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).