Part II: Places
Deep down I knew my second IM would be Coeur d’ Alene. The anticipated beauty and challenging nature of the venue were simply too much to pass up. Coeur d’Alene is as smooth and sexy as the name implies. A city as buff as the athletes shows off with a powerful landscape, trendy businesses, neatly coiffed lawns and a gorgeous lake-front that turns heads.
Speaking of turning heads, buff athletes are everywhere. The athlete village is exhibitionist heaven and eye candy is plentiful. Nine months of diligence leave me feeling buff and I join in the fun. My 37 year-old 6’ 1” body is rock hard and I show off as much as the cold weather will allow. I proudly flash my blue IM arm band for access inside the fences. Before the race is over I will flash more than the arm band.
There are big ones all around
Fast forward to race morning as I take shelter from the cool wind in the men’s changing tent. I dub myself a genius after noticing the waist-high urinal set up in the corner. No long porta-potty lines for me! I mindlessly stare into the corner of the tent and listen to the wind outside as nature calls. All too late I realize the tent corners are not fastened. A gust of wind blows the tent flap aside providing spectators an all-access view, far more than even I want to show!
All these things lead into my favorite part of the race, the Washing Machine. Nine months of babying my body are out the window. Confident in my ability I enter the swim on the buoy line in a mass of humanity. The payoff is 75 minutes of clawing, shoving and crawling around the wavy lake. Jacked-up and breast-stroking around the half-mile buoy I scream a baptismal greeting to rookies. “First Timers, welcome to IRONMAN, YEEEEEHAAAAAAA!”
Adrenaline surges through my body and carries me well into the bike. The first 50 miles alternate between prayer and hyperactivity. “I’m doing it! I’m going to be an Ironman again!” and emotion soars. Soon thereafter I chastise myself for speed. “Slow down, don’t be a dumb F*&%! You can’t keep up this pace and run well you F&^!ng idiot!”
Back in town endorphin levels crash as I get closer to my entourage. Enjoying their encouragement I tell my first lie of the day with a casual wave and gentle “hey guys, how’s it going.”
Sara later tells me everyone is amazed that I’m making it look effortless. Truth of the matter is that I’m in a deep mental valley. The next 56 miles loom and I’m not looking forward to them one bit.