On June 23, I had the privilege of crossing the finish line at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, and hearing Mike Reilly announce, “Christine Bare, you are an Ironman!” I will only have one “first Ironman” in my life, so this is my attempt to document and share my experience.

The Wednesday before the race, my fiance Greg and I arrived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It was raining… and continued to rain for another day and a half straight. The weather forecast for race day was clear skies, and mild temperatures, but the incessant rain made it hard to believe that would be the case. One good thing about the rain was that it helped encourage me to stay inside and rest my legs in the days leading up to the race.
We were fortunate enough to have accommodations just a few blocks from the expo and race start (thanks to Carolyn and Bernie for being such gracious hosts at our bed and breakfast!), so we could watch the Ironman village and transition/finish area unfold before our eyes. It really is amazing to see how Ironman completely transforms the park and downtown area.
OK… so, on to the race (I will try not to ramble on and on, but I am writing a lot of this race report so I can remember the race. I don’t expect most people will read it in its entirety.)
On Sunday, my alarm went off at 3:45 am, and I woke up to have my traditional race morning breakfast of coffee, oatmeal, and orange juice. Afterwards, I walked to transition where I would check on my bike, fill my bike and run bottles with Fluid. Since we were staying so close by, I was able to go back to the house to use the restroom, and put on my wetsuit before the race. Just before 6 am, I left the house for the last time, and headed to the swim start.

NOTE:  It turned out that the weather forecast was right, and race day conditions couldn’t have been more perfect: a high of 70 degrees F, and water temps just over 60 degrees F. It was going to be a good day!!!

At Coeur d’Alene this year, Ironman was trying out a new swim start format. It would be a self-seeded rolling start. A lot of people, including myself, were nervous about how it would work. In the end, I give a big thumbs up to the rolling swim start. I seeded myself in the “59 minutes and under” group. Since I started with people who were my speed, I was able to draft behind someone for the entire race. There was a lot more aggressive swimming than I am used to (all my previous triathlons have been wave starts), but I would imagine it was much less than you have in a typical Ironman mass start. I finished the swim just under 59 minutes, feeling strong and confident since that was  exactly where I wanted to be.

Swimming in Lake Coeur d’Alene:  The water was a perfect 61 degrees.
Exiting the swim in under 59 minutes!
Starting the bike!


My strategy for the bike was to focus on maintaining a high cadence, keeping my heart rate around 155, and sticking to my nutrition plan (taking in 1 bottle of Fluid + 1/4 Bonk Breaker every hour for ~250 calories/hr total). The bike course consisted of open roads, big sweeping turns, and a few decent climbs – perfectly suited to my riding style. I was able to stick to my plan, and finish the bike feeling really strong… until I dismounted my bike. At that point, I could barely make my legs move enough to get through the transition area. I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. How was I going to run a marathon when I could barely walk?

On the bike!


After making it through transition, I was off to run my first marathon ever. Starting out the run after 112 miles on the bike was pretty rough. My legs felt heavier than they ever have. Luckily, after a few minutes of “warming up” I was able to run comfortably again. I felt like I was going slow, but I was actually going much faster than I had planned. I knew that maintaining a faster pace early on wouldn’t end well, so I made a conscious effort to slow down. I ended up running with a girl who was aiming for the same pace as me. We were able to help each other slow down and save our energy for later in the race.

My favorite part of the race at Coeur d’Alene was running through the neighborhoods. The entire town comes out for this race, and the streets are lined with people cheering. There was one house that was basically a raging party all day long with music blasting, and people dancing/cheering in the front yard. I also enjoyed the guys who had a microphone and would announce your name and hometown as you ran by their house.

The first half marathon was pretty easy-going. Then, around mile 14-15, it hit me. My legs were incredibly tired, and I knew it would only get harder from there. I started walking through the aid stations in hopes that I would feel better. There was a hill just before the run turnaround, and I walked most of that hill, too. My legs have never felt as tired as they did at that point of the race, and it was hard for me to keep going. But I did.

Eventually, I realized that the more I walked, the longer the race was going to take to finish… so I decided I wasn’t going to walk again until I crossed that finish line. At this point, I just focused on making forward progress. When I got back into the neighborhoods, I used the energy of the spectators to get me to the finish line…

Starting my run! 
Running through the neighborhoods of Coeur d’Alene was awesome: So many encouraging spectators!

The finish line at Ironman is unlike any race I’ve ever done. I don’t usually get emotional during races, but I was honestly holding back tears when I got within sight of the finish. After months of training, I had done it: I was going to finish my first full Ironman race. As I ran towards the chute, I was able to pick out my fiance in the crowd. I ran over, and gave him a kiss. At that point, Mike Reilly (the Voice of Ironman) responded by announcing, “She just gave a kiss to someone in the crowd… I hope she knows who he is… Christine Bare, from San Luis Obispo, California, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

“You are an Ironman!!!”
With my fiance at the finish line!

I never would have been able to finish my Ironman without the support and encouragement of those around me. Huge thanks to the following:

  • My fiance, Greg, who has encouraged me through so many long workouts over the past year; and who spent so much time and energy cheering, updating facebook, and taking photos (all the ones you see on this page) on race day. I love you, Greg!!
  • All my friends and family who followed my race online – I thought of you every time I crossed a timing mat!
  • My coach, Brian Smallwood, and my Tri Running teammates.
  • My good friend, Amy Olin, for being such a consistent go-to training partner in San Luis Obispo.
  • Champion System, for making awesome triathlon apparel.
  • Fluid Sports Nutrition, for fueling me through 140.6 miles (and all the training leading up to it).
  • Scott Sports – Running, for the great footwear (especially the T2C Evo which I wore for my race).
  • Garmin
  • Tifosi Optics