Coeur d’Alene 70.3

It’s taken weeks to get the spelling right on that. My google search history has everything from C0ure dlane to Courue d’Alaine. And the sad part is I used to speak Spanish.

Aside from the incredibly taxing effort to spell the town name correctly, this race was a walk in the park. The swim was easy, the bike was pretty much just a downhill coast, and the run was a saunter, at most. Except…all the exact opposite of that. I’m on crutches right now.

During the week leading up to the race I knew I was in for a painful treat because my right hip had been bothering me, especially after runs. It was the same hip pain that Adelaide has been dealing with for over a month now, which lead me to believe that it was somehow communicable.

I was hoping that taking some extra time off from running would help, (I usually take extra time off from running because it just hurts in general) but the day before the race came around and my hip was still feeling fragile, which is not how you want to feel going into what you know will be one of the top 1% of painful days in your life.

The swim, transition zone, and finish line are all located in a green park about a block from where we were staying at the Melbourne’s house. The location has made for some incredibly convenient race prep, and just a grand ‘ole time in general. And, the short commute meant that we all (myself, Adelaide, Christen, Nicole, and Cucho) got to sleep in to the late hour of 4:00 am the morning of the race.

I actually had a good start to the swim and was on the back of the front group for a few minutes before opting to drop off before blowing up and waiting for the next group to catch me so I could draft. In hindsight I wish I’d held on a few more minutes for that front pack to break apart into varying-speed groups, since I know I could have held onto the 26:30 guys. Instead, I drafted behind the lead guy in the group behind for the whole thing, feeling like we were going too slow the entire time (him probably wishing one of us lazy bastards would come around to take a turn). I came by with 300 meters to go and put a tiny gap into the guys behind, coming out at 28:04, which is a PR swim for me. Definitely not earth shattering by most standards, but enough to keep the gap down to five minutes from the leaders. Aside from my coach Michael Lovato I should give a shout out to Swim Labs and Eney Jones for helping me address some of the many issues I have with my stroke. It’s getting there, slowly but surely.

Once on the bike I worked on slowing my cadence to get my heart rate down, and taking huge, slow, deep breathes with full exhales. I really wanted to avoid the lung cramp that I’ve been getting off the bike lately. I passed two or three guys and the sea levels watts came rolling in at an average of 323 for the opening few dozen Ks. I hammered up the first few hills at miles 15-25ish after coming back through town and passed another three guys in the process. By the second turn around at mile 35 I began to fade a bit and the power dropped significantly from there. If it had been a time trial I could have kept the good times going all the way to the end, but since I had just caught Ben Hoffman I decided to work with him since I was beginning to worry about my legs for the run. Ben did more work than me on the way back, and I felt like he probably had more to lose than me so I let him take the longer pulls. However, I’m pretty sure that he and Luke Bell, who was sitting behind us, both knew that we were racing for 4th place at that point. First through third were long gone at that point and had been working together for the entire bike to build a big gap.

The three of us came off the bike together, with Jonathan Shearon a handful of seconds back. The race paid out six deep, which meant that I needed to not get last out of our group of four. I came out of T2 just a few paces behind Ben, but by a half mile he’d begun to vanish out of sight on the bends of the winding path we were on. His lead was out to 15 seconds by the time Luke passed me at mile 1.5. Luke gapped me but I caught back on and passed him a half mile later. I figured he’d drop off but he ended up sticking right on my heals for the next eight miles. My breathing was still very labored then, at mile two, but it was under control and the threat of developing a debilitating lung cramp had passed. The two of us hammered out a gap from Jonathan and tried to limit our loss to Ben, who instead continued to pull away.

By mile five or six I’d slowed down a bit, no longer being limited cardiovascularly, but muscularly. My hamstrings had tightened up considerably and my hip was beginning to ache like the backed-up colon of a hot dog eating contestant. The pain continued to grow with every pounding step on the asphalt. Adelaide was there on the sidewalk and yelled some encouragement, which lifted me temporarily until we were passed by a guy that flew around us at mile seven. Luke went around me and got onto his feet for a minute and I knew that I’d just been defeated and wasn’t going to place. Thankfully it turned out that the guy was an age grouper on his first lap (this was our second). Luke dropped off him because his pace was too fast and surging, and we let the loudmouth (he kept yaking at us) go on his own.

Luke got on him again after the last turn around and dropped me. This time Christen was there for the encouragement. She was on her first lap and I’d just passed her. She saw the gap and yelled (angrily I might add) to close it. I did, out of fear, and held on as long as my legs could. Luke took off with two miles to go and I couldn’t do much about it, even though he only upped the pace by a tiny margin. My legs were fucked through and through. Everything hurt from the pounding and my muscles couldn’t do more than what I was currently asking of them.

Adelaide sprinted through the throngs of people on the sidewalk ahead of me, tauntingly, for the last two hundred meters to get to the finish line before me. I crossed in 6th, content. I went to my hands and knees immediately after the line. My entire chest clamped up instantly and my legs had become boneless bags of acid-tenderized meat. I hobbled back to the house and spent the rest of the day getting around on crutches. My hip was so painful that every step on it felt like a knife stab. It still does actually. It’s going to be a chore getting home with all my gear, especially since I have to leave the crutches here in Cure d’Alien.