Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report (Prequel)

I thought I would break this thing up into installments, since I didn’t write anything at all from the time I left. I must apologize, as a lot of details are hazy in my mind. The days leading up are (at least to me) not the good stuff, so it’s just the bare bones. But even the bare bones of a week like this are some hefty reading.

So much happened…and I was so intensely wound up…that it’s hard to go back and remember everything of the week that we were in Coeur d’Alene before the actual race. We got in late Wednesday after a full day of travel. There was a nice dinner with friends and we basically crashed.
IM Coeur dAlene_preswim
Swim fashionistas try out the water before IM Coeur d’Alene. From left to right: Claire, Cathy, me, and Carrie.

Thursday, we got up and headed over to the athlete village to get in a swim before packet pickup. Now, Cathy and Claire had gotten in a day earlier and had a dip, so they knew what to expect. I “knew” it would be cold (temp in the upper 50s) but that didn’t prepare me for what happened when I stuck my face in the water. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t function, my head popped up and I flailed about in a fairly panicked fashion. My hands HURT, my neck felt like it was closing up, and daggers were going into my forehead. Sweet Claire had hung with me, because this happened to her as well. I told myself that I just had to deal with it and kept trying to put my face down in the water. It took 5 minutes before I could keep my face in the water — it was a total of 9 minutes before I could swim any kind of normal rhythm. This really frightened me. Of all the things I’d worried about, the swim wasn’t really one of them.

packet pickup at CdA copy
Stuff starting to get real at IM Coeur d’Alene packet pickup. From left to right: Cathy, Claire, Carrie, and me.

Packet pickup was next and my crap luck seemed to continue. When I went to scan my chip, it didn’t come up. The guy took my packet to fix it and pointed out that I didn’t have a sheet with stickers. Um, I didn’t know I was supposed to have them and my volunteer didn’t mention anything about them (nor did she even take anything out of my bag or go over it with me). It turns out there were 50 of us who were missing stickers and they’d already sent off for them. So I waited around until they arrived. When we got back to the hotel, it appeared I didn’t have my bike check out ticket either.

We went back to the park in the afternoon to pick up bikes from TriBike Transport and have a nice one-hour ride. After airing up the tires, it was revealed that my darling Clementine had two very horrible gouges in her. Now, I understand bumps and scratches but these were large and into the metal. This upset me greatly, as she hadn’t had a mark on her yet. I went back to TBT, talked to the owner, and he was everything I could’ve hoped for (apologetic, pleasant, and helpful — they’re going to refinish my bike). The ride afterwards was quite nice but I was in somewhat of a tizzy after all the negatives of the day.
Friday, we headed back for another go at the swim. Oh, it was SOOOO much better. This time, before I began to swim, I put my arms up to about my armpits in the water and just stood there until my hands got cold (this seemed to have been the worst part of the cold water). It helped immensely; I was able to swim a normal stroke right away and had none of that panic from the first attempt. I knew then that I’d be fine race day morning.
That afternoon, we drove the race course. I must admit to a bit of a sinking feeling, as the hilly portion looked REALLY hilly and the turns seemed to me to be difficult. (Plus, I think the reality of the whole thing was sinking in…I mean, it’s one thing to understand the idea of that 112-mile ride after a long swim and before a marathon, and it’s another to have it stare you in the face.) Thank goodness for Coach Amy, who arrived that afternoon and was waiting for us in the hotel room; she, Cathy, and I gathered on a comfy sofa in the hotel lobby and talked. Having her there brought the anxiety level ‘way down.
The next morning, we took the bikes down to transition, along with our T1 and T2 bags and Coach Amy went with us for moral support. This day was actually much less stressful to me, as I finally felt like I was DOING something — the waiting is so hard. I opted to take a short run from the park to clear my head and settle down, and then met up with folks for lunch. After that, it was back to the hotel for an easy afternoon and the final getting ready. My daughter and I snuggled on the bed and watched a movie; I had a warm bath with Epsom salts that night and attempted to get some sleep.
But 3:45 a.m. came pretty darn early.
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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report (Prequel)

  1. congrats! bask in the glory… 🙂 it was great to be able to watch even from a far…you are an ironman!

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