Race morning didn’t go exactly according to plan. Kristin woke up at 4am with her eyes swollen shut (she had a bad head cold) and I was relegated to the “facilities” repeatedly as dinner did not agree with me. Somehow we were both able to put our issues aside and found our way to the start. It took about two miles to break away from the crowd and find our stride, but once we did we were rewarded with some incredibly scenic running on the Centennial Trail (over 100 miles of paved bike paths) along Lake Coeur D’Alene. About this time we met Vicki, a professor in Iowa who was running the marathon, and chatted about the course and our race endeavors. We really enjoyed talking with Vicki and hope to see her again when we visit Iowa. After a short run through the heart of Coeur D’Alene we were lakeside again for arguably the best views of the day. Around mile 6 we turned into some local neighborhoods and the course got very tight with runners in both directions. We spent a good portion of the next a few miles running in single file along roads that should have been fully shut down to give runners more space. At mile 7 we were running on the shoulder of what appeared to be a small highway (which was open to traffic). This made passing impossible, so we just smiled and made the best of it even though the pace was at times painfully slow. The remainder of the course was pretty much a loop back, but even though we had seen a lot of the sights once before we both really liked running along Lake Coeur D’Alene.
Highlight: Talk about a small world - the man in the picture below with the Michelob Ultra shirt is Darryl – we didn’t meet him at the race, but ended up having a beer together in Sandpoint, Idaho later that day!
Day 1 (Saturday):
We stopped for lunch and a beer sampling at Northern Lights Brewery in Spokane. The ambience of the restaurant was pretty strange – it’s located in a shared space with a coffee shop and a fishing store; however, once we found a seat at the bar we were right at home. The sampler here is enormous and gives you a good flavor for NoLi’s brews. A few of the doubles were decent, but nothing in particular sticks out in my memory. The turkey sandwich was massive and the pasta salad was way better than the fries.
We enjoyed a nice walk in downtown Spokane along Riverfront Park. There were a lot of active people running and biking along the paths and it was a good chance to stretch the legs. Not a whole ton to do or see, but the giant Radio Flyer wagon was the definite highlight.
Tip: Look for meter parking on side streets – it is significantly cheaper than the paid parking lots.
Our pre-race dinner was served up at Scratch in downtown Coeur D'Alene. We both enjoyed the fresh tilapia topped with blue crab and served on a bed of black rice with a wild huckleberry sauce. The fish was incredibly fresh and very good (although the rice unfortunately caused some GI discomfort on race morning). No beers on tap, but we made due with some bottled brew!
We walked dinner off with a stroll to the City Park and Beach. Lake Coeur D’Alene at sunset is impressively beautiful. While the water was a bit too cold to swim, the lake was incredibly clear and we easily understood why this is a favorite Ironman destination for triathletes.
Day 2 (Sunday - Race Day):
Post race we attempted to eat the state of Idaho out of food at Jimmy's Down The Street. The picture below is only Kristin’s breakfast, which astounds me. The portions were enormous. The ham was very good, the homemade biscuit was as tall as Kristin’s coffee cup and scrumptious, the eggs were decent but the sausage gravy was a bit runny and only so-so. Very friendly staff, huge portions and reasonable prices. No wonder this is a local favorite.
On a whim we decided to take a short drive up to Sandpoint, Idaho to check out the Pend D'Oreille Winery - which literally means the earring winery in French. The wines here were some of the best we have had in the Northwest of the US and a stop here is highly recommended.
Tip: If you do a tasting, make sure to look at the reserve wines, they tended to more full bodied and overall higher quality wines.
We met up with some new friends (including Darryl, who we didn’t even know we ran next to that morning, Ron and their better halves) at the Laughing Dog Brewery for an informative brewery tour and some fantastic pints. One of the most exciting parts of this brewery is that a lot of patrons bring their dogs inside the tasting room and let them roam around and beg for snacks from strangers (dog bowls are filled with a pub-mix of chips, cheetos, bugles and a lot of other tasty goodies). I made friends with a chocolate lab and a little wiener-dog made friends with Kristin.
On our way back to Coeur D'Alene we made a quick stop at The Donut House for some very unique treats. The traditional donuts were good but the buttermilk biscuit donuts were awesome! Imagine freshly made buttermilk batter with fresh blueberries fried up and glazed - yep, pretty amazing. If you need to get your donut fix on in Idaho stop here, but be warned everything is made fresh so after peak times the selection may suffer but the quality won't. Between the three bowls of pub snacks and the donuts we were stuffed – making for potentially the unhealthiest dinner I have had since splitting an entire box of beef jerky with Scott Floyd in high school.
Day 3 (Monday):
We decided to give our running legs a bit of a rest with a hike at Tubb’s Hill. There is an upper trail and a lower trail and if you are a little nuts you can hike between them – pretty sure my heart rate was higher going from the lower trail to the upper trail than running the previous day! Unmatched mountain views and secluded beaches. A lot of trail runners on the lower trail, but not too many people on the upper trail. I would love to take a full day and hike this entire trail – a beautiful way to end our time in Idaho. You know you are in a truly natural and untouched place when you can take a picture, add some Instagram effects, and produce a picture that looks like it was taken 40 years ago!
The plane ride home was brutal. We were delayed and then stuck on the runway for over two hours, but we passed the time taking funny pictures. This is one of my favorites!
Idaho Half Marathon Medals
May 27, 2012: Coeur D'Alene Half Marathon