2003 Ironman Coeur d'Alene

June 29, 2003 Sun
2.4 mile swim + 112 mile bike + 26.2 mile run

Felix in the run leg.
As daylight expired, here's yours truly, on the finishing stretch, giving high-fives to those in the stands while the announcer proclaimed, "... and you are an IRONMAN!" This was one of the TOUGHEST events I have ever done!
(Courtesy of Deborah Silva. More pictures are here.)
More pictures (shows chronology of events!)
Coeur d'Alene Press newspaper article (Jun 29'03 Mon)

Tom Erceg's Quickie Report

The following was written by my friend Tom of the Tri-City Tri Club:

It was a rough day out there. 97 degrees at the peak. An all-time high for the month of June in Coeur D'alene. Lots of leg cramps.

The race venue was awesome. The area and the lake are just spectacular. The locals were completely into the race. They had 4000 volunteers and a waiting list of folks who wanted to help. The crowds around town were huge. The bike course has a little of everything: Hills, flats, wind, rollers. It's not as demanding as Canada, but the heat certainly made up for it. The run course is also beatiful. Most of it is along the lakeshore.

So how did we all do? Those who finished were thrilled to have completed the course on a day like that.

Russ had a bike crash early in the second loop. Apparently someone with a hose was spraying people with water, and he and Russ got tangled up. Russ went down, banged his hip, and busted his helmet. I don't know much of the details, but I did speak with him briefly at the start of my run. He's doing fine, but obviously his race was over.

Steve had a good swim and a really solid bike ride, but the heat caused his stomach to shut down. After two miles on the run he was dizzy and unable to drink. So he made the correct and sensible choice and pulled himself from the race.

Sharon had her usual excellent swim, a good effort on the bike, and then ran like the wind. She's the only person I talked to who ran the entire marathon (except for the hill she walked with me). She had a great day.

I PR'd the swim, and through 80 miles was demolishing my bike PR. Then my old friend Uncle Crampy came to visit. I struggled through the rest of the bike, and walked most of the marathon. Even with a 6:15 marathon I still broke 15 hours, so I'm happy with the day.

Felix is an Ironman! He struggled through the swim, but made the cutoff with more than 20 minutes to spare. By the end of the bike he had almost caught up to me, even after stopping to fix a flat. His marathon experience was similar to mine. Lots of walking and cramps, but he also broke 15 hours.

Phil's day was pretty similar to mine. He was happy with his swim time. The first loop of the bike course was at record setting pace, and then the cramps came. He struggled the rest of the day, and put in an effort truly worthy of the title Ironman. Oh, and just for giggles, he got into an all-out sprint down the finishers chute with a bikini-clad competitor. I would probably have just followed her, but that's just me I guess.

All in all, an epic day up in Idaho. This venue is going to stick. I'd definitely do it again. Just hopefully on a cooler day.


Felix's Additional Notes

Good IM report, Tom!

First off, I'm really glad you are all right, Russ. I had seen an ambulance coming up while riding down by the lake, but didn't realize you had gone down until Sharon told me later in the day. I was really scared when she mentioned you went unconscious but then she said the hospital released you a few hours later... big sigh of relief.

Secondly, just wanted to say that the presence of all of you who were there during IM week made the experience ever the more enjoyable and memorable, not just for the race but for the premeetings, parades, dinners, etc. So thanks!

Finally, I must say that the entire trip was an amazing experience despite the following indignities:

-On the drive up, I suddenly realized that I left all my swim stuff at home, including my wetsuit... however, I only realized this after crossing the Oregon border! So I turned back and ended up driving ~750 "extra credit" miles...

-During the swim, in which despite being in reality super slow and all, was actually feeling very comfortable... so imagine my astonishment when I got lapped by the pros with well over 500m to go on my first lap!

-In the second lap of the bike course, my back completely went out on the climb up Upriver Road, and I cracked and got totally dropped. Quite demoralizing considering I was making really good time on the first lap (3:05 time split, despite getting my first flat at Mile 45). Fortunately, my back recovered after another 20 miles or so...

-However, later on I ended up getting two more flats, the third one with just over one mile to go (in which I was out of tubes anyhow, so I just rode on in on the flat...)

-During the run, apparently I was completely unable to mask the pain, as there were probably about 2 dozen spectators/volunteers/athletes who would say something like, "Go #176!.... er, are you okay???" :)

-And finally, well after the event, I was so wasted I was literally near collapsing. (Thanks to Sharon and Laurie for helping me back to the car, that was sweet.) Oh, and it would only be Thursday after the race that I could walk down stairs without having to cling on to those handrails...

Memorable race for sure. Just don't ask me if I'd do another Ironman again (at least not until I have fully recovered!) Kudos to everyone who even dared attempt such a crazy thing; I am amazed by you all!


Ironwoman Volunteer

(Submitted to heroicstories.com by yours truly as a tribute to Ironman Coeur d'Alene volunteer, Deborah Silva.)

The road to Idaho from California was a long one, both literally and figuratively. It was more than 1000 miles and a full day's worth of driving to arrive here on my 28th birthday (June 26, 2003)--but the distance may very have well been measured in years, for that's how long I had been dreaming of this moment. The destination: Coeur d'Alene, with its glamourous lake and scenic roads. The goal: Ironman Coeur d'Alene, my first Ironman-distance triathlon.

The race--a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.4-mile run--was actually held 2 days after I arrived, but participants had to arrive early to take care of pre-race logistics, including registration and racking our bicycles in a secured race area. The first day I'd take care of registration.

I walked into the registration tent and was instantly greeted by friendly volunteers. Minutes later, I was in front of a table to pick up my race number. The amiable woman behind this table was quick to make conversation with me. Her name was Deborah Silva.

"Have you done any Ironmans before?" she inquired.

"Nope, this will be my first time," I replied. We talked for several more minutes, in which I confessed my inexperience, being a seasoned long-distance cyclist by background, but a mediocre runner and even a worse swimmer--one who had never swam farther than a mile before!

Enthused, Deborah then asked me if I at least had family who would cheer me on. "Nope, came here alone," I replied. I neglected to mention that a few friends from my local triathlon club were doing the race too but had driven or flown up separately. We talked a little while longer, and as I exited the registration tent, I thought to myself, "what a wonderful volunteer... this is a great little town!"

I didn't think about the conversation again though... until the next day. I had just racked my bicycle and was exiting the bike coral when I heard, "Felix!"

It was Deborah. "I knew you'd be here," she exclaimed. Noticing the confusion now on my face, she explained, "I'll be rooting for you during tomorrow's race!" She then showed me a big sign she made that said "Go #176"... my race number. Imagine my surprise!

Sure enough on race day, there was Deborah and her family at Mile 50 of the bicycle portion, holding her sign and cheering me on. This really lifted my spirits after being one of the last athletes to emerge from the water in the morning and now having to confront 90 degree heat on the bike and run course.

As if her being out there all afternoon wasn't enough, after darkness had befallen and I was just finishing the race... there she was again! "You did it!" she emphatically said. It was almost 15 hours since the race had commenced, and it was an exhausting day for both of us. Yet she waited at the finish line to congratulate me, give me a hug, and take pictures (which she even mailed me a few weeks later!) so that I'd never forget this day, the day I had fulfilled the dream of doing my first Ironman.

Not that I'd ever forget. For Deborah had made this day extra memorable by going far beyond her duties as a race volunteer, offering encouragement to a young Californian she thought had no one to cheer him on in a race tougher than anything he had done before. She made a complete stranger from a distant land feel not only was he welcome in Coeur d'Alene, but had accomplished something truly special.

Race Data


(1=ho hum; 5=best)
More pictures

This page was written in July 2003.