74 In ironman coeur d'alene/ race report/ triathlon

race report // ironman coeur d’alene

HOT DAMN.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene was one of the hardest and definitely the hottest thing I have ever done. And, although not the outcome I trained for – 106F = goal paces out the window – it was a huge deposit in the mental toughness bank and big fuel on the fire. Onward to Ironman Wisconsin! 

Pre-race 

Because of the record hot forecast, race officials moved the start up an hour to 5:45a, which meant a 3a alarm. Up and at ’em and race morning rituals later, my amazing sherpas Nick and Sonia (seriously, no way I would have made it to the race without them) and I headed to city park. 

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Pre-IM ritual… wise words from Lynne Cox.

Nothing fancy once we arrived. I checked my bike special needs bag, calibrated my Garmin and loaded my bike with nutrition. And, because I’m not a bike mechanic, I handed my bike over the fence to Nick so he could pump my tires… because presta valves! Good thing, too, because the rear one unscrewed, which would have made me panicky had I done it. 

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The best sherpas ever!

SWIM // 1:09:49, 1:48/100m, 16th AG

Amid the sea of wetsuit-clad triathletes, I somehow found Monica and we chatted for a bit before a quick warm-up swim. After that, I positioned in the 1:05-1:15 wave and after standing on the right for a bit, decided that wasn’t where I wanted to line up, so ran through the masses to the left side so I’d hit the inside of the buoys easier. 

Lake Coeur d’Alene didn’t disappoint… perfect temp (72F!), so clean and clear you could see the bottom for a good portion of the swim. Both loops cruised by and not once did I run into anyone. Maybe I swam a bit too far inside the buoys?! (I’m still learning how to swim harder.) Regardless, it was lovely. I didn’t even mind the quick run on the beach between loops. My only complaint: the swim out arch was black and nearly impossible to see against the backdrop of pine trees. 

As I exited the water, I stole quick glance at the clock – 1:26 – and my oh-this-felt-like-a-decent-swim thoughts dissipated. When a volunteer told me it was the AG time, my heart sank. It certainly didn’t feel like that (it wasn’t, obviously, and was instead an IM swim PR!). Brush it off, I told myself… go get ’em on the bike. My swim time didn’t cross my mind again. 

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Nick managed to find me in the sea of swimmers, all the way to the first red buoy!

Gear: ROKA Sports Maverick Pro wetsuit, ROKA Sports X1 goggles in dark amber mirror, Castelli T1:stealth top, Coeur Sports tri shorts, lululemon flow Y sports bra

Nutrition (pre-race): two black cherry Clif shot blok chews (forgot to bring a Gu), bottle of Osmo Hydration active, Imodium (lifesaver on the run… no GI upset). 

T1 // 3:15

Aero helmet (coach and I went back and forth about this vs. my road helmet… he won), tri shoes and sunnies on, and out the door (close to bike out!).

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BIKE // 5:53:35, 19.01 mph, 172w avg, 8th AG

From the get-go, my legs felt great, as in riding 15 watts higher than my target great. I knew I had some time to make up from the swim, so I went with it, knowing that I could dial it back a bit if needed. It was early and cooler, so the first out-and-back to Bennett Bay was still shaded as volunteers set up the run aid stations that would later be in full sun. I waved to Sam running along the path here, and as I cruised back through town, saw my sherpas and parents cheering. 

The first loop on 95 was fantastic and so much fun! I settled into the long climb, legs still feeling great, so took it all the way to the top in my big ring, never going over my target peak watts. This loop zoomed by and before I knew it, I was back in Bennett Bay picking my up still-icy Osmo in special needs… such a treat! (One of the best decisions of the day to stop in SN for these.)

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By the time the second loop on 95 came around between miles 70-90, it was almost like Mother Nature flipped a switch for the inferno. Pavement temps soared to 146F, and no lie, it felt like my entire body, especially my face, was on fire. I took two water bottles at every single aid station (the entire bike) – one went into my aero cage and the second to douse my entire body. And, while the volunteers were incredible – I cannot say enough good things about these folks! – there weren’t nearly enough aid stations on this stretch of the bike… because more water!

By the time I reached the turn around at mile 90, I was beginning to question my sanity for continuing to race in such ridiculous weather. It was awful. The descent back into CdA improved – except for the sketchy single file bridge crossing – but man, I felt so bad for the folks just starting that section… so many walking their bikes up the climb, looking so defeated.

Gear: Argon 18 E-118, Cobb Cycling Fifty Five JOF saddle, Zipp Firecrest 808s, Garneau Vorttice aero helmet, Castelli T1:stealth top (this top saved my back from frying and helped keep me cool), Coeur Sports tri shorts, Sidi T3 shoes, Oakley Miss Conduct sunnies (so much better than the clear helmet visor). 

Nutrition: Eating was next to impossible because of the heat; I had no appetite and had to force myself to take in calories. And, even then, most bites took a couple minutes to chew and swallow (which is why so low in calories). What I ate: one Ally’s Bar + one bite of a second one, one maple pecan Bobo’s Oat Bar, one pack caffeinated black cherry Clif shot bloks (easiest nutrition to eat), BASE Performance salt (click it, flick it and lick it every five miles), four bottles Osmo Hydration active, water at every single aid station. (I peed on my bike somewhere on Highway 95!) 

Garmin note: As I rolled into T2, I consciously reminded myself to look at my average watts on my Garmin. Good thing, too, because when I went to upload my data, it wasn’t there. Chalk it up to it not working properly the day prior to the race; every time I turned it on it said “working.” It worked fine race morning, finding satellites and calibrating immediately, so I’m not sure what happened. Super frustrating.

T2 // 4:11

I’m not a quitter, but in T2, I was thisclose to handing in my chip. I had no idea how I was going to get through a marathon in 106F and full scorching sunshine. After taking an extra couple minutes to collect myself and get a pep talk from super sherpas Nick and Sonia, I put one foot in front of the other and started the run. Because never give up. 

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This sums up the run pretty well… haha!

RUN // 4:19:22, 9:53 pace, 6th AG

There isn’t much to say about the run other than it was survival mode punctuated by all the ice down the kit, every single garden hose to the face (not kidding), cold towels, squishy shoes, seeking out every single slice of shade, running the mile I was in and putting one foot in front of the other. Forward IS a pace. I walked the giant climbs to Bennett Bay on both loops (as did everyone else) as well as through every single aid station so I could load my kit with ice and sponges and down cola and water. 

Survival mode also kept my focus away from my right ankle. Some posterior tibial tendonitis flared up during my last long run, so playing it smart, coach had me take a solid eight days off from running two weeks out from race day. That rest, combined with a few ART treatments at Orthology, helped get me back to running relatively pain-free. 

I’m incredibly grateful for John, the guy who ran with me and motivated me during miles 5-10… perhaps the hardest miles of the marathon. He kept my mind off the heat as we chatted about triathlon, training and life. And, for the BASE Performance guys at the halfway mark; pretty certain the amino drink Ryan gave me saved my second half. And, the volunteers! THE BEST. It was brutal running, but I cannot imagine standing there all day on that frying pavement.  

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Throughout the second half of the run, I went back and forth with three or four ladies in my AG. I’d pass them between aid stations and they’d pass me when I walked to load my kit with ice. They all kept me motivated to keep going – I knew Kona was so close! With two miles to go, one of my friends was within eyesight just ahead, so I dug deeper than I ever thought possible and dropped my pace to 7:45 (while my HR shot up near 170… worth it for the Strava QOM of the last mile!). I had to get to that finish line and get into the Lake CdA to cool down… that’s all I could think about… just stopping, cooling down, and drinking the ice cold Mexi Coke and Osmo recovery shake waiting for me at the finish. 

The last six blocks on Sherman were quiet, and I remember thinking… wow, this is a wide street to run down, and where IS everyone?! 

Gear: Coeur Sports kit, Hoka One One Clifton 2 and trucker hat, Feetures elite socks, lululemon flow Y sports bra. 

Nutrition: Osmo Hydration preload + active mix (in my handheld at the start of the run), three black cherry Clif shot blok chews, cola starting at mile 3, BASE Performance amino and electrolyte salt. Again, not enough nutrition. 

OFFICIAL RESULTS // 11:30:12, 6th AG, 39th OA

And, just like that, there was the magical finish line. After such a brutally hot day, I’ve never been happier to cross one!

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Post-race

After a quick visit to the outdoor med tent to cool down with icy towels and just sit, I made a beeline for the lake. Taking off my soaked shoes and sitting in the cool water… amazing!

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This guy ♥

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One of the highlights of the race: turning my “fake friends” (as Nick calls my twitter friends) into real life friends! So fun to meet these two ladies, Liz and Christine, and catch up over Mexi Cokes post-race. Christine rocked it, and after being sick, Liz made the tough, but smart decision to not race the entire thing; she’s going to crush IM Canada, no doubt about it. 

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And, so grateful my fantastic parents were there to cheer me on – and, support me through this crazy lifestyle (when I know they’d likely rather I settle down and have babies!). Thank you! ♥

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And, icing on the day (after sitting in the med tent for an hour or so… because delayed race hangover): cheering Monica down Sherman and across her first 140.6 finish line during the final minute. It’s been such a treat to coach her this season, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. So much grit, determination, heart and courage!

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The best (and only) picture of us post-race.

A huge thank you to my team, Coeur Sports, for all their incredible support this year. It means the world! And, to Osmo Hydration, ROKA Sports, Cobb Cycling, Sound Probiotics and Pure Clean Powder… THANK YOU! I couldn’t race without any of you ♥

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  • Sandborn to Run
    07/08/2015 at 8:14 am

    Amazing recap! So, so proud of you!

    • erin
      07/14/2015 at 6:06 pm

      Thank you so much, dear!

  • Amy
    07/08/2015 at 8:29 am

    Great recap! I can’t imagine how hard it was to keep going in those brutal race conditions-well done and congratulations!

    • erin
      07/14/2015 at 6:08 pm

      Thanks much, Amy! Don’t give up on your triathlon dreams… seek another opinion! Be relentless and never give up :)

  • Kecia
    07/08/2015 at 8:36 am

    You are a true inspiration!! Congratulations on a super stellar performance!! Thank you for motivating me to do and be my best…always :)

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 7:33 am

      Thanks so much, Kecia! Your turn next!

  • Kristina
    07/08/2015 at 8:57 am

    Great job staying tough during this race – I can’t imagine how hard that marathon must have been. I hope that you’ve had a chance to recover as you focus on the next goal!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 7:35 am

      It certainly was a scorcher, Kristina! Thank you! Recovering well and sights set on IMWI!

  • Beth
    07/08/2015 at 9:35 am

    Hot damn. Literally! (Har har.) Great job as always lady. Your positive attitude in addition to your athletic prowess will only continue to help on this journey to Kona. I cannot wait to virtually cheer you on at IMWI. Everyone who competed at CdA is a bad ass in my book. Again, congratulations!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 7:36 am

      Aww… thank you, Beth! <3

  • Alyssa @ Don't Look Down
    07/08/2015 at 9:47 am

    Way to persevere Erin! That race looked HARD! And although it didn’t have the outcome you wanted, I think it will just add more fuel to your fire for IMWI! Plus, it gives you the confidence that you can do HARD things! Congrats on your THIRD ironman!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 7:38 am

      It definitely fueled the fire for IMWI… cannot wait to race again! Thanks so much, Alyssa!

  • Steena
    07/08/2015 at 10:37 am

    Great, great recap! You inspire me! I want to be as amazing as you! You raced smart, and stayed positive! Perfect! Congratulations to you! Hope to meet you at IMWI!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 5:58 pm

      Yes, let’s plan on it at IMWI, Steen! Yay! Thank you!

  • Jessie
    07/08/2015 at 10:42 am

    Congratulations Erin! I am so impressed that you finished in conditions like that. I couldn’t run a marathon in 106 degree heat, let alone do it AFTER the swim and bike. Tough cookie! Way to go.

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 5:59 pm

      It was so great to finally meet you last night, Jessie! Looking forward to hanging out (running?!) again soon! Thanks so much!

  • kristin | W [H] A T C H
    07/08/2015 at 10:51 am

    congratulations! i am not sure there has ever been a more well-deserved mexicoke. also, love your quote “forward is a pace”!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 6:00 pm

      Ha! He had strict instructions to have one waiting for me at the finish line :) Thank you so much, Kristin!

  • Erin
    07/08/2015 at 11:22 am

    Big ring up the hills, bad ass!

    Honestly, I am so impressed by your grit and determination. I love CDA and that course but I’m not sure I would have gone on with the run. You are amazing.

    Random trivia: I broke my toe by kicking some guys heel on the run in btwn swim loops. I had no idea it was broken until the race was done (2013).

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 6:13 pm

      I was thisclose to turning in my chip in T2, Erin! Looking back, how I got through that run is… I have no idea. Brain went to another place :) Broken toes are the worst (I’ve broken my big toe a couple times)! How did you race?!

      Thank you so much! Hope our paths cross at some point!

  • ami
    07/08/2015 at 11:26 am

    Loved reading your recap, Sis!! Amazed by you and YOUR incredible determination all over again! Can’t wait to cheer you on in Madison!!! I agree with Kristin about loving the quote “forward is a pace”. Awesome. xooxoxooxo

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you, Sista! Can’t wait to see you and Finley on the course in Madison – and, to hang out tomorrow! xoxoxoxoxo <3

  • carrisamarie
    07/08/2015 at 12:05 pm

    Absolutely amazing! What a brutal day, but so inspiring!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 6:25 pm

      It was insane! Thank you, Carrisa! Hope your training is going well! Keep me posted if you’ll be back in MN soon!

  • hyedi
    07/08/2015 at 12:16 pm

    Wow — your race reports are always THE BEST, but this one was especially great to read because of just how tough of conditions you had to deal with! You always inspire me and I’m so proud of you, friend!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 9:54 pm

      You’re so sweet, friend! Thank you so much! I’ve been thinking about you lately! Hope you’re feeling well! xo.

  • Emily Dingmann (@nutritionisteat)
    07/08/2015 at 12:51 pm

    OH. MY. GOD. What a day. As always, SO inspirational. Congratulations!

    • erin
      07/17/2015 at 10:27 pm

      It was INSANE, Emily! Thank you! And, Demi… she is the CUTEST! <3 Mamahood looks good on you, too :)

  • meghan
    07/08/2015 at 1:24 pm

    Congratulations Erin! I tracked you during this race and was incredibly impressed with the amazing effort you were able to give in these insane conditions. I look forward to seeing your go at IMWI and look forward to also tracking you there! Good job on the toughest day.

    • erin
      07/18/2015 at 8:03 am

      Fifty-seven days out! So excited! Thank you so much, Meghan!

  • elizatrud
    07/08/2015 at 5:13 pm

    You are amazing erin! So inspiring to watch you :)

    • erin
      07/18/2015 at 8:16 am

      Thank you for the kind words!!

  • J.L.
    07/08/2015 at 6:10 pm

    This made me want to do IMCDA 2016. I’m on the fence about it. Congrats to all your hard work and dedication for fighting through the heat!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:21 am

      Do it! It’s a beautiful course, and the spectators + volunteers are fantastic. And, it surely won’t be 106F next year :) Thanks so much, J.L.!

  • Jessie Bohner
    07/08/2015 at 6:28 pm

    Such a tough race with the heat! Your awesome for sticking with it! and hey! that marathon time is better than mine! :)

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:24 am

      Thank you, Jessie!

  • Feisty Eats
    07/08/2015 at 8:38 pm

    Dang. Way to power through. I can’t even imagine that heat. Way to go!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:26 pm

      It was ridiculous… never been that hot in my life! Thanks so much, lady!

  • 321delish
    07/08/2015 at 8:55 pm

    Dang girl. I am super impressed. Way to tough it out and finish it out despite the heat. Wisconsin is calling your name.

    I hope you are recovering well!!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:27 pm

      I can’t tell you how excited I am to race IMWI again, Steph :) Thank you so much! Hope you’re well!

  • Beth
    07/08/2015 at 9:36 pm

    Amazing race report! Shows all your heart :) I can’t believe it was SOOOOO crazy hot and you all finished an ironman in those conditions! Crazy!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:31 pm

      I honestly kinda can’t believe it, either! That inferno was INSANE. Thanks so much, Beth! Cannot wait to see you crush IM Canada! ONE WEEK!

  • Danielle @ Eat Primal, Run Hard
    07/09/2015 at 5:28 am

    You are incredible. Utterly incredible. Determination and perseverance is just the start of it. You didn’t get the Kona result you wanted, but this race is great training for when you will be in Hawaii at the WORLD championships. Onwards and upwards as I say!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:32 pm

      Exactly… onward and upward, friend! Thank you so, so much! I’m coming for you, Kona :) xo.

  • Kelsey @ Happy Triathlete
    07/09/2015 at 10:10 am

    Way to go, Erin!!! You are a total rock star. I can’t even imagine racing in those conditions, let alone racing an IRONMAN. You are an inspiration :)

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:32 pm

      You’re so sweet… thank you so much, Kelsey!

  • Kristen
    07/09/2015 at 10:20 am

    I have been really looking forward to reading this, Erin. What a DAY you had out there. I was tracking you and several others, while watching the temperatures climb. I can’t imagine how much grit and determination it required to keep pushing forward one step at a time. WOW WOW WOW!!!

    Most races challenge us physically, for obvious reasons, but it sounds like this race allowed you to learn more about your mental strengths and capabilities. I have no doubt that you will DOMINATE the IMWI course next month.

    You are just an inspiration to us all, Erin! <3

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:38 pm

      It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Kristen… definitely a HUGE mental challenge, almost more so than physically (I wanted to sit in the lake something fierce after getting off the bike!). Big deposit in both the mental and physical bank, that’s for sure. Thank you SO MUCH! Hope you’re well… it’s been fun reading about your pregnancy! You’re gonna be a fantastic and fit mama :) And, watch out IM Canada… I have no doubt you’ll absolutely dominate when you’re at that start line next summer :) xo.

  • B
    07/09/2015 at 1:07 pm

    Erin, you. amaze. me. Well done – again! xo

    • Bridgette Hanson
      07/09/2015 at 1:08 pm

      (B Hanson, that is).

      • erin
        07/19/2015 at 8:40 pm

        Thanks so much, B! I knew it was you :) Miss you! xo.

  • Kendra Krueger
    07/09/2015 at 8:35 pm

    Wow, what a day!!! This race report is incredibly inspiring on so many levels. You had me laughing (peeing on the bike and parents wanting you to settle down and have babies!) and near tears as I could almost feel the grit you had to put into this race to get through it. Watch out IMWI!!! Oh, and that picture of you and Nick on the beach looking at each other is such a great moment captured – adorable!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Kendra! It was a hard fought finish line, that’s for sure… never been happier to cross one! That’s one of my favorite pics, too :) Hope to see you soon! xo.

  • Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    07/09/2015 at 11:05 pm

    What a race!!! Way to dig deep and have 100% mental strength!!!! I can’t even imagine doing a race in those conditions!! Congrats on #3!! I can’t wait to see what you can do in Wisconsin!!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:44 pm

      It was allllllll mental, Leslie! Thank you so much! Counting the days to IMWI!

  • Valerie
    07/10/2015 at 10:25 am

    So amazing Erin!! I tracked you all day but to read about your experience really brings it alive. Amazing photos, too!!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you so much for the support, Valerie! Means a ton. Nick is quite the photog :) Looking forward to catching up soon!

  • Cecille
    07/10/2015 at 5:14 pm

    1) You are incredible, 2) “Forward is a pace” is a phrase I will keep with me forever.

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:46 pm

      Isn’t that a goodie?! It’s gonna stick with me forever, too. Thank you so much, Cecille!

  • Change of Pace
    07/12/2015 at 4:10 pm

    That first run picture of you gives me chills. I also tracked you all day, but it’s so much better reading about your race! Huge congratulations. I have no idea how people finished the race, nonetheless did it FAST! Amazing bike, well, amazing everything really!
    I’d love to read about your recovery and getting back into training for WI if you have time! And, can’t wait to see what you can do at WI if you can go that fast in those temps.
    Also, you’d looove the Challenge Penticton swim if you thought this one was clear!

    (I was about four hours north in BC and just dripping sweat sitting in the shade on the deck.)

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:50 pm

      Thank you so much, Abby! The support means a ton! Such an insane day… I kinda have to pinch myself that I actually raced in those conditions!

      That is a GREAT blog post idea! On my list, so watch for it soon (intervals are picking back up this week, so we’ll see! Been feeling really good so far… even ran nine today!).

      Penticton is on the list! I’ve heard it’s gorgeous! What’s next for you?! Looks like mamahood is treating you well with adorable Jasper :) xo.

  • Kristen L
    07/14/2015 at 11:38 pm

    You are fantastic and amazing. Congratulations for continuing to move forward and getting through such a tough day. Can’t wait to see how things go or you in WI!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you so much, Kristen! It was all about just moving forward, one foot in front of the other :) Hope you are doing well, running for two!

  • Karyn
    07/15/2015 at 12:41 pm

    Congratulations on conquering such a tough race… I can’t even imagine what that heat would have felt like. You’re amazing!!!!
    IMWI better look out, you’re going to rock it. All the best with recovery and the next phase of training.

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:55 pm

      It was an INFERNO, Karyn… never been that hot in my life! Thank you much! Pretty pumped to race IMWI again :) Hope you’re doing and feeling well! What’s your due date?!

  • Melissa
    07/17/2015 at 1:51 pm

    Amazing result for a super tough day!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 8:59 pm

      Thanks so much, Melissa!

  • Brittany
    07/17/2015 at 2:33 pm

    It’s silly how excited I get for race reports – I loved this recap because you were not only so strong physically, but also so strong mentally! Can’t wait for IMWI, I know you’re on your way to Kona soon!

    • erin
      07/19/2015 at 9:01 pm

      It was definitely a bigger mental challenge! It was all I could do to not hop in the lake after the bike :) Thank you so much, Britt! So excited for YOU! Baby any day!

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