In October of 2013, I was cruising along the bike course of Ironman 70.3 Austin. With around 8 miles to go, I was feeling great and was about to dial back my speed a tad so that I would have something left for the run. At that moment, a large orange cone appeared on the road straight in front of me. There was no time to brake or maneuver around it, so I clobbered it at a little over 20 mph, hoping my momentum might help me to stay upright. It didn't, and instead of finishing the race, I wound up in the emergency room with a broken collarbone, cracked rib, and a pretty fair amount of road rash. I would spend the next two months recovering.
|Not so great ending to Austin 70.3|
It's now 10 months later, and I'm gearing up for the Harvest Moon Triathlon. This is a half-distance as well, albeit a local, non-WTC one. It's my last triathlon of the season, and most likely my last until Ironman Boulder next year. For 2014, the Harvest is my "A" race and I'm excited to get after it.
That said, I've had to adjust my goals a bit this time. Last weekend I went out for a ride and a run, and while I didn't feel terrible, I can also tell that I'm not at optimum fitness. I don't have any doubts about finishing, but I also recognize that I haven't put in the time and effort into training to put together a sub 5:30 performance. There have been a number of reasons for this but the main one has been that work has been unusually busy this month. Not only do 55-65 hour work weeks reduce the amount of time available to train, but they also do a decent job of zapping the energy to go out and train. I don't have any doubt that I can finish the race, and I still feel like a sub 6 hour race is feasible, but I will need to be feeling 100% and I will need to race smart. So with that, here's my race plan!
With students reporting back to school next week, it will be an ideal time to taper, as I'll still be quite busy. My plan is to do a ride this weekend, and get a short swim and run in during the coming week. That's it. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will be full rest days for me. I want to be "itching" to go at the start on Sunday morning. After last weekend's difficult workout, I've also been paying better attention to my nutrition. I've laid off the beer (sigh) and recognized that a steady diet of breakfast burritos, pizza, and onion rings is probably not helping any. I mean, Jesus! I ate donuts at least twice the week before last. And when I say "ate donuts twice," I don't mean that I ate two donuts. Consider half-dozen to a dozen to be a better unit of measurement for how said donuts were consumed. All of that is behind me now, and with two weeks of healthy living, I should be doing much better come race time.
|You just can't do that!|
The extended forecast for Aurora looks to be pretty decent. Afternoon T-storms are likely, but at this point, it doesn't look like it will be scorching hot or freezing cold. That said, you can never be certain what you will get with the weather. I've done a lot of training in hot weather this summer, so I'm used to it, but I would prefer temperatures in the 50's and 60's come race day.
I like a simple transition area, so I will try to keep things to a minimum. If the weather is rainy and/ or cold, I may have to add a few items, but we'll just have to wait and see.
|Extended forecast for Aurora next weekend|
I've been giving some thought to nutrition as it has been quite some time since I've done a race of this length. While I don't plan on doing a lot of "experimenting" on race day, I do plan to take in a bit more nutrition than in the past. I've had a few "bonking" moments throughout the summer that I believe are due in part to a lack of sufficient nutrition along the way. I will probably put a couple of solid power bar items into my kit for the bike as I find these are less upsetting to my stomach.
The swim remains my biggest limiter. I've worked more on swimming this year than ever before, but that hasn't really translated to getting much faster. The lack of opportunities to do some OWS also doesn't help, and so I am not the greatest at sighting. That said, I do feel more comfortable in the water and I'm not nearly as exhausted from workouts. I've added more structure to my workouts and really concentrated on better form. My goal for this race will be to swim comfortably and to try not expend too much energy, saving it for the bike and run. I believe that a swim of 38-42 minutes is reasonable for this race.
Transition 1: Coming out of the swim, I will try to hustle out onto the bike course. T1 is an easy place to lose 2-3 minutes if you aren't careful. I believe that a simpler transition area helps with this as it reduces the time you need to get going (2-3 minutes). I will skip the socks at this point.
I've felt pretty good on my longer rides this month. A few weeks back, I knocked out a 62 miler and kept a pretty steady pace the whole time. However, since my fitness isn't as strong this year, I think the bike is where I need to be careful. It would be easy to put in a really strong ride, only to wind up struggling through the run. From what I understand the bike course isn't difficult, but it does have a number of rolling hills and false flats on it which means it will be difficult to keep a steady pace throughout. Barring weather issues, I think I can ride this anywhere from 2:48 on the high end, to 3:05 on the slower end of things. That said, I would really prefer to be somewhere in the middle of these two numbers.
Looking at run times for my age group from 2013, it looks like most finishers in the top half ran between a 1:40 to a 2:20. Since running is still my strongest area, I feel like I can put in a decent run. Earlier this year, I would have hoped to do it sub 1:50, but I think that this is probably out of reach. If it's at all hot, this could be another factor. Therefore, I'm going to shoot for something between a 1:55-2:05. What I would like to do is run the first half at about 15-30 seconds slower per mile than the second half. If I feel good at 10 miles, then I can put the hammer down and finish strong.
As always, I like to chart out the possibilities for the race. Here are some possible scenarios:
Barring any major disasters, I honestly believe that I have a shot at finishing somewhere around the 5hr 45 min mark. The truth is, if the weather is decent, I will be satisfied with anything under 6 hours. That would be a good starting point going into the off-season before gearing up for IM Boulder.