Saturday, October 16, 2010

KONA OR BUST and mile repeats

I’ve completed by post season rest break and have already started thinking about next year. So, what’s new? After following this years Ironman World Championship, I was reenergized in terms of the thought of trying to qualify for Kona. For someone who was humbled at his one trip to Olympic distance Nationals (55th out of 64), I needed to do a gut check on my potential to actually qualify. So, I looked at the 6 guys in my age group at St. George who went to Kona this year. The slowest time was around 11:10. Of interest, all six went faster at Kona than they did at St. George. So much for those who question the challenge of St. George:) What was remarkable was that four of these guys ended up in the top 20 at Kona. It seems like the competition at St. George was pretty stiff as well. I can’t control that, so I could only look at the 11:10 time and ask myself and my coach if I could do better than that time. It certainly gives me something to shoot at.

I should preface my analysis with the recognition that St. George was my first ironman. While I had achieved pretty good fitness the prior year (four half ironman distance races and an average of 10-12 hours of training per week), I did break my hip socket and shoulder just 6 months before St. George and really only had 3 ½ months of solid training in the range of 14-16 hours a week. As I have reviewed before, my 13:18 time included almost 20 minutes in transition and a marathon that I literally walked half the distance and still managed to run in 4:58.

I e-mailed my coach for my gut check and here’s what we decided. It’s possible! Of course, I need to do the necessary training. I assume that this means getting closer to 20 hours a week. It also means even more time on the bike, as I never did a training ride last year greater than 5 hours. Finally, I just need to get stronger. So, I have to be more dedicated to the weight room and my core.

So, I’ve got my goals set. Here they are:

Swim-I really think that I’m capable of swimming faster. My confidence has improved considerably as I’ve discovered that I just need to be more aggressive in my approach to the swim. Last year I really took it easy, which is fine, but I can swim faster and still not push myself too hard. I think that a swim time in the range of 1:04 to 1:06 is quite reasonable.

T1: Last years T1 felt like the beach landing scene in Saving Private Ryan! Now that I know what it’s like, I will dispense with the extra time and do what I normally do in T1, get in and out! I think that a goal of 4 minutes is reasonable.

Bike: In some ways this is the toughest. I can’t stop to pee 4 times like I did this year, and I have to stay adequately nourished so I don’t bonk in the last 30 miles of the bike. I also just need to get stronger on the hills and put in the time and work to be strong. My goal here will be between 6:00 and 6:10. Considering that I typically have done various half ironman courses in 2:30-2:45, I really think that this is reasonable.

T2: Again, another 10 minutes transition would be truly disappointing. There is also no reason that I can’t get through this transition in 4 minutes.

Run: Ironically, this is where I’m most confident in my improvement! At the Multisport camp last year I did one loop of the course in 1:54 just a day after riding 5 hours. I have felt good running hills and will continue to prepare with that in mind. I also need to stay adequately nourished. I think that a marathon in the range of 3:50 to 4:00 is quite reasonable.

So, what does that add up to:
Swim- 1:04-1:06
Bike- 6:00-6:10
Run- 3:50-4:00
T1/T2 0:08-0:08

This is realistic and gets me close. Obviously the closer I get to 11 hours or even less, the greater my chances of qualifying for Kona.

All I can do is try!

So, as I start my preparation, last Saturday I did 5 mile repeats up a hill with an average grade of 5-6% w/ average pace of ~10:30; Today I did 5 mile repeats on level ground w/ an average pace of 7:29. I have to say that I'm on my way!