Coeur d’Alene Race Report: Brandon Cantrell
I’ll have to be honest here. I’ve read all the Wiki entries, done almost all the workouts, RRs, 4 keys, that stuff, but I still wasn’t 100% on how this day was going to be possible. I ate my body’s weight in apple sauce, banana, and water that morning. After awhile we headed down to the swim start. Parking is pretty easy when it’s A)5:15 and B)you make your own spot. No ticket! Goals: I was dead set on two things that day. Staying in my little box, and running solid (shooting for 3:30).
So. Many. People. The apple sauce did the trick, just took a bit longer to work than in my previous RR. Porta-potta lines were nuts. The crowds near the beach was nuts. Kissed the wife goodbye, and went to do a quick warmup. I’m about a big of a wuss as there is when it comes to cold water. I think the water was 62-64 that morning. Went with a neoprene cap and earplugs. Seeded along the front center of the 1:15-1:30 crowd, slammed two GU’s and off we went. Judging by my long swims and such, I thought 1:20 would be a safe goal. After 15 mins, you forget how cold the water is. Really not that bad. Some bumping, but you could tell it was accidental. First lap went really well, counted my strokes, sighted every so often, and stayed out of trouble. Hit the beach feeling great. I tempted fate and looked at my watch. Rolled through in 35 mins. Felt great, decided to back off a touch for the second lap, and dove back in. Weaved a bit, went wide, and stayed there. Smiling like an idiot, I finished in roughly 1:17.
This event was a well-oiled machine. Volunteers helped me strip my wetsuit, I grabbed my T1 bag and found a spot. Got everything situated, and took off. Volunteers put sunscreen on me and off I ran. Thanks to the luck of the draw, my bike was the very first one on a middle row. Grabbed it and took off. 5:46
I had high hopes for the bike course. I joined EN to figure this bike stuff out, and I felt great about it. I biked more than I ever had, had my nutrition down, and was on a rolling course. Turns out when you weigh 20lbs you can climb comparatively pretty well. Or so I thought.
The first part of CdA you roll through town, back again, then hit the highway. RnP were not joking. The first 40 miles I absolutely got my doors blown off. “Who knew there were so many Cat 4 racers doing Ironman® today”. Still I stuck to the plan.
Training showed me 170watts (70% of FTP) was do-able. I started out looking to hold 160 for the first hour. Nutrition wise I had one feed bottle of INFINIT(260/hr), would swap the other bottle with water, and eat half a stinger waffles as power every 30 mins. Per you guys I wanted to pee 2x on the bike to make sure I was drinking enough. Something I’d yet to fully experience. My watch was set to display current lap time, 3s NP, lap NP, and cadence. Really wanted to stay in my box, so no total time for me.
Around 80 miles, I realized Al Truscott should start betting on sports as he nailed what happened next. I started rowing through the course. I felt like I had a fantastic day, but. ;-). I’m not 100% sure on why either. Seems like every time I looked at my watch I was hovering around lap NP of high 160s. But the data doesn’t reflect that. I stayed conservative climbing, but my VI was a touch high at 1.07. Which baffles me a bit, as on hillier training sim rides I could hold closer to 1.02-1.04.
I did finally pee the bike. Twice. I’m not sure about the choices in my life that lead me to a sport that celebrates pissing all over one’s self, but I did thy bidding Master. Only it didn’t happen right away. It took some coercing, but it finally worked. I did make sure no one was behind me. What I didn’t realize is A)It looked like a jet fighter sending out large amounts of chafe when nature finally took over B)I got busted by a lady who saw my chafe and smiled. For a guy that is very much a southern gentleman towards women, I wasn’t thrilled about a woman seeing me giggling while pissing all over myself going down the highway on an overpriced kid’s toy. Being ever so brave, onward we go.
I rolled back into town, my back was killing me, and I was ready to get off the bike. But at the end, I just didn’t care anymore for the amazing scenery. “GREAT ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL OVERLOOK FANTASTIC”. Just wanted off that stupid bike. But I felt pretty good, stayed in my box, ready to finish off this CdA or bust adventure. 6:08 for the bike.
I hopped off the bike, and my legs almost completely gave out. My body gave a “404 legs not found error”, so I grabbed my bag and sat down. Plan was to take GU’s until I couldn’t anymore, then switch to coke/water. VDOT/training said 3:30 marathon was possible, so I was looking for 8:30s the first 6. My display was set to current lap time and pace only. No total time. I hit the portapotty (guess I did too of a job hydrating, peed 2x on bike and once in transition). Kept it slow and smooth in T2 to compose myself. By this time it was fairly warm out. Really wasn’t sure how this was going to work, but I took off nonetheless 5:43
The star wars scene always pops in my head when I get too confident. Where Hans Solo tells Luke “DON’T GET TOO COCKY KID”. It was a lot of walking to hold 8:30s. I felt awesome. Little embarrassing walking when there were huge crowds out, but it is what it is. But I stuck to the plan and held8:32 for the first 2.2 More than a few people passed me at the start. “Cool everyone is going under 3:30 today” but RnP popped in my head and slapped me around. Stick. To. The. Plan.
I decided to keep it easy, but let my body go. So the next 4 I averaged 8:02. Again this was with some walking during the aid station. Got a kiss and butt smack from the wife, life is good. I know that with every high during a race, a low follows. So I told myself the pain was coming, and stay focused. It was about time for my first GU, and my body said no. So I ditched them and switched to coke chased with water.
I started climbing out past the lake, and my new goal was to run the stupid hills. Granted they’re not much, but they’re definitely noticeable this late. I went off effort and kept it steady. On my first loop I was passing huge amount of people by just not walking. Held 8:05 for the next 4.
Got a little overzealous on a couple downhill and averaged 7:40s for the next 2. Garmin showed I rolled through the halfway point at 1:40. Mentally it was a little hard to start the second loop after seeing the finish.
I took a quick porta potty break. Next 2 miles my pace slipped to 8:19.
By 16 I knew I screwed the pooch. Who builds a death star with such an obvious flaw? Likewise why did I not just give RnP those last 2 minutes on miles 2-6? I was hoping to only have to really hunker down at 21-22, but I was already having “the talk”. Bottoms of my feet were on fire with 10 to go. My one thing was being able to come back and post here with a solid run time. Told myself to stay in my one mile lap box, you trained for this, get to it.
16-20 I held 8:25s. I ran a touch harder and walked a touch longer during aid stations to keep my times down. I danced a jig for the frat house, and hammed it up on course when I could to distract myself. Seemed to work. Miles were slowly clicking off and the end was near.
20-24 I picked it up a bit to 8:21s. I started to get a bit emotional when the finality of all this training hit me. Told myself you could cry like a hormonal woman watching the Notebook on Valentine’s day shortly, but you still had a way’s to go.
24-26. I really, REALLY, REALLY wanted to walk it in. I knew I was off my time and didn’t care anymore. Everything hurt and I was officially in my #darkplace. Open marathon mile 22 dark place. The support of every here and at home kept me going. I trained for this, to get through this moment here. So at 25 I moonwalked for the frat house on the way back, and everyone got loud. I’m sure it didn’t resemble anything close to it, but I found people are really nice to you when you’ve been moving for almost 11 hours and are borderline delirious.
I turned off to finish the second loop, and saw Joe. I started to tear up as I was almost done, and I knew he would finish. I turned right on Sherman, and it was the most incredible finish I’ve been part of. I was smiling ear to ear, and people were cheering and such. Garmin shows I ran the second half in1:45, so I was a positive split by 5 minutes. I basically had the chute to myself, as the next guy was 50 yards back. I slowed up and soaked it in. Everything I imagined it would be. The last 100 yards, it turned into a wall of noise. I hammed it up, and did a couple Hulk Hogan moves. People bought it and went crazy. Heard something something IRONMAN, and finally crossed 11:13 later.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far. In spite of being a bit low on the bike, I’m ecstatic with the outcome. Really would not have happened without all the smart folks here leading me through the labyrinth. It is so true that the it’s about the journey and not the destination. I wanted some stories out of this trip, and I got ‘em.
Listen to Brandon’s interview with Coach Rich below