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Race Result

Racer: Brady DeHoust
Race: Ironman Coeur d'Alene
Date: Sunday, June 26, 2005
Location: Coeur d'Alene, ID
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 9:56:07
Overall Place: 53
Age Group Place: 16
Comment: Eat your sweet potatoes

Race Report:

"The Tall Coffee"
The race went really well. We had very good conditions, although probably could've used a little more cloud cover. I didn't really have any major problems. I was happy with my swim (1:05). I had a great bike ride (5:12) -- I mean, I felt spectacular out there. I knew I was having a solid day off the bike with 1:05/5:12. Sub-10 was my goal, and rather than getting caught up in splits, I decided to refrain from checking the watch . The temps weren't extremely hot, but there were no clouds, and I worried about dehydration on the run. I think I was dehydrated a bit, but I was able to push through. I'd guess my run splits were something like (1:40/1:52) or something -- too much slow-down for my liking but it's what I had. A perfect day would've yielded a slightly better run split ... maybe next time. Putting together that perfect bike/run combo seems to be the ultimate ticket to a *great* IM race ... and it's hard to do.

"The Big Cuppa Joe"
My Grandmother, Gibbie, loves nutrition. We are both constantly updating one-another on the benefits of this food vs. that food, etc. Articles get sent through the mail, or are hand delivered by my Mom after a visit to Gibbie in her Timonium, MD home. I tell her how good bananas are, and she fires back with twenty reasons to eat blueberries everyday. I'm 100% certain that whatever she throws my way is nothing but solid information that I always take to heart and implement in my diet. She is 88 years young, and is as bright and healthy as can be. On Thanksgiving, Gibbie would always ask me to try sweet potatoes. "No thanks", I'd say ... it just wasn't to my liking. But this year, Gibbie got serious with me and sat me down to go over the benefits of eating sweet potatoes. Not necessarily the ones covered in marshmallows ... just the plain old potato looking thing itself (which, by the way, are not even in the same botanical family as the common potato). So each and every week, at least once and sometimes twice, I'd have a plain sweet potato for a snack after lunch. Harris Teeter grocery store sells them pre-wrapped and ready for the microwave -- three minutes on high and it's ready to go.

Every year going into a race, I struggle to identify what "extra" I've done that will get me to the finish faster; what have I done to improve and prevail over new goals. Sure, training has been consistent throughout the year. I've had some great blocks of training that no doubt increased confidence. But was it enough to make me stronger and faster? I wasn't sure, so in the end, I decided that a solid result on race day would be attributed to eating my sweet potatoes ... Gibbie is always right.

I chose Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for a few reasons; (a) I didn't want to do Lake Placid a 3rd straight year, (b) I wanted to be able to go on family vacation in July without having the stresses of training for Ironman looming, (c) the course seemed to match well with the NoVa training terrain, and (d) I wanted to see first hand what this huckleberry stuff was. Seriously, its huckleberry everything out there. Kind of like the Bubba Gump shrimp everything ... huckleberry pancakes, cream cheese. Shoot, they may have even had huckleberry shrimp? Anyway, the late June race seemed ideal for my schedule. Glover and Frosty gave me some positive feedback on the venue, and with that, I forked over one of my paychecks to get that coveted entry into an IMNA production ....err, I mean race (and just to note, it took close to 3-months for CdA to fill up, probably primarily due to the new Ironman Arizona race that pulls a lot of the west coast contingent).

Deidre and I arrived in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday afternoon. When I registered, I wasn't sure if we'd have any other friends racing who'd be bringing along their significant other, so we decided to make things very easy and stay at the Coeur d'Alene Resort -- right on Lake CdA and about 300 yards from the expo village. While this splurge will force me to find a second job, it seemed to be well worth it for the convenience. The 5-night minimum stay "included" some food vouchers that were easily used day-to-day at the fine restaurants owned by the resort. The town is filled with great places to eat and excellent coffee houses and cafes. This community really embraces this race. Each and every athlete out there seems like a hero to these local town folks. They seemed very interested in the lives of people training and racing ironman -- and not in an annoying way. The local coffee shops opened at 4:30am race morning to cater to the needs of the caffeine addicted (me). The owners of shops that would be inaccessible due to the road closures all seemed in good spirits and used the race to take advantage of a slow work day and do some lounging around of their own.

While I took care of the pre-race requirements, Deidre was off reading her books and soaking up the sun by the pool. It was so convenient, I often felt like I had too much time on my hands. Due to the time change, I woke up before 5am each morning, ate breakfast, then out to the lake for a swim. Friday, I followed the swim with a bike ride on the shorter part of the figure-eight style bike course to make sure everything was in working order. Saturday was an early swim with my buddy, Dan Lader, who'd be racing his first Ironman. I snuck in a quick refresher run for 20-minutes along a short out-n-back section along the lake. The last and final requirement was to drive the bike course. Dan and I drove one loop of the course, realizing that; (a) it was a good thing we drove the course, because there were some fairly technical turns on some of the descents, and (b) it was very fair, and the hills/climbs seemed to be placed perfectly to string out the riders in the earlier parts of the race. Around 5:30pm, after mostly snacking since having a decent size lunch, I got hungry and room service seemed to be the way to go. I ordered the traditional pancake stack, and my gosh, you should have seen what was delivered. If you've seen the movie "Uncle Buck" with John Candy, there's a scene early on when Buck is making pancakes for his niece and nephew. The pancakes are so big, he uses a snow shovel to flip them. Well, I think Uncle Buck made my pancakes. I ate two of the four and thought that anyone who could finish off that stack was a hero of mine. Lights out around 9pm and I surprisingly slept like a baby.

::Race Day::
I don't know how people get up at all hours through the night to eat, and honestly, don't really understand why. I woke up at 4:30am to get down my pre-race calories consisting of a bagel with peanut butter, banana, half a pop tart, and coffee. I had a water/Gatorade mix that I sipped on throughout the early morning while I stretched and relaxed. I was very relaxed and finally ready to head into the congestion of athletes scurrying around to fix their improperly packed transition bags that were dropped off the previous day. All I had to do was load up my bike with a couple water bottles (1 Carbo Pro, 1 Gatorade), and drop off my dry clothes bag. With so much time, I hit the ol' porta-jon line, figuring that during the wait, the need to go would come. Waiting in line, a guy says, "There's an entire row of porta-jons with no line just behind these". "Great", I thought, and I left line to figure out how to get to the secret VIP row of porta-jons. Realizing it was on the outside of the fenced "village" area, I made a very stupid decision, and tried to hop over the fence, rather than walk the 50 yards to the entrance/exit. Holding my dry clothes bag and wetsuit, I attempted to do a one motion hop-over, when the fence began to give, causing me to vault myself and land very awkwardly on my knee and pulling hard on a muscle in my shoulder/tricep. My knee felt ok, but my arm had some pain with certain motion. I was so angry for making such a brainless decision. But hey, I got to hit the porta-jon about 5-minutes faster than I would have if I'd waited in line! ...agh...just dumb.

I finally got down to the water with about 5-mintues to the cannon firing. I jumped in and took some strokes to make sure my shoulder checked out and take care of the initial shock of chilly water. Everything seemed to check out, and I hit the beach and found my spot in the second row in the first quarter of the width of the swim start. Just a minute or so before blast off, the guy right in front of me turned and said that this was his first ironman race. He seemed to just want a quick dose of reassurance, so I patted him on the shoulder and offered him the advice to, "Go out there and have fun ... you'll do just fine".

My thoughts going into the swim were to just let it take it's course. I know from experience that parts of the first loop are quite chaotic and crowded. But with the right attitude and expectations, it's tolerable. I think my swimming has improved, not missing many Tu/Th 6 a.m. workouts with the "crew" (Steve, Mike, Julie, David), all much better swimmers than I. The workouts were often tailored so I wouldn't get lapped or wind up on the bottom of the pool. My aggressive goal was to swim 1:05, but I wasn't going to be discouraged with a swim time a couple minutes more. The first 500m weren't too bad. The swim start is so wide, there's actually quite a bit of space in the beginning. But around 500m in, it was Coeur d'Alene's version of the mixing bowl. Everyone merged in from their free space, all going for the exact same target -- the first turn buoy. It was like New York City gridlock. Somewhere in that turn, I took a solid kick and my goggles went from horizontal to vertical. I was able to make the proper adjustment and keep moving without too much difficulty. On the way back into shore, space was more abundant and I was able to settle into a more steady groove. I scooted out of the first loop in 31:22 to make the short 30 meter run on the beach to begin the second loop.

It felt much better to get started swimming again than the short, heart-thumping run on the beach. The second loop was nice and steady, trying to take advantage of the draft as much as I could. My only mishap came just after making the left turn of the elongated rectangle. The sun was still shining brightly off the waters, making it very difficult to site on the next turn buoy just about 100m ahead. After about 15 non-siting strokes, I lifted my head and had the old "where the hec am I". I was swimming directly towards a big boat, anchored and making sure folks stay on course -- I was not on course. It was a fairly small error, and I was soon back on track and making my way down the final stretch. I exited the water in 1:05 and was excited with the anticipation of seeing more empty chairs in the changing tent (at Lake Placid, I had to sit on the ground because there were so many athletes in the changing tent). I was out of T1 in a not-so-swift 4:21 with everything in order, clear skies, and a great attitude intact.

I was ready to have a good ride. Training has been solid, primarily due to a couple solid chunks of lots-o-cycling. I spent a week down in the mountains of South Carolina with Dave and Steve -- climbing, climbing, and climbing. The only day we didn't do any climbing, we rode 101 miles of flats and rollers in 5:02 -- and also after 285 miles the days before. On our biggest saddle day, we rode close to 7 hours and ascended a ~10-mile climb on a ride that took us through pieces of three states. So anyway, I was prepared to have a good day out there. The course was fair, and it seemed like the climbs were placed perfectly to (a) break up the packs early, and (b) allow you to get them out of the way and set a solid tempo to get back to town. The course was a figure-8 style course, with one smaller 15-mile loop alongside Lake CdA that had a few good hills, and a larger 40ish mile loop that included the two climbs on the course. After ten minutes of letting things settle from the swim I began to take in fluids and calories. I don't have a regimented plan for fluids and calories out there -- on race day, you just never know how you're going to feel. I try to eat solid food when I actually feel hungry (including gel), and sip on fluids steadily throughout the ride. Unfortuanely, it was clear early on that my stomach was not settled. Everything I ingested knotted up my stomach within a minute, and this would last for about 10-15 minutes. I tried to burp a lot to see if I could clear things up, but no dice. It was more of a frustration and annoyance to constantly feel this discomfort. I started to drink more calories than eat, and even that left me queasy. On the climbs, I settled into a good rhythm in an easy gear, while others chose to hammer and gain minimal ground -- and most I'd catch quickly on the technical descents or flats. On the stretch back to town, the winds seem to pick up a bit as well as the temperatures. I was a little concerned with my stomach, and not being able to ingest the calories I'd need for the rest of the day. Still, things were moving along great -- my legs felt spectacular and the bike was rolling smooth. I was back in town with a 2:33 first loop.

I welcomed the cheers of the crowd enjoyed the break in the sound of wind whipping by my ears. It was cool to catch the pros on their way back out for the final ~40 miles. At about 60 miles, I grabbed my special needs bag to grab another gel flask and full bottle of Accelerade. There were a few times on this stretch where I literally had to sit up and wait for a group to put enough of a gap on me to get out of any potential violation positions. That, or I'd ride really hard for a minute to try and find my own legal space. The congestion from special needs area broke up shortly and I was back through town and on my way out to finish up the last couple climbs. I felt good on the climbs -- a bit fatigued, but still pretty good. I forced down my Accelerade (it certainly didn't go down like it does in training), and tried to get down some gel as much as I could -- knowing I'd need the calories for the run or I'd be meeting Dr. Bonk somewhere on the run course. At mile 100, I felt strong and pushed by a handful of struggling riders in the final 10-miles. I hit town with a 5:12 bike, and uncertainty of whether I'd be able to run well with an unsettled stomach and probably a slight calorie deficit. I scooted through T2 in a swift 1:45, not allowing myself the time to think of what lie ahead.

I had one goal for this race -- under 10 hours. If that goal was accomplished, other "reach" goals would be on the radar. I knew sub-10 was in reach with 1:05/5:12, but I also knew that I was perfectly capable of both a 3:25 run, or a 4:30 run .. this is Ironman, and it all comes down to the run, or sometimes better named " the struggle".

I felt pretty poor in the first 2-miles, running along the out-and-back section on the lake path. I tried to keep my game face on and not provide Deidre with any signs that I was struggling and have her worrying about me while out on the bigger out-and-back -- but I really didn't feel great. My stomach was in knots. I think I was moving along okay, but it was just uncomfortable. I started with the mile-1 aid station and made sure to get water and Gatorade at each subsequent station, knowing I'd need it all to keep from dehydrating and/or meeting up with Dr. Bonk.

The community was amazing as we twisted through the neighborhoods. Locals were having parties in their driveways, grilling food, and providing make-shift spray showers to cool off athletes from the heat. At mile three, I started to feel better. My stomach untied itself and I started to feel smooth in my stride. I hadn't checked any mile splits at this point, and decided I wouldn't check at all. Instead, I convinced myself that the sweet reward and motivation to keep moving would be the anticipation of a finishing clock starting with '9'. The run got lonely on the first out-and-back stretch. The skies were clear, and the heat was starting to take it's toll. Dry salt was building on my shorts and face. I ate one fig newton that took close to 2-minutes to chew-up and didn't go down pleasantly; calories would have to be all liquid based, so I started to drink coke with the Gatorade and water at each aid station.

Again, I welcomed the cheers of the crowd heading back through town to start the second loop. Deidre screamed at me a couple times and I did my best to recognize her cheering in my daze. This was mile 15, and it was really starting to hurt. This is that point ... that point where walking sounds so good, but the thought of being out there longer sounds so bad. "Just move forward", and "You're having a strong race" were thoughts that ran through my head. I thought often of a Mark Allen quote that I didn't remember word-for-word, but I knew it's meaning. The quote says:

"Unless you test yourself, you stagnate. Unless you try to go way beyond what you've been able to do before, you won't develop and grow. When you go for it 100%, when you don't have the fear of 'what if I fail', that's when you learn. That's when you're really living."

Heading up the Degree of Difficulty hill (the hardest spot of the run course), my run became a shuffle. At the turn, mile 20, I started the "it's only 10k" reasoning. From hear on out, each step was one step closer to town. I was holding my place well and felt confident about being able to run to the finish. I still had no idea of how fast (or slow) I was running. At mile 22, an age grouper who had passed me earlier, then looked to have blown-up as I subsequently passed him, re-passed me at a pace I could not hold. He stayed in site, but I couldn't move any faster and hold his pace. One last wind through the neighborhoods where remembering fans would shout "Bring it home 327!", and "Finish up strong 327!" I started having great thoughts of the finish chute, and a finish clock starting with '9'. I enjoyed the redirected route that said "To Finish" instead of taking the "2nd Loop" route. And finally, the final left turn on Sherman Avenue. It's about a quarter mile stretch, slightly downhill. The kids and spectators lined the finish, well beyond the grand stands and carpeted area. It was time to enjoy a good day. I slapped hands with the kids and pumped my arms. The clock came into focus and read 9:55:xx -- solid! Just then, a brush on my left shoulder yielded an age grouper in a final sprint to the finish, breaking the finish banner just 2-seconds ahead of me -- I had no idea he was even there. The run total was 3:32, crossing the finish with a total time of 9:56:07 -- good for 53rd overall and 16th in my age group. One of those "reach" goals (a ticket to Hawaii) may have just become unreachable due to my loss of concentration at the end of close to ten hours of racing. Regardless, I was very pleased with my efforts. I had raised the bar and set a new personal best time -- the sweet potatoes worked.

Deidre was the very first thing I saw after crossing through the finish (other than the two lovely volunteers who helped keep me on my feet). She was so happy -- I could see it all over her face and in her emotions. She hugged my tired, salt covered body and told me how well I had done. I told her I was happy, but really needed to lie down for a bit.

After a quick post race massage, I found that guy who blew by me 22-miles into the marathon after I thought he had blown, and asked him what the hec he did to recover. His answer... "I ate some Nutter Butters." I applauded him for his ability to pick things up at that point of the race. I tried to eat a piece of pizza, but it just wasn't going to work. I got my gear, struggled back to the room, showered, and laid down for a nap. At 10pm, I woke up hungry and feeling much better. I was 0-5 in getting back to the finish for the late finishers -- this time, there was no excuse, as our hotel was just 200 yards from the finish. I got a big, juicy hamburger and fries to-go, and hit the grand stands for the 10:30-midnight finishers. All I have to say is ... unbelievable. So much energy and cheer. I watched four of the five BLIND athletes from the group C-Different cross the finish with their guides (the 5th had already crossed while I was napping!). Each and every athlete received huge cheer from the energy packed crowd. It was good stuff.

::Reach Goal::
We don't use the "q" word in our house ("qualify"). I try to stay away from making that a top priority when I feel I have other goals that are more important to me. But improvement over the years has aligned some of my personal goals with a potential Hawaii qualification. I can't say I never thought about it .. sometimes I thought about it too much, and had to consciously remove the thought from my head.

9:56 gave me a shot at a Hawaii slot, but I had low expectations. I was in the same position last year at Lake Placid (in a different age group), and fell short. There were 10 slots in my age group, and I finished 16th (and was kicking myself, knowing I could've been 15th) -- I considered myself, "on the bubble". Immediately following the awards brunch, the roll-down meeting took place. This thing is all business -- they blast through it so quick. I sat with Deidre, again, with low expectations. When they got to the 30-34 age group, it was announced that there were 5-slots available. "Oh man", I thought "that 2-seconds just cost me a slot" -- being the 15th finisher guaranteed a slot. They called the name of the 11th place finisher, and there was no cheer and no one making their way to the podium to grab the certificate. I was thinking "Hurry up. Hurry up. Move on!" .. and he did as there was no response from the 11th place finisher. I was automatic at that point, and the icing on the cake was that the 15th place finisher did not take slot either, so the 2-seconds I was out "sprinted" was inconsequential. The question to whether I was doing a fall ironman was answered, and this year, it wouldn't be the Bluedevil (although, I'll miss that race and feel obligated to recruit someone in my absence). I was elated.

That night, I enjoyed some cold brews from the Coeur d'Alene Brew Pub, as well as a couple Irish car bombs from a local restaurant bar (taken with the bartender, in the absence of Guzek). Celebrating was certainly in order.

This is a fantastic venue. I plan to go back one year ... maybe not next year, but soon.

Thanks for reading.