IM CDA: Thoughts on the Race Itself

Some thoughts on the race itself, CDA, and my preparation:
Race comments:
1. Overall I thought CDA was a well run race. Logistics were very good and everything moved pretty smoothly.
2. They told us they required reflectors to be stuck on our clothing. I never saw anyone check and it stays light pretty late, maybe to 900p.
3. The swim was very choppy and the waves come directly at you, which hit me in the face as I went to sight and I swallowed a lot of water. I have also heard in years past that mountain streams which flow into the lake can drop the water temps to mid-50s, almost like swimming in the SF Bay! Lucky for us that it was in the mid-60s this year, and also that I raced Alcatraz the weekend before which made me get a bit used to cold water.
4. Because of the rain throughout the week, the ground was soggy and a bit muddy. As I walked with my bike shoes, I was scared that the mud would cake up my clips. Later, I did dig dirt out of my clips on the bottom of my shoes, but thankfully they did not cause any problems in clipping into my pedals. Also, sitting down on the grass to change during T2 wasn’t so fun although I didn’t really think of this until later in the race when I saw a lot of people with dirt on their backs and butt from sitting or laying down in the grass to change.
5. The wind was very tough. It seems to blow right up the straightaway up Government Way and 4th Street, so it helps you on the way out on the bike course as there is a slight upgrade but blasts you on the way back, even when it’s a downhill. Out in the hilly areas, there were a few nervous moments when I was coming fast down hills, only to be hit sideways by a strong wind. Once my bike front wheel started to oscillate due to a wind burst and I almost lost control!
6. The steep, short hills up near/around Hayden Lake were tough for me. There seemed to be a good downhill after each uphill, so you make up for slowing down on a climb. Many ups and downs through that whole area until you get back to 4th Street. Still, my strength is not where it needs to be to get through those hills in a bike time I would like.
7. I felt the run was pretty good. The hills there were very gradual and I would say that the only stickler was the big hill at the turnaround on the Centennial Trail/Coeur d’Alene Lake Dr. It was pretty steep (you also bike up and over this hill) so it hits you in an unfriendly way since all the other hills were pretty gradual. Lots of turns happen when you get back into Coeur d’Alene itself, through the residential areas.
8. The run aid stations were pretty good. They were spaced about 2 miles apart, although I think some were closer to each other than others. Nobody ran out of anything by the time I got there so that was really good. Thank god for the presence of cola on an Ironman race!
9. For some weird reason, the miles in CDA felt sooooo much longer than normal. I remember coming back on the last loop of the bike with only about 6 miles left, and those were the longest 6 miles I’ve ever felt. Likewise on the run, every time I passed a mile marker it felt like forever to get to the next one.
10. Speaking of mile markers, there weren’t many at all on the bike so I had to rely on my computer to figure out where I was in the course. On the run, the first loop is marked every 2 miles approximately. On the second run loop, they are marked about every mile from about 17 onwards, maybe earlier. Personally I’d prefer a mile marker at every mile as it’s motivating for me to count down the distance on the run.
11. As you turn on Sherman Ave, it’s a gentle downhill straightaway to the finish, which you can see off into the distance. This is motivationally great as you can use the downhill to speed up and hear the crowds grow louder as you approach.
12. I thought the food in the finishers’ tent was kind of lame. There was pizza, bananas, oranges, bagels, cola, water, and chicken broth: basically the same stuff as in aid stations. I don’t know about you but I’d really rather not eat more of what I had out on the course; after 4+ hours of eating/drinking that stuff, I’d rather have something else!
13. Weather-wise, this race was really tough moving to miserable. The temps never rose much above 60, and then as we approached night they dropped into the low 50s. With the wind chill factor, it was probably even less. Then, couple that with rain, it just made your wet body give up more heat. Thankfully for the late finishers, the rain stopped just before I hit the finish line, maybe around 630p-700p. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if it kept raining into the night.
This place has very variable weather – I have heard that in years past, it has gotten up to 97 degrees on the run. So low 50s/wind/rain to 97 degrees – talk about really rolling the dice on this course!
14. The two loop nature of both the bike and run meant that you could see potentially each racer 4 times on the bike and 4 times on the run. So plenty of opportunity to see people, and then have time to get to the finish line to see them come in.
About CDA:
1. It’s a pretty nice place. There are some huge mansions along the lake with private beaches. Lots of forest and greenery, and lots of things for families to do.
2. We rented a house almost right on the run course and about a block away from the bike course, which made for easy spectating and a good place to retreat to between watching for food and bathroom stops. Plus, in the wind and cold, it was nice to go back to somewhere and warm up instead of sitting outside the whole time. It seemed like there were many places to rent in/around the course, so I would highly recommend this.
3. Downtown was small and quaint. Many art galleries with some pretty nice stuff. Also, many different restaurants there as well, with nice small cafes to hang out in. The local wine isn’t all that great though – too sour for me! Be sure to visit the Pita Pit on Sherman Ave at 4th Street.
4. Watch the weather carefully. I knew it would be chilly so I brought wool technical wear plus a fleece lined shell. Check out this weather report for the rest of this week:

After a rainy cold week of 40s-60s, today it leaps to 74 and tomorrow it’s going to be 86! The rest of the week remains in the mid-70s. Geez imagine if only the race had been a week later…
About my preparation:
1. I had thought my swimming was pretty good. I think the rough water made for a slow swim, even in the draft of 2000+ swimmers. But somehow I’m still not as fast as I want to be. I did survive the swim without feeling too taxed, so fitness wise I’m good, but just not as fast as I want to be.
2. This year I focused on hill climbing by doing intervals up Kings Mtn and Old La Honda. I think this is the right thing to continue, as I am weakest in cycling strength up hills. In three years since Austria, I have improved a lot on hill climbing and still have a ways to go. But at least this year, the bike hill climbing did not wipe my legs and I was still good on the run.
3. My run training was pretty good this year and I was able to maintain a decent pace, assuming that my knee was bugging me. Add the weather to that and my motivation to run was dropping so I think fitness wise I was pretty good but other factors made for a tough run. The gradual hills didn’t bother me at all, so my weeks of treadmill hill training has done wonders for that. But I still don’t have the ability to power up steeper hills, as evidenced by the steep hill at the turnaround on Coeur d’Alene Lake Dr.
More work to be done as always. I’ll be continuing strength building and hill climbing ability for the rest of the year on both the bike and run.

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