It's finally race week for Ironman Arizona. It seems like forever since I last raced 10 weeks ago at Rev3 in Ohio. After a week off I began a very strong training plan that faded after about 4 weeks. Life got busier than I expected and the training plan began to fall apart. Last year I took great confidence with me to Arizona knowing the training had gone 100% the way I drew it up. This year has been much different but I'm still going into the race with cautious optimism. I feel strong and I feel rested. My only worries are some nagging injuries that have slowed my training. They have never caused me to stop a workout but they did cause me to be much more cautious with my running volume and intensity levels. I have only run about 25 miles/week the past 3 weeks. This is much less than the 60 miles/week I was running last year in my Arizona prep. I know the course having raced it a year ago so I know what to expect. The weather is still on track to be very nice with cool temps early in the day with very light winds. The winds may be greater once we get out in the dessert than they are in Tempe where I checked the weather. Last year the first two loops of 3 on the bike were very calm but the wind really kicked up on the last loop and I found out how tough that could make the ride. I'm hoping the wind stays calm because I'm really racing against the clock at this year's event hoping to break 9 hours. That is certainly my # 1 goal. To do that I have set out some other goals for the race. Last year I finished 32nd in the guys pro field of 54 that started the race and my finish time was 9 hrs. 5 minutes. I REALLY crumbled the last 10k of the run which I entered under 9 hr. pace.
SWIM: Last year I swam 1 hr. 2 minutes. This year I have swam much less over the past 10 weeks compared to what I was swimming a year ago. For my swim goal I would like to be 1 hr. 4 minutes or less. My swim times in training have been surprisingly good for my standards as of late so I'm optimistic that I may be able to go under 1 hr. 4 minutes but I realize an Ironman swim is a long one and my lack of yardage may hurt me in the 2nd half of the swim. However, based on times I would not be shocked to swim faster than a year ago. Last year I swam too easy early on. I was on my own from the beginning and it made for a long solo swim. After the race I wished that I had gone harder early in the swim to take advantage of drafting anyone for a longer period of time. This year I will swim harder early on and when I get dropped I will relax and try to recover a bit before getting into a nice rhythm. The females now start 5 minutes after us and I'd like to be past the 1/2 way point before the first females go by me. If I can stay in the draft longer I think that is possible.
BIKE: Last year I surprised myself with a 4 hr. 46 minute bike split. My goal for the race was 4 hrs. 55 minutes. I split each loop of the 3 loop course and I knew I was way under pace through the first two loops and I gained a lot of confidence from that fact. I have only ridden over 90 miles at a time once since Rev3 Ohio and I've only been outside on my bike about 6 times. The rest of the miles have been logged on the trainer. Knowing that I'm a bit worried that I may not be able to equal my bike split from a year ago. My bike goal this year is 4 hrs. 50 minutes. My interval workouts on the trainer as of late have indicated an increase in my power over a month ago so I'm optimistically hoping to be faster than my stated goal time. I put down 4 hrs. 50 minutes hoping that I can be under that pace through each lap which will give me confidence once again this year. It's a mental game really. It's tougher to keep pushing when you realize the goal is not going to be met. I do plan to ride really hard. I've never had a race when I thought my running suffered due to my bike effort and I've had plenty where I've biked extremely hard.
RUN: Last year I entered the run needing to go 3 hrs. 4 minutes to break 9 hours. It was something I thought was very reasonable. I started out too fast. I felt great and let my adrenaline take over and I went through 10 miles in 1 hr. 2 minutes which included a stop at the porta-potty. I was running nearly 6 minute pace through the first 10 miles but I fell apart badly shortly after that and it made for an extremely painful last half marathon including a final 10k run at over 9 minute pace without any walking in it. At mile 20 I was still under 9 hour pace but I had nothing left. I ended up running 3 hrs. 10 minutes. This year if I swim 1 hr. 4 minutes and bike 4 hrs. 50 minutes I will need to break 3 hours for the marathon when you factor in 6 minutes for transition. I know I am a good enough runner to break 3 hours but the nutrition plan would have to go flawlessly. I know if I get off the bike needing to run 3 hours I at least have a shot of breaking 9 hours. With that said I would feel much better about my chances if I could build in a 5 minute cushion or more between the swim and bike. I have learned that I need to treat the opening miles of the marathon as a training run. I can recover and run 7 minute mile pace at the same time. It happened in Ohio when I got off the bike compeltely fried after missing my special needs bike bag and losing out on 1200 calories. My plan is to take a GU at every mile along with coke and water. I have GU Roctane drink in my special needs bag for the 1/2 way point. I really need to get to the 1/2 way point on pace without feeling like I'm hitting the wall at that point. If all goes to plan I hope to finish under 9 hours.
My other goal for the race is to place in the top 25 overall. There are 45 guys on the pro start list and some of those won't show up. Despite what the time is for the race this goal will hopefully keep me focused if I do slip off the pace. I would feel good about finishing in the top 25 after being 39th last year. I don't know if they are televising the race through the internet or not but they should have live results at various points in the race at www.ironman.com if you want to check in on my progress throughout the day. I'm sure they will at a minimum have the finish line video going and I hope to finish around 3:45 Arizona time which would be 4:45 central time. The race starts for pro guys at 6:45 am in Arizona which is 7:45 in the central time zone. I am super excited about competing and chasing these goals. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!