Back in Coeur d’Alene, I can’t believe it has only been a year since I raced here. So much has happened since though. Based on my experience from last year I picked a different camping spot, much further away from the highway and much nicer :-). The race venue is unchanged; the expo seems a bit bigger than last year. But is it just me or is there is a whole lot less people here than last year. My oh so amazing ‘All World Athlete’ status allows me to skip the line for registration, nice perk, however, there is no line…All my plans of casually but coolly walking by hundreds of people waiting in line do not play out at all. Well at least I get an additional swim cap with my registration, makes me feel important 🙂

The day before the race I do my usual 15-20 bouts of each discipline and check in my bike, I have a good spot in transition so all should be perfect. The water feels a bit warmer than last year and is super smooth. Temperatures are promised to be high, so I will not have to worry about freezing for once. All systems are go. The rest of the day I am spending being a vegetable and icing / voltarening my still swollen foot. I can run and bike pain fee, but that thing still balloons up quite a bit from walking around on it. Ribs still hurt a bit too, I still can’t fully inhale…see my Wasa race report for a full disclosure on how this happened – in short…I am an idiot…

Race morning I get up early to avoid a battle for parking spots in town and find my trusty spot under a big tree still available. Hooray for a cool car after the race. I set up transition and stroll over to the water. Feeling good I make my way to the water and get ready for a solid swim warm up. About 10 minutes in I feel something I haven’t felt in a long time. My heartbeat is super-fast and flat, skips a beat here and there and then seems to hurry to make up for the lost beat or so. I have had episodes like that years ago got a thorough check-up, nothing was found except a slight right side branch block, which according to the cardiologists was of no concern. These short episodes usually go away after 20-30 seconds. And same here, 30 seconds later my heart beat is normal and strong and soon this episode is forgotten.

The gun goes off and, I find open water soon and do my thing, trying to focus on smooth swimming all these hours in the pool will HAVE to pay off…but nope, I am a minute slower even than last year. Comparing swim times online later (because I am a nerd like that) I think the course was a bit long or slow because even our swim all-star Andy Potts was a minute slower than last year, so that made me feel a bit better, still means no improvement on my part though = frustrations.

Off to the bike we go and here I really feel the changed training. I race by heart rate for the first time ever and am taking it quite easy on the bike still pass a ton of people and ride the 76th time overall (4th in my AG). I am about a minute slower than last year but definitely come off the bike much more relaxed than last year. My run will be amazing I am sure of it.

After that chaos of transition I look at my heart rate and it is a tad high, so I force myself to take it a bit slower and get to my Harte rate target. Hmm, that Heart rate is not really willing to go down much, but I feel good, so I carefully keep going until it happens, within seconds my heart rate shoots up to 187 – 189…wait a minute, I haven’t had a heart rate like that since I turned 30…even my super hard max output intervals I only barely scratch the 180…the logical consequence, my heart rate strap must be faulty, or is it?? In an aid station I feel my pulse on my jugular and am shocked, the HR is legit; I have a super fast and really weak pulse. But I feel fine…so I decide to soldier on not at crazy pace but trying to run solid. After about 10 minutes of this my heart rate drops just as quickly as it increased and levels out at around 164 – 167. Again a heart rate I can definitely not sustain for more than 10 minutes, I am supposed to run the half marathon at 152…This leaves me very unsure about the whole thing, but given that I feel fine I do what any educated grown up would do – I ignore the heart rate and keep running at a careful 5 minute pace because from training I know that is the pace I can sustain for sure without (well – normally) getting into crazy heart rates…my heart rate never changes back and I maintain the 5 min / km pace for the rest of the half marathon. Definitely not blistering speed, and definitely not what I hoped for but I finish under 5 hours and in 152nd position overall (out of 1677 starters). Not what I had hoped for, but given the post-crash circumstances with the added uncertainty of the heart rate craziness I guess I have to be happy with that performance.

After the race I start thinking in all different kinds of directions, what if that is the same thing that happened in my last two longer races last year? Maybe I just didn’t realize because I didn’t run with heart rate monitor back then? Is this why my dad never ran faster than a 4:20 marathon in an ironman (obviously without heart rate monitor back then)? I really do not want to follow in my dad’s and grand dads’ footsteps so I start to make appointments to get this checked out. It should be very ironic if I should have the very same problem I am trying to raise money for. Makes this a bit more self-serving than I wished for.

To be continued…