by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & unday mornings are for sleeping in. It's nice to stay all warm and cozy past 9 am. & r & & r & But by then, the average age-group competitor in the Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene will have been up for hours, gone through the pre-race jitters, swum nearly two and a half miles and made it through the transition tent and onto her bike.

Sunday stretches out before you: breakfast, newspaper, church, errands, playing with the kids, tinkering in the garage. By 3 o'clock on a lazy afternoon, you're just settling down for a nap.

The average Ironman athlete is just finishing six and a half hours on the bike. All she has left now is the marathon.

You've got some barbecue, beer, and sports on TV to attend to. And doesn't CSI come on at 8:30?

By that time -- after nearly five hours of running, and more than 13 hours after she started -- the Ironman age-grouper is finally sighting the finish line on Sherman Avenue near the CdA Resort. In the Family Finish Pen, her 7-year-old son joins her, jogging hand in hand with his mom as her name's announced and she hears the words -- officially, at last, after years of training: "You're an Ironman."

A lot of saddle sores and inhaled lake water and pulled hamstrings preceded that moment. Here's a typical seven-day workout regimen (as listed at for someone who's pointing toward an Ironman that's still six weeks away: 1) Swim 4,000 yards. 2) Swim 1,200 yards in the morning; bike and run for 90 minutes at night. 3) Combined run/bike for two hours. 4) Long, slow run of three hours. 5) Combined swim/run for two hours. 6) Take the day off to get ready for ... 7) a five-hour bike ride and half-hour run. That's 17 hours of training in a week (not including all the schlepping of gear and transportation and warm-ups): by anyone's standards, one very time-consuming hobby.

There's some discomfort involved too.

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Holy Grail of triathlon is the number 140.6 -- the mileage covered in swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles.

To put that in a local perspective: The feat that 2,200 athletes will pull off on Sunday is roughly equivalent to swimming from one end of Medical Lake to the other and back, then riding from there past Ritzville and back, and then running from there to downtown Spokane and back.

At least Lake Coeur d'Alene is a lot better-looking than Ritzville. In fact, of the seven sanctioned Ironman events in North America, Coeur d'Alene is one of the most scenic. It's also much hillier than Florida, about the same as Wisconsin and Arizona, but not nearly as mountainous as the Ironman races held at Lake Placid, N.Y., or Penticton, B.C.

If you plan to spectate, arrive early for the "washing machine" -- the mass start of more than 2,000 swimmers at 7 am. Remember that basically all roads in downtown CdA (east of the resort and south of Lakeside Avenue) will be barricaded off -- so you might want to imitate the athletes and get around on a bike or on foot. The swim's near the resort; the bike does two loops out to north of Hayden Lake; and the run completes two circuits of an out-and-back course that angles southeast from downtown CdA out to a turnaround point on the Centennial Trail. While all the fun of watching the transitions (swim to bike, bike to run) is in City Park, if you hang out in the area roughly around Sherman Avenue and 10th Street, a given triathlete will hurtle (or plod) past you four times on the bike and four times on the run. Look fast if you want to see pre-race favorites Viktor Zyemstev (who has won six Ironman races, including the 2005 and 2007 races here) and Heather Gollnick (who has won five Ironmans).

They'll be finishing right around the time most folks are concluding their Sunday afternoon naps.

The sixth Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene begins on Sunday, June 22, with swim starts at 6:25 am for the pros and 7 am for the other 2,100 athletes. The top men and women will finish in the 3-5 pm time frame; many athletes will just be starting their run around then, with the race officially lasting until midnight. Visit

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