Ironman Coeur D'Alene: the week prior

I know many readers want to know how my nutrition plan looked for my first Ironman. Have patience as I wanted to FIRST write about the days leading up to race day. 

Tuesday, June 18

I had decided long ago to make the drive to Coeur d’Alene (CDA) rather than fly so that my Hub and I could take our dog, not worry about bike transportation, and we could see Montana again (albeit at 80 mph with only one stop in Bozeman to/from CDA).  Off we were on the journey!


I had forgotten what it’s like to sit in a car for hours on end. Even with reading materials, good tunes, and discussions of various topics with The Hub, I was antsy. I’m not good at car naps so that was not an option.  I reviewed my race day plan, nutrition plan, and made a grocery list for CDA. These tasks made me feel excitement over what was to come!

Yet...I was feeling quite nervous about my left foot.  You see, I had made a mistake a few weeks prior during a Boulder Stroke and Stride event (1500m swim, 5K run) by deciding to: 1) skip drying my feet thoroughly after the swim 2) skip putting on socks  3) wear shoes I hadn’t worn barefoot before.  Dumb because look what happened...and this was 5 days after the incident (sorry this is grotesque):


I will spare you the other images showing the infection that ensued, which wasn’t helped by swimming in the Boulder Reservoir before it was closed for elevated E. Coli levels. When I saw greenish ooze, I realized a visit to the podiatrist was in order. A painful “clean out”, some topical iodine, and a prescription for antibiotics and I was on my way. The doc said “you’ll be okay to do your Ironman but you’ll probably feel it”. What did that mean?

The pain in my foot hadn’t subsided and I hadn’t run for 9 days. I now feared my favorite part of a triathlon - the run.  All I could do was take care of the wound, hope for the best, and try to get my attitude in order. Mind over matter.

Wednesday, June 19

We drove through non-stop rain to arrive in CDA mid-afternoon. The temperature was in the low 50s and felt bone-chilling. But I was happy to be there and to stretch out the legs!  


We were fortunate enough to rent a house overlooking the lake a few miles outside of town. I highly recommend this option over a hotel room, especially if you care about your nutrition and want the ability to prepare your own food.  With list in hand, Pat and I were off to the grocery store to stock up for the remainder of the week.  Food items on the list included everything I normally consume, but more on that in the next blog.

The evening was pretty much “chillaxing” time. Some unpacking, reading, resting the foot, checking the weather forecast multiple times, and pondering the next few days.

Thursday, June 20

I awoke to... more rain and another cold day.  But, I was looking forward to meeting Mikki and Mo (friends and neighbors from Boulder) for a swim in Lake Coeur d’Alene so we could test out the waters and get a feel for how cold it would be.  We met mid-morning in windy, 48-degree weather to some serious chop. The water temperature was around 61-62 degrees, which actually felt warmer than expected. Perhaps this video gives you an indication of the conditions:

We swam for 30 minutes, or rather, I tried not to swallow copious amounts of water for 30 minutes.  Mo has been swimming since a young'un and had some great tips for Mikki and me on how to navigate the swells and alter our stroke to be more efficient. This was super helpful, in addition to just being able to relax the mind and “go with it”. The swim actually turned out to be a fun time, especially getting to share it with these gals.

Out of the water, it was freezing! A quick change into dry clothes and a stop at Calypso’s (thanks for the recommendation, Andrew Chad!) for a hot cup of decaf warmed the bones quickly. I then went to packet pickup, which is where I got my next bolus of excitement seeing other athletes and eavesdropping on other’s conversations about it being their first IM too. Pat and I didn’t hang out at the Athletes Village very long due to the rain and cold so we headed back to the house.

I had hoped to pedal the bike for a bit today, but there was really no stopping the rain so Coach Julie’s advice was “no”, for safety reasons and to not trash the bike.  I decided to wait to test out the foot until the following day which left me with time to start organizing items for race day.  We did catch a movie that night, which is something my husband and I rarely do. I’m serious... if I can get him to one movie per year, it’s a thrill.  We decided to go to a goofy movie because Sonja had suggested finding ways to giggle as a way to reduce stress. Besides, it’s just plain fun to belly laugh. So, we picked the movie “This is the End”, which was funny at times, and a little difficult to watch at other times (for its absurdity). Nonetheless, it was entertainment and the last bit of free time before I felt I needed to get more focused. I was just hoping for no nightmares that night.


Friday, June 21

Here it is T-2 days ‘til showtime.  The sun was actually shining a little bit today and it had warmed up into the 50s.  Sonja had flown in to support her athletes, but she was gracious to include me for a morning swim and share some great tips about warming up and navigating the swim when you find yourself in a tight spot. This was a short but fun swim and I was happy to be with these gals. 

Mikki, Mo, Sonja, and me

Mikki, Mo, Sonja, and me

After the swim, Sonja gave us a tour of the run course (which is also part of the bike course) and gave a superb narrative of what to watch out for, where aid stations will be, where the most awesome spectators will be, etc. She knows the ins and outs, having rocked this course a few times herself!  

Later I went with Pat to take my bike to Jim at CycleMetrix per Sonja’s recommendation for a once-over. For future IMCDA’ers, I highly recommend this shop for any of your cycling issues or needs. Jim was beyond nice and super efficient. And he even didn’t give me the stink eye for having “just” a road bike.

After that fun, it was time to test out the foot. We drove back to the lake and then ran part of the run course for about 40 minutes, which included the “big” hill.  Most say this is the toughest part of the run. 

2013 IMCDA run course

2013 IMCDA run course

The hill wasn’t as bad as the pain in my foot!  I knew I was going to need some (more) serious mental toughness to get through the marathon if my foot was going to feel like THAT on race day.  Attitude!

Later that day, our family from Boise arrived (minus one niece but with the addition of another niece from Indiana). I was really looking forward to seeing the 5 of them. They make me happy and I am so comfortable around them. Nothing beats having some extra support too!  After some chit chat time, they went out for dinner with Pat while I preferred to stay home to cook my dinner, organize more stuff, and relax. It was a great day overall!

Saturday, June 22

I felt like it was the day before my wedding. Double-triple checking things, feeling a little “on edge”, not a super big appetite.  And knowing the next day would be another one of those “life changing” events. Yep, that sounds sappy and it is.

The Hub, my sister-in-law (Mary) and I headed to the lake mid-morning.  Pat and I rode more of the run course to test out the bike while Mary happily walked our dog and enjoyed watching the variety of athletes biking and running the course.  I did a short run off the bike and called it good.

Back home, it was time to do final packing of transition bags and then check in the bike. This is where I got a bit intimidated as I rolled in my Cervelo road bike with strap on aero bars and saw the loads of fancy-schmancy tri bikes sticking their tongues out at me.  Never mind them.  Okay, I was also drooling over those bikes too.  

I put my transition bags in the appropriate areas and then tried to familiarize myself with the layout of T1 and T2. You run in from the water where? And out with your bike over there??  I was overwhelmed at first, but then I realized I wouldn't be the only one out there trying to figure it out tomorrow!

After bike check in, it was finally time to settle in for the rest of the evening. I spent some time preparing nutrition for the next day and reviewing plans.  I listened to Bobby McGee (the coach, not the musician) for inspiration and to get me centered.  I think I watched a little bit of the Blackhawks game before dinner with my cool bro-in-law, Brian, before it was chow time... and then the final hours.

So, this was a summary of events leading up to race day.  Not super fascinating, I realize (especially for you experienced IMers).  So, my next post will be about race day and how my nutrition plan unfolded.

Thanks for reading!