Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report w/live videos by Shiggy Ichinomiya 6/27/10 IMCDA

     Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report 
by Shiggy Ichinomiya 6/27/10
{w/video taken while I was participating}

SWIM: 2.4 mile lake swim.

About 20-30 minutes before the start of the race the triathletes assembled themselves along the edge of the water (the unofficial starting line), spanning roughly 150-200 yards, 8-10 people deep. The rectangular swim course is very simple. A straight line of smaller buoys on your left side with a huge red buoy indicating you turn left, another line of small buoys on the short side of the rectangle, and then another red buoy to turn left and then a straight line of buoys to the left that takes you back to shore. Some triathletes eager to save time (fastest point to another is a straight line) positioned themselves so that they would swim straight with the buoys right next to them. Due to crowding, swim speed, lack of experience, technical advantage, or for whatever the reason, others placed themselves to the right of the buoy, some 150-200 yards to the right of the buoys, meaning that they would have that “extra” distance to swim.

(Video right before the starting gun was fired. Lisa Dordick, Anna Wills, Christie Trout, Jennifer Kramer)

The gun promptly went off at 7am with over 2,200 triathletes eagerly vying their way to a buoy. I said “a” buoy, because all 2,200 had to converge around that singular buoy. Talk about being on the 405 freeway during rush hour. That is a boat load of people all congested into one space. The result: lots of flailing arms, lots of kicking, lots of grabbing, lots of clawing, lots of bloody noses, lots of goggles being torn off. All part of becoming an Ironman.

I heard someone describe the swim as a “vertical swim.” Meaning that, instead of swimming with your legs in a horizontal position, your legs were near vertical because you couldn’t move. It was like being stuck in a crowded elevator where only your arms could move. Good time to practice doggie paddling!!! I’m guilty of unintentionally kicking some poor person with a “white” swim cap behind me with my frog kick. I turned around to apologize. Women = white swim caps. Men = red swim caps.
(Video of the actual race start & getting into the ccccccold water.)
The best part of the swim was the water temperature. Unlike in past years where the temperature was a mere 54 frigid degrees and triathletes would have to “thaw out” in the hot-tubs in the transition area, it was a balmy 61 degrees. No neoprene cap or booties for me. I think everyone had on a wetsuit.

The swim consisted of two loops. After the first loop, we had to get out of the water, walk/run a few yards, turn around and step on a timing chip and then go back into the water. I’m not sure why they do this, though I suspect it is done for our safety...and to prevent cheating. Swim time 1 hour 28 minutes.


Breakfast at 5:30am. A muffin with peanut butter and jelly, a banana and couple of sips of water. Surprise...no coffee. A first!!!!! At 6:15am a gel. At 6:45 another gel.

Kaizen (continual improvement): How to improve my swim the next time I do one of these? First, I won’t video the start like I did for this, my very first Ironman!!!! I’ll enter the water right when the gun goes off without spending over a minute slowly walking to the water’s edge, going knee deep and then tucking away my camera! One key to a good swim is positioning. Fast people should go out first and slower people should go off to the sides, stay back or at least let the faster swimmers go ahead. I’m not a fast swimmer by any means, however, next time, I’ll make it a point to go closer to the water’s edge because boy, there were a lot of slow pokes ahead of me. It’s virtually impossible to swim around someone when everyone is squeezed next to each other and it expends too much energy zig-zagging around them.

Lesson learned: My swim time was 1hour 28 minutes. I could have shaved off 8 to 10 minutes had I just been a few yards, a few people closer to the swim start. A few people means not just the two or three people directly in front of you, but is multiplied by all the hundreds of people to the left and right of you. Believe me, it adds up.

I didn’t want to test the waters and get cold before the swim start because it’s hard to warm up when the body core is low. However, next time I think I will. Why? With the hustle and bustle and very cramped conditions around me in the opening 100 yards of the swim, I started to hyperventilate. I couldn’t get a proper deep breathe in. Every time I took a stroke, I also gulped down some lake water which caused me to cough. Though the water temperature was ideal, I still needed to acclimate myself because boy, was I in need of oxygen. I finally calmed my mind by focusing on deep breathing and not worrying about if I was getting in the way of the person behind me. Once my breathing was under control (about 4-5 minutes), I was totally fine. Going back to the shore on the first loop, it became a little easier to swim with full strokes, though people were still very close to you.

T1 (Transition One):

Upon exiting the water, I ran to the strippers. Two female “wetsuit” strippers, one on each side, helped unzip my Xterra wetsuit, pull the sleeves off, in my case, literally pulled about three inches of the cuff of my wetsuit which ripped off completely. Yikes!!! I then sat down and realized that while they were pulling my bottom half of my wetsuit with my legs in the air, my swimming suit jammers were being pulled off too. I told them to hang on (not literally, lol!!!) and grabbed the top of my swim suit so that I wouldn’t be the one stripping!!!!! LOL!!!

I draped my wetsuit over one arm and was handed my bike gear bag and then proceeded to the transition tent--a huge tent with rows and rows of plastic collapsible chairs.

(Video of me going through transition area.)
I found a chair and stripped completely (no modesty here) and changed into dry clothes which consisted of my LA Tri Club bike jersey, LA TRI Club shorts, black Pearl Izumi socks and strapped on my Bell Sweep helmet. I had pinned my race number #1101 to the back of my jersey the night before. They require the number to be on the back (either on a belt or a jersey) and in the front (either on a belt or jersey) for the run. I put my wetsuit, swimsuit, goggles and cap into the bag which was collected later by one of the friendly volunteers. One each side of the tent were make-shift/grey plastic urinals. Visited that and made my way out of the tent. After leaving the tent and switching my camera to movie mode, I bypassed the “lather with sunscreen” volunteers and headed straight to the huge, green grass, bike transition area which was beautifully shaded by trees.

(Video of me looking for my bike)
Found my bike and headed towards the bike “mount” area. Clipped in and off I went.

BIKE: 112 miles

The bike course consisted of two loops. The first few miles took you through the cheering crowds and then out into the surrounding neighborhoods. It was cool to see the signs that friends and families had made for their favorite athlete.
(Video while riding bike of all the signs that supporters had made.)

Once we got further out of town, past Hayden golf course, the hills were waiting for us. Some were rolling, some were pretty steep. I did see some guys, yes guys, walk their bikes up the hills. Early on I was lucky to come up with a mantra: Save Your Legs. I repeated this every time I would feel my quads starting to feel the burn. Though I averaged just over 16 mph throughout the bike course, I could have gone faster, however, it would have been at the expense of my legs burning out. Not a good idea when there is a run involved in the race. Bike time = 6 hrs 44 min.

What did I see on the bike course? A couple of nasty crashes. Athletes going way to fast and getting severe muscles cramps in their quads. I saw one girl bawling her eyes out. It looked like she had a flat tire and didn’t know how to fix it. I saw another dude yelling and cursing himself because the SAG support didn’t have spare spokes for his wheels. Throughout the course I counted around 6-10 flat tires, similar to what one sees on a typical Saturday/Sunday bike ride on PCH.


At approximately every 10 miles was an aid station where I gulped down packets and packets of gels. Every 30-45 minutes I was consuming 2 salt tablets washed down with CarboPro in my water bottle. No cramping for me. Nutrition is critical. With all the gels, powerbars, half bananas given to us on the course, I did get a little gassy and felt my stomach churn. Hydration: Altogether I went through 4 water bottles that I filled with 5 scoops of CarboPro. Water bottles and Gatorade were also handed out at aid stations which I took and disposed right after a few sips. I consumed 12-15 gels on the bike. Twice during the bike I felt a little mentally tired, a little lull in my intensity, however, I knew “this too shall pass” after about 20 minutes.

T2 (Transition Two):

After dismounting at the designated area, some nice volunteers took my bike and then I headed towards the changing tent to put on my run gear. My run gear bag was handed to me right before the entrance to the changing tent. I kept my jersey and bike shorts on. All I had to do was take off my helmet, my arm sleeves, my bike shoes and change my black bike socks to my shocking pink compression running socks. I also put on my race belt with the number facing forward. I put all my bike gear into bag. Then I proceeded to the front of the tent and over the timing mat to start the run.

RUN: 26.2 miles

The fun part......the run.

(Video of the 1st mile of the run.)
Once in days of olde, this would have been my strength....is now my weakness. Why? Plantars fascitis for two years and I “lost the loving feeling” for running. I did the Boston Marathon (twice) albeit as a bandit, in 3:55 and my PR for a 10 K was 36 min 25 sec. I did this in the days when I didn’t take gels, gatorade, powerbars or any run specific nutrition. They handed me an orange and that’s what I ate. Water was all I drank.
(Videos of signs that people had made.)
The run course. A two looper. Relatively flat. Couple of mild descent and climbs. My strategy. Run 7 minutes and walk 1 minute. By any means necessary. Initially, it was a 7 minute run followed by a 1 minute walk, but at every aid station, I included some more walking. Why? I know myself. I’d plow through all the way to mile 18 like a champion and then it would hit me like a ton of bricks and I’d be injured. To avoid this, I played it very conservatively. Perhaps a little too conservative, yet inherent in the word conservative, I was “conserving” and saving my legs for when and if I needed them. What’s the point of getting to mile 18, 19, or 20 and then not being able to finish because of some huge cramp? I decided to play it safe and not push myself because my goal was to finish under 15 or 16 hours with a smile on my face. To make a long story short, I think I did more walking than I did running. Does this a true Ironman make? I know not. Do I have to beat myself up to a pulp just to be an Ironman? Even if I gave 110 percent would I be an age group winner or a Kona qualifier or would I just burn out and fry myself completely and end up hating the sport? Lots of questions appear out of nowhere when you have a 26.2 mile run.
(Best video of Wendy, Gavin, Emm Ess!!!)

(Photo of the best cheerleaders in the World)
The arch on my right foot started to hurt on the last four miles. I’ve never had pain in my right arch. Nothing major, just soreness from all that pavement pounding. Rest will take care of that.

(Video going past a keg party and toasty college students.)
The last turn takes you to final 600 or so straight yards of the run to the finish line. From 600 yards out, the only thing you can see is a bright shining light. This is where the triumphant arches are and the light beckoning and welcoming you home. These last 600 is where you don’t want to walk. People are watching. Paparazzi are snapping away. At the last 200 yards I pulled out my camera, switched it to movie mode and started to film friends, family, fans, spectators that were yelling and screaming on the barricaded sidelines. What a thrill. It gives you goosebumps to listen to the crowd’s roar. When people noticed me filming, I think they made an extra loud noise. Thank you for cheering. Thank you for cheering on the Ironman livefeed in real-time. How cool was that?

After going through the first, sponsored-by-Ford-Motors arch, (that separates the crowd on the sidewalk and the VIP crowd on the raised platform/benches/bleachers) I yelled “make some noise.” Who is this dude with pink socks filming the crowd and himself? people in the bleachers were probably asking themselves. I could see seated people start to stand up, start clapping, applauding, whistling, reaching out to give high fives and screaming for a person they don’t even know, yet has a camera in tow!!! What an experience.

I heard the announcer guy say my name. "Shiggy, you are an Ironman." I looked up to him and acknowledged him with a thank you and my fist over my heart. After crossing the finish line, I was met by two volunteers. They preemptively braced me in the event that my blood pressure would drop. Many an Ironman has collapsed right after a race because of a sudden drop in blood pressure. One volunteer took of my timing chip, another gave me my finishers’ medal and another gave me a silver space ship blanket for warmth. How did I feel? Brilliant. Amazing. Happy. How did I look? I had a BIGGER SMILE ON MY FACE THAN I STARTED. Mission accomplished. Run time: 5 hours 47 min. 
 Total time 14 hours 26 minutes for my first Ironman.
(Video of me filming myself during the last 200 yards!!)

My mantra for the run was simple: One step at a time. Break it down to small chunks and not be overwhelmed by the entire distance.


The temps for the run hit a high of 81 degrees. I drank water, Gatorade, non-Coca-Cola-brand, warm Coke and cold Coke (depending on which aid station I went to.) Towards the end of my run I tried some hot clear chicken broth. I was popping salt tablets throughout the bike and run to avoid cramping, so the extra sodium in the chicken broth wasn’t necessary, but sure did taste mighty good all y’all. I ate banana halves that were handed out and cookies!!!
Tips: Read Triathlon Magazine, Inside Triathlon Magazine. There are good books out there on.....triathlons and Ironman. Ask friends for help. Go online if you have specific inquires. Stretch. Get a coach. Read, read, read. Ask for help. Post your day’s workout schedule on Facebook to hold yourself more accountable. Fail to plan. Plan to fail. Bike maintenance: Took my Scott bike in to get checked. Had new handlebar tape applied, had two brand new Grand Prix 400 Continental Tires and inner tubes put on. Piece of mind. Have fun.
(Video of the expo. store tent)
In a nutshell:
How to improve my swim? Get up close. Faster arm turnover.
How to improve my bike? Quad strength training.
How to improve my run? Slow and steady. Wear pink socks. People comment on them forcing me to answer back and acknowledge them which serves the main purpose of distracting me from the pain.

How to improve on nutrition? Hydrate often.

A reminder: Less than 1 percent of the world’s population finishes an Ironman. I remind myself how lucky I am, and that I “get” to be here. I am full of gratitude.  

I'm thankful to soooooo many people who supported me, including, in no particular order (I'm sure I forgot people and I will add to this list for, like, sure~~~~) :
-Lynne Fiedler, my amazing, determined, walk-the-walk, Coach.
-My/Our sherpa" he hee--Patti Paul who did such a fantastic job in helping everyone out with their bags, transportation, logistics, massages, moral support. Patti you are the best!!
-My roommates, Liz Bell, Erica Coady, Katie Kelly and their coach--Coach Jeff Rabith.
-My training partners Amy Berkin-Chavez (long bike rides, early morning swims, great talks and very LOUD!!  Martha Hunt (great bike rides and one attempt at swimming in the UCLA with...lightning and thunder. Yikes!!) , Lisa Dordick for her unwavering support, energy, enthusiasm, allegedly sleep in bed in the buff (he hee!!!) bike rider, swimmer at Culver Plunge, SMC and the ocean, and a run,)  
-Monica Hirschberger who sure is one loud, rock 'n roll singer on PCH and up those hills. Love her energy. 
-Leonard Imada for those great ocean swims when no one else wanted to go
-The LA Triathlon Club members. Special shout out to Liz Hamm for always praising, recognizing, attributing, caring, believing and thanking. And for giving photo credits. Totally appreciate the love. Also to LATC President Paul "Paulsative" for his awesome support.
-The dedicated leaders of Ocean Speed Circuit-Konrad Ribeiro and Ian Murray.
-Swim technique coaching by Triathlon Training Series--Ian Murray.
-Tim Bomba's Ocean 101 and his crew, Max Miller, Steve Herbert, Lori C. Brian M., Christopher R.,
-Gerry Rodriguez from Tower 26
-Triathlon Lab staff.  Special shout out to Lloyd
-Jackie Yukawa for great advice on getting through one of these.
-Sharon McNary who helped set my run splits (the night before IMCDA).  Huge part of me finishing in one piece. Thank you.
-Gail Gottfried for her gingerbread man swimming suit. Yum!!
-Steve Mark for those incredible pool parties. Very good people.
-Lisa Zollner because she cares and has a good heart.
-Niecia (knee sha!!!)
-Mary Bean (hi Mary!!)
-Geanine L.  Always there. Thank you.
-Carmen the nurse!!!
-Liza V. U2 concert was awesome. What a smile!!!
-Jill and Dan Cowdrey for their headbanging, fun and happy selves. Thanks Jill for the love and texts. You know what I mean!
-During the race, I made a new friend--Savannah, who cat-n'-moused it all the way to the last 600 yards of the marathon part. Great talking with you and becoming friends.
-Simon Hunter for ALWAYS wanting to swim no matter what day and no matter where.
-Trish C, Sherry WB, Tina S, Lisa C.,  Christine WD., Michelle S., Aileen D R., Cher Lynn O., Julie Weiss., Carol Roda, Angi G., Byron Lea for his heartfelt talks, Bogdan, Tina and Mo G., Liz K., Corinne "Bikini Girl," Cody W., Lea C., Crystal West, Charrissa and David, Rebecca and Chase W., Cherryl R., Cheryl and Jeff K.,  Cheryl Sweeney, Lisa Gillmann, Karen H., Peter B., Jeff G., Jennifer F.,  Glenn N., Janice L., Karen S., Nadia, Lisa V., Jason P.,  Rich Cruse, Rosalind J., Lamar., Dolores S., Alan B., Alex G., Alison De Luca., Dora., David., Christopher R., Christine B., Charlene., Catherine., Beth Sanden., Ben Kleinbrodt., (thanks for doing ART (Active Release Therapy) on my plantars fascitis--it's gone!!!  Emily., Eve P., Gail F.G., Gerardo B., Ray B., Jeff., Jennifer., Rachel H., Paul S., Paul O., Sheri S., Renata D'A., Mara L., Liza D., Liana L., Missy S., William R., Kayla A., Kathy J., Julia C., Jill., Jessica., Sara C., Robert H., Roger M., Larry A., Lauren., Roxanne R., Mary H., Susan Moon., Kami Lerner., Robert Dennis., Rita S., Ashley., Angela Past.,  Marvin S., Brooke G.,Sean C., Nathan O.,  Semira C., Sharon W., Jacy Good, Sharon G., Sherrrriii from BU., Vanessa P., Hollywood Ian., Christine K., Elle K., Liz Esalen, Kyla Faye D., Macca., Robert K., Simon Gowen Radio Show, Jim Garfield, Liz Brenkus. and her "stinger," Alison and Tim W., Keith Simmons, Kimberly "Xan," Kim White, Kristen C., Jed F., Stella T., and You and especially YOU!!
-Kelley O'Neill for always believing, supporting and cheering.
-Cherie Gruenfeld for her motivational speech at Santa Monica Library.
-Lilia Gonzalez who kept me swimming.
-Jennifer Kramer--for well--being Jennifer Kramer!!
-Christie Trout who cracked me up at the start of the swim.
-Anna Wills. What an energizer bunny!!! 
-Originally from Beverly Hills and now an Idahoan resident Wendy
Harris-Carter and Gavin for the love, for the awesome cheerleading and signs!!! It means a lot.
-Emm Ess for becoming a new friend and for cheering!!!
-Alison Chavez who looooves swimming with booties!!
-Lesley Williams and family for throwing an incredible "send off" party at her family's house.
-Adrian V. for being "good people."
-Cindy Parker for getting it done during the race. Great swim. Determined to finish the run, despite injury.
-Dr. Heather Shenkman for your pool parties, opening your home and your heart!!!
-Jason Braun who killed it on his first attempt.
-Jose Ramirez and his wife for his optimism, enthusiasm and support.
-Tim P. for volunteering his time with Team 'n Training.
-Helena Anda for her continued support.
-Nadya Ichinomiya, my sister, for the awesome welcome home Ironman sign taped on my door.
-Leopold "Lee" Geans and the OG Sports Show.,
-ALL the volunteers who made this race so incredible.
-The people of Coeur d'Alene who opened your hearts for us and cheered for us and high fived us.  

(That's Gail saying "hi.")
(That's fast swimmer Gail stripping off her wetsuit.)
(Jose, Christina, Helena. What a great bunch of folks!)
(Yes, that's "Kramer" on the bike.)
(Pre-race dinner party at Lesley Williams' family's house!! Thank you.
From left. ??? Christie Troutt, Liz Bell, Jason Braun, Mark Anderson, Adrian V., Leslie W., Nicola A., Go Shiggy Go., Sharon McNary)
(Yes, that's Konrad with the blue hair!!)
(They have a nickname.)
(Lisa D. on the "pink" bike.)
(Patti Paul -photographer, Lisa Dordick's sister and mum!!!)
Yes!!!! From Los Angeles, California, Shiggy, YOU are an Ironman.

Fun Ironman facts: - Average Annual Income for Ironman participants: $161,000
- Average Age: 37
- Gender ratio: 70% male, 30% female


  1. You rock Shiggy, I'm glad to be a part of your world. Cheers!

  2. I'm Jennifer Kramer's mom. LOVED reading your journal, seeing the photos and videos. Congratulations. You "did good". Margie Kramer