Coach's Race Weekend Report: Couer d'Alene 2014

2014 was the 12th running of the event and my 10th race weekend in Ironman® Coeur d’Alene, after having raced Coeur d’Alene 3x and done my coaching thing for seven additional trips to Idaho. This has always been a special event for me and I’d like to share the weekend with you, our readers:

Thursday — Endurance Nation Team Dinner

On the Thursday of every Ironman® weekend we organize and host a team dinner for our squad — a chance for the members and their familes to meet the coaches and each other. We began this tradition in 2008 at Coeur d’Alene and we’ve carried it forwards for every US Ironman, routinely having 30-100+ athletes and family members joining us in a fun, social setting…but we have a strict rules:

  • Rule #1: no M-Dot attire, race finishers shirts, or anything else that identifies you as an athlete. We already know you’re an athlete. Let’s try to take off the pointy Ironman® hat for a night and get to know each other as real people.
  • Rule #2: Violators of Rule #1 have to buy the Coach a beer(s).

Sadly, Team Coeur d’Alene was a sharp crew and I had to buy my own beer (!!), but payback was mine as I delivered to the team a 10′ talk on mental toughness and other tips for squeezing every once of PR out of their day.

Team Levanthal!

 

Peter, Mrs, and Lil Noyse, and Jon Rothberg, local Pasadena Tri Club hommies!

 

Friday — Morning Swim and Four Keys Talk

The Team met at 8am for a recon swim and team picture

TeamEN Coeur d'Alene 2014

TeamEN Coeur d’Alene 2014

And then I and my crack AV team relocated over to the CDA Resort to set up everything for my Four Keys Talk.

Riley Das WunderPup, TeamEN Mascot

Riley Das WunderPup, TeamEN Mascot

We had nearly 100 athletes RSVP’d to the talk. Thankfully our athletes chipped in to ensure that everyone was properly registered and received a FREE Four Keys DVD.

Go here for our complete schedule of 2014 Four Keys Talks

CDA_4k_Door

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About 90 athletes joined me for the talk, during which I delivered our Four Keys of Race Executionand then broke this down into how to race the Coeur d’Alene course specifically. I’ve been doing this talk on the “grassy knoll” by the swim start since 2003 so very special for me to be able to deliver talk in such an awesome venue, complete with Powerpoint presentation and sound system.

We videotaped the talk, to be added to our growing library of members-only content.

 

Rich_4k_CDA

 

Sunday — RACE DAY!

I had volunteered to ride moto support for the race, slated to carry a draft marshal

Rich_Moto

However, motorcycles outnumbered officials and media. I wasn’t assigned a passenger so I took off to get some pics of the Team and the swim start

Chris Oubre of Baton Rouge, LA

Click on Chris’ image above for a quick pre-race video

Steve Swanlund and family, our team Race Captain for Coeur d’Alene

 

The Swim

Athletes arrived to transition accompanied by a steady 15-20mph wind from the south, blowing towards the shore, which was creating a good bit of chop. The pro’s started at 6am and the winds and died down just a touch by the time the age groupers started at 6:40a. The last age groupers entered the water at 14:45 later.

A very windy start to Coeur d'Alene'14

A very windy start to Coeur d’Alene’14

 

Coach Rich with a quick report from the swim start

 

Check out the crowd before the swim!

 

The age groupers started the swim at 6:40 and everyone was in the water by 6:55.

 

The Bike

The motorcycle volunteer coordinator said that the race organizers wanted moto’s on the course to serve as “virtual marshals,” creating a motorcycle presence on the course to help improve the race. I was in the unique position of being very mobile on the course, with an athlete’s and race official’s eye of the dynamics of the race…but without the ability to actually give any penalties for drafting infractions.

So after shooting some video of the bike mount line

I saddled up the moto to head out on the course

Bike Pipes Aid station

 

Hwy 95 turn around

 

Taking a quick break at an aid station

 

Special Needs Turn Around

Coming Soon to the EN Blog: Racing a Windy Ironman® Bike Course

The identifying characteristic of the 2014 Coeur d’Alene bike course was the wind, especially on a course that features at 15 mile out, straight into a headwind, and a 15 mile back with a tailwind. Very early in the bike race I could see that many athletes were already struggling with the wind, and I saw many of these folks later in the day not really enjoying the run. However, the temps were perfect, in the low to mid 60’s for much of the bike.

In a future blog post, coming soon, I’ll get your mind right about how to execute the bike leg of a windy Ironman® course.

Coming Soon to the EN Blog: The Ironman® Bike, Drafting and the Rules

Also, I’m sorry to say that I saw a good bit of drafting on the course, but I couldn’t really do anything about it, other than create a presence and maybe “scare” athletes into doing the right thing?

That said, being an experienced Ironman® athlete and cyclist on a motorcycle during an Ironman® provides one with a very unique perspective. In my opinion, based on my observations and the body language and actions of athletes, I’d say that probably 60% of the athletes out there simply don’t know or misunderstand the rules about drafting…or rather positioning on the Ironman® bike course. That is, most athletes know they are not supposed to draft but don’t know the rules about drafting, what exactly their responsibilities are to avoid it, etc.

Many athletes read our blog. I’d like to use that as an opportunity, in a blog post coming soon, to explain the rules of drafting and what your responsibilities are on race day to avoid it. Hopefully we can play a small part in improving future races.

The Run

Despite the perfect temps and overcast conditions, many athletes suffered on the run after having over-biked themselves into the winds on the bike course. However, Endurance Nation athletes prevailed, posting many 45′ to 2hr PR’s and great performances from our first timers and vets, including men’s 65-69 age group winner Al Truscott!

Jason Brandt enjoying the rewards of a 10:46!

Jason Brandt enjoying the rewards of a 10:46!

Mens 65-69AG winner Al Truscott and wife Cheryl

Mens 65-69AG winner Al Truscott and wife Cheryl

Team Levanthal on the run #ironmom!

Team Levanthal on the run #ironmom!

Team Noyes, first time Ironman!

Team Noyes, first time Ironman!

 

Very proud IronWife!

Coming Soon: Coeur d’Alene ’14 Race Reports and Podcast Interviews

 

Interested in learning more about Ironman® Coeur d’Alene?
Please read our complete race breakdown here!

 

AUTHOR

Coach P

All stories by: Coach P
4 comments
  • LJW
    REPLY

    Thanks for the report, and it’s always nice to get a coach’s perspective.

    For me, it seemed virtually impossible to avoid the draft zone during the race. I think I made a more earnest effort than just about anyone else that I saw, but the reality of it is that the drafting rules depend on EVERYONE following them correctly. For instance, I can pass someone within the specified 20 second window, but if they were hanging out in someone else’s draft zone, then passing them means that I also need to pass the person they were drafting. This led to a very uneven effort throughout – I’d have to pass several people at once, and sometimes they would pass me right back (illegal). And then if I tried to drop back after they passed me, to stay out of their draft zone, I ran the risk of falling behind several other athletes who were following me too closely.

    Ultimately, I lived by the rule of acting in good faith. If I ended up riding in the draft zone, I would move over to the far other side of the course so that it would be impossible for me to gain any benefit from drafting, even if I were technically not that far behind another rider. I did not receive a violation, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that most people in the race were drafting to some extent and my place was suffering because I would not join them.

  • LJW
    REPLY

    Thanks for the report, and it’s always nice to get a coach’s perspective.

    For me, it seemed virtually impossible to avoid the draft zone during the race. I think I made a more earnest effort than just about anyone else that I saw, but the reality of it is that the drafting rules depend on EVERYONE following them correctly. For instance, I can pass someone within the specified 20 second window, but if they were hanging out in someone else’s draft zone, then passing them means that I also need to pass the person they were drafting. This led to a very uneven effort throughout – I’d have to pass several people at once, and sometimes they would pass me right back (illegal). And then if I tried to drop back after they passed me, to stay out of their draft zone, I ran the risk of falling behind several other athletes who were following me too closely.

    Ultimately, I lived by the rule of acting in good faith. If I ended up riding in the draft zone, I would move over to the far other side of the course so that it would be impossible for me to gain any benefit from drafting, even if I were technically not that far behind another rider. I did not receive a violation, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that most people in the race were drafting to some extent and my place was suffering because I would not join them.

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