Just as we did earlier this month, we are spotlighting another "A" race for one of the Blue Mountain Endurance athletes this season. This time the race was Ironman Coeur d'Alene and the athlete was Stacey Haveman trying to become an Ironman by taking on a very honest course in her rookie attempt at the distance.
I first met Stacey early this year and knew immediately that she had what it took to take on Ironman distance racing. Stacey's background was that of a very successful track athlete winning multiple state titles in high school and then competing at the Division 1 level for Notre Dame in high jump and heptathlon. Little did anyone know back in January, but Ironman Coeur d'Alene would turn out to be a doozy of a year with record breaking temperatures forcing the race to be started even earlier than usual, and making for very tough racing conditions, especially mid way into the afternoon when most athletes are our on the marathon course. Never one to back down from a challenge, Stacey took on the heat and course with confidence and toughness that left many others shattered and humbled on what turned out to be one of the hottest ironman distance races on record, not to mention finishing in the top 10 in her age group! Here's Stacey's account of the day that was Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2015:
Ironman coeur d'Alene Race report
Swim 74.1 water temp
Bike 70F to start, 80F by 9, 90F by 11, 100F by 1pm
Run 100+F from start to finish
I am an Ironman! Two days out and I'm feeling great, I'm also in Kauai!!!!
The important stuff
I would not hesitate go to back. I've done several 70.3 events so I'm somewhat familiar with the Ironman ways and CDA had the best overall set up I've ever experienced. First, the community is highly supportive and looks forward to the event each year. It was not uncommon to hear a volunteer say they'd been at it for 5-10 years, which also meant they were well informed and we'll trained. To say the community is excited about the recent 70.3 announcement would be an understatement. Access was also super easy with regards to parking for check in, bike drop off, and for spectators.
I could not have had a better start to my day. Just before getting corralled onto the beach, I decided to duck into an OPEN port-a-potty when I saw my mom and brother running up to wish me luck. I have no clue how they spotted me amongst the bazillion swim caps, but it was amazing. Armed with a little extra luck I seeded myself between the 1hr & 1:15 pace signs. The gun went off at 5:45 and I was in the 71.4*F water by 5:47. The water was calm and there wasn't much fighting. I only got hit in the face once and the goggles survived. The first left put us directly into the sun and sighting was impossible but the kayaks kept us on a tight course and the second left resolved the issue only 200yds later. The first lap I was fortunate and swam very tight to the buoys, I don't think I could have done a shorter course. The second lap was pretty close too but the swimmers were more aggressive so I gave them space. Overall, I couldn't be happier. I loved the swim while I was in it and was pretty excited about my time. My previous 1.2mile (70.3) times were 40+ mins and I finished 2.4 in 1:11. Thank you to all my swimming buddies who motivated me to get in the pool! Swimming three times a week (mostly) and with friends made a huge difference.
I haven't felt very strong on the bike this year, I just wasn't pulling the paces in training that I use do in Syracuse. It turns out I was very well prepared. Riding the fingers and doing scenic loop repeats made the IM course feel easy. And so I don't sound like a prick, the reasons follow. 1) The roads felt like butter compared to the chip seal we're used to here, hello highway! 2) The dreaded 1.8 mile 6% grade climb was all hype. If you can grind up the fingers in Walla Walla then you can do the CDA course. 3) I trained with a 25 rear cog but raced with a 28, the result was 10 pt increase in my average cadence. 4) I trained on training wheels and tires and raced on my new disc with a race tire. It was Awesome!!!!! Now I'm going to try and convince you I stuck to my race plan, because if you look at my run you'll think "BONK" for sure.
Coming out of transition my HR was only 150 (my goal), not 170 like in the past and I had no issue keeping it there. By mile 40 my ave HR was 144 and I decided that sounded better than 150, so I kept it there. I grabbed one Gatorade and one water bottle at every aid station and only had to stop once bc the volunteers had just emptied their hands. I felt a bit guilty exchanging unfinished Gatorades for fresh ones and taking water I knew I wouldn't drink BUT the Gatorade warmed up so quickly it became unpalatable and the water I dumped on me felt like a million little ice fairies. The temperature rose from 75~100F (about 5 degrees an hour), and it wasn't until mile 90 that I actually felt HOT and decided to back off. Overall the course was fantastic. It was beautiful and fast and riding through town 4 times really helped to break the 112 miles into manageable pieces. Oh and there were two no pass zones which weren't bad and I just took them to be opportunities to check myself and take in some fluids. My time was 6:08 which pleases me. Initially I'd wanted to break 6hr and given the heat wave I was expecting 6:30-6:45 so I'm happy.
The run-26.2 miles @ 100F+
I feel like I have two versions of the run, the one I experienced and the one I saw around me.
My experience: Going into transition my HR was 136 and coming out it was 148. Somehow I managed to avoid the excitement-spike. The first two miles I stuck to my plan (HR 150-155 and 9:30 pace + aid stations) and then made a decision to slow down more. I've experienced dehydration and the misery of cramping and I really didn't want to finish the day like that - or worse and not finish at all - or ruin my Hawaii vacation. The week leading up to the race I read a lot about the effect of heat on the body, the need for salts, the inverse relationship between increasing temperature and the stomach's decreasing ability to absorb fluids and process calories (during activity). With the aid stations at least a mile apart, for me it was either hydration or speed. So without shame (and with a healthy dose of fear at 100F) I walked every aid station and walked slow enough that I could get 8+oz of fluids down each time. I loaded ice into my arm sleeves and dunked my cooling towel in ice water (my new favorite accessory). I'm proud to say I ran everything between aid stations. My legs actually felt great. It was more my stomach that dictated my pace as it struggled to absorb those fluids. Perhaps drinking less would have been easier on the stomach and allowed me to run quicker, however drinking less didn't seem like a good strategy and the cramps probably would have just migrated to my calves. So I just ran happy, I was at peace with my pace and grateful my legs felt fine.
The carnage: There were bodies laid out all over the place and people just not thinking clearly. One man decided to sit down in the sun with shade not more than 15ft away. There were a few drunks out there, wobbling forward and back as they tried to stand still. The dry heavers were the worst. I so badly didn't want to be one of them that I continued to just slow it down and stay comfortable. After all, I'd never ran a marathon at 100F.
The run support: Good intentions but somewhat aggressive, I think everyone was amped about the heat. By the second lap I learned which people with garden hoses to trust. I'd changed into a dry top for the run because a wet shirt doesn't dry - it just gets HOT. Two miles out I asked for a spray on my arm coolers and received a point blank shot to the head and chest. Jersey was soaked, shorts and SHOES. And it stayed that way for 24 miles. I felt like I was carrying an extra 5 lbs of hot water. There were also several "what just happened!?!?!" moments. A man ran up to me once and took my visor, by the time I got to his kiddie pool, a woman with ice water appeared in front of me "drink this now!", the visor was chilled and back on my head and ice somehow appeared in my bra. I was left thinking "What the?...assault? No felt too good to be assault.... Wait how many people drank from that bottle before me? I hope they rinsed it in the kiddie pool!"
I only have two regrets. First, I wish I'd stayed more dry on the run. Next time I'll likely avoid the garden hoses and just enjoy the water misters. A mist is all I need to enjoy the power of evaporative cooling. Second, I wish I'd packed my running water bottle. I wasn't planning to use it as I generally do well drinking every mile. In hindsight it was the wrong call. My hottest training run was 90 (10-15 degrees cooler than race day) and I think my stomach would have tolerated 4oz every 1/2 mile better than 8oz+ every mile. Maybe then I could have kept my aid station walks shorter and ran closer to my training pace. I also probably over did the salts and rehydration, the next day I'd gained 7lbs (5% body weight) and lost all definition to my feet, hands, abs etc....but my muscles also felt great! I also would have preferred to keep my mom out of the ER, unfortunately the spectators were just as susceptible to heat stoke, she was fine after some mess and fluids.