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Back to racing a local goodie: CDA Triathlon

Never pass up the formal invitation to experience pain. Ever since I ran across the finish line in Santa Rosa, I looked forward to getting back to Coeur d'Alene for the Scenic (Olympic) Challenge Triathlon. Under new ownership and direction this year, the race boasted a few new perks I did not want to miss out experiencing. Rob Liddicoat and his crew (I cannot possibly forget Katy Beck) went above the expectations of many and surprised us with quality race shirts, beautiful medals, fantastic post race food by Cosmic Cowboy, thirst quenching beer, and to top it all off, a ferry ride out to the swim start positioned 1500 meters off shore.

I had no excuse to swim off course when the buoy line directed me straight for the arch on the beach to indicate the swim exit. As the only professional woman racing, I was granted the opportunity to start with the first wave of gentlemen, and I accepted the invitation. It turns out the last time I did this race in 2012, I had purchased my first brand new wetsuit from BlueSeventy. Ironically enough, seven years later, I finally decided to retire that trusty suit of neoprene and donned the brand new Helix that arrived in the mail the day prior. Curiosity makes me wonder how many years I will eek out of this suit and how well it will propel me into the ranks of the professionals like the last one did me into the group of elite amateurs.

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Thankfully, my tangential writing does not simulate my open water swimming. Though I had to swim over a few guys who struggled to find the buoy line, I managed to follow the bubbles of the lead pack and exited the water as fourth person.

The cheers struck me from all directions, and when I smiled, they escalated. How lively the support for all those participating on this day; I feel fortunate for the opportunity to do this. I also felt fortunate to have found my colorful, yellow bike racked just below one of the huge trees in the middle of the transition area. Having the mount line just outside the park contrasted to the placement of the Ironman-branded long course triathlon held back in June. I much preferred this location over that one.

The bike course had not changed, though my outlook had. Once safely out of transition, I turned on my flashy light I had mounted on my right aerobar. While some cyclists attest to using lights for improved visibility on training rides, very few (if any) use them during races. Because of my slightly traumatic experience racing a local sprint triathlon in CDA two years ago, I opted to use it (even if it was more for my sake). The light at least allowed volunteers to recognize me approaching them at all the intersections, and after climbing Yellowstone and Mullan hills, I safely rode back into transition to start out on the Centennial Trail for the run.

Photo courtesy of Curt DuPuis 
This year's run served to remind me what running fast(er) and pushing myself hard(er) should feel like. Sadly, though, my injuries from last year and the early spring of this year have slightly thwarted my efforts to return to running the paces I used to run several years ago. For instance, I cringed when I looked back at my results from 2012 and realized I was only 5 seconds off from surpassing the 40- minute mark for a 10k. This year, I ran nearly one and a half minutes slower than that. The pace I ran this year should really be the pace I run in the long distance triathlon. (Sigh)

All in all, we could not have asked for nicer weather, smoother water, a cleaner venue, a heartier post race meal and drink, or a better reason to make ourselves hurt. When you plan your races for next year, consider this gem. You may hobble away feeling thrashed and sore from your efforts, but you will not walk away disappointed.

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