Race Recap My First Ironman at Coeur d’Alene
Morning wakeup 4:45am, I had ½ cup of oatmeal with peanut butter and honey. I started drinking 24oz of water with a package of LMNT. Note, a sweat test at NWTB through Precision Fuel and Hydration this year showed I am a very salty sweater at 1750mg/L, and I sweat 0.8 to 1.4L per hour. I arrived at transition at 5:30am which I figured would be enough time considering my run bag and bike bags were setup and I just needed to deliver my bike special needs, pump my tires, and mount my water bottles and bike computer. Setup always takes longer than I expect, but I was able to take care of business and meet up with my family around 6:10am. I had a cliff bar while finishing my salty water drink.
I placed myself at the end of the under 60-minute group as I was aiming between 60-65 minutes. I took a Maurten gel about 15 minutes prior to the start. I was not nervous about the swim, but more about the length of the day. I find the swim start inspiring as this is the last time that all the athletes will be grouped up. The canon went off and waves of 3 started charging into the water. Before I knew it, I was awaiting the beeper to trigger my race start. On go, I charged in and started out fast. The first 500 was on 7 minutes so I knew I needed to slow down and conserve energy. To finish out the first lap, I found swimmers to draft on. This can be tricky because it feels so easy it is hard to determine how fast I am going. I have alerts on every 500 so some sets were above and some were below my goal pace. At half way, I was near enough to target and began the second lap. Lap 2 was a bit slower as I caught the swimmers who started later. It was difficult to find someone to draft off as everyone around my pace had dispersed to swim around others. I was kicked in the ribs and elbowed in the face by breast strokers, but eventually found my rhythm and was relieved when making the turn to swim back to shore. I exited the water feeling great at 1:05:20 – right on plan. Running out of the water I tried to spot my family, but I was unable to as tend to be a bit disoriented.
This was my first transition grabbing a bag, but I treated it the same minus being able to sit in a chair. I was planning to put on blister tape for the run, but my feet were too wet so I figured I would wait until T2. My bike was further into transition so it was a long run to bike mount.
I started the bike feeling confident from my last longer training ride. I was using Infinit Nutrition (338 calories, 1289mg sodium) with 1 hour in my head unit, and 2 servings in a concentrated bottle on my rear cage. I was aiming to hold between 170 and 210 watts. The first out and back to Higgins Point felt good and my speed targets were holding up as expected. I fumbled a caffeine gel grab at the first aid station, but I was not planning on using it until later in the race. Before I knew it, I was climbing the long 400+ vertical foot hill. Having done IM70.3 CDA in 2019, I knew it was going to hurt. I started getting passed which was mentally challenging, but I stuck to my power targets. I passed back most of those who got me on the hill and started ticking away the miles. My thought process was similar to the following: 25 miles, that is ¼ to 100 which is pretty much ¼ there… 28 miles, I am a quarter of the way there.. Turnaround, back to CDA I go, 56 miles, wow I would be done with the bike if this was a 70.3...
I refined my use of aid stations as I went along, but grabbed a bottle of water every other aid station to mix with my concentrated Infinit blend. I got good at some point where I could grab a bottle, squirt it in the head unit, let go, grab a gel or two, finish filling the head unit, chug and spray the rest over me to cool down, then toss away in the trash zone. This was my first time with bike special needs. I packed an insulated grocery bag with 1 concentrated bottle of strawberry lemonade Infinit nutrition, 1 dry bag of chocolate Infinit as a spare, and a small bag of chocolate covered espresso beans as a pick me up. I froze zip lock bags filled with water to keep the
bottle cold. I quickly squirted half the bottle in the head unit, and mixed with a bottle of water.Despite everything to come, I do enjoy this course layout as you get to ride through town 4 times to see spectators and my support crew. Photo proof below showing I was enjoying myself!
The second big climb was quite challenging and seemed to take forever. I had a noticeable drop in power for the next 20 miles. At around mile 100, it started to rain/hail which allowed me to cool down and finish the ride off strong with an average power of 180. It felt great to see my family at the bike dismount! My goal time was between 5 to 5:15, but I came in at 5:31:36 due to that dip in power. I blame the hills as I was able to average 20mph easily on a previous training ride doing 2 loops around the 70.3 Maple Valley course and was expecting the aero helmet/less water bottle weight benefits to give me more speed.
My socks were wet from the rain so I planned to change to my spare pair of socks. However, the frozen water zip lock bag leaked and completely soaked one sock. I swapped one out, dried my feet and attempted to put on KT blister tape on my arches as I was nervous about the run in the Alphaflys. I noticed right away it was not sticking, but there was not much I could do. I put on my running pack with two 12oz soft flasks filled with pink lemonade Infinit each with 1 hour of nutrition (60g carbs, 1289g sodium).I sprayed on sunscreen as it was getting hot, stopped by the bathroom, and exited transition.
My nutrition plan was to drink ¼ of an Infinit bottle every 15 minutes with 3-6oz of water at aid stations. After 2 hours, I would switch to on course nutrition. My planned pace of 7 to 7:30 per mile would place
this at every other aid station. However, in practice, it was hot and I ended up drinking water every aid station, but sticking to the 15-minute nutrition intervals.
The first 8 miles were slightly off pace, but my heart rate was still in low zone 2. I expected cardiac drift, but I hoped that I could increase pace as I went along. At the first run loop, I saw my family, stopped for a motivational kiss from my wife, and kept going. My legs started to get quite fatigued so I began walking the aid stations around mile 9. At the half marathon banner, my run fell completely apart, and I had to walk even more. The temperatures were in the low 80s, but I kept cool by pouring ice in the front/back of my race suit and in my hat. There were pockets of clouds and the community spraying water with hoses/sprinklers so it did not feel excessively hot.
At mile 16, there was the sign for loops 2,3 right, finish to the left (see the excited look on my face in the photo). My family was waiting there and my body really wanted to call it quits. Mental toughness kicked in and a bunch of motivational quotes along with the thoughts of everyone tracking me on the app so I began power walking into a jog. At some point Diane Haensel caught up with me and motivated me to run with her. We walked the aid stations, but she got me moving again each time. I was extremely grateful for the boost that having a fellow club member gave. After a few miles, I let her press forward as I needed some more walking. I kept repeating one foot in front of the other in my head. I used the strategy of jogging behind people passing to get to the final turnaround.
Unable to eat much, I was not sure what my body needed so I attempted mix some LMNT in one of my soft flasks. However, after trying cola this agitated my stomach and I threw up around mile 22. Ironically, this made me feel better though I was concerned about dehydration so I made sure to keep drinking water. My jogs started to turn into runs, but walking breaks occurred at the same intervals.
At mile 26, I was so glad to finally turn left toward the finish instead of more loops. I was skeptical that the finish line would be in 0.2 miles, but I was able to force my legs to keep running. Finally, I rounded the turn onto Sherman Avenue and saw the red carpet. There was one racer in front of me so I slowed down to ring the first timer bell. I began high fiving the crowd. My mind was drained as I don’t even remember seeing my family even though video evidence shows I gave my dad a high five. As I approached, I heard “Michael Newbry, you are an IRONMAN”. I am not going to lie; I was a bit teary eyed as I was ecstatic to be done and proud of my ability to persevere when things were not going as planned. Run finish 4:15:03 with final time of 11:06:54, 15 th AG, 80 th by gender, and 118 th Overall. I have some unfinished business with Ironman as my goal is to qualify for Kona so I will return in a 2023/2024 race in the future. Perhaps something less hilly to play towards my strengths.
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