The Week Before

by klassman

The week leading up to Ironman Coeur d’Alene was one damn thing after another.

At The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim my brand new wetsuit got a nick, and horror of horrors, a genuine rip across the knee.

After I bought the suit, I sent a note to the company thanking them for the quality and for their commitment to TriEqual.  The kind lady who responded, as well as forwarded the message to CEO Rob Canales, was soon on the receiving end of a frantic message about the rip in my suit.  She was empathetic.  She had ideas and bent over backward to find a solution in time for IMCDA.  After exploring several options, she sent me a tube of wetsuit cement with her own personal instructions on how to apply.  Four days out from travel, I patched the suit on the kitchen counter but not after the sticky black stuff splurted out all over my hands.  Crisis messily averted.  Onward!

A few days before I had been out on my last long ride.  A two hour saunter at Ironman pace and suddenly the disc cover on my back broke.  A few of the pins dislodged and a triangular shaped piece came flying off the cover near where the cutout is made for the stem.  I limped the bike home and after two days of assessing the situation bent to the obvious and removed the cover before packing my bike.  I had however called the Aerojacket people in California.  They cut and sent a new cover to my hotel in Idaho.  Onward (with hopes of it arriving in time for the race.)!

Then came the trip.  After a brief walk from one end of the Minneapolis airport to the other, Delta managed to fly me across the entire continent in the span of one morning.  Amazing.  Depart at 6.31 a.m. and arrive a little past 10.00 in Spokane.  Except I arrived without my bike.  The baggage claim guy — who looked like a teenager — was helpful, optimistic and just a tad overwhelmed.  I was the first of many in line looking for lost bags.  He promised to have my bike delivered to the hotel later in the afternoon.  I messaged home that I was safe, picked up the rental car and set a course east for the border.  About two miles before the border and within sight of the speed sign that announced an increase in the speed limit, I was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

Thanks state trooper guy.  Not. At. All.  Onward again!

The rest of the evening was quite nice.  I got checked in without incident.  I took a lovely little 15 minute swim in the lake to shake out the effects of flight.  I met friends and fellow board members of TriEqual at an out of the way coffee shop.  I navigated approximately 40 minutes around the lake to find the Ignite Endurance crew having dinner at the home away from home of Nate and Leslie Miller.  Some two dozen people gathered for a potluck and to grill.  I saw a huge bald eagle soaring over the lake from the deck and met some very nice people all gearing up for the race on Sunday.

By the time I got back to the hotel my bike had arrived but I decided to wait until morning to put it together.  Saturday morning started with a calm 27 minute run along the Centennial Trail.  Breakfast and then bike maintenance.  Everything came together nicely but there was one brake I couldn’t quite adjust to satisfaction and the headset was a tad weak.  I packed everything up and headed to the race site.  A few minutes after the on-site mechanics opened up at 9.00 a.m., I was in line to have the bike checked.  I didn’t want to come down a mountainside with a wobbly headset.  I gave them my bike and learned they already had a three hour wait.  Onward!

I went to swim and listened to one of the several race briefings offered.  According to the race officials, the key piece of information was that they were planning for heat and we should too.  At more than 90 degrees at 11.00 a.m., this vital news was no surprise.  The bike mechanics finished early and I set off to test everything one more time — a 15 minute spin to set things right before turning it in for the night.  Within four blocks the screws holding the brand new disc cover in place started popping out.  I stopped abruptly and fixed it with spares.  I had traveled less than a block when two more popped.  I was stooped over the bike pressing them into place and wondering how I had defective hardware when even more popped out.  It was like fireworks without a fuse.

I ended up walking the bike back but the spinning of the wheel aggravated the fasteners.  After half a mile of walking while carrying my bike, I was back at the athlete village and the only explanation I could come up with was that the plastic fasteners were expanding in the heat and therefore not holding the threads of the screws.  Back to the mechanic.  I explained that my wrenches and chain whip with a couple miles away at the hotel.  He kindly took off the cassette, removed the covers and returned the bike to me without charge.

I turned the bike in at the transition.  I hurried back to the hotel to pick up my transition bags because that morning I had only planned to spend about two hours at the race site.  It was now more than four hours on.  Upon depositing the transition bags — including running shoes, glasses, bike helmet and shoes etc. I went to find Mike and Dawn Stevenson so that we could drive the bike course together.  I found them — and I found a parking ticket on the windshield.

At this point, I had done everything necessary to get to the start line.  I was healthy and fit.  In fact, I think I was more fit than I’ve ever been.  My equipment was turned in and accounted for at the race site.  I had a plan for the evening and the morning as far as transportation and meals.  I thought everything that was going to go wrong had gone wrong.

I was mistaken.