2021 Ironman Couer d’Alene Big Day Out

The 14,000′ mountains are covered in snow and the force of the plane just slowed on our final decent into Denver, our stopover en route to a family wedding in Maryland from Tucson. The lady in front of me talked the entire time to her neighbor (and now Facebook friend, I shit you not), Fiona is reading Crooked, a book on back pain, and I just read Joe Friels chapter on Build 1 in his book, Your Best Triathlon. I have read it numerous times and written about it on this blog just as many since we first started using it in 2013 when Fiona and I competed in Ironman Western Australia.

Every time I read that book, I learn something new. It is excellent and the primary resource that has guided us to Ironmans for nearly 8 years now.

This is the most important week for our training for the 2021 Ironman Coeur d’Alene because this is week 3 of 4 in Build 1, 8 weeks till Race Day and its Friday which means we have had to adjust the entire week of training to account for BIG DAY OUT. Volume will be only 17hours, quite low compared with the prior 2 weeks of 22.5hours over swim, bike, and run. Which means next week will also need to be adjusted so not too much fitness is lost.

The 6 days leading up to Wednesdays Big Day Out went as follows:

Thursday: Off. 2nd Off day of the week after Monday because work was very busy for me getting home late. When its 6:30pm, I am just not in the right mental space to train and will take off. But I will need to make this up to achieve the same 22.5hrs as the prior week.

Friday: I was in the right mental space to push hard since I didn’t do a quality bike on
Wednesday So I did a 20min w/u to Sahuarita Rd. A 1-2% incline with 1 light and 20miles long. I held 337watts for 30min which was an increase from 331watts 6 weeks earlier and a LTHR of 149. It was an excellent test, building throughout and the hardest I worked in 6 years. I headed to the Free Clements Pool in Tucson and swam 5,200yards in 1hr20min with 4x1k steady. I went home, grabbed the RV and Sydney and Roxy and drove to Catalina State Park where Ari Luau was running days prior. After setting up the RV, I ran 10miles on the trails at sunset where I have also watched Lionel Sanders, Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom run in their videos. 4.7hour day. Dinner was a frozen pizza and bottle of wine.

Saturday: My intention was bike and run but I didnt do the run. I biked down the shitty Oracle Road to The Loop to Tanque Verde, and up the scenic byway towards the Mt Lemmon Climb. I biked all the way to the very summit at the observatory pushing race pace for the first 2 hours holding 254 watts. Power did fade, I only held 272 watts for 1 hour at 80% IF but the FTP test zapped me and the altitude was starting to hurt. The final mile at 10%-12% grade and 8,800 elevation was HARD. It had been a year since this bike because it takes an hour to drive there from Sahuarita, too long of a day. On the way down I hit up Pizza and cookie from The Cookie Cabin and Large Coke from the General Store, then to the Loop a longer way back to avoid Oracle Rd and finished after 123miles, 7hr12min day 293 TSS. Heather Jackson also climbed Mt Lemmon on the day but not to the top so I didn’t see her unfortunately. We got a large pizza, buffalo wings, and drank beer from guiness Brewery in Baltimore since that is where we would be the next weekend. We also watched LOST. (Best show ever).

Sunday: I made Blueberry Pancakes, had a monster, and then we ran out towards the loop on the same section Fiona ran a no frills marathon on in December in 3:39. Downhill towards the turn around, got some cold water and we stuck together going easy. I picked it up negative splitting the run and ran 18miles in 2hr41 at 8:58/mile avg using my Nathan waterpack. We drove home, went to our pool going 5.2k. At home I ran another 6 miles at 8:47 to make 24 on the day of easy running and 50miles for the week. 6.4hrs for the day. I may have had a epsom salt bath and used the Normatecs to aid my recovery but cant recall.

Monday: 6M easy run at 9:07/mile 54min and 45min easy rec bike at 161 watts. 1.7hr day from 5pm-7pm.

Tuesday: swim 2,550yards with 3x100yard with pull bouy HARD. 1:19, 1:19, 1:18 1min rec. 30min run of 3.4miles at 8:49/mile. 30min rec bike of 161 watts. 1.7hr day between 2pm and 6pm.

Wednesday: BIG DAY OUT
So I was carrying a lot of training load into the day which usually comes on Saturday but, I was trying to get in as much training as possible since I only expect 3 runs on the trip: Fri 5M, Sat 15M, Sun 15M. That being said, my goals were to try and maintain goal race pace of 77%-80% IF or 259watts-269watts, run at goal pace of 3:23, and swim sub 1 hour.
I woke up at 6am, had bagel with cream cheese, 2 redbulls, and a muffin for about 1,000 calories. ( I burned 8,000+ on the day).
I started with FiFi in Zwift Watopia with the goal of mimicking the 2021 IMCDA course. Tempus flats around the vineyards, to Volcano, up towards Mayan ruins, back to up 5min KOM, back to Volcano, then towards Tempus. Power started out at 260’s at lower than goal pace and I targeted 280-300 watts, 10% over goal pace for the climbs with decents near 240-250watts. This mimicks race day goal power and for the 2 hours I held 268avg/270NP right on 80% and 125HR Then 12min transition to a 1hour Treadmill run on Zwift easing into it to then avg 7:45/mile and 125HR. I drank coke every mile. Fiona went outside and suffered for the first brick with cramping. I had salt tablets each hour, cliff bars every 30min, and 2 bottles of Gatorade for 400 calories per hour. 20min transition back to the bike. Replicate first session skipping Mayan ruins but going to 5min KOM 2x, Volcano 2x, and then trails. I felt some cramps coming on with 30min to go and had 3 salt tablets the final hour and 3 bottles gatorade. 15min transition slower easing into it but then picked it up to 7:29 the last 30min until I had a pit stop with 15min to go. Coke every mile. Back on it and finished. Had a protein shake, redbull and drove to Clements pool 30min away. Biggest miss on the day was not practicing with 8 Immodium.

At the pool I put on my Tyr Hurricane Cat 5 suit. I hadn’t swam in it possibly since I went 59:14 at Ironman Arizona 2018 and a 2nd A/G Kona Qualifier. It felt a bit restricted and I wore my Wattiink hit squad kit underneath. I ripped my Kona swim Cap I got at the Parade of Nations from the Germans 😦

I jumped in and held 1:12 the first 100yards. I held 1:15 through 500. I went 1k splits in: 12:56, 12:59, 27:32 for the Half Ironman (PB), took 10sec to fix my goggles, 13:24, 13:14. At the half I was starting to feel hot and uncomfortable put kept pushing. I knew that this was hard in the heated pool, after 6.5hours of race pace effort, and 3 days after a 5.2k swim but was really testing myself. As I touched the wall, I hadn’t yet realized I just set an all time PB of 55:43 beating my IM best from Port Macquarie in 2015 by 10seconds.

The run was expected, that pace isnt hard for 1 hour. I ran a 3:03 treadmill marathon in November and took off 2hr30min over the 50mile Ultra distance just 5 weeks earlier finishing 4th in 8hr22min. 3hr03min x 11% = 3hr23min (should be) Achievable Ironman Marathon Goal. But it took me 4 weeks to recover and I had done little quality work since opting to get the volume back to 50miles per week and prevent injury. Note, I have had mild plantar fasciitis for a couple months now and using the Strassburg sock to help (which it is). I have some nerve impingements and tight muscles in my lower left leg causing the problem. My blog revealed this ongoing ankle nerve impingement since Ironman New Zealand 2017! The sock worn during sleep will fix this. I was also impressed with the bike but know I have a lot more race pace work ahead of me and more BIG and Epic Rides to simulate the 270-300TSS expected on race day. Although I have never lived up to this potential tapping out at 250TSS and 256NP, I know I have always had more in me but these multuple 5, 6, 7 hour rides are helping me get used to the necessary stress. But what about this swim? After Ironman Ireland was cancelled in April 2020, I stopped swimming. I started up 6 swims in May-June believing Ironman St George would go forward but when that was cancelled, I had to go see Sam Rauchwarter at Body Central @endurancephysio on Instagram who is on Ben Hoffmans team, and then went to Dr Minor who saw Sam and Lionel who diagnosed Fiona with the same sacral stress fracture back in 2019 just weeks before Ironman Cairns in her attempt to join me at Kona. Dr Minor said the 2 hurniated discs in my C5 and C7 cervical spine were the worst he has seen. For weeks leading to the diagnosis, I had numbness in my fingers, and pain in my neck, trapesius, and Rhombus that had me waking up in the night swearing profusely from the pain. I ordered the best, PhysioCreme, from Spain and started taking Arnica for nerve pain. I stopped most cycling for several months too. It dissipated and I focused on run volume following the Hansons Marathon Method into my 3:03. I then set a 50K PB and into the 50M ultra running over 70miles per week at the peak. Maybe it was all the endurance work and losing muscle mass in my arms. Maybe in December after 9months of no swimming and getting the body healed, I was naturally fitter, stronger. I dont know. I knew how to practice and focus on form and technique following mostly what I have written here but how the hell did I improve THAT much? Fiona said usually it takes a while to get it back. Well, for me, I took it back and then jumped forward. I will add that I have always been negative about swimming and feared quality work. Now, I focus on 100s and 200s. That, along with my Endurance base must be it. I will continue to work on this, hopefully improve further in 4 weeks when I repeat this day, and the need to prove it in my race. Mindset has also changed thanks to Ultra running and preparring for the 8.5 hour running race. I more or less rely on consistency, repetition, and attitude in Nikes mantra of “Just do it”. One of the biggest problems my 63year old mother faces these days in all her training is getting in her head. It has taken me years, to get out of mine. I will always remember the final 10K down the Queen Kahamanu highway in Kona 2019 when I improved my run by 10minutes over 2016. Its a simple mantra. It may have been from the book The Peaceful Warrior. Simply put, “Free the Mind”.

Training volume is very inportant to me. It always has been. I always try to aim for 20hours+ in building weeks. I won’t achieve that this week and that is ok. When I am unable to complete workouts or hit specific goals, I accept it. I know it is OK. I look for the positives, ways to adjust, and think about what I need to do to accommodate for my new path. For this week that meant leaving work Thursday at 1:30pm using flex time and going to the 25yard pool our community, Rancho Sahuarita, has offered since January. (Our 25meter pool has been down for 1.5years but opens up Monday. The focus was recovery so I did 1000yard warm up of 50 free, 25breatstroke, 25 backstroke continuous. This is my standard warm up of 500yards for every swim and I did it with fins. 1min rec. Then 1000yards of drills. 25 skull, 25 free x2, side drill, Otter, kick on back, skull, repeat. Then 500yard continous with pull bouy easy, 200 cool down 25 breaststroke/25back, 50 free no aids. I went to the food store had Gingerbread cookies and then did a 90min easy recovery spin on the trainer watching YouTube videos: Lionel Sanders, Matt Hanson, Breakfast with Bob. Dinner was leftover cheese ravioli with Vodka sauce and had half bottle of a Sauvignon Blanc from Romania but Marlborough, New Zealand is way better.

Follow me on strava with Kevin Coyle, instagram at tucsonathlete, and subscribe to this blog which I have written in more than 150 entries since Ironman Cairns 2012. This is my Ironman Journey and I am happy to share the adventure with you.

One response to “2021 Ironman Couer d’Alene Big Day Out

  1. Finally read! WTG!!! Determination, persistence, consistency! Ps. I’ve been doing some meditation to get out of my head. Here’s an example of peloton


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