Monday, March 17, 2014

The Ironman Itch: Part II

As I discussed a couple posts ago, I've recently been experiencing early-onset symptoms of a condition known as the "Ironman Itch." If it develops into a full-blown case, I will have no choice but to aggressively treat. Ridding oneself of this condition is especially expensive when airfare for my elite "support crew" is involved (mine includes a moral support expert, a highly-trained kindergartener strategy guru, and a preschool-aged mind coach). They bring a lot to the table, but also have their demands. Therefore, I'm strongly leaning towards treatment facilities that are within driving distance.

That said, here are the treatment options currently highest on my list, along with the pros and cons of each as I currently see them:

Treatment Facility: Ironman Coeur d'Alene, aka CDA

Travel required: ~10 hour drive due north, almost to the Canadian border

commence pummeling!

Some stats:

Race day: late June
2-loop swim
Start elevation: 2155 ft
Max elevation: 2750 ft
Total bike course climbing: 4600 ft
Total run course climbing: 330 ft

Random Trivia:

Coeur means "heart" in French. Not sure about d'Alene.  Of Alene... whoever she is.

  • By all accounts this is an amazing venue in a beautiful part of the country
  • Race has been around several years, so assuming it's very well-run
  • Everyone I've talked to raves about it
  • Opportunity to benefit from training at altitude (I live at ~4500 ft above sea level)
  • A challenging, but not terrifying course

  • Flat run course doesn't suit my strengths (however would surely be welcomed on race day)
  • Later season Ironman would be more ideal
  • Many Ironman swim starts are shifting from mass starts to "rolling" starts similar to a large running race... that said, here's what the Iron Cowboy (he of World Record fame with 30 IM distance races in one calendar year!) had to say about the swim at CDA:

"The swim start was INSANE. I have done a lot of mass starts to this point and this one by far was the most violent. There just wasn’t any open space or free water. Usually things thin out and get less hectic. And at the very least things get spread out enough by the second lap to be less crazy. Well, not in CDA! It was a fight from the word “go” ’till I finally made it to transition. It was by far the most aggressive swim I have ever swam….by far!!!" 

Treatment Facility: Ironman Lake Tahoe

Travel required: ~8 hour drive west, crossing the Nevada border into California

Some stats:

Race day: mid September
2-loop swim
Start elevation: 6248 ft
Max elevation: 7228 ft
Total bike course climbing: 6550 ft
Total run course climbing: 653 ft

Random Trivia: Lake Tahoe is the 2nd deepest lake in the US (500 meters)

  • A destination race, Tahoe is amazing from what I've heard
  • Shortest drive of the four treatment options
  • Epic course. It's Ironman, it's supposed to be hard! Part of me thinks the reward would be greater
  • The elevation wouldn't impact me as much as others
  • Run course on spectator-friendly trail, looks pretty sweet
  • Living in a colder climate, gives me the summer to train

  • HARD! Highest elevation + most climbing by far 
  • Weather can be suspect - last year was 43 degrees at the start
  • Inaugural race last year sold out well over a year ahead of time once announced. This year's has not sold out, only 6 mos away... folks are definitely scared off (maybe that's a pro??)

Treatment Facility: Ironman Arizona

Travel required: ~10 hour drive south by way of Vegas


Some stats:

Race day: mid November
1-loop swim
Start elevation: 1176 ft
Max elevation: 1600 ft
Total bike course climbing: 1674 ft
Total run course climbing: 358 ft

Random Trivia: race used to be held in April

  • Drive passes through my in-laws home of St. George, so can break it up (great for my support crew)
  • Any Ironman distance race is hard, but this is the "least hard" of the courses... would be motivated to greatly improve my time from IMSG 2012 
  • Low elevation race after training at altitude
  • Run course on spectator-friendly course, looks pretty sweet
  • Living in a colder climate, gives me the summer and early fall to train

  • Probably the least scenic of the four venues
  • 3-loop bike course = congested, drafting?? 
  • It's Arizona... I'm guessing November will still be HOT

Treatment Facility: Vineman Full (not affiliated with the Ironman brand)

Travel required: ~11 hour drive west, a little north of San Francisco

Some stats:

Race day: late July
1-loop, river swim
Total bike course climbing: ~4000 ft.

Random Trivia: Vineman gets its name due to taking place in California's wine region

  • From what Triple Threat team member Russell Memory has told me, it's a great venue and a great course
  • Some rolling hills, but nothing to cry yourself to sleep about
  • Non-IM brand = cheaper entrance fee
  • Oldest full-distance Ironman distance race in continental US (1990)
  • Capped at ~1000 participants, so less congested, more "grassroots" vibe

  • Longest drive of the four treatment options
  • This is a controversial topic among triathletes, but does a race lose something (prestige? buzz?) vs. an official Ironman-branded race? I don't have the answer to that... it very well may be a better experience

In summary I'll continue to monitor my symptoms, but it's comforting to know there are four excellent treatment options on the table should the need arise!

No comments:

Post a Comment