Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 Coeur d'Alene Ironman Race Report - My First Ironman


Race Day Video

Just the Numbers
Some people just want to see "the numbers", here they are: 
Race Date: 6/26/2011 

Swim 2.4 mi = 1:15:23
T1= 5:46
Bike 112 mi = 5:44:13
T3= 3:46
Run 26.2 mi = 3:56:56
Finish Time: 11:06:04

See "Stats" below for a full breakdown of the numbers.

Pre-Pre Race
My wife Rosi and the kids made this race so much fun with all the "extras" they did!  These two pictures are a great representation of some of those things:
RADICAL Sign!  :-)
My parents, Rosi and the girls decorated both of our cars! Cool!
Team Guerrero: Jonah, Ryan, Melanie, Dad, Paul, Reanna, Raelene,
Barbara, Karen, Rosi and Krista!  THANK YOU for all the support,
cheers and pictures!  You all are the BEST!!
The evening before the race I had dinner at Tomato Street with James and his crew.  Everything I ate was bland: angel hair pasta (no sauce) and bread with nothing on it.  They had all had the good stuff and I was envious.  I stayed at a hotel in CDA and I only slept about 3 hours that evening.  I was mentally planning how my race day would go.  I ended up waking up around 4 am.  I ate a bagel w/cream cheese and a banana.  I was super excited that my Dad and Step-mom whom I haven't seen in a few years were able to come watch the race.  My wife, Rosi, assembled an "elite" cheering team and I was to meet them between 6:00am - 6:15am for a picture before the race.  It was 6:15am and they weren't there yet, the transition closes at 6:30 so I was getting concerned, I still had to put my "morning clothes bag" in there.  Within seconds of that thought, they all showed up and I was relieved.  Everyone wished me luck as my wife gave me a big hug.  She was very nervous for me.  We forgot to take the group picture,so they took one later without me.  :-)

Since Ironman is sponsored by Perform, in training I used all their products so I could "live off the course".  I was told things would go wrong on Ironman day, but I didn't think it would  happen so soon in my race.  My plan was to take a gel 10-20 minutes before the swim starts. The night before, I stayed in a hotel and realized I didn't pull out a Perform gel, I was so focused on getting the transition, special needs and morning clothes bags together it slipped my mind.  I remembered I had a GU Roctane in my bag and found it.  It said, "Best if used by 11/2010" (that was 7 months ago), it didn't have the word expired so I figured I would be fine.  :-)

The Swim

I put on my goggles first then my swim cap as I always do (just in case during a race if my goggles get hit they won't come off and fall to the bottom of the lake).  I was heading to the start of the swim and all the athletes need to go through the same opening so they step over the timing mat which allows race coordinators to know who is out there in the water.  With the crowd there and the 2500+ athletes trying to go through this one opening, made me nervous as it was taking a long time.  It was 6:40am and the race starts at 7:00am.  I got in fine.  I ate my Roctane gel, chased it with some water and I was ready to go. I got in the water and got my face wet and got into position.  I heard one fellow say, "I'm moving over there where there are more pink swim caps (women), they will be less aggressive". hehehe. I looked back to the family waved to them and gave them the thumbs up!

The Coeur d'Alene Lake swim is done counter-clockwise on two loops of 1.2 miles and the water temperature was 54.7 F.  I was happy it was counter-clockwise because this would allow me to see the buoys since I breath to the left when I swim. I heard the cannon go off and we were off!! My strategy in the swim was to "stay horizontal"and draft as much as possible.  As I was swimming I looked left and the sun was in my face the first section of the loop.  All I could see was the water splashing around and arms and legs flying everywhere! Pure chaos!  When I got to the first turn buoy I went wide to avoid the congestion, it seems everyone had the same idea.  I went vertical due the congestion as we pushed each-other through that section then I went back horizontal as quickly as I could, we made it!  I looked up to site the next turn buoy, the sun was in my eyes so I couldn't see it.  I tried to draft and follow the majority of the swimmers since I didn't see the buoy.  We finally made it to the second turn buoy, we pushed each-other around it and as I started to swim I accidentally smacked the guy next to me on the side of the head, he looked at me and I kept swimming.  During the swim I got hit on the back of my head pretty good and a couple of shots to the body, but with the adrenaline pumping through my body it didn't phase me.  I was approaching the beach and tried to stand up, but my foot didn't land on land and I sunk in the lake and drank the most water I did throughout the swim (next time remember to swim til my hand touches land).  I coughed it up and ran across the mats to start my second loop.

Getting ready to enter the meat grinder
Swim to bike transition
I caught some feet on this section of the second loop and was able to draft for a while.  I was hoping to stay with this swimmer but then someone crossed over in front of me and I lost him!  I certainly could feel the swimming efficiencies when drafting off another swimmer.   The first turn was a shove fest again, but then the second turn I cut it sharp and only one other swimmer was there so we both turned the corner unobstructed.  After I made that turn I swam for a while then looked up and I was headed toward the CDA resort docks (I was off course!).  I quickly redirected towards the race buoys and in doing so I cut off one or two swimmers.  Next thing I know I was out of the water!  Swim done!  Yah!!  I had a timing watch on my right wrist which I started at the beginning of the swim to give me my overall time of the race, but unfortunately it got bumped and stopped timing at about 17 minutes!  Darn!  I unzipped my wetsuit and took it half off.  I laid on my back in front of the wetsuit strippers and let them do their thing. They pulled the wetsuit once and it stopped at my ankles, then they gave it another pull and it slipped right off.  They reached out their hands to help me up and handed me my wetsuit.  In T1 I went looking for my bag, I practiced coming in and knew where to go, but I was somewhat disoriented.  My cheer team was yelling and pointing where to go so I ran over to that area and found my bag.  I picked up my bag, gave my team the thumbs up and moved on.  Once I got into the changing tent I sat down and dumped the bag on the ground and got set up.  I forgot to put on suntan lotion so once I got out of the tent I accepted the offer of the volunteers to dowse me with suntan lotion.  They are pretty darn efficient at it!  I just stood there with my arms at my side as they lathered me.  I went and picked up my bike, ran with it, mounted and I was on my way!  I later found out from one of the medics that due to the water being 6-10 degrees colder than usual over 100 people did not finish (DNF) out of the water by either getting pulled out of the lake or going to the warming tents after they finished and not continuing.

The Bike
People were cheering everywhere!  It was awesome to see.  I established a comfortable pace on the bike and was cruising.   I knew not to go out too hard at the beginning, but I felt myself letting go and going for it.   I did these century rides multiple times so I knew what I could handle.  There is one section on the bike course where you ride a yielded circle intersection, we had to ride 270 degrees of the circle.  After I got through the loop I heard a bike crash and looked back to see someone on the ground. Yikes!

I had a tune up and a new chain on so I was surprised that when I was shifting the large ring it started to hang.  I thought the chain was going to fall off!  I shifted the back gear so it was in the middle of the cassette then pedaled and it caught.  Whew!  This happened two or three times.  Going forward I just adjusted the back gear to be more in the middle of the cassette before I up-shifted the large gear to be on the safe side.

Out on Rimrock, it was great to have Tri-fusion friends cheering me on.  They had the loudspeaker on and I could hear the music and Roger announcing my name. It got me pumped!  I stayed in aero as much as possible.  I grabbed a Powerbar Perform at the first aid station then got one at every other aid station.  I had about four or five Powerbars in my bento box and I knew I had to eat all of them over the course of the ride whether I was hungry or not.  I also passed the drunk irish catholic cheering station and saw a big sign Rosi and the girls made for me out there!  It was AWESOME!!  It was florescent pink and very big, I could see my name in BIG letters so it was hard to miss.  It was the first time I saw the sign.

As I was making the 180 degree turn-around at Ohio Match/Homestead Loop I fell over and crashed.  NO!  I wasn't going very fast so I didn't get injured. There was a crowd there at that corner 3-5 people thick watching.  As I fell to the ground I heard them in unison gasp "ahhhhhhh!".  I saw bikes coming behind me so I quickly pulled my bike to the side.  As I tried to get back on my bike my hamstring tightened up and I grunted, "Ouch!".  I put my hand over it and rubbed it for a second which felt like minutes, the tightness subsided.  I put my leg over my bike and started to peddle so I could get some momentum going.  I wasn't going anywhere!!  I looked down and realized my chain had fallen off!  Darn!  I felt my heart thumping faster! I jumped off my bike and pulled it to the side again and used my finger to get the chain back on the teeth.  Done!  "I gotta get outta here!"  I jumped on again and start peddling again but it was tough to peddle. I looked down and the front brake was rubbing against the rim on the right side.  This time I stopped, but just straddled the top tube as I reached down and pulled the brake away from the wheel.  I spun the wheel to verify it was fixed.  Great!  I get back on the saddle and peddle away.  I thought to myself, "I can let that bother me the rest of my ride/race or I can just forget it even happened".  What happened?  ;-)   The second time I looped around Ohio Match/Homestead Loop I didn't take any chances.  I stopped my bike, turned it, got back on and peddled away.  At about mile 90 as I was going through an aid station someone yelled, "Bananas?!"  OMG!  In my plan I was suppose to be eating bananas at mile 30 and 60 but I forgot!  I quickly grabbed one of the bananas and made sure I grabbed them at the next stop also.  Around mile 105 a motorcycle pulled up next to me.  It was a course official, I got tagged with a "Red Card" for drafting which meant I had to go into the penalty box for 4 minutes!  Huh?!  The penalty box is on Government Way about 1 mile before the bike finish.  I took full advantage of the time and stretched and rested.  Unfortunately while I was stretching the pole of the canopy that my bike was leaning on moved and my bike fell to the ground!  Ouch! My four minute penalty finally ended and I jumped on my bike and finished the ride.

The Run

Last year during my first half ironman distance race, after getting off the bike my legs felt terrible.  My quads were REALLY tight and it was painful to run.  Each step in that race felt like I was doing leg squats with 125 pounds on my back.  I was really concerned if my legs were going to feel that way in this race.  I figured I would just have to tough it out like I did in that race.  To my surprise after getting off the bike, my legs felt great! Unfortunately my stomach felt a little achy.  I chatted and ran with a friend Tim for about five miles. He was cruising the uphills and I was cruising the down hills.  We cruised by the Tri-Fusion tent and it was bustling out there.  The "Pirate Boat" aid station was pretty cool too!   Shortly after we split up I caught up with Erica, then next thing you know Tim was running with us.  We ran through Lake Shore Drive together.  We split up with Tim in the lead then myself.  Tim was my carrot I was working to catch him, but the last 6-8 miles I was tired of the gels and perform and didn't have much energy I wasn't able to catch him.  After mile 18 I could see the carnage from the heat and long distance was taking its toll on some of the competitors.  People were walking and I saw one guy step off the course and puke in the grass.  I wanted to walk up the hill on Higgins, but I didn't.  At around mile 24 I tried drinking coke and it went down nicely.    I wish I had started on that earlier!  Erica caught me at around mile 25,  she said, "Let's do this Rene".   We ran for a little while, but I wasn't able to hang on as she moved past me.  My eyes were a little hazey from all the wind from the bike and the sweat.  There is a "Y" in the road, you go right if you are on your first loop and you go left if you are going in for the finish.  I was so relieved that I was going to the finish.  At this point all I wanted to do was cross the finish line.  I was very focused and saw tons of people all along Sherman Ave.   I ran past people as I just wanted this race to end.  As I ran through the stands/bleachers the crowds screams were so loud and it seemed like I heard nothing.  I went to the left side and started giving everyone high fives.  Then someone pointed to the bleachers on the other side and behind me.  As I looked back I realized I passed my cheer team!!  Oh no!!  I reached my hand out to them as I instinctively moved towards the finish line.   At the last second as I crossed the line I put up my arms for the finish picture, I almost forgot to!  I was impressed that Haley (who took 3rd place overall) was handing out medals.  She put the medal around my neck and I gave her a hug and thanked her.  I went and took a finisher picture and then hugged my family and friends.   This race occurred 7 days after Fathers Day.  My plan was to give my medal to my Dad after I crossed the finish line.  It would be one of the greatest gifts I could give to him for everything he has done for me.  Multiple times on my long runs I envisioned what I would say and how I would do it.  After hugging Rosi and thanking her, I went to my father and said, "Happy Father's Day this is for you...I love you Dad" as I took off the medal and put it around his neck. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and thanked him for supporting me and being there for me.  After the hug, he took it off and put it back around my neck and said, "I will take it with me in spirit, you can have it physically".  My parents, family, friends, Tri-fusion members and volunteers MADE my race!!!   It was a  GREAT day!  Thanks to EVERYONE who was out on the course cheering me on! Congratulations to all the Racers who can now call themselves IRONMAN!

Friends and family as I am coming down the finishers chute
...and as I passed.  I felt BAD after seeing these pictures!

  • 2800+ Registered, but only ~2,400 actually competed.  The hardest part of the Ironman is getting to the starting line healthy.
  • There were 501 men in my age group (40-44), it was the largest age group of the race.  My place was 57th of 501. Top 11%. - IronmanLive

    My sister congratulating me from AZ

    Post race DQ!!...Chocolate Extreme Blizzard for me!  WahoooOOOOO!!  :-)  6/28/2011

    1 comment:

    1. Congrats on a great race. You were strong out there all day and had a smile on your face to prove it. All the hard work paid off and you got to hear some pretty awesome words "RENE GUERRERO...YOU ARE AN IRONMAN"