First Time Ironman: 2013 Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report

Ford ironman cour d'alone logo.

Note: The following is a race report from one of our athletes, Mike Shaffer, who competed in his first-ever Ironman triathlon at 2013 Ironman Coeur d’Alene, which took place on June 23. Not only was this Mike’s first Ironman, it was also his second triathlon ever. Mike put the work in, and got the results. While this may have been his first Ironman, it won’t be his last. Mike is a dedicated athlete, and a member of the United States Navy. It is an honor to be his coach, and a real pleasure to read his words, and to re-live the excitement of the first-time Ironman.

Congrats, Mike! 



ironmancdalogo-1876615I followed everything Maria told me to do in terms of nutrition before and after the race.  Let me say, I had absolutely zero GI issues….thank you for that:)  I also felt like I had a lot of energy going into the race, so that was reassuring.

The morning of the race was perfect.  It was cool but not cold and the temperature was consistently rising which eventually ended up to be in the high 70s – low 80s and overcast.  I got there around 0430 with my wife so I could prep my bike and dump all of my morning clothes with her.

I pre-mixed all of my nutrition the night prior and put it on the bike that morning.  I thought I had everything but I forgot my CLIF bars in my bag.  Other than that everything I needed was there.

Maria had sent me organizational checklists for my gear and other items. They were perfect and helped me quite a bit when I was preparing to pack.  After I finished prepping my bike I headed over to a place in the park to sit and watch the PROs take off.

Then it settled in that my race was about to begin, and I started to put all of my stuff on for the swim.

I was not nervous at all for some reason, which is odd for me.  I felt like everything was going to work out just fine.

Mike finishes up the swim at Ironman Coeur d’Alene.

Swim Start

I made my way down to the beach and started to seed myself in the 1:00 – 1:15 spot, towards the back.  [Note: Ironman Coeur d’Alene was the first race to experience the Swim Start Initiative, which changed the traditional mass swim start to a rolling start.]

Once the gun went off, I was overwhelmed with excitement and I had to immediately remind myself that I could not go anaerobic on the swim.  The trickle start made it less crazy, I guess, but I still got trampled by a few people that thought they could out run everyone.

During that “crazy” time I noticed that I was going too hard and had to work my way to the outside of the pack.  Once I got out of the chaos, I was able to settle into a good rhythm.

After the first loop, I found myself passing a bunch of people.  I actually saw a lot of people quitting on the swim because they were out of gas….already.  I finished feeling really strong and had a lot of energy.

Swim time: 1:13:54. 


Moving into T1, I realized how important it was to practice prior to the race because I forgot where my bike was and spent some unnecessary time looking lost.

Once I got to the bike, I realized I did not pack my bars and figured I would just eat on the course.  It was hard to make good time because people were everywhere and I could not leave anything on my bike (helmet, shoes, glasses etc.).  I guess that is normal unless you are a PRO.  T1 took 6:10 to get through everything which has plenty of room for improvement.

The Bike

The course was really fast for the first loop back to town but when you started the second loop (the longest of each lap) there was a huge hill that went on forever.  I noticed a lot of riders just kicking it into overdrive, which is where I thought about Maria’s advice and kept to my race plan–keep a consistent effort, avoid unnecessary spikes in power, climb controlled.

Mike is out on the bike

pain relief

course, keeping a steady rhythm that pushed him up 169 slots.

My nutrition was good, but I have nothing to compare it to. I did not use a special needs bag because I carried everything with me.  I had three 2:30 hour bottles (one on the down tube and two behind me) plus an aero bottle between my aero bars that had an electrolyte drink that I kept refilling at each aide station.  I was able to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some bloks from the aid stations as well so I had plenty of nutrition.  I did not feel “bonkish” at all.

Towards the end of the second leg is where I really started passing people because they had nothing left.  I had one mechanical failure and it happened in the chute before T2.  I decided to shift both levers and it was too much for my chain to handle and it fell off.  I had to push with my foot to the volunteers.

Bike time: 6:10:01


When I was trying to get off of my bike, I kicked my right leg over the back of the bike and I hooked one of my bottles.  I almost crashed but I was able to catch myself.

I didn’t have much to do here.  All I did was grab my bag, put on my shoes and race number, take a pee, and headed out to the run.

Out on the run, looking strong. Mike runs through 310 competitors!

I was unable to pee on the bike, I tried and it was just impossible. [That’s okay, Mike – we’ll keep practicing ;)] There was no pain so I just finished the bike and took care of business in transition.  I think this transition took around 5:30.  Thinking back, I would have put on some more body glide on my toes because I ended up getting a couple of blisters.

The Run

I kept to the plan and took in consistent calories throughout the run.  I drank something every aid station and ate the gels I had on my race belt every 45 minutes.  Each aid station had good support and lots of stuff to eat and drink.

I was able to maintain a good pace on the first lap and it started to slow down on the second.  My heart rate was in zone 2 for the majority of marathon but towards the end it started to get into the high 130s.  I knew it wasn’t nutrition because I was drinking water, sports drink and coke during each aid station.  I figured it was fatigue catching up to me.

The stretch to the finish line was pretty far and I was able to get super pumped with the crowd.

The announcer called out that I was in the Navy and that I was an “IRONMAN”!!  It was awesome.

The feeling of crossing that finish line was nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced.  The volunteers were trying to help me walk around and stuff but I didn’t need any help.  I was amazed at how well I felt after the race.  I still had energy!

What an awesome experience. That was so awesome…..and hooking!!!  There are plenty of things for me to work on, but I am very happy with my performance.

Now that the race is over, I can’t help but think about how to improve my time. I know that I am going to work on my weak points which are the bike and the swim.  My recovery is going well and my soreness was gone in two days.

Thanks again, Coach. You did an awesome job training me, and I will recommend you to everyone I know. [Awww, thanks, Mike! You are the one that did all of the hard work – and it paid off big on race day!]

Finish time: 11:22:42

Official finish time: 11:22:42 (clock is off due to rolling swim start).

Congrats on an excellent race, Mike! You are an official member of Team U-Crazy. We are happy to have you 🙂 

It’s worth noting that Mike ran through over 300 people during the marathon, finishing 330th overall! This is a monumental achievement for his first go at the distance. Look for big things to come from him in the future!

First Time Ironman: 2013 Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report
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