Friday, April 6, 2012

Goals and Dreams

They say to never set a time goal for an ironman.  I understand, you never know the conditions, how the day will go, etc.  But, I always set a time goal when I race.  One of the most interesting things about doing that is that I'm not sure if I've ever actually hit one of the goals I've set!  And that's ok.  There is actually some comfort in setting the bar high and just almost reaching it.  In a way, my goals are like that carrot that is just out of my reach, and I stretch my fingers ever so slightly longer, trying to grab it.  Considering that over the past several years of racing triathlons and running races, many of my results have been personal bests, one can't argue with this approach.  Besides, what do we have if not our dreams?  While my ultimate dream is getting a Kona slot, that doesn't seem realistic.  I'm reaching the other side of my age group, and the "younger" guys are just too good.  Last year I was 29th in my age group.  My goal this year is to break the top 10. That will still put me 30-40 minutes outside of a Kona slot, but one never knows.

So, for every race I've ever done, I love to analyze the probable time splits that I will achieve.  I'll usually set a "perfect" goal, and then a more reasonable range of times.  I tend to look at previous races, how I'm training, etc.

My swim has been up and down this year, but has really been coming into focus lately.  I'm pretty happy with my ability to get in the pool and swim 4000+ yards and feel good getting out of the pool.  My 100 yard pace is about where it has been in the past, so to summarize, my endurance is excellent and my speed is good.  I did just get a new wetsuit, and I'm hoping it's as good as they say it is.  Once again this year, I'll start in the front.  However, I'll try to go out a little harder in the first 100 yards in order to set myself up for some better drafting than I've had previously.  Also, I tend to get in this "go easy" mode at some point, and I think I've been learning that I can maintain a fairly solid constant effort for the entire swim and still feel good.  The last two years my swim has been 1:11.  If I have the best swim of my life, draft impeccably, take advantage of my new wetsuit, I think that a 1:05 is possible.  However, my main goal would be 1:08, and I certainly know that I can swim 1:11 (having done it twice before).

Transitions are usually my best event, the first year at St. George was horrible, last year was pretty darn good.  My goal here is 4 minutes.  I should be close to this, last year was 3:30.  Get out of the water, get my wetsuit off with the help of the wetsuit strippers, grab my bag and find a spot to sit down in front of the tent (I won't go in the tent again, it's too crazy).  Shoes on, sunglasses on, helmet on, put on race belt.  Stand up, let a volunteer slather me with sunscreen (didn't do that last year, won't forget this year), get to my bike, give my bag (with wetsuit in it) to a volunteer.  Walk/jog down the path, get on my bike and go.

The bike is going to be interesting.  I am probably in the best bike shape of my life.  That was the idea this year.  I've done a lot more volume, I've trained smart, and I've got a great new bike.  I really need to take it easy for the first part of the race, last year I averaged 18.5 mph for the first 23 miles, which I really did keep a low key effort, the first year just 17mph.  That said, I'm expecting a better pace this year with all of my training, and could even find myself starting out close to 20 mph.  The first year I did the bike in 6:49, my first loop was actually done at 17.4mph, but I bonked as I started the second loop and really slowed down.  Last year my bike time was 6:24 (17.5mph) and I averaged 17.5mph on the first loop and 17 mph on the second loop.  My power numbers are better this year, I'm definitely fitter and stronger, and I feel like I've finally got my nutrition dialed in (I did have some abdominal cramping on the bike last year).  If I can keep an average pace of 19mph for the entire bike, I would have a bike split of 5:54.  That would be spectacular.  Realistically, I think I can expect somewhere between 5:58 and 6:10.

T2 was 4:30 last year, it's simple, get off the bike, give it to a volunteer, get my run bag, go into the tent, sit down, take off my bike shoes, take off my helmet.  Put on hat, put on socks, put on shoes, grab my fuel belt (with arm coolers attached to put on once I get going), give my bag to the volunteer and get up and get going.  Stop again to let volunteers slather me with sunscreen, grab some water, and start jogging out of transition.  Again, I expect another 4 minutes.

Now it's time for the run.  This has been my Waterloo the past two years, but they have changed the run course and I'm excited.  Furthermore, my training has been great.  Six weeks ago I ran 21 miles, albeit on very flat course, @ probably ironman effort and managed an 8:35 pace.  I've been able to go hard off the bike in training on a course similar to this year's St. George course and hit 7:45-8:00 pace for a couple of miles (that's definitely unrealistic).  That said, I did run 5.5 miles off a hard bike two days ago on a course similar to St. George while maintaining an 8:15 pace.  I don't think that I can do that for 26 miles, but I have to say, I'll be tapered and ready and who knows?  I've also done twice as many long runs this year than last year, and I'm feeling good.  I'm excited by the three loop course, and my friend Rudy will be giving me splits along the way.  That should give me some adrenaline!  So, if by some stretch of the imagination, I can have a great run and maintain an 8:30 pace (wild and crazy dream, but that's what dreaming is for), that would give me a 3:43 marathon.  My "realistic" goal is to keep 9:00 pace, which would translate to a 3:56.   I absolutely would love to go under 4 hours, and I think that 4:02 is quite reasonable based on the fact that I've done 5 hours on a much harder course, walking 1/2 the distance and running 1/2 the distance each of the past two years (bonked the first year and abdominal cramps the second year), I think that my goals are reasonable.

So, time to add up the numbers:
             Best  Realistic Reasonable
Swim    1:05    1:08       1:11
Bike      5:54    5:58       6:10
Run       3:43    3:56       4:02
T1/T2               0:08
           10:50   11:10     11:31

On a personal note, my family's favorite number/time is 11:11:11.  I'll be really happy to hit the finish at this time, and judging on the past two years, that would put me close to a top ten finish in my age group.

No matter what, I'm looking to put plenty of distance in between last years time of 12:45 and this years time.  Going under 12 hours on this course will be an accomplishment in and of itself.

29 days to go to St. George, already did an easy recovery ride this morning, will be spending the day with my wife and daughter.  I think we're going to see Titanic 3D!


Moonracer said...

You will rock it -- of this I am sure! Just remember, at the start of the race, put all these numbers aside and swim, bike, run with your heart and your head fully engaged. I'll be rooting for you. nancy

Wassdoc said...

Thanks! You are correct, I love to obsess over numbers now, but on race day, I'll just enjoy the moment!