This Saturday will be my first big test of the season. I'll be racing in the Liberty 1/2 Ironman out in Maple Plain.
This is the only 1/2 Iron distance race that I'll compete in before the Ironman in September. There are only 3 races of that length within a reasonable distance of home. I'll be out of town for the Chisago 1/2 Ironman in July, and the Square Lake Long Course race is the same day as the Ironman.
First, I want to get a good read on my nutritional needs. I've done a few practice rides out on the course and feel like I've got a pretty good idea of what to consume on the bike. Solid food will be a combination of Shot Bloks and Endurolytes. Liquids will consist of a 3-hour bottle of Hammer Perpetuem and as mush H2O as needed to keep from feeling thirsty.
They'll have plenty of options for fuel on the run. I'll try to get in a few gels and energy drink during the 1st hour of the run so there's enough gas in my tank. For the 2nd half of the run I just want to keep the water and Endurolyte (salt) intake up, since there won't be a chance do digest many useful calories as I get closer to the finish.
The second think I want to pay attention to is my pacing. I'm not terribly worried about my swim. My latest 100-yard splits in the pool have been around 1:35. As long as I stay relaxed and focus on sighing, I should be able to keep my time under 35 minutes without too much of a problem.
The most critical leg is going to be the bike. I have a habit of getting too whipped up on the bike and not leaving enough gas in the tank for the run. Last year this had disastrous effects at the Square Lake 1/2 Ironman. I pushed WAY too hard on the bike. My splits were great, but I ended up dehydrated and my legs cramped for most of the 13-mile run. It was terrible.
For Saturday, I'll aim to keep my heart rate in the 135-140 BPM range and keep my cadence at or above 90 RPM. If that means I end up with slower splits, then fine. If I had to pick a time for the 56 mile bike I'd say somewhere around 3:20. We'll see.
The run strategy is pretty simple: Keep my mile splits under 10:00. I'm hoping that the first 3 miles will be my slowest. During the middle of the race, I'd like to keep the splits around 9:30. For the last few miles, I'll hold on with whatever I've got left. Shoot. It's not like I need to save my energy for another workout that day. If I can finish the 13-mile run in under 2 hours, I'll be thrilled.
So, let's summarize. Swim = smooth & steady. Bike = conservative with lots of eating. Run = consistent & aggressive (at the end). The "I'll be Thrilled if I can Break this Goal Time" : 6-hours even. Keep your fingers crossed for this one folks.
We'll see if I'm able to execute this plan. Whether I succeed or fail, It'll be a good barometer for the full Ironman Race in 3 months. The important part is to have some take-aways and apply them to my training. At least that's what the adult in me says. The kid in me says 'You're going to this race to kick ass and chew bubble gum...and you're all out of bubble gum'.