Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hey Folks,

Time for a belated Coeur d'Alene race report. I apologize for posting this so tardily, but I've finally said goodbye to the last of my guests from Ironman weekend, and have returned home to find the bok choi in my garden completely denuded by some as-of-yet unidentified pest. Bummer. The beets aren't doing very well either. I can't complain about having neglected my garden for the past week though, because I had a blast in Coeur d'Alene (a whopping 45 minutes away from home) both on and off the race course.

I'm lucky enough to be able to train in Coeur d'Alene often, so I had a pretty good idea of what sort of times and splits I should be able to do on the course. Based on previous years' times, I knew that those times would put me in the mix, but I also knew that I had no control over my competition, so was pretty relaxed starting the race. I wasn't thrilled about the weather (SUPER windy, majorly choppy white-capped water, and definitely brisk) or the media-driven running start for professionals, but once the cannon started all nerves disappeared and I actually found myself enjoying an Ironman swim for the first time EVER.

As per usual, my Zenith wesuit rocked, and though I didn't have a swim PR, it was definitely a sort of personal best, given the choppy water. The bike leg, my usual forte, actually turned out to be a bit flat on the day. I'm not sure whether it was the cold weather or an over-abundance of caffeinated Roctane (I do love the stuff, but perhaps won't use it exclusively in the future), but my HR was really, really low during the entire bike leg, and I was strangely woozy and dizzy. I actually considered pulling out a few times, worried about my health and afraid that I might pass out. I actually ended up riding 3 minutes faster than last year, so I can't complain too much, but I was definitely expecting to feel a bit better in the process.
The second I hit T2 and stood upright all feelings of illness passed, and I posted one of the fastest transition times of the day. Gotta love the easy entry and socklessness of the Zoot shoes. I think the only reason that Kate Major transitioned a few seconds faster is because her T2 volunteer probably didn't ask her: "are you sure you don't want socks . . . " Tyler Stewart, Kate Major, and Heather Wurtele were a good 10+ minutes ahead of me coming out of T2, but there was a much larger group of women in very close proximity. I was in 6th place at that point, and my goal was to pass 5th so that I could have a bike escort. It's a silly goal, but bike escorts are a major perk that make racing professionally that much more fun. I didn't expect to catch 5th and 4th almost simultaneously and to have a relatively easy time during the rest of the race just holding my position. I ran a pretty conservative marathon, just in case I should have to respond to a late-race charge by another competitor from behind. Such a thing never transpired, and running down Sherman Street to the finish line was positively awesome.
There is nothing like racing a major international competition in one's hometown, and I have to say that I LOVE my local triathon community. I thought that I might feel a bit of pressure this year as the "local pro," having placed 5th in the race last year, but I actually just relished seeing so many friends and loved ones along the course. In the end, I went 17 minutes faster than last year, finished one place higher, and made $1000 less money. That last bit was a cheap shot regarding IM prize purses, but it's true. Ultimately though, I would do it again for no money because I just love to race and can't wait for this recovery thing to be done so I can get back to it!
Thanks so much to Zoot for all of your support before, during, and after the race, and to all of my Ultra team buddies who sent well wishes. You guys rock and I'm so honored to be part of this team. Also, thanks to Larry Rosa for photos.
Haley Cooper

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