For this race report, I’m going to write it in short sections. Kind of like the really fun and interesting audio book we listened to on the way to Coeur D’Alene, called The Sex Lives of Cannibals — except this won’t nearly as long, or be as funny, or as interesting.
I was going into the race this year with high expectations. My training had gone well. And, this being my 4th IM I felt like I knew what was in store — I was ready to race this race. But, the final story of each IronMan is, in the end, written on the day and not before.
Chapter 1. Race saved, before it even started.
Sometimes this guy can be your very best friend:
I’ve seen The Oatmeal off-and-on for a while now, but this new one on running is pretty great. Applies equally well to triathlon. It’s all about the author’s motivation for running. Both funny and true — check it out, I’m sure you’ll find something to identify with.
I particularly liked Part 6.
(BTW, I will be posting a CDA race report. Eventually.)
[ Update: Here's the tracking link on IronMan.com (bib number 2215). See you all tomorrow! ]
We’re here in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for Sunday’s race. This will be my fourth IronMan, and while I of course wish I’d done this-or-that differently/better/more in my training, I feel like I’m going to PR this thing!
I’ve been training since February, and I’ve logged more running, more biking, and more swimming than any other year. My hip issues are mostly behind me–it’s feeling good. I know the course, I know my equipment, I know how to deal with my nutrition for an IM. I’m at a perfect race weight. The weather, it’s been raining for days, is now looking perfect for race day. So, basically it’s all coming together.
I swam today and yesterday, and what a difference a day makes. Yesterday, wind, rain and waves. Today, beautiful sunshine and happy people.
We had a chance to catch up with many friends from Salt Lake up here to do the race today. I’m excited to see how they do — I can think of at least six who are primed to do the best races of their lives! Can’t wait to see that.
One unusual thing — I had a mechanical on my pre-race ride! I’ve been really lucky with my gear generally, but today I went out to ride the run course and my rear derailleur was REALLY stiff. It would go really easy shifting from low to high gears, but I had to sit up and crank the lever to move to lower gears. So, at about 4:00 I rode it over to the bike mechanics in the expo — they spotted the problem (or a problem) right away, will fix it overnight, and have it ready by 10:00 AM! What a great service. And, goes to show the importance of doing your pre-race test ride.
So, tomorrow, one last day of relaxation before the race on Sunday.
Then, it’s go time!
Most triathletes have bike issues. Issues with having too many bikes that is. You did your first tri on a mountain bike, and while you had a great time, watching everyone else whizzing by all day had you shopping for a new bike.
But, what to get? Going for a tri bike may give you an edge in races, but also a chronic case of aero-position-neck. Or, a road bike that offers comfort, versatility, and safety — you could go ride with your roadie friends without them saying “you brought your tri bike?”.
Ideal number of bikes = n + 1
(where n is the number you currently own…)
Of course, the answer is both! But, for many without the resources (or burning desire to spend more on bikes than their car) that may not be an option — at least until the tri addiction grows to become completely unmanageable. And, the truth is, in the age of shaped carbon tubes, a nice road bike loses very little to a tri bike. The main problem is position.
One of the reasons tri bikes help your performance, is that they tend to rotate you forward to a steeper seating position. It’s more aerodynamic, and you can rest your weight on your elbows. It’s like a climber that “goes skeletal” letting his bones hold him up instead of his muscles. I’ve also heard people say the steeper angle will save your hamstrings for the run, but really your hip angle will be about the same, so I’m not sure about that. But, either way, the end result is you burn less energy, to go faster.
Well here’s an idea, make your seat post angle easily adjust between road bike postion and a steeper tri bike position. And, how about some aerobars with a quick release? That’s the idea of the Switch Aero System. They’re currently raising money (and it’s going quite well) to make this prototype a reality.
Honestly, this sounds like a great idea to me. Take the extra $$ you save by skipping a second bike and get a better road bike. Add on some nice aero wheels (that you can now afford) and I think the dollar-per-second saved equation starts looking pretty good.
Anyway, I thought it was an interesting idea. Check out their kick starter campaign here.
A couple months ago, I did a little research into the top 7 guys in my 45-49 age group at IM 70.3 St. George. It was a fun exercise, and turned out that I did call 4 of the top 7. So, I thought I’d take a peek at the numbers for IronMan Coeur D’Alene. Unlikely that I’ll get one, but fun to see just how unlikely.
I took the CDA participant list, and cross referenced it from last year’s USAT rankings for everyone 40-50 to get the top seeds for my age group at CDA. My age group will have only about 4 potential qualifying spots for the IronMan World Championships in Kona. Last year, #4 did a 10:08.
So, here are my top 5 picks for the 45-49 qualifiers (only 4 will get slots!)
The bibs have been released on the IronMan Coeur D’Alene website! It’s getting real now. Looks like I’m lucky number 2215.
Interestingly, the difference between the registered numbers, and the numbers that received bibs, decreased by the same percentage for both men and women. Each came down by 6%.
Below I’ve updated my Kona slot estimates. But, take these with a grain of salt — they’ll be close, but as we’ve found out lately there is a great mystery surrounding the actual allocation of Kona slots. No one actually seems to know the exact formula used for allocating the slots, and there are several alternative methods for allocating slots proportional to age group size (as WTC says they do). And, there seems to be some inconsistency between events as well. Will be doing more investigation on this.
In the meantime, here are the new estimates. The only change from the previous, is that M60-64 looks like it picks up a slot, and F30-34 loses one.
[UPDATE: Bib numbers have been released, new numbers coming soon. Also, FYI, there's been an interesting discussion on exactly how Kona slots are allocated over on Slowtwitch here.]
I’ve been looking over the age group counts for this year’s IronMan CDA, and as per usual, there will be precious few Kona slots to go around. Based off the most recent participant list, there are 2,831 registered, and just 50 golden tickets to go around.
Seven age groups will only have a single Kona slot available, so unfortunately while the competition may get slower with age, your odds do not necessarily get a lot better. Mens 40-44 are again the largest group with 6 slots for 457 racing… mid-life crisis can hit you real hard!
My age group, the next up — 45-49, will get just 4 slots. By the luck of the numbers, that is actually the worst numerical odds of any age group! Not a lot to work with there!
Now, on to the stats.
It looks like we may not see another swim start at IronMan Coeur D’Alene that looks like this:
IronMan is experimenting with some new swim start options at three races this year, including IronMan Coeur D’Alene. That race, in part known for the mass beach start, will now have a self-selected staggered start. Here’s how they describe it:
Athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point, similar to how running road races are started. An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.
There are a variety of other changes, including the addition of floating resting stations in the swim course. Also, they mention that they are going to start having in-water warmups at all IM events whenever possible.
The changes sound like they will make the swim start more safe.
The only real negatives I see are
1) You really won’t know whether you are ahead or behind anyone on course.
2) The clock at the finish line won’t be accurate. So, the announcer won’t be able to cheer people in saying “C’mon James, 10 more seconds to break 12 hours!”.
3) You lose the excitement of that cannon going off and everyone surging for the water, that is fun.
Last weekend I participated in the first 70.3 race in St. George, Utah. It was a fantastic weekend. There was an entire tribe of Salt Lake City triathletes down for the race. On Thursday, the Salt Lake Tri Club organized a Q&A with pro triathletes Ali Black, Andy Potts, and Lesley Patterson, which was a real treat since they are some of my favorite pros.
The short version of the race is that it felt like as close to perfect a race as I can muster. Everything went smoothly, and even better, I was able to maintain focus and really race the whole time. I’ll give you a brief play-by-play after the jump.