IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene did not disappoint. After a crazy year away from real racing we are back!
But the IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene story really starts with IRONMAN St. George. You see, this is the race I originally signed up for, and I trained for this race twice! The fist time it got pushed back and the second time it got cancelled. I was given the opportunity to choose a new race, and IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene was it.
I had never been to Coeur d’Alene, so the appeal to check out the area was strong. I had also heard about how great the race was. Unfortunately, the are was extremely expensive for a weekend trip. Clearly prices were marked up for race weekend, but even a low quality motel was outrageous.
As race day approached the weather had become somewhat concerning with a forecasted high somewhere between 100° and 102° on race day. This was disappointing news and I knew I would not be able to run to my best ability in that kind of heat. We had some hot days here in Colorado before the race though so I feel that I was able to get a little heat acclamation in.
Do to poor planing on my part the race started at the airport and we ran though to catch out flight. We parked and there was a long line for the shuttle. We asked the guy if we could hop on the shuttle that was leaving as we were so late. He said it was full, but then I asked if I could see if anyone was willing to swap out. Not a single person said anything. Total loss of respect for humanity at that moment. Luckily the next shuttle arrived sooner than anticipated and we got on our way. I need to to check my bad, but it was too late. The gate agent said he could rebook the flight. But, I thought we could still make it. We got through security and ran to the gate on the tickets. I rand up and asked the guy if we made it. But it was the wrong gate! We checked the screen and of course the correct gate was all the way on the other side. We sprinted to get there. Lauren was not very happy with me after having to spring though the airport. But we made it. I think we were the last ones on the plane, but I actually think we have a few minutes to spare.
When we landed in Spokane we rented a card and drove to get some lunch. Lauren found a cute dinner that had good reviews. Then it was onto Coeur d’Alene! The drive was very quick under 40 minutes.
Lauren and I had a few days before the race to enjoy ourselves. She booked us a river rafting trip in Montana which was about a two hour drive away. It was a fun experience and we got to see a new part of the world.
Race morning was an early one. Transition opened at 4am, but I opted not to get there until 4:30. I had Lauren drop me off. I didn’t need a whole lot of time. But when I got to my rack I noticed someone had their stuff next to my bike. It was a women and I asked her if I could have the space. She told me that you have to put you stuff behind the bike not next to it. This was strange to me especially as you would have to run all the way around the entire rack to get to the back. I didn’t want to argue so I just went with it. I picked up all my gear, and walked around to the back and set up.
The swim course was two loops, with a quick turn around on the lake’s beach. I’ve never raced with a loop like this before.
Like most IRONMAN races these days we self seated at the swim start. They have signs up for your estimated swim time. I wanted to swim a 1:08, so I put myself right there. As the line moved up closer to the start I think I got pushed ahead a bit and I found myself surrounded by faster swimmers. As we were waiting to start we got to see the men pro’s finish the swim. I told the guys next to me I bet Justin Metzler would be first out of the water and I was right!
As it got to be my turn to enter the water the beeps that told everyone to start had stopped. Mike Riley quickly steps in and started manually counting. And then, just like that I was off. The water felt good, not really cold at all which was one of my fears heading into this race.
For the most part the swim was smooth and I was able to find some clear water, although there were times it got a bit crowded. There were occasional swimmers who were swimming over me, but I think I put myself in the right spot. I was even able to draft a bit. The only real challenge came as we hit the turn buoys. The sun was coming up and my goggles fogged just enough that it was very difficult to see.
As I finished my first lap I got out of the water and ran around the buoy on the beach. I took a quick moment to look at my watch. Was excited to see 35 minutes, better that I had expected. Then I cleared out my goggles and got back to work. New swimmers will still coming into the water as I made my way around on the second loop. While it was crowded out there it wasn’t too bad.
I pushed through the second loop but I know I was going slightly slower than before. My neck was sore from the rubbing from my wet suit. I actually needed up with a really big chaffing mark from it. I really need to make sure I put lubricant on the back of my neck before getting into the water.
As I approached the final couple hundred meters of the swim I got stuck. Someone decided to stop right in front of me, there were people to the left and right. It was a bit of a struggle to get out, but I made it and pushed forward. Getting out of the water felt good and I ran to transition stripping off my suit getting ready for the bike.
This was a traditional transition so everything happened at the rack. I was able to get ready to go, but struggled a bit with the socks as my legs were still really wet. I paced myself and moved fast but tried not to rush. Lauren was there watching, but I didn’t know it at the time. I took my bike off the rack and headed out of transition.
The bike course was known to be challenging and overall it was not easy. I have to say it was a little bit more tame that I expected it to be though. Well up until that last 10 miles at least.
Overall the bike went very well. I was able to ride consistently and position myself in a good spot. There were several guys that I would leap frog with. Usually I would pass them on the uphill and they would get me on the downhill. I attributed some of that to not having my race wheels yet.
The bike was a two loop course, that I would decide into two sections. The first was along the lake which was parallel to the run course and the second was out on the highway. Along the lake it was pretty flat, but once you got out onto the highway it started to climb. Again it wasn’t anything crazy, but you had to put in some work.
My favorite part of the bike course was riding though town. The crows were out cheering us on and riding through the narrow city street felt like a crit race. It gave me extra motivation to push a little in these parts. I was flying though the streets and it felt like I had real momentum.
At the end of the bike corse there were two no passing sections and you descend down the two major hills. While not significantly long, these two sections had a major impact on my my race. I got stuck behind some cyclists that were not comfortable descending. I figure it took at least a good 5 minutes off my bike time. What can you do? I would say that it was time to rest, but honestly it was nerve racing because I had to ride my breaks not to hit them.
Once I got out of the last no passing zone I broke out and hammered it to transition. While I caught some riders in front of me, there was no one behind. In fact, when I got into transition there was almost no one around. It was strangely silent. I was feeling the heat at this point and my legs were tired. I knew the run was going to be a challenge. I too my time to get ready and stopped at the bathroom before I headed out.
Also somewhere toward the end of the bike course my Garmin started freaking out. I noticed it rebooting a couple times. It was frustrating because I wasn’t going to mess with it, and it seemed to be trying to correct itself.
As I rand out of transition and started the run course I knew my pace was going to be slow. I could run, but I didn’t have speed in my legs. But I was determined to push though. It was odd I didn’t see another runner for the first 3 or so miles of the run course. No one came up from behind and I didn’t come up to anyone. I think there was a major gap in the race because of the no passing zone.
The run course’s first 3 miles were close to the city center and took you though a neighborhood. This was great because the support in that section was strong. Honestly it was those people cheering that make the whole thing worth while. Well all but one. I wasn’t even to mile two yet and a kid yelled out, your doing good, you’re almost to mile 10. In his defense there was a mile 10 marker there, but that was for the second loop of the three loop run.
As you left the city center you ran out along the edge of the lake. This was the same section as the start of the bike course. However, the run was along a path while the bike was on the road. There was a uphill section that ran along side of a large condo building. At the top of the hill was an aid station. As I approached the aid station I saw Lionel Sanders. I was all excited. But then I saw him stop and start dry heaving. Clearly he was not having a good day.
It was hot, and running a marathon fast was not in the books. But I was able to run! My watch wasn’t working at all at this point so I had not idea of my time or pace. That was a good thing though. This race had become about getting though it the best I could rather than racing it. And I really embraced the run, having a ton of fun out there.
It was the volunteers who made this race possible, not only from the logistical aspect but the support. Without them out there cheering us on and spraying us down, I’m not sure I would have made it to the finish line. There were a few sections people came outside to spray us down. These gave me something to look forward too. At one of the sections I remember raising my arm and yelling “bring it on!” when I noticed a motor bike and cameras in front of me. I looked over and there was Lindsay Corbin who said “feels good right?”. What an experience and it was all capture on IRONMAN Live.
As I got to the final 3k of the run, I was excited. Excited to be done, excited that I was about to finish another IRONMAN, but also excited because I made it though a very hard day and was able to let go of my expectations, enjoy myself and do the best I could on the day. I remember leaving the neighborhood right before the park that lead into downtown. A young girl was out with a hose. She asked if I wanted a spray. My response was “Yes, this is my last spray because I’m almost home!”
The run down the finish chute was a long one. You turn the corner and there you are on the main drag in Coeur d’Alene. The finish line ahead, but a ways up. It was a beautiful sight with the lake behind. I was happy to cross that line and hear Mike Riley call out “Jared Picune, Buddy you ARE AN IRONMAN!” Nothing beat that feeling, the accomplishment where months of training and dedication come to a peak and you achieve your goals, even if it wasn’t exactly what you had in mind.