were far less vendors in the village for this race than there had been for IMAZ but I guess that’s to be expected it’s a considerably smaller race to begin with (less than 2,200 registrants). The first athlete briefing was getting ready to begin so we found a spot in the shade and sat through that to get it over with before heading back to the house to get on with our day.
We had a nice lunch at ihop on the outskirts of town before heading to Wallace, Idaho, which turns out is where Dante’s Peak was filmed. It’s a really weird little town not far from CDA with a few little things to checkout including Oasis and a silver mine. The boys were dragging and the head was turned UP (but sadly it was still barely breaking 90 at this point) so we mostly just meandered here and there but didn’t actually take the silver mine tour or the tour at Oasis.
We headed back to CDA to meet up with my family from Boise that was coming into town and staying with us for a few days! Dinner at home, catching up and a board game (Killer Bunnies!) was how we rounded out the day!
The next morning (Friday) I went out for a bike ride along the centennial trail (opposite direction of race) and my legs felt GREAT! I only rode about 12 miles or so. I stopped to watch the folks who were out swimming—CDA tri team had a few kayakers out in the lake and a larger boat out marking the spot where we would swim to on race day…from the shore that day it looked pretty far, especially considering we’d have to do two loops. While standing here I overheard a few people chatting while getting ready to swim and their chatter was more uncertainty regarding the fate of the race. I headed back to the house to get ready for the day as we had plans to go to Silverwood Amusement Park and Boulder Beach Water Park (same admission for both parks) (I know…maybe if I spent the days leading up to the race relaxing….but if they cancelled the race or I didn’t finish the race and had not seen anything or done anything then the trip would have really seemed like a waste. At least this way the trip was ALSO a vacation). At home everyone was up and getting ready and we were out the door at about 10am to be at the park for opening at 11am. The park was pretty impressive—I’d recommend if you’re going to be in town for a few days prior or after race day to give it a whirl as it really is a very beautiful park with something for almost everyone. Given that it was hot as could be (or so we thought) the water rides and water park were a huge hit but the rollercoasters were also pretty impressive given that the park itself looks relatively tame and family oriented versus the “thrill seeker” type park. My husband is a big ride guy and he seemed to have enjoyed the roller coasters and my cousin’s family includes an 8 and 12 year old and both also LOVED the park (even said it would be worth the 7.5 hour drive from Boise to do again). We stayed at the parks from 11am to 530pm and then headed back towards CDA. When we got in the car at the end of the day our car thermostat was reading 100. The Italian restaurant we had thought we’d try ended up having a 2.5 hour wait, which wasn’t going to fly so we found ourselves at the tried and true Olive Garden for some pre-race carb loading.
After dinner my cousin Jeff, mom, Steven and I drove the entire bike course for a preview while the kids, Christine (Jeff’s wife) and my dad went to the house and onto the beautiful playground down by CDA resort (which was also a huge hit). Riding the course was definitely helpful…I liked knowing what was to come, but it also unleashed some of those prerace butterflies. The climbs on 95 weren’t “steep” persay but they were endless and even approaching sunset it was blatantly obvious that there would be NO shade on this 44 mile loop (done 2 times on race day). When we got back to the house I started to prep my bags and bike as Saturday morning we would check in the bike and Transition bags.
Saturday morning we all went down to the village around 10am and I checked in Maisy. At IMAZ this was quite the process…the bike check in line was forever long but here there was no wait! In we went and got her racked and dropped off my bags.
From there I did another swim…another .75 miles as they were setting up the race buoys while my mom, Jeff and the kids swam as well. After our swim they all went out on a 90 minute boat cruise but Steven and I thought that wasn’t in my best interest given that it was predicted to be 101 and the boat cruise was right at the hottest part of the day. So we went for a walk (and the finish line chute was set up!) and onto lunch (Mexican!) and then back to the house for a delightful 2 hour nap. When they all got back we went to the movies to see “Inside Out” and escape the heat…remember the house has no AC so by now we’ve begun melting in many rooms inside the house also. Super cute movie and I think popcorn was a great prerace snack. Back at home my mom and Steven made me a noodle, broccoli and grilled chicken dinner, I showered, got my hair braided and we attempted to be in bed by 9:30pm.
Talk about the worst night sleep possible! I estimate I got less than 2 hours of sleep. It was 94 degrees outside when we went to bed at close to 10pm so the window fan in our bedroom was of no help. The ceiling fan attempted to give some relief but not much can be done when there is just no cool area to be had. Steven was also not feeling great and was miserably uncomfortable from the heat so between him moving around and attempting to sleep downstairs and my discomfort from the heat it just was a miserable night or restlessness….but no time to complain or dwell on what can’t be changed…it’s time to be an Ironman!