All right. Here we go. In less than 6 days, I hope to be finishing my first Ironman. For now, I'm just trying to get organized. In addition to getting the bike ready, I've also got 5 different bags to pack - Transition #1, Bike Special Needs, Transition #2, Run Special Needs and Post Race.
But that's neither here nor there. I'll cover all the planning, packing and last-minute chores in the next day or two. For now, lets talk about goals.
I hesitate putting down actual numbers for my race goals. For Liberty and Chaska, it was easier to nail down time estimates because I've actually done races at that distance before. This Ironman thing is completely different. Even after training for the better part of 2 years, I still don't have much of a clue as to what I should expect.
The general rule of thumb for estimating your finish time for an Ironman is to take a 1/2 Ironman race, double the time, then add an hour. So, if I take my Liberty 1/2 Iron time - 5:49 - and work some of my Minnesota High School Math, that puts my Ironman time at 12:38. Now, as great as that sounds, it seems a little aggressive.
I've paid the entry fee, done the training and told everyone I'm doing it, so above all else, I want to finish this sucker. Now, that should go without saying. I mean, duh. Who WOULDN'T have finishing as a goal? Well, nobody I suppose, but the point with this goal is to remind myself not to do anything rash, aggressive or just plain stupid before or during the race that would jeopardize my ability to finish.
The last thing I want to do is let it all hang out on the bike just so that I can have debilitating muscle spasms on mile 2 of the run. Getting hammered the night before probably wouldn't be a good idea either, nor would straying from my nutrition plan and ending up puking my guts up when I should be finishing the race.
2. Have Fun
Again. Duh. What kind of weirdo would put themselves through this if it wasn't fun? Most triathletes are what they are because, for the most part, they have a good time training and competing. But that's not the point either. The point here is to not take myself or the race so seriously that I lose sight of the big picture and forget to enjoy the experience. Even if my race execution goes down the crapper and I just barely finish in time, I still want to pump my fists, high-five some spectators and do a little dance when I cross the finish line.
3. Let Go
You know, 'Let Go'. As in, attempt to control that which you CAN control and let go of the rest. In the end, there are only a handful of things over which I'll actually have direct control: Attitude, Nutrition, and Pace. Everything else is out of my hands. If it rains, then it rains on everyone, suck it up Nancy Boy. If my tire flats, fine. I know how to change a tire. I'll get it done and keep moving forward. If my legs cramp up and I can't run, so be it. I'll walk the marathon if I have to (see goal #1) and hopefully meet some other people along the way.
4. Leave It All Out On the Course
Don't get me wrong, I'd rather not be hauled away from the finish line in a stretcher. That would scare the stuffing out of The Wife. Not cool. However, I don't want to finish and still have enough gas in the tank for a couple more laps. This is a freaking Ironman. It's supposed to be hard, it's supposed to hurt, and it's supposed to take every last bit of effort you can muster. Remember: it's good to try hard.
Okay, so we've got the attitude-related goals covered. Now lets talk time. Take a deep breath.
Swim: 1:12. The way I've been swimming lately, this is probably a conservative goal. During my most recent OWS (Open Water Swim) workouts, I've been clocking in at around 1:35/100y at a relaxed pace. That would have me complete the course in 1:07. I just figure with 2400 other people in the water, that's a lot of limbs flailing around at the same time. It's bound to slow things down, especially at the start. Hopefully, navigation won't be to large an issue. The buoys are flippin' huge, and there will be plenty of swim-caps ahead of me.
Transition #1: 10:00. From what I understand, there's quite a bit of ground to cover between the shore and the transition area. I don't plan on dilly-dallying too much - just throwing on some of the bike gear and heading out. 10:00 should cover things.
Bike: 6:40. Over 112 miles, that's an average speed of about 16.75MPH on the nose. I finished my two most recent century rides with average speeds of 16.78MPH and 16.95MPH. One of those was a group ride, and the other was riddled with stop lights. So the actual pace cycling was a little bit higher. In the end, my biggest fear for this race is that I'll over cook the bike and be left with nothing in the tank for the run. Now, if there are any mechanical issues, you can throw this goal out the window.
Transition #2: 10:00. Again, I'm not sure what to expect here. Other than swapping cycling shoes for running shoes, there's not a lot to T2. Hopefully it'll be quicker than T1. We'll see.
Run: Sub 5:00. My strategy on the run is to start at a slow jog and hold it for the first 13 miles. For me a slow jog is right between a 10:30 and an 11:00 mile, depending on the terrain. I'm not imagining that this will be easy. After the bike, my butt cheeks will be grateful to not have a bicycling seat separating them, and I'll probably have some kind of adrenaline surge as I head out. I'll have to focus on keeping it slow and steady.
Miles 18-20 are supposed to be the toughest part of the day. The hope here is to just keep plugging along and concentrate on all the reasons why I should Keep Moving Forward.
Hopefully, after mile 20, the real race can begin. If all has gone well up until this point, I'll try to turn it up a couple of notches and see what I've got left to offer the course. By the time I get to the last mile or 2, I'm hoping to be running on whatever adrenaline I have left.
Run Goal #2 - No Glow Sticks. If you've ever watched coverage of the Hawaii Ironman, then you know what I mean. Soon after sunset, volunteers start handing out glow sticks to all of the runners still left on the course. You know, the kind of things they sell at the fair, or before 4th of July fireworks. These get linked up into loops and go around your head, neck wrist, or whatever body part you like. (I know what you're thinking. Don't be gross.) I don't want one. So, once the sun sets (officially at 7:13pm) I'll have a limited amount of time to boogie over to the finish line.
Overall Goal Time: Sub 13:00. Yep. If all goes well, I hope to be finished by 8pm. Does that mean I'll be disappointed if I finish in 14:00, or 15:00 or 16:59:59? Heck no. The only thing that 13:00 represents is when I anticipate to finish if all goes according to plan. Remember: When Man Plans, God Laughs. In other words, if goals #1-#4 are met, I'm good-to-go.
That's all for now. I've got to get to bed. I'll try to post again tomorrow. This time about one of my favorite parts of Tri-ing - all the cool gear!.