Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – pre race and the swim

The days leading up to IMCdA were a ton of fun! The energy and atmosphere was incredible. The expo and race site were buzzing. And the people of Coeur d’Alene and other athletes were so welcoming and friendly.


Due to cold and rain, we didn’t workout on Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday, the rain and clouds broke so we went for a run and icy dip in the beautiful lake.


We had purchased  thermal skull caps before we left and bought booties at the expo.


Even with those items on, I was numb in seconds! Once you swam for a bit the water wasn’t so bad.

The athlete dinner on Friday was inspiring. I love hearing the stories of incredible obstacles people have overcome and seeing the variety of participants.


On Saturday the weather improved more and the energy around Ironman was vibrant. Kelly and I went for a bike ride to get our legs moving and ensure the bikes were in prime working order.

I’m so lucky to have an awesome bike mechanic at home and on our travels!

After our ride, we went to the hotel to get our transition bags and rode back down to drop off our bikes and bags. Whenever we do this, it fully hits me that we are doing an Ironman!!! Ahh!


We had an early supper on Saturday and then called it a night hoping for sleep.


Kelly woke us up before our alarms at 2:45am so we ate breakfast in the room.


We met my parents then headed to transition to get body marked, check on our bikes and add fuel, and wait for the swim!




Although I get ridiculously nervous, I love the anxious energy buzzing on race morning. It comes from the athletes and the thousands of spectators.


I’m always freezing so put on my wetsuit quite early with my clothes on top. I couldn’t believe how quickly two hours went by. Before I knew it, we were moving towards the lake to get in a practice swim.

Ironman implemented the Swim Smart initiative at this race that allows access to the lake for a warm up swim and features a rolling start.

I loved being able to get into the lake early, especially after my panicky experience at the Oliver half iron a few weekends before. After a little warm up, Kelly and I seeded ourselves together and took it all in.

The Swim

  • 2.4 mile swim time: 1:15:58
  • T1 time: 6:51


I was impressed with how smoothly the rolling start worked. Before I knew it our timing chips beeped and we were crossing the start line.


I didn’t really allow myself to think and just started swimming. After reading Jenn’s race report, I remembered to pretend I was swimming at the pool in practice (albeit with 2,400 other people)! In practice I breathe every three swim strokes but in races I almost always breathe every two. This time, I mostly breathed every three, which kept my breath more controlled.

I also was shocked that I wasn’t cold! In Arizona I remember shaking halfway through and starting the bike numb. The thermal cap and booties really helped.

I swim wide to avoid as much contact as possible at the turn buoys. I’m glad I did swim wide, as I still got grabbed a little. The worst of the contact was nearing the beach at the end of the first lap. People were pulling me and it was plain old uncomfortable. Thankfully we got out, ran on the sand for a few steps, and did it all over again!

The second loop was pretty uneventful but I do remember smiling to myself thinking how happy I was to be doing another Ironman! I was disappointed I didn’t see Kelly since we’ve seen each other in the middle of the swim in both races we’ve done. I hoped he was swimming strong and staying crampless!

Before I knew it I was nearing the beach again. I ran out of the water so happy to be finished one of three disciplines.

2.4 mile swim time: 1:15:58
Age group placement: 28
Gender: 176
Overall: 934

My wetsuit was stripped by two wonderful ladies. Then I grabbed my T1 bag and ran into the female change tent.

I wear a bathing suit under my wetsuit so I can start off kind of dry. Another fabulous volunteer helped me put on my sports bra (so hard when you’re wet!) and arm warmers. I put on the rest of my cycling gear and she stuffed everything into my transition bag while I started eating a Clif bar.

They had gummy bears and pretzels to take on the way out, so I took one gummy bear! I stopped for sunscreen application from another volunteer then grabbed my bike and headed out on the highway for the longest ride of my life!

T1 time: 6:51

Up next…the bike and run.

What are your pre-race rituals?

48 responses to “Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – pre race and the swim

  1. I always love reading your recaps, my heart starts pumping and I imagine being there and oh my… I think you have definitely sparked my desire to maybe do a half ironman one day! Sounds like you had an awesome swim, I can’t believe people pull on you – that would freak me out!!

    • Thanks, Britta!
      You should definitely do a half Ironman one day! There is one in Victoria in the middle of June and one in Vancouver in the middle of July! There are also a couple in the Okanagan each summer.

  2. So nice they had volunteers! To help so much. I’m glad you were more relaxed on the swim!

    I was listening to a podcast last night called Another Mother Runner and one of the hosts (Dimity) was talking about “wetsuit strippers” and how nice that is in a race. She also ran the same Ironman. I’m sure you met up several times. Haha.

    Anyhow glad you had a good race! Can’t wait to hear the rest!

  3. That swim looked crazy even with the “less crowded” start. I’m in awe of you even sticking your pinky toe in it! I can’t imagine stripping down in a mad dash to get to yet another workout!
    Loved seeing those pictures. We were RIGHT there!
    emma @ a mom runs this town

    • I kind of laughed, too, at the ‘less crowded’ start. It definitely felt less crowded, but there are still a lot of people charging for the same swim area!
      I can’t wait to watch and volunteer at an Ironman one day!

  4. Sounds like those volunteers were really helpful. Ha, I never thought about how much the changing clothes part would be difficult, especially when you’re all wet!

    Can’t wait to hear the rest!

  5. Can’t wait to read the rest of your recap. Awesome job on a great swim! Brrrr, sounds so cold! I’ve never done a triathlon big enough to have volunteers help strip down my wetsuit, but that would be AWESOME!

  6. You’re soo good at writing recaps- i’m literally on the edge of my seat the whole time and feel like i’m there. everything sounds/looks so exciting!! i can’t believe that 2:45 am wake up call, can that even be considered morning? that’s practically the night before 🙂

  7. Give me your abs! This recap makes my heart race bc the swim is my biggest fear.

    You have no idea how amazing it is to share that kind of passion with your husband. What an awesome relationship!

    You are super woman, I swear!

  8. so awesome, i love your energy and what an incredible journey and finish!!!! congrats bravo hooray!!!!

  9. So great!! I know you were most nervous about being cold!! I’m glad that wasn’t a problem!!! I am so glad that the new swim worked out so good!! I can’t believe they haven’t started this earlier!!
    I don’t really have any pre race rituals! Try and get down all my breakfast and get as much body glide and sunscreen on as I can! 🙂

    • I was happy the swim start worked so well, too! We saw the race director the next morning and thanked him for an incredible weekend. He asked us about the swim start and seemed relieved people were responding positively!
      GOOD LUCK THIS WEEKEND! And don’t forget the sunscreen!

  10. I’m glad you like the new swim start initiative! Sounds like you had a great swim!

    • I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the swim! Although the lake temps went down before the race due to the cold and rain, it was still warmer than last year when you raced!

  11. Yeah, I am so proud of you! As a former competitive swimmer, I can say that swimming in open water with a ton of other people is one of the scariest things EV-ER! If you can get through that, the rest is gravy.

  12. All of your posts inspire me to do an ironman someday! Probably not for awhile but I still love reading them. Congrats again to you!

  13. Runner Girl Eats

    I love reading all these Ironman recaps. You guys are so inspirational!

  14. I am so in awe of what you can do. I would love to do an ironman some day, but I think I would have to get a coach to know how to train for something like that. You are lucky to have your husband as your triathlon buddy.

    • Thank you, Jessie! There’s a lot of info out there online. I’ve debated getting a coach or joining a club, but sometimes it’s just easier to do your own thing!
      And yes, my hubby is the best triathlon buddy I could ask for!

  15. I forgot that you were racing imcd! I enjoy reading all the recaps and I have my eyes on the Ironman Copenhagen in 2015. However, it seems unreal to race for such a long time. You are truely inspirational!

  16. Love the recap (well, the first part of the race so far, anyway). I think it’s awesome that you and your husband go to these races together.

  17. Wow great race so far and I’m anxious to hear the rest. I love the line – Even with those items on, I was numb in seconds! Once you swam for a bit the water wasn’t so bad. – sounds like a lot of internal convincing going on to me :-). Congrats on a solid time in the swim.

  18. runnerbydefault

    Over an hour of swimming? That just boggles my mind!! Great job. I can’t wait to read about the rest. P.S. Your abs are amazing!! 🙂

  19. I’m so with everyone else. Reading your recaps is like reading a thrilling novel. I’m on the edge of my seat and want to know more. Now!!! Get writing girl… Just kidding, of course, you deserve to take it easy and rest up. Great job. I’m so impressed by that hour-long swim. Wow!!!

  20. Pingback: Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – the bike and run | Change of Pace

  21. I’m so excited to read your swim recap and can’t wait for the rest. I’m bummed I didn’t get to meet you in person, but I did get to see you on the run twice! You did amazing and should be so proud of yourself!

    • I was disappointed I didn’t get to meet you either. That’s great you saw me on the run- not easy when we’ve never actually met 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your time in CdA!

  22. Pingback: Post Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – final finisher tears | Change of Pace

  23. You are so awesome! Fabulous swim recap!

  24. I am totally not a swimmer (I gasp for breath after swimming one lap), so I am in total awe reading your recap! Heading over to your bike/run recap now. So glad I found you through Emma’s post today!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Debbie!
      My husband actually had trouble going for more than two lengths when we started training for IM Arizona in 2010. Now he’s a fish!

  25. Congrats!
    So happy that my report gave you some guidance!

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