We’re here in CdA!!!! It is still surreal to me – even though the race is tomorrow – that this is happening. I will be an Ironman tomorrow. Crazy! This day that we have been anticipating for so long is less than 24 hours away.
I was pretty blown away by all the support I was getting even before I left for my trip. My boss brought in bagels to work, organized a dessert potluck in my honor and also sent me away with a card and a gift bag full of endurance racing goodies. Pretty good way to start 7 days of vacation.
We arrived in CdA in the late afternoon on Thursday. Our luggage was pretty unreal:
My large suitcase weighed 50 lbs and I’m sure between my smaller suitcase and my backpack, there were another 50 lbs of Ironman supplies to add to that. Packing for 3 sports plus 6 days of “normal” clothes isn’t pretty.
Our flights were on time and we were greeted by a loquacious elderly woman who would be our shuttle driver to CdA. After brief questioning about our Ironman, she thanked us for not showing up with bike boxes (we used TriBike transport) and proceeded to launch into a detailed account of her most recent Bus Derby, essentially a competition for bus drivers which involves testing of skills such as parallel parking and driving through cones. Our driver has apparently placed in her age group at the Bus Derby and is quite proud.
Once we checked in to our Bed and Breakfast (where Asia and Jeremy were also staying and had already checked in), we headed down to the Expo to pick up our bikes from TriBike transport, which was less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We were amazed at the beauty of Coeur D’Alene – the colors of the lake and trees are so vibrantly blue and green that it looks like something out of a postcard. The weather, however, is not what we are used to. Upon arrival the thermometer at the bank near our hotel announced it was in the high 80s. Coming from southern California coastal, we rarely see temperatures over 80 so to us, this was unbelievably hot!
Athlete Check In had just closed so we couldn’t check in but we did pick up our bikes and bring them back to the room. We had planned to do about a 2 mile run to loosen up, so we got on our running shoes and ran back toward the expo and out past it for a bit, then back to it and stretched at the park. After stretching we ran into Rachel, a fellow blogger and also a CdA participant. Rachel is from Sacramento and commented on how great the weather was in CdA- it has hit triple digits where she’s from so this was a cool reprieve from the heat for her.
We then headed home, cleaned up and went out for a really delicious pizza dinner. I put on a dress and we got a seat on the patio and had a couple of beers. We felt like we were on vacation and just enjoyed each other’s company and the great food and beer. Toward the end of our meal we spotted Katie, one of my favorite bloggers who is also racing CdA as her first Ironman. We chatted for a bit but also knew we’d be seeing each other for the 7 a.m. group swim the next day.
Friday was full of Ironman festivities. In the morning we did a group swim, including simulated beach swim start (Asia and I started toward the back), of about 1 mile. The lake felt REALLY cold at first, but I warmed up within a minute or so. After the swim we met up with a big group for a bike ride of the run course (and part of the bike course) held by TriBike Transport. It was really nice to ride with a group and not worry about navigating the course. The beginning of the run course has quite a few turns in it but once we got out of the neighborhoods we were riding directly next to the gorgeous lake. I kept anticipating the “huge” hill that I had heard was on the run course, and we did find it around mile 6. It was about ½ mile up and apparently about a 6% grade, but wasn’t as steep as I was anticipating. Unfortunately we also have to run down the back of the hill and then run back up it and back down it on each loop of the marathon –meaning 4 big climbs in total over 26.2 miles.
The group ride helped me mentally prepare for what is going to come on race day. As a faster swimmer and slower cyclist, I am going to be passed by most likely 1,000 people on the bike course. We all coasted together on the flats but on the hills is where I was getting passed the most and I’m sure it will be similar on race day. I just need to focus on MY race, not theirs, and keep my heart rate low. I did that on the group ride, trying to keep my heart rate in zone 1 for the majority of the ride. All in all, we rode over an hour and nearly 17 miles and unfortunately the pain in my knee started coming back. It wasn’t by any means sharp, but it was there and it got me worried. It definitely is better when I’m in aero, and I didn’t ride in aero for most of the ride, so I think that some of it will be alleviated during the race due to that.
After showering, we headed to the Expo to Athlete Check In. There was no line and the process was well organized and went smoothly, just like at Oceanside 70.3. These M-Dot events are like well-oiled machines. We were super excited to be checking in – it was REAL! They gave us some nice quality Ironman CdA backpacks. We explored the athlete store but didn’t get anything – I have my eyes on a few things but the line was huge and I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted so I waited. After we exited to athlete store we saw Mike Reilly, who works with Mike and I met last year when we were all in the Dominican Republic for 5 days together for a wedding. He mentioned that the bike course had a nice tailwind coming in as of now (in past years there was a headwind heading in), but we all k now that can change in an instant!