The awesome thing about doing a race for the first time is that you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve beaten your personal best. You’re just there, hoping to complete. Oh sure, maybe you’ve got a particular finish time in mind, but it’s really just a number you picked because people kept asking you for a number.
That’s how I am about the St. George Ironman this Saturday. When pressed, I say 15 hours is my finish time goal. But I would be perfectly happy with a 16:59.59. In fact, that would be a kind of awesome finish time.
So, as you would expect, I have really thought this race through. Every little detail.
And now, I will share my excruciatingly ingenious Ironman race plan with you.
I am very, very scared of the swim part of the race. First, because I have no real experience with open water swimming. And second, because I have no real experience with open water swimming while thousands of people with very strong legs try to kick me in the head.
So, I plan to tread water for a minute or so after the gun goes off, letting anxious, faster swimmers get well ahead of me, so I won’t be in their way and I won’t get a concussion.
After that, I will swim with one goal and one goal only: finish before the time cutoff.
Oh, and finish with enough energy to do the rest of the race. So I guess that’s two goals.
Provided I finish the swim in time, I plan to slowly change into my bike stuff. Which means I’m being dishonest with myself right now; there’s no way I won’t do this change in a blind panic.
Still, panic or no, I plan to eat something while I change. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and about 16oz of energy drink sounds about right.
Then the bike ride begins.
There’s been a lot of speculation about what kind of bike I will ride. And by “a lot of speculation,” I of course mean that two or three people have posed the question in the comments section here.
I’ll be riding my beloved Orbea Orca outfitted with Shimano Di2 and carbon tubeless wheels, with no TT-specific modifications — no aero clips, no deep dish wheels, nothing like that. I’m going to ride the bike I love the way I love to ride it. I figure that any theoretical advantage a different, more aero setup would provide is more than offset by my total ineptness at using any of these things.
I’m sure I’ll be the only one out on the course who’s inept at using aero bars and has trouble with deep wheels in a hard wind, though. Right?
I’ll start the ride with a couple bottles of CarboRocket and — since the weather is supposed to be on the cool side (high of 67 – 69), I don’t expect I’ll have to refill more than once. For that, I’ll use whatever they’ve got at aid stations — water, weak Gatorade, whatever.
For food, I’ll be eating Clif bars (White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut) and Clif Shot Bloks (the new Tropical Punch flavor is awesome). I also plan to have a Subway Cold Cut Combo stashed in my bag for about halfway through the ride.
White bread. Extra mayo. Extra extra extra mayo.
I will also chant, over to myself, “rein it in, fat boy. Rein it in. You’ve got a marathon to do after this.”
Whether I am successful in keeping my jets cool will, I’m pretty sure, determine whether I’m able to do any running at all.
Sometime during this ride, I expect to pass The Runner, who will probably have started the ride about 5 – 10 minutes ahead of me.
When I pass her, I plan to grab her butt, albeit briefly. I believe such contact is explicitly allowed for by the race rules.
My objective for the bike portion is to do it in as close to seven hours as possible. If I’m much slower, it’s been a windy day. If I’m much faster, I’ve done a bad job of keeping my promise to myself to save something for the marathon.
When I finish the bike ride, I will change very slowly. I will eat. I will put on running shorts. I will probably wear my LiveStrong shirt for this portion of the event.
And then, I plan to run the first two miles, then take a one minute walking break.
After which, I will take a one minute walking break after each mile run.
Until after the halfway point, at which time I will re-evaluate and may begin taking a minute walking break after each half-mile.
And for the final five miles, I may well just revert to walking. It’s a very likely possibility. In fact, let’s go ahead and call it a probability.
Also, I will drink a little bit at each aid station. And I will eat three Shot Bloks every half-hour.
Sometime during this walk-run exercise / torture, The Runner will almost certainly catch me. We have agreed that if she catches me with fewer than five miles left to go, we will try to finish together. If she catches me with more miles to go than that, she should give me a friendly punch to the left kidney as she goes by. I will then collapse in a friendly heap.
I think 5.5 hours is a reasonable guess for a finishing time for me. So: 2+7+5.5=14.5 hours. with a total of half an hour in aid stations, that’s fifteen hours.
I should point out that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I think that my absolutely safest prediction for the race — the prediction that will almost certainly come true — is that everything will happen differently than I have predicted above.
I’m betting that I’ll have a good story to tell on Monday.
PS: If you’re going to be in St. George and want to get together at the pre-race dinner or something, email me.
PPS: If you’d like to follow me live during the race this Saturday, I’m racer #1607. There should be live coverage on www.ironman.com.
PPPS: Wish The Runner and me luck, OK?