The Purple Tiger’s Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report

by Rach McBride, a.k.a. The Purple Tiger 

Ironman New Zealand in March of 2020 was my ticket to Kona and since then, I have been not-so-patiently awaiting an opportunity to get back to long races. With my heart set on big personal goals at Challenge Roth and Ironman Hawaii this year, it was a tricky decision to balance another race with Canadian quarantine rules. However, as my winter training block was going well, and I felt stronger than ever, I thought: you never waste an uninjured build as an opportunity to race! Ironman Coeur d’Alene fell at the perfect time to rip off the COVID-bandaid and get back to iron-distance racing. 

While restrictions are now beginning to open up to make travelling easier in Canada, crossing the border in either direction was still slightly anxiety-inducing and required multiple COVID tests to boot. It’s as though life without masks, swabs, and hordes of other travelers may be a distant memory. 

All of this to say, I did manage to make it safely to CdA and check in with my wonderful homestay who made the trip so easy for me. The logistics of pre-race can often feel like a feat unto themselves and so making it to the start line calm, relaxed, and prepared is something I never take for granted. 

Here’s how my day unfolded...  

Swim 55:17, 4th out of the water: I felt confident heading into this swim as I’d been able to access a good chunk of pool time for my Tower 26 workouts, vs the debacle of 2020. The super swimmers sprinted off, and I was immediately in a pack of 3 where we switched off positions a bit on the first loop. After speeding ahead on the short beach run heading into loop two, we dropped to two with Carrie Lester tap-tap-tapping on my feet the whole way to the swim exit.

Bike 5:09.24, 5th off the bike: When the week before the race you think “hey I think my saddle might be too low”, fix it for F’s sake!! I have only myself to blame for the leg pain I had for 2 hours. Finally found an Allen key at an aid station and was flying after that and a million times more comfortable. Racing is painful enough - not super smart to unnecessarily make it harder! 

Run 3:32, 6th OA: It’s possible to have my run legs off the bike as I powered off and was at one point running in 3rd place! I was on pace (even spent 5k a little too fast) for my fastest marathon yet. But at halfway, I already started to falter. Spent a total of 14 minutes walking with my eyes half closed, feeling like I could just lie down under a tree and immediately fall asleep. After being passed again and only 6km from the finish, I rallied to hold onto 6th. This heat wave indeed led to carnage: 27% of the competitors did not finish on the record-hot day!

Ironman has taught me that the struggle, the shuffle, and the pain is pretty standard. I feel so clear on my areas of opportunity as I continue to push getting the very best out of myself - both on and off the racecourse. Step 1: staying way awake in the back half of the run, aka dealing with hypoglycemia! Speaking with my sport doc post-race, the sleepy symptoms and tingling lips I experienced are likely due to extremely low blood sugar. Considering I did quite well on the calorie front, I must not be absorbing them. In fact, my fluid intake was lacking in retrospect. Once I get out of quarantine, I’ll have some solid weeks of training to test out some improved strategies.

Until then, I’ll be downing my electrolytes as I get ready for my next build to Challenge Roth!

Steph races to the finish line!

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