Imagine: gorgeous rows of pine trees. A sparkling lake. An idyllic natural paradise. Then imagine a wind blowing straight in your face as you strain to climb a mountain for 20 minutes, and knowing you'll have to do it multiple times. Such a mixed bag was this year's Coeur d'Alene.
The start of the race was a bit of a panic: after realizing I'd left my ENTIRE bag of bike food at home (WHAT?!) my amazing boyfriend race back, got it, and I was able to get it to where it needed to be in time. The wind was whipping and the lake was white capping with chop, which was not the nicest sight. But luckily the water was temperate, and I wound up getting a personal best time on my swim split, even with all the chop and the exiting of the water to run across the timing mat. So it was a good start! Aaaaand then it all went downhill. (And uphill, lots.)
Locals say it has never been so windy, and while this made swim choppy and tiring, the main effect was that it made an already challenging bike course downright demoralizing. Top AGers even barely broke six hours, but it took me over seven, with brutal headwinds (I averaged 12 mph on downhills, uphill was clearly worse.) Plainly said-- I pretty much sucked. At one point, the wind is just blasting at me as a crank my way up a mammoth hill, and I'm just thinking, "eff this, man, why am I out here ALONE and suffering? This sucks." So at that moment I realized I might need a bit of a break from the sport, at least until Boston next year. To make matters even more annoying, my Garmin decided to betray me, and wasn't showing me total distance or speed, so I had to restart it to know my run pace, thereby losing my total time. I have ZERO idea why, since I'd tested it the day before and my automultisport was AOK. I tried not to be grumpy about it, but... yeah. When you train for months and have your equipment betray you on THE day, well, it sucks!
In spite of grumpy bike riding, and annoyance at Garmins, there was still a race to be run, and beer and boyfriend were waiting for my finish. I told Andy to get me a tank top, because this race was HARD, and I was gonna EARN that name on that M-Dot. (Didn't want to buy it the day before because of superstition of course!) All the effort on the bike was making everyone hurt, myself included, and the old plantar fascia inflammation wasn't helping either. But that's why God made Advil, so I popped some and tried to keep my pace consistent. I did alright until I had to take a bathroom break, and then it became REALLY tough to keep going. But after a few slow miles, I got over the hump, and the end was in sight (well, the last 10K as it were) and I was gonna finish this thing with dignity. So after chatting up a few pals on the course, I got my game face on, put the foot and body pain on mute and upped my cadence, pulling off a negative split for the last six miles, getting back down to sub 8 minute miles, which was no joke in such a state. It was fortunate that the sun was sparkling on the lake in a magical way that made a solid four of my miles a blissful trancelike nature state. In spite of the wind and all the suffering, there was truly nothing so beautiful as that run. I'd highly recommend a visit-- if not a race. Gorgeous.
To my GREAT dismay, I had a 13:01 finish time, which could have EASILY been avoided by simply cutting short that bathroom break or picking up the pace on my slow mile chatting time. But I had no way of knowing, since the Garmin betrayed me, so... spilt milk or whatever. It's just a number, but ARGH, I want that number to be 12! Haha. #ironmanproblems am I right?
Andy was there at the finish, after a pretty long and boring day of waiting to see me six times as I passed him, and he declared that, for future races, he was going to have to do something to make them less boring... namely... he was going to do the RACE. Without having ever DONE a triathlon. But he's sturdy, and if he gets his swim up, it'll be possible!
For now, it's time to let the foot heal so I can get my run back and a base ready for Boston. The crew is all rallying to do Boulder, which Andy is thinking of making HIS first! We shall see what develops, in due time. (Though right now the idea of doing another Ironman is horrifying... I'm sure I'll get back to it, right?)
How quickly the memory fades... like the Hammer tat upon one's arm. ;-)