Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2011: taking care of unfinished business

For 2011, I'm going after some of those unanswered questions from the big disappointments of 2009. Ironman Louisville 2009 was a surprising disappointment: training was good, prep races were good, but race day didn't live up to my abilities. Swim time was off by 20 minutes, bike never found my normal speed, and I faded on the run to the point of walking perhaps 30 minutes overall (maybe more). I developed an overuse injury in my right shoulder during the build for Louisville which took almost until Ironman Lake Placid in 2010 to feel swimable, and it's still not 100%. Later in the season, during the Philly Marathon, I strained a hamstring and waived goodbye to my Boston qualifying time of 3:30, even though I had been right on goal pace at 13.1 miles. That hammy took until early summer 2010 before I felt confident I could run a marathon again. So now that Lake Placid is behind me (which, although it was my slowest Ironman performance, it is the one I am most happy with), I am thinking seriously about the 2011 season.

The big goals...

1. Go sub-12 hours at Ironman Louisville. I have not finished an Ironman under 12 hours, yet. I could-a should-a would-a at Louisville in 2009 but it wasn't happening that day. My bike speed is better now, and my running is way better. Just need to get back to work on my swim to bring that time down a bit. Carving time off the shortest part of the day (swim) is not going to make huge gains in the overall time, but 20 minutes here and there add up over 140.6 miles.

2. Qualify for the Boston Marathon with a 3:30 marathon finish elsewhere. My training times and half-marathon time at the Philadelphia Distance Run in 2009 had me on track for a BQ, until the injury at mile 15-ish. I have the , I can get back to the speed. I'll plan up to three regional marathons in 2011 to give me several chances.

The smaller goals...

1. Go sub-6 hours in a half-Ironman. I came close at Eagleman (6:17) and Providence (6:08 - my best 70.3 result so far). As with Ironman, shaving a few minutes off the swim will help, but the big answer is shaving bike time and run time. I know I can.

2. Go sub-21 minutes in a 5K. My best 5K time is 21:22, for a pace of 6:54/mile. I need to shave eight seconds per mile to hit 20:59. I've come close to placing in my age group in a couple of 5Ks (in 2009, not 2010!), and I think breaking the 21 minute barrier just might do the trick in the right race.

And the crazy goal...

Go off-road. I have a friend who does really crazy mountain bike races, like 24-hour races and five-day stage races in the Rockies. He's inspired me to spend more time on the knobby tires, and I'm finally getting a little better, a little less fearful of the rocky downhills, a little better at making it up a climb in the pedals rather than on foot. So I'm going to pick up a 29er (probably a Niner) and plan to do some one-day, off-road races in 2011. (Maybe a stage race or two in 2012?)

So here's the schedule and goals as they stand now:

March 27: Brandywine Valley Duathlon (just fun & training)

April 17: Hibernia MTB Duathlon (don't crash on the bike)

May 2: Broad Street Run (finish under 1:19:36 for a PR)

May 15: Philadelphia Bar Foundation 5K (finish under 21 minutes for a PR and possibly place in age group)

June 12: Eagleman 70.3 (sub-six hours and PR)

June 26: Philadelphia Triathlon (finish under 2:43:05 for an Olympic-distance PR)

July 10: Amica Ironman 70.3 Providence (sub-six hours)

August 28: Ironman Louisville (sub-12 hours and a PR)

September: Philadelphia Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon or Whatever They Call It Next Year (1:40 for a PR and BQ goal time at 13.1)

November 20: Philadelphia Marathon (sub 3:30 for a PR and BQ)

I need to consult my MTB crazed friend for off road races to fit into the schedule. The goal of any off-roading will simply be to finish without any broken bones (broken bike is negotiable). Looking to 2012, potentially, for some more serious MTB action. I also need to look into other regional marathons that are good for PRs (yes, I know about Lehigh Valley).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unspoken thoughts: 24 hours inside the mind of Ironman

12:00 a.m. – Must get back to sleep. Can’t get back to sleep. Did I set the alarm right? Must get back to sleep.

1:00 a.m. – Must get back to sleep. How much lost sleep can adrenaline cover? Must get back to sleep.

2:00 a.m. – Must get back to sleep. Did I set my goggles out with my wetsuit? Must get back to sleep.

3:00 a.m. – Must get back to sleep. Will my tires hold pressure over night? Must get back to sleep.

4:00 a.m. – (wake-up time) Ugh. Is it really 4:00 already? How many minutes did I sleep?

5:00 a.m. – Liquid breakfast. Get dressed. Is this enough carbs and calories? What am I forgetting?

6:00 a.m. – Bike and run gear and special needs bags ready to go. Bike is good to go. Relax & get heart rate down below 100. Get to the swim start and relax. Hard to relax with a few thousand spectators packed around swim start. Did the Mayor really say “no peeing in Mirror Lake?”

7:00 a.m. – Go! I hope these goggles work today. I didn’t swim enough in training. Can I still swim 2.4 miles? Is my calf cramping? Is that guy so slow he’s drafting on me? Find a rhythm. Focus.

8:00 a.m. – Will this swim ever end? I didn’t swim enough in training. Is it raining? Is Swim Out getting farther away? Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Can too!

9:00 a.m. – I can’t believe my first hour on the bike broke 20 mph with those hills. Nutrition. Drink. Gel. She’s fast. And she’s got a great, um, bike.

10:00 a.m. – Oh, so this is why they call ‘em the Adirondack MOUNTAINS. Climbing feels good, but I’m pushing too hard. Must back off or the second loop is not going to be fun.

11:00 a.m. – There’s that 72 year-old I met at Ironman Louisville last year. Dang, he beat me out of the water by a lot. And he’s 73 this year. Papa Bear climb is like a TdF climb with this crowd and noise. Bring on the adrenaline!

12:00 p.m. – First half of bike wasn’t bad, but the second loop is gonna be tough. I pushed too hard on these hills. Nutrition. Can too! Relax and stay settled in the aero bars.

1:00 p.m. – This is definitely my new favorite downhill in the world. Glad I don’t have my GPS or I’d probably be afraid of my speed here. I am Spartacus!

2:00 p.m. – What’s my bottle count? Am I drinking enough? Nutrition. Got to keep nutrition going. Is that guy gonna pass me again? I’ll catch him on the next flat stretch.

3:00 p.m. – These hills are definitely harder this loop. What’s my average speed? Doesn’t matter, can’t go faster than I can. I’ll get there when I get there. Still have a marathon to run. A hilly marathon. Wish I had that guy’s arms. Didn’t do enough strength training.

4:00 p.m. – Must run now. Leg turnover. Cadence. Find your pace. Feeling good. Just keep it going! Didn’t run enough in training. Can! Will! Gonna!

5:00 p.m. – Walk the aid stations, but run everything else. It’s all about attrition now. Who’s gonna give in and who’s gonna keep pushing? Me, I’m pushing!

6:00 p.m. – OK, walk the toughest of the hills, too, but run everything else. Attrition. Attrition. How does she still look so comfortable? She’s got some nice, um, compression socks.

7:00 p.m. – Feet aren’t hurting? How can that be? Knees ache but not enough to stop. Attrition. Attrition. Oh, and nutrition. Keep fluids coming. Keep the calories coming in. Where’s that chicken broth for some warm sodium?

8:00 p.m. – Sun’s behind the mountains, now it’s gonna get chilly. Need long sleeve shirt out of special needs bag. Pain is temporary: quitting is forever. I’m doing OK but I have to keep pushing. Clock is ticking.

9:00 p.m. – Only two hours to make it. Must push. Don’t give up. Too close for comfort. Don’t DNF.

10:00 p.m. – Push. Push. Push. Clock is ticking. Don’t DNF. Focus. Don’t DNF. Leg turnover. Don’t DNF!

10:46:56 p.m. – Made it! Too close for comfort. What? It’s only 10:46? I thought it was an hour later! I had a whole hour and change left – glad I didn’t know.

11:00 p.m. – Food station is out of pizza? Ten minutes, yeah I can wait that long. Core temperature dropping. Serious shivering. Hypothermia. Can’t stick around for pizza. Get to morning clothes bag, get warm clothes, get moving to avert hypothermia. Can’t stick around ‘til midnight in this wet race kit. Too chilly. Too chilled.

12:00 a.m. – Solid food good. Clean teeth good. Ice bath? Core temperature to low. How about a nice warm shower instead? To sleep, perchance to dream.