Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report: Part II

I like to call this one: badass mother runner with PB+J.
I like to call this one badass mother runner with PB+J.

So when you last left your Ironmother heroine, she was headed out to the hills, hills, hills of Coeur d'Alene with her trusty steed, Lyle. I had 112 miles to ride, and I had three things on my mind:

1. Don't take the first loop too fast. A huge, common mistake many Ironpeople make, according to Bri, my coach.
2. Eat like a mother. I had to make up for some of the calories I burned on the swim, plus put some in the tank for the upcoming run, when I knew I would not feel super psyched to chow down.
3. Be mentally present in the mile I was in. I know it's hard to imagine 112 miles can whiz by, but they kind of can.

Especially when you're on a freakin' super highway with the Ironpeople. The bike course had two out and backs, which we did twice (so we went through town four times on the bike), which made for a lot whizzing. Bikes that went by me so fast, I could've sworn Lyle was a tricycle.  Bikes coming in my direction, which I flew by as they were climbing. Bikes here, bikes there, bikes everywhere...and no cars! (Or very few cars.) It was a little two-wheeled whizzing utopia, which was just excellent. I truly loved every minute of it.

Look at me, looking at the lake. I'm being present!
Look at me, looking at the lake. I'm being present!

There were definitely some tough climbs—long, snake-like suckers that weren't crazy steep but were fairly long—and I wasn't sure how those would go down in the race. I am definitely a lemming when I'm on Lyle; although I'm a strong cyclist, I have a lot to learn about racing. So I was beyond relieved when, as soon as most athletes approached a tough hill, they sat up and put their bikes in an easy gear and just spun up. That didn't make the hills easy, but they were as easy as possible—and that was a load off my back.

Sitting up, spinning, smiling. Pretty great combo.
Sitting up, spinning, smiling. Pretty great combo.

Speaking of my back, the ol' spine wasn't the team player I hoped she'd be on race day. Even though I ran through a bunch of basic Pilates moves on Saturday on the hotel floor (ew!), I could tell she wasn't exactly aligned. During the first bike loop, which I mentally told myself was my recon loop—how will this feel when I come back and ride it harder in, say, a few hours?—my lower back was chatting. Loudly. I stayed in the mile—you can buy tons of discount fireworks on road we rode on; the volunteers were very facile at handing items off while we rolled by; I hope the Maryland Policewoman I chatted with for a bit had a good race—but worried a little bit about the body.

Bri told me to put ibuprofen in my special needs bags, which I got around mile 60, and I downed 4 of 'em. Amazingly, I hadn't taken Vitamin I during any training sessions (and I realize it's not a great idea for your kidneys to do so), but I knew I had enough food in my system to be ok. (And never fear: I've taken plenty of them after workouts.) I'm not sure if they helped or not, but I believe in the placebo effect.

Lyle and I rolled. Up hills, down hills. To one turnaround, to another, and back again. I came close to getting a four-minute penalty for drafting (riding too close to another rider) and played a part in somebody else getting one. (I felt very bad about that, and apologized to her a couple of times.) I feasted: 1.5 PB+J's, 2 Bonk Breaker bars, 6 GUs, 1s, 1 bottle of Kona Cola Nuun, 4 bottles Powerbar Perform, the more caloric sports drinks served on the course, 1 bottle of water, which I so wished I had a Nuun tablet to drop into...poor planning, lady, really poor planning.

Despite my all-day buffet mentality, I didn't have to use the bathroom during the bike portion. Apparently those around me weren't as lucky. One woman, wearing a pink and black kit, flew by me. I gave her the required four bike lengths the passee needs to heed to the passer to not get penalized, but that apparently wasn't enough room for me not to get caught in her urine stream. I give her serious badass props for peeing on the bike, but was a little disgusted she didn't even give a head's up. I quickly got over it—I was a sticky, sweaty mess anyway—and was happy to realize my misplaced air snots were nothing in the karmic world of Ironman offspray. (And truth be told, 85% of my air snots landed on  my shoulder. Like I said, I was a mess.)

This is how Lyle and I rolled through 112 lovely miles.
This is how Lyle and I rolled through 112 lovely, strong miles.

About six hours into it, I had a small incident with a cyclist behind me; he was trying to pass me, while I was trying to pass somebody else and the we were in lane was marked narrowly with cones. "On your left! Get out of the way!" he yelled at me. Not cool. "I'm doing my best!," I answered, and I think then he saw the other cyclist to my left, because he shut up. I could feel him behind me as we went into a no-passing zone—there were 3 short ones on the course—and when we got out of there, he sped off. Good riddance. He was the exception, not the rule, on the course: everybody was super encouraging when we did talk. It was quiet most of the time, but all interactions, minus that one, were totally positive.

IM bike splits
Could not have executed a better ride. Thanks, Lyle.

I got back to transition and had to face reality: 26.2 miles by foot. "Who wants to run the marathon for me?" I asked a group of volunteers as I headed into the changing tent. They laughed, so I pulled that joke out again a few minutes later as I headed out to get part III done. I decided to change from head to toe to feel a little less gross, and to represent our badass mother runner tribe.

catching fllies on run 2
When I'm concentrating, I also try to catch flies. I had to give every bit of mental focus I had to  actually run off the bike.

But wow. I was not in the mood to represent. My chatting back turned to temper tantrum, complete with the sensation of a red hot fire poker right in the base of my spine. This was discouraging for a copule of reasons:
1. I need my back to cooperate to run a marathon.
2. I had heard that the first running miles off the bike were usually fast, and that you had to really concentrate and slow down. Um, not so much for me.
3. Because of my speedy swim and bike, I was around really strong athletes. The ones that do have to reign their 7:15 splits into, say, 8:15's. Even if I could've been running carefree, I would've still beeen getting smoked. Which doesn't feel good at any time, let alone when you're struggling.

I was just concrete. I kept to my four minutes of running/1 minute of walking for a few miles, but gave myself grace periods during the aid stations and if I I really wanted to quit anytime after I ran for 3 minutes, 30 seconds. I could tell the crowd had no idea what to do with me: I was running relatively slowly to begin with, and then I'd randomly walk. They'd cheer the athletes around me on, and then dead silence as I—wearing a badass mother runner tank—snailed by. Ugh.

I kept my view between the top of my hat and the road in front of me for a while and pretended my whole body wasn't painfully ricocheting with every step. I was moving forward. I was running a marathon. I was doing an Ironman. I was ok, but not really. I knew a valley had to come eventually—my day so far had been a mile-high peak—but I didn't think it would be so dark and seemingly debilitating.

I stopped and did this squatting/stretching/hanging thing on a cement barrier—I just wanted to decompress my back, and hanging upside down wasn't an option—and as I was contorting myself, two men ran by.

"You ok, young lady?" asked an older man, probably in his 50's.

"Yep," I answered, holding back tears, "I just need to stretch my back."

"You're in a rough patch," he said, "Don't worry: it'll turn around. It really will."

"Do you want to do a slow jog with us?" asked his pal.

"No thanks," I answered. I wanted to be by myself, with no pressure to jog, slow or not.

"Keep with it, young lady," he said, "It's going to pass."

That's exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you, (not) old man from a (not) young lady. And around mile 6, I saw exactly what I needed to see up ahead: lots of triathletes walking up a steeply graded hill. My lemming personality rejoiced: They're walking, so it's okay if I do too! I powerwalked up the hill, ran down the backside, hit the U-turn—the run course was two laps as well—and powerwalked back up it. My Garmin gave me my splits every mile, and when I saw that mile in the 11:xx, I knew I was going to be ok. My strained running in the previous miles had netted me high 10:xx splits.

If I could quickly walk with determination, a skill I have honed for many, many years, and run a few minutes of every mile, I could stay in the 11:xx's. Good enough, I told myself. My 4/1 pattern had gone out the window, but I really didn't care. My basic strategy was to walk the uphills, run the downhills, and play the flats by ear. (Or usually set a very doable goal on the flats: that tree, until that runner passes me, when I get to the aid station, etc.)

I knew, though, that I couldn't let all my plans to go waste.  I forced myself to take in some calories at every aid station: usually the sports drink they had, as it was ice cold and the orange mango sat right with my taste buds. Potato chips, soda, and oranges were not good calls.

running first lap 2
This is actually heading out on the first lap, not finishing it. But I wanted you to see my fashionable belt.

I saw Grant and Bri, my coach, as I ran back into town. "I'm coming to talk to you after I go around," I yelled at them. I hung a U-turn, then went to go find them again. At that point, my back had loosened up, but the running ricocheting feeling wasn't going away. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM with each step, even though I told myself to be quick, light, quick, light. I felt like the Jolly Green Giant. "You're not going to be happy when I download my Garmin," I said to Bri, in that melodramatic way most can get when they've been in motion for 9+ hours, "I am walking SO.MUCH." The pair of them would have none of my complaining—and gave me compliments and cheers. On I went.

I saw Kari, a local mother runner, twice. She was beyond enthusiastic for me. "I'm walking like a mother," I told her. "You're getting it done," she replied. She was right.

Early in the second lap, I stopped in a port-a-potty: not because I had to go, but because I just needed a short break from all this forward motion. I needed a minute to be still. I sat on the pot and when I emerged, my mood lifted considerably. I welcomed the comments about my tank. "Damn straight," I'd said, "Badass all the way." I cheered on other runners who looked receptive to some encouragement. I saw my pal Karri and S.J., and ran over to them. "You guys are so freakin' awesome!" I yelled as I grabbed their hands. I saw Swim Bike Mom and heckled her accordingly. I realized I was wearing my race belt as a Glamour magazine "Don't" and fixed that. I chatted with a few runners, but most people were putting all the energy they had into going forward.

This is my second time, around mile 21 I think. I've perked up quite a bit, huh?
This is my second time, around mile 21. I've perked up quite a bit, huh? (Nothing like a photographer to bring out the smile and energy.)

I got to the 23 mile mark, and had a moment. About a 5K left. One, measly, tiny chunk of 3.2 miles left of this whole journey: 8 months of ridiculously early mornings, staring at a black line and smelling like chlorine for the day, countless miles pedaling into a headwind, a gazillion loops of my neighborhood on foot, so much sweat and effort and time, and I'm going to be done in about 33 minutes? I'd better walk then. I wasn't sure I was ready for it to be done.

But the end came, and Sherman Avenue, the main drag in town, did not disappoint: so much happiness and noise.

Miracles do come true: a picture of me with AIR under my shoe at the end of an Ironman. I believe.
Miracles do come true: a picture of me with AIR under my shoe at the end of an Ironman. I believe.

I hadn't thought too much about the finish line chute, other than I wanted to soak it in. I should've given a little bit more space to this woman, whose finish line pics I photobombed (sorry!).

green photo bomb 2 2
This woman is going to forever talk about the annoying tall woman who was in all of her Ironman finishing pictures.

So then I cut over to another lane to get out of her way.

I look like I'm going to pass out in this one. Very Ironman.
I look like I'm going to pass out in this one. Very Ironman.

And a note to anybody who does an Ironman in the future: after you cross the finish line is when they get a good pic of you. (I'd take my own tip, but I'm not doing this again.)

Yep, wiping my badass in my official IM finish line photo. At least it goes with the tank.
Yep, wiping my badass in my official IM finish line photo. At least it goes with the tank.
The 12:xx splits were when I stopped to talk to Bri and Grant. (Thanks a lot, team!...kidding.)
The 12:xx splits were when I stopped to talk to Bri and Grant. (Thanks a lot, team!...kidding.)

And then it was done. I finished in 12:16:16, which was a perfect 16th in my age group. I'll happily bottle that one up. Wouldn't change a thing, minus those 26.2 at the end. Kinda brutal.

Anyway, a volunteer meets you after the finish line and takes you over to get your picture taken.

That's what I'm talking about.
That's what I'm talking about.

Then the volunteer hands you off to another volunteer, and you talk to a medic about how you're feeling (um, awesome: I just became an Ironmother!) and if all is good, you get to go chug some lowfat chocolate milk (I had two bottles), grab a piece of pizza (could only eat half), and drink a generic Sprite (took me a very long time to finish). Grant grabbed my bike and my gear while Bri, who had a 6 am flight the next morning, discussed the race. Or really, I spewed and spewed stories and thoughts, and she listened and laughed.

I finished around 7 p.m., and entertained thoughts of coming back down to the finish line to welcome in the final Ironpeople at midnight, but as soon as I laid down post ice-bath and shower, those thoughts vanished. I did my best to get down the chocolate shake I sent Grant out for—I know, tough problem, right?—and kept drinking nuun-filled water.

And then the longest, fastest day of my life was really done. Thank you for for pushing me along, for cheering me on, for keeping me honest, and for just listening and reading. It wasn't just the longest, fastest day of my life; it was one of the best, and I loved sharing it with each of you.


Grateful. So very grateful.
Grateful. So very grateful.

p.s. Want the audio version of this? Listen to a podcast about the race on your next run.

89 responses to “Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report: Part II

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing your journey with us! I had tears at the end, especially seeing the pictures and remembering how hard you worked for it! So inspiring!!!!

  2. Seriously…tears in my eyes!! So proud of you, Dimity! I would be lying if I didn’t say that I really feel like I’ve been on this journey with you through the blog and podcasts!

    So super proud of you, you Badass Mother Runner!!!

  3. I am soooo happy for you. I read this race report in tears because I know how much work it was and how awesome to finish 🙂
    Go you!

  4. OMG I listened to the podcast of your experience and I am just so impressed, inspired and proud to be another mother runner. You are Sooooo Bad Ass Dimity, you really are an inspiration! Way to kill that Ironman sweetie!

  5. Totally amazing! Blown away. Thanks to you and Page from twentysixandthensome, my husband is now talking Ironman! You’ve totally inspired him! Congratulations a million times.

  6. So amazing and inspiring!! I was wondering about how my back would feel after being in hunched over for so many hours on the bike. I’m glad it did eventually start to feel better. And a huge congratulations- you did it!!

  7. Congratulations!!! What a tough, humbling race and you managed it so well. Super proud of you and all the work that went into making you an Iron Mother!!!

  8. Wow! Wow! Wow!!! You are amazing!!! I could hardly wait for the second part of your report and had tears through both! And I listened to my first podcast (your Ironmother story) on my long run yesterday. I am hooked – what a great way to spend time on a long run. I have always wondered how to balance being a mother and training for a full (I have only done a half) and I love how you shared the bad with the good. You should be so proud of yourself! Rock star!!!!

  9. Thanks for the awesome two part report and all of the gritty, disgusting details. Sorry the back hurt! It is an amazing accomplishment. I’m so glad you got those encouraging comments towards the beginning of your run – he was right! You look so happy and badass in your bike photos. Congratulations, and know that you continue to inspire us all (though I will NEVER be inspired to do an Ironman!).

  10. this has been an amazing journey to witness – thank you so much for sharing it all with us. i have learned so much, and had so many a-ha moments listening & reading. enjoy your recovery!

  11. So proud of you, Dimity! Such an amazing accomplishment. I am doing my first sprint tri this summer. Looking to one day to an Ironman. Looking at my 40th birthday =) Congratulations again!

  12. You know those memes: this is how I think I look running/this is how I really look? Comity, your first pic in this post is how I think (and want) to look when I run. So badass, I love it! Congratulation, what an accomplishment!

  13. Wow. Just wow. Tears and sniffles and so very happy for you and proud of you! Almost inspires me to add it to my bucket lust. Almost.

  14. AMAZING! What an awesome accomplishment, gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes,I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like. You totally rocked it!

  15. D, you are amazing, rock on IronMother! Your recap brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart. Just 3 months ago my dream of running a marathon seemed completely unobtainable. Yet here I am, in the midst of training, completely confident that if I follow the plan and own my strength then I will cross the finish line. So maybe the people who laughed when I said I wanted to do a 70.3 were wrong. You and the tribe give me hope. Ironman Galveston 2015, look out because I’m coming for you!

  16. I am a complete mess after reading that. You are such an inspiration! It is so important for everyone to know the struggles of these people we admire so much. If you didn’t share your struggles with us we would thing we were not normal when we went through them. Thank you for being transparent, thank you for giving us the real story. I am still a blubbering mess here. LOL

    I live in Melbourne Australia where we have now had two Ironman events and I have volunteered on the Marathon leg both years. It is the most inspirational thing to see you all come through in your various stages of fatigue and mental toughness. I love hearing the stories, seeing the joy and the pain. It is the most beautiful thing. I am at the aid station from the first runner through to the last and I would have it no other way. It’s amazing how much your own accomplishment can fuel someone else’s dreams!

    God bless you Badass Mother Runner!!!!!! YOU ROCK!
    Love, Dawn

  17. Just wanted to say how amazing I think you are and to thank you for the fantastic recap! I can’t imagine how you must have felt at the end but you totally rocked it, even the hard parts! What a way to represent! , so proud of you!

  18. This is every possible kind of awesome. I can’t wait to listen to the podcast this weekend! And you’ve done me a public service – I didn’t know I was a Glamour Don’t with wearing my fuel belt over my shirt like that. But I’m not sure it will work down low like you have it? Can the Ironmother Runner of us all help another mother runner out? 🙂 I mean, is it a fashion don’t just with a race number belt or with an amphipod belt too? Inquiring minds want to know. I could have already graced the pages of a “don’t” magazine article already for all I know.

    And lastly – are you SURE you aren’t doing another one?!

  19. Amazing job Dimity. You should be really proud of all the time and effort that you put into training and knocking out a great race. I’m so impressed and thrilled for you.
    It’s still on my bucket list of things to accomplish but I don’t know if it will happen until the kids are out of the house and we’ll see where were at with fitness then 🙂 One can hope and dream!

  20. You are amazing. I’m in tears reading this. So happy for you and you also look ridiculously fit & healthy. I am envious of the muscles in your long legs lady! I’m 6 feet and walk on tooth picks, what I wouldn’t give for a 1/4 of your muscle tone. You are one bad ass iron mother runner, no doubt about it. No shame in how you finished the marathon. Chin up cuz you ROCKED it.

  21. Wow! There really aren’t words to express how amazing this is. Not only did you finish, but you finished FAST! How the heck did you do that?

    I am truly speechless.

  22. Perspective is so funny, I look at your running time and I think you are fast-especially after all of that swimming and biking. Right now I can manage a 12-13 min mile and that is after a good nights sleep, lol!
    What really touches me in your journey is that its all about setting goals, doing the work, and showing up. It gives me inspiration. I’m kinda toying with the idea of doing a sprint triathlon (or duathlon)one day-but first I need to learn how to swim (:
    Your journey has inspired this 39 year old woman to start swim lessons- just had my first lesson yesterday. Thanks Dimity for motivating all of us in whatever goals we set for ourselves!

  23. LOVED this race report – thank you so much! And now I am more motivated than ever to reach this goal that you just slammed! I am working up my courage to sign up for a 1/2 Ironman in the Fall and this just may be what I needed to get over my fears. GREAT JOB – congratulations!!

  24. Congratulations! This sounds like the once-in-a-lifetime experience you were hoping for! And, this is some REALLY great writing. Through this post, I was there with you. Thanks for sharing it!

  25. crap. i’m sitting here crying in a hotel lobby. Congratulations, Dimity!! A truly amazing accomplishment. You look so strong and beautiful. Ironman. pretty fantastic. Congrats again. That last picture is perfect.

  26. Again, congratulations! I have been one of those finish line volunteers, dimity, and I must say thanks to all of you very grateful Ironpeople – you made our job worthwhile and I know you appreciate us as well. Super badass Mother – yes, most definitely!

  27. Fantastic! I teared up at the story about the two men who encouraged you (Young Lady!) to keep going, it would get better, and again at the end of your journey. Your smile in the finish photo says it all.

    Wow. Just wow.

  28. SO awesome!! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!!!I am so excited for you.
    I want to be like you when I grow up!!!LOL
    One question though….will you do it again?!

  29. I am crying!! OMG…what a journey. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. And ANYTIME a thought creeps into my head like “I can’t, I’m not young anymore, No Way”…I will always remember that OH YES YOU CAN!! 🙂 Hooray to Dimity! (and the rest of us badass mother runners)

  30. So often we think as moms we can’t possibly do this or that, you, however, SMASH that mentality. Thank you for sharing your journey and extraordinary inspiration. This brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations, Dimity!!

  31. I am CRYING!!!! Oh my gosh!! thank you for sharing your amazing experience with us. This is the closest I will ever get to thinking I could possibly ever potentially consider maybe doing an IronMan. It won’t happen. I don’t want it to happen. I know that. But your story is so darn moving! (pun somewhat intended) And, dang, even with the fashion faux pas you rocked the BAMR t-shirt and race belt!

  32. I’m still in awe. So amazed and proud! You look great in all the pics, so strong!! I loved reading every word of your race report…Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! It is inspiring!!

  33. What an amazing accomplishment, Dimity! Hope you’re still on a massive high. And that you’re spending the day by the pool with a fantastic book. Good job, wonderful report.

  34. You are a fucking rock star. You look so smoking hot in these pictures. Tan and buff. If you rowed for Hartmut though, there was no doubt you were physically and mentally strong enough to take care of business. Congratulations.

  35. You look so incredibly buff and strong in all these pictures! What an impressive achievement. I was thinking of you on Sunday and I’m so happy that you had such a positive experience. So you’re “not doing this again” huh? Hmm, I’ve heard that one from every first time marathoner I ever met, so we’ll see! Congratulations on a great race!

  36. Loved following your journey! Congratulations! I loved the part about the “old” man cheering you on, sounds like it was just what you needed. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  37. So freakin amazing! Love to hear the good, bad and ugly of your experience. While I never expect to complete an Ironman, you inspire me to just keep plugging away at my own running. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday night in Denver! Congratulations!

  38. I just cannot get over how much I love every word of this. Will you be my best friend? I live in MN!

  39. Really incredibly awesome! Way to go, Dimity!

    (tho, that whole, being in someone’s pee stream is pretty darn gross!)

  40. I have been SO inspired to read and listen about your whole journey.
    Honestly, the part I really identify with is the running portion.

    Not all of us can run a 7 minute mile, or even a 10 minute mile, or qualify for Boston, etc. It’s refrshing to hear and read about someone who runs like I do for a change!

  41. You are amazing! Congratulations! This race report was the best I ever read, I cried when the (not old ) man offered you up some encouragement! And again when you talked about having only a 5k left and you weren’t sure you were ready for it to be done. I am so impressed and inspired with you and your badass self. That day was your day! You worked hard and you earned it! 12:18 is unfreakingbelievable. Strong work Ironmother!

  42. GOOD FOR YOU!!!

    Thanks for sharing every step, spin, and stroke with us. Those of us who will never do an Ironman loved every word.

    What comes after an Ironman? An ultra?

  43. Thank you for sharing each mile – truly an inspiration! I have loved reading your training and race reports!

  44. Been waiting for the post ironman reports. I was not disappointed. Sooo inspiring!(and well written)

    Congrats on a huge achievement!

  45. Those pictures and your words made me cry! What an incredible story. I may never do an Ironman but I know I’ll think about your “pushing through” a lot whenever I hit a wall or feel like quitting. Truly an amazing achievement.

  46. Absolutely inspiring Dimity, truly, truly incredible.

    Sounds like the most amazing day and what an incredible achievement. You make it seem possible for all us badass mother runners. One day… one day…

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with all its honesty and your ability to laugh at yourself as well (the belt, he he). You were at the start of my running journey with your (and Sarah’s) article in Runners World magazine back in Jan ’09 and perhaps this will be the start of my Ironmother journey. I am already in the pool getting ready to try some tri’s this coming Spring (your Autumn) – who knows where that might lead.

    Thanks for the inspiration and a mighty heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS. xxx

  47. What an achievement – badass indeed. Thank you for sharing and letting all of us in the tribe live vicariously through you.

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