Monday, June 22, 2009


Coeur d'Alene Ironman 2009

First of all, thank you all for your well wishes, donations and your support! It has meant so much to me! I'm so flattered at how many people followed my race, thank you for your thoughts and prayers! Thank you to Pete for being my inspiration, my biggest support, coach and fan. Thank you to all the volunteers at the race (even though I know none of you will read this), you guys are so great, I don't know how I could have done it without you!

Here's how my day went (Sorry it's so long, it was a long day and I couldn't leave anything out! I hope this answers all your questions, if not, feel free to ask.):

I woke up during the night at 2, then at 4 and about started getting ready both times. Then I would realize the time and lay back down, but my heart was already racing.

Finally 5:00 came, and I got dressed and made sure my special needs bags and water bottles were ready. Then I made some oatmeal. I always feel sick in the morning before a race, and this was definitely no exception, but I managed to eat the whole 1/4 cup. I knew I would need the fuel.

We got down to the transition area a little later than I had hoped, at about 6:25. I know this because they were closing the transition at 6:30, and as soon as I got there they said, "5 more minutes," and "everyone out." Luckily I was just dropping my water bottles off and taking the bags off my bike so I had plenty of time.

I had this brilliant idea to have Pete drop off my special needs bags while I did this, and I told him, my dad and my kids, that I would just meet them at the end of the sidewalk. I didn't take into account the 2,100 athletes that would be trying to make their way over the timing chip mat onto the beach, and how congested the sidewalk would be. I finally found Pete, but the rest of my family wasn't with him. He still hadn't dropped off the bags either so he told me to go find them and he'd meet me. Bad idea again. I couldn't find any of them so finally I just set about getting my wetsuit on, but then I still had my dry clothes bag that I needed to drop off, and it was taking forever to make my way back through to the transition area. I was seriously about to cry, thinking that I wasn't going to see Pete before I started, when he suddenly appeared. That saved me too, because I could just give him my bag and head down to the beach with the rest of the throng. The announcer said, "You will be an Ironman today!" and I just had to look back at Pete and grin. Excited would be an understatement about how I felt.

They didn't let us get into the water, so we all just stood there on the beach and waited. I spat in my goggles, hoping it would work just as well to keep them clear without being able to rinse them out. The lady next to me said that's what she always does.

Then the gun went off!
I was a little nervous about how it would be because I didn't have a chance to get used to the water or warm up first, but I was shocked by how un-shocking the water was. I just went in and started swimming with everyone else. For a while, it was hard to find water, and not body parts, to put my arms in, but soon I was swimming. The amazing thing is that I was able to stay calm the whole time. I don't remember even having a second of panic. It was just so awesome to be out there with so many people. Most of the time I just sighted off someone's head in front of me because that's about all I could see, and I would try to find feet to follow. I was probably drafting most of the way because it was almost impossible not to.

When I came out of the water after my first lap to cross the mat, I heard them say, "43 1/2 minutes" and I was almost giddy. I was shooting for 45! I re-rinsed my googles and took a second to walk along the shallow water, then I started in again. Not long after I started my second lap, I started noticing that my legs were shaking. It was weird because I didn't really feel cold, but I was still shivering. I did notice the clouds moving in, though. It seemed like there were endless yellow buoys this time before we got to the big red "turn" buoy. After I rounded that, though, I found a lady with a nice smooth steady stride, and I drafted off her for most of the way back.

I got hit in the face about 3 or 4 times. Once I worried a little that my nose was bleeding, and once the hand knocked my goggles side-ways so I had to fix them mid-lake. I was a little worried about someone knocking my timing chip off because it felt like people kept grabbing my legs. I did have one guy apologize to me, probably because I looked at him like, "Geez buddy, calm down!" I had someone scratch me with their toenail and I thought, "How could someone leave their toenails so long and sharp?"

But I survived.

My total swim time was 1:36:42. I was shooting for 1:30 so I was a little disappointed, and I was a little surprised that my second lap was so much slower.

When I got out, I was freezing. A guy in transition stripped my wetsuit for me, then I grabbed my bike bag and headed to the tent. On the way, though, I spotted a hot tub! This was just what I needed. I got in, and it was so nice, and hot, but I didn't dare sit in there for too long so I was still shivering when I got out. I went into the changing tent and a very nice volunteer helped me get my socks and shoes on. She even rolled up my arm warmers so that they were easy to get on. It usually takes me forever to get those on! It was awesome.

I went out of the tent and some more volunteers smeared sunscrean all over me, noting how "fair" I am. Thank you ladies! Then I just couldn't wait to get going on my bike to get my legs warmed up! I saw Pete, my dad and the kids just after I mounted so I got a good send off.

The whole first lap, I kept telling myself to take it easy and not push it. I got passed by a LOT of people. I started wondering if there was anyone else still behind me, but I wouldn't let it get to me. I just kept my legs spinning easy, and my heart-rate under 150 - except on the hard hills where there was no keeping it down, then I would just rest on the down-hills until it got back down which usually didn't take too long. I stopped at mile 30 to use the bathroom and fix my speedometer because it wasn't picking up. After that I had to just add 30 miles to my total, but that's ok. Nothing wrong with keeping the brain working out there.

I finished my first lap in 3:58:26 so I lost hope of finishing in 7 hours. I thought I'd shoot for 7:30 instead, but I knew that would be hard. I was starting to feel really sore in my shoulders, neck and bottom so I was really looking forward to getting to my special needs bag at mile 67. When I got there, the volunteer who got my bag was very nice. He held my bike and my bag while I took my excedrin, refilled my hammer gel flask, traded bottles, got my jacket out and put it on. I told him I wasn't sure about the rain jacket, but he said that it had gotten noticeably colder in the last hour so he thought I should take it. After that, I was a little warm at some points, but overall, it was nice to have.

I stopped at the next aid station to get a chocolate power bar (a little mini one) and refill my water and perpetuem bottles. At around 70 miles I started passing people. It was great! I still kept the legs spinning and the heart-rate under 150 when I could, but I was feeling so great! That excedrin is great stuff! Also, at around mile 80, someone handed me some mini peanut butter power bars. Oh my gosh! Those were like heaven. So good. I have a thing for peanut butter and it really hit the spot! Why didn't I know about these things before? I took one then, and saved the other one for an hour or so later.

I told myself that I could push it a little harder after I finished the last hill so it was really fun coming into town all fast, people cheering me on the whole way, and I was still passing a lot of people! I knew that most of them would probably pass me on the run, but oh well.

My total bike was 7:48:01 so at least it was under 8!

Back into transition and another awesome volunteer helped me into the tent with my bag where she proceeded to rub my feet for me! What a lady! How many people would want to rub a sweaty athlete's foot? It sure felt good on my numb feet, though! I took another excedrin here, then we got my shoes and hat on, and I headed out.

I had thought about ditching my jacket for at least the first lap of the run, but it had started raining lightly during the last 5 miles of the bike so I decided to keep it. I was really warm for the first few miles, and I thought about at least dropping my arm warmers off somewhere, but I didn't. I'm glad I didn't because it kept raining, and got colder the whole first lap. I was glad to have the arm warmers, and I LOVED my rain jacket! I saw Pete close to our rental house as I headed out of town, and soon after that I put my hood on. It has elastic and is made for going over a helmet, but it fits over my hat brim perfectly. I did get a lot of comments about my "rain bonnet," or my "shower cap," or just "nice hat!" so I'm sure I looked kind of funny. I didn't care, though, it kept my head and ears nice and toasty warm.

I skipped the first aid station because it was just out of the transition, but I walked and tried to drink something at all the rest except for the last 2 because I was feeling full and almost done. The warm chicken broth was my favorite, and they also had pretzels that were good to munch on. I didn't dare take their cookies, that seemed too heavy. I was also carrying my hammer gel flask with me so I took that about every hour when I'd get to an aid station where there was water to drink with it.

I had my old running shoes in my special needs bag so I could change into dry shoes half-way if it rained, but I decided I'd rather risk cold feet in the new wet shoes over the risk of another stress fracture in the old dry ones. Plus, by the time I got to the special needs bags, it had stopped raining.

I was paranoid about breaking my foot the whole time. I was almost waiting for some kind of pain, but it never came. I felt great, my knees felt great, and my legs felt great. I just kept plugging along.

I met a girl at a little past the half-way mark who was running at about the same pace as me so I ran with her for most of the second lap. Her name was Laura, she was from San Fransisco and this was her first Ironman too. It was nice to have someone to run with for a while, but then I stopped for a bathroom break and lost her. Looks like she finished right before me in our age group at 15:16:57! Great job Laura!

I did the first 7.47 miles at a 12:32 min/mile pace, then I went up to 12:11 min/mile pace for the next 6.5, and down to 17:10 for the last 4.25 miles. Wow, can you tell I was getting tired? I didn't feel like I was going that slow, but it would explain why the last 2 miles seemed to last FOREVER!

My total run time was 5:40:51. I thought I'd be able to do it faster than my St. Goerge Marathon where I had to walk the last 6 miles on a broken foot, but I guess not.

It was totally dark for the last 6 miles or so, and they gave me a pink glow necklace that I hooked in my number belt. I passed a few people as I got closer to the finish line. I felt like stopping, but I kept telling myself that 2 miles was nothing, 1 mile was nothing, I could keep running! Then I got into the home stretch and people were lining the street cheering for me. I couldn't help but smile at them all, just like I'd been smiling the whole day, only bigger. I kept saying, "Thank you!" to everyone. I got closer and the roar of the crowd grew louder and the announcer said my name.

Somehow I was sprinting as fast as I could now and I felt like I was flying! I saw Pete with is hand reaching out to me so I touched his hand then ran across the finish line! I am now an Ironman!

My total time was 15:22:21 so I did end up being faster than Pete by 23 minutes! I was #61 out of 87 in my age group.

Stopping was not easy, but of course, there was another friendly volunteer there to hold me up as I got my medal and shirt. She asked me if I wanted a picture or food or a massage and I just told her I didn't know what I wanted. I just wanted Pete. We just stood there for minute, then he was there and she transfered me to him. I was so happy, I could have cried, but I don't know if I had any liquids left in my body.

We had to walk around for half an hour, picking up my stuff then finding the car, and it was probably good for me to cool down. Of course, I was freezing by the time we got to the car. I stretched a little while Pete put my bike on the car, then I sat down and that was not good. By the time we got home, I felt like I was going to throw up so we rushed in to the bathroom and I sat on the floor. I did not throw up, but in a few minutes, I felt better. I decided to finish stretching while I was there, and while Pete got my hot bath going. That bath felt so good. I sat there and ate left-over pizza. Pete brought me 2 pieces and I thought there was no way I could eat that much, but I did. I guess burning something like 10,000 calories in a day makes you hungry!

Pete rubbed my legs, I put my compression socks on, then got into bed. Finally, the end to a very long, but good day. I probably should have iced my knees and ankles, but I'm doing that now. They're the only things feeling really sore today. I'm going to do a bunch of sitting around and eating today. :)


  1. Really cool, Colleen. Congratulations! I'm so glad they had the live feed. It was fun watching you come in.

  2. That was cool. When I got home, my dad was able to show me the footage of me running across the finish line (The kids were in bed so he had to watch from there). I wish they would have put the camera closer, but maybe it would have been too in the way of the stumbling athletes. :)

  3. Way to go Colleen! I think you are amazing!!

  4. Great job on your first IM! I'm so happy for you, you did a great job hanging tough! And it sounded like hard conditions out there yesterday. What was the Excedrin for? I've been thinking of that myself, because I sometimes get horrid headaches on the bike.

  5. Wow. I just can't imagine doing that. It is so amazing. I've run marathons, but to do the swim and the bike and the many hours going, going, going. You are amazing.

  6. Thanks!

    Carol, the Excedrin was for my shoulders, neck and bum. I'm sure it would help with a headache too. I wonder if you get headaches from having to look up so much, that's what gets me.

  7. Great job! I am so excited for you. We also loved the live feed, it was fun cheering and clapping as you came in!

  8. Good job Colleen! It was very exciting.

  9. AWESOME!! What an amazing accomplishment!

  10. Oh My Gosh! Congratulations Colleen! i've not been feeling too well, so i've missed visiting my favorite blogs, now i see you've done it! And so well. Great. You are amazing. I'm so glad you didn't get injured either.
    Take good care now and yes, rest and eat!!

  11. What a thrill Colleen! I'm so please that you are an Ironman now :-) You are simply incredible...and great cause too. <3

  12. I'm so impressed, Colleen! Congratulations! I watched the live feed for a while, but I had no idea when to expect you to come in, and I was sick so I turned it off after a while. I was following your (Pete's) tweets, though. So exciting!!

  13. congrats!! greeeeat race report; i love your feeling the need to cry at the end but unsure if you've got any liquids left for tears :) totally inspirational!

  14. just saw your tweet and have read this for the second time ahahaha. i'm drumming up courage to hit the register button ;)

  15. you probably won't see this but I just found your blog and was so intrigued by your IM! Congrats!!! I started tri's last summer and look forward to this summer's races(i am working my way up from the Sprints!). Congrats on the baby!