I am now just 6 days from my peak race of 2013, the PPD Beach 2 Battleship Ironman distance event which will be held in Wilmington, North Carolina on Saturday morning. The race begins at 7:30 AM just as the sun will hopefully be starting to rise. I could not be more excited about where I am at right now. I survived 6 weeks of high volume intense training healthy and am now 7 days into a 12 day taper. I had each workout planned out for the taper and I've hit them all exactly how I laid out. The final 10 days are nearly a mirror image of my 10 day taper for the Pigman 1/2 back in August which went very well minus a poor run. The run had nothing to do with the taper and everything to do with a complete lack of run mileage in the weeks leading up to the race due to the back injury that kept me from running most of the summer. That is a distant memory now and I logged 62 miles/week average during my 6 week block of Ironman training. All signs point to a great race thus far. On Friday I did a 1 hour bike workout with 4x5 minutes hard following each with 5 minutes easy. It is a workout I have done probably more than any other bike workout in my life. Friday was the highest wattage I have ever hit in this workout. I averaged 335 watts on my hard periods. I looked back at what I did before Pigman and it was a huge lift of confidence. I only averaged 305 before that race and I had a pretty good bike split of 2 hrs. 14 minutes. I'm also 9 lbs. lighter than I was for that race. Today I did the same swim workout I did 6 days prior to Pigman. The main set was 8x125's on 2:15 with a time check at 100 and then sprint the last 25 all out. Before Pigman I was coming through the 100 split in 1:22. Today I was coming through the 100 split in 1:17. Pigman was the best swim I have ever had in a triathlon.
My taper is a pretty significant one. I'm actually very glad I didn't extend it longer than 12 days as many do before an Ironman distance race. I could have race really well this weekend already and I still have 5 more days of easy workouts. For my 6 week block I was averaging 411 bike miles for every 12 days. In my 12 day taper I will ride 110. My run average for 12 days of the block was 106 miles. I will run 31 miles over my 12 day taper. Swimming I actually increase by design. I averaged only 14,700 yards every 12 days. For my taper I'll be at 20,000 yards. My bike ride today was 35 miles and I was riding into a wind effortlessly holding 240-250 watts. Last week I did 4x20 minutes at 240 watts and they were anything but effortless. Jen and I fly out on Thursday morning from Chicago. The flight is less than 2 hours to Raleigh where we will get our rental car and drive 2 hours to Wilmington. The pre-race meeting and dinner are on Friday. The forecast is for cool temperatures. I'm probably going to have to put a layer on over my jersey for the first time ever in a race. I've always handled cold well and my body warms up quickly. I will bring an arsenal of cold weather options. One thing is for sure...I will not over dress for the bike. I would rather be cold for the first 30 minutes and then warm for the next 4+ hours than be warm for the first 30 minutes and then hot for the next 4+ hours. The current forecast is for a high of 64 degrees and a low of 47. I'll be checking in on the hour by hour forecast the day before the race. If we get on the bike and it is 50 degrees or warmer I will not be worried. If it's still in the 40's I'll have to consider things like gloves and a head warmer under the helmet.
There are 5 pro guys racing in the field of nearly 1,000 athletes. I am wearing bib # 7 which is has always been my favorite number. The website for the race is www.beach2battleship.com They are supposed to have athlete tracking available during the race but I don't know if it only updates the swim, bike, and run finish times or if they will have timing mats along the way to update. Either way Jen will be sending updates from my facebook account so if you are wanting to follow along with my progress you can friend request and I'll accept so you get updates from Jen via my facebook page.
My goals for the race are first and foremost to break 9 hours. My PR is 9 hrs. 5 minutes from Ironman Arizona in 2011. I thought the entire race I was going to break 9 hours until I had about 4 miles to go when I could do nothing but run 9 minute/mile pace. Since that day breaking 9 hours has been on my mind. To do it I plan to swim 1 hour, bike 4 hrs. 52 minutes, spend 6 minutes in transition, and run anything under 3 hrs. 2 minutes. The swim at this race is typically with the tide but this year's race is a "slack tide" which means the water is essentially calm and we will not get the really fast swim splits they did a year ago. 2 years ago was also a slack tide and the swim times were MUCH slower than any of the other years at this race. My PR swim is 1 hr. 2 minutes. I feel I am better than that right now. My last lake swim was Tuesday. The water was 61 degrees and since that day we had some overnights in the 30's so I knew I would have to finish the taper in the pool. The bike goal is actually quite a bit slower than I know I can ride right now. I've ridden 4:46 or under twice at this distance. I want to be a bit more conservative so I can run my best. My run fitness is really good right now. If I should swim slower than 1 hour I'll probably bike a bit harder to make up for the difference. I don't want to start the run needing to break 3 hours in order to go sub-9. If I feel amazing on the 2nd half of the ride I may increase the speed and go under the 4:52 goal. It looks right now like we'll be riding into mostly a head wind the first half of the ride and picking up the tail wind the last 1/2. I don't race with power or heart rate...I simply like to go by how my body feels. I will not panic if I'm a bit off goal time going into the wind. I'd like nothing more than to get off the bike still having a chance to win the race. I'll be thinking about the kids in my class who I can help with some money for iHope if I can be in the top 5. I feel like I'm in shape to run under 3 hours if I am self-disciplined in my early pace setting. My key phrase to myself off the bike is "patience". I'd like to start the run no faster than 7:00 pace no matter how easy it feels. I learned during my long runs during this training block that I can cut the pace down quickly if I'm patient early on. Last year's champion is back and he broke 9 hours a year ago. I don't know how many more opportunities I'll ever have to start a big race in the shape I'm in right now so I plan to take advantage of this fitness and live in the moment. If you are going to pray for me pray for no mechanical issues on the bike. That is my greatest fear right now because everything else is ready to go. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!