Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report



My 2009 season was off to a slow start, somewhat intentionally, somewhat haphazardly. My first “A” race of the season was slotted for the first day of summer (and Father’s Day), June 21, 2009, Ironman Coeur d’Alene. I did my homework on the event and spent a few days in early June at the race site familiarizing myself with the course and area. This would prove to be highly beneficial. I felt physically prepared for the race, and mentally ready to win.


I arrived in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday and my home stay, Rich Dunning, picked me up from the Spokane, Washington airport. I relaxed on Wednesday, did a TV interview on Thursday afternoon then Friday I had a great time at the Press Conference with Max Longree and Bryan Rhodes. I was feeling ready to race and couldn’t wait for Sunday.


Sunday morning the alarm went off at 4 AM then I had my breakfast of a Myoplex Lite bar, whole wheat bagel with Skippy peanut butter and Smuckers Simply Fruit jam, and some Catapult with a Gatorade Endurance mix. We left for the race at 4:45, parked the car, and then went to setup my bike. I was rocking the all red TYR track suit over my race kit, raising my mojo for the day. It was cold, cloudy, and windy. The lake had a lot of chop on it and I decided to stay out of the lake before the race so I wouldn’t get too cold before the start. I consumed a PowerBar Smoothie Bar, Rasberry PowerGel, and a Red Bull about 30 minutes prior to the swim start and changed into my Blue Seventy Helix Short Sleeve wetsuit. I was making a couple of rookie mistakes that I would later come to realize. In a choppy water race, always use the long sleeve wetsuit. In a choppy water race, minimize your food intake 30 minutes prior to the race. It was a tough call, I knew I would need the calories, but risked having too much in my belly during a rough swim. My swim start was great. It was fast and relaxed and I was right on Bryan Rhodes feet, exactly where I wanted to be. It didn’t take long before I started to get sick. I was nauseas and literally getting seasick during the swim. I was about to toss my cookies, and decided I had to back off my pace and let my stomach calm down. With 140 miles left of racing, I couldn’t afford to start losing all my nutrients in the swim. I backed off the pace and paid dearly for it. I was all alone in a choppy lake, no draft, no company, just me swimming and getting knocked about as I had a tough time sighting. I was finally out of the water but a solid 6 minutes behind the front pack out of the water and in 7th place. This was not the start I was hoping for, but there was nothing I could do about it except try to bike myself back into the race. I was riding the Red Rocket (my Specialized Transition) with a new Zipp Zedtech Clincher Disc and front Zedtech 808. My tire choice for the race was the Maxxis Cormet 700x23. I had my custom setup aerobars with the Profile Design Lightning Stryke looking super stealth. That is one nasty fast ride! To make me feel even faster and look a bit more intimidating I was wearing a new custom painted Specialized TT2 Aero Helmet. Jimmy Navarro painted my helmet to resemble the helmet of Marvel Comic’s Superhero, Thor. Since my great grandfather emigrated from Norway (land of the Vikings), I have always had a childhood love of Thor. Thanks to Jimmy, I was no able to ride with the power of Thor! I was tempted to ride really hard for a short while and see what ground I could make up, but thought the better of it and just decided to have a smart race and use my SRM powermeter to ride steady state watts so I could have my best ride while waiting for the others to come back to me. It was cold and cloudy so I was wearing arm warmers on the bike, and wearing yellow tinted L/Vatican Rooly sunglasses (put these babies on and it is like stepping into a tanning bed, instant light). I was still down quite a bit at the end of the first lap of the bike, but then I really started to gain time on the rest of the field, perhaps it was the Payday Bar I had at the start of the second lap. The bike course in Coeur d’Alene has 6200 feet of climbing over the 112 miles so there is no place to hide and those who went out too hard on the first lap paid for it on the second lap. By mile 70, I was in 2nd place behind Francisco Pontano. I wasn’t able to put any time on Pontano (a former pro cyclist in Spain) during the bike, and my slow swim was now keeping me out of striking distance on the run. I finished the bike with one of the fastest bike splits ever on the course. Now it was time for the marathon. I took the run out conservatively and used my Garmin 405 to help me pace my run. It is often hard to control the first few miles of the marathon since you have so much adrenaline and the pace feels so effortless. I kept the pace under control and settled into a solid 3 hour marathon pace. I used water only for the first 3 miles then started a PowerGel every 3 miles along with the Gatorade Endurance and water at each aid station. At mile 12 I had to switch to Coke and Water and keep my gels up. Mile 14 was special needs and I had a couple of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pies and two cans of Red Bull stashed in my bag. Special needs is almost more of a little party for me during the marathon, a chance to eat some good food and get my wiings from the Red Bull. The Red Bull is really a life saver; it really does make you feel like you have wings and gives you the extra boost and focus needed to finish the back half of that marathon to the best of your ability. The crème pies are perfect to smash in your hand and shove the whole thing in your mouth while running letting it slowly dissolve before swallowing bit by bit so you don’t bombard your stomach. MMMM…Tasty! I was fluctuating between a five minute and ten minute gap behind Pontano but had a sizeable lead to the guys fighting for third. With 4 miles to go, I slowed the pace a bit so I wouldn’t blow up and cruised to the finish line. It was a solid second place finish at another Ironman.


I was disappointed with my swim on the day but proud of my effort to refocus and get back into the race on the bike and still run a three hour marathon. Since I am usually a front pack swimmer, a six minute deficit is unacceptable, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. Despite my slow start to the race, I came on hard and finished strong. I punched my ticket to Kona and now I will focus on a proper recovery so I can make the most of my race at the World Champs in October on the Big Island.


Work Hard,