I spent some time last week hashing out my Ironman goal times. And by “some time,” I mean I wrote down some at least partially reasonable times in my notepad during a meeting a work and called it good. I guess it beats the way I chose a goal time for my half Ironman. To do that, I just went to the race results from the previous year and picked out a time that would put me (just barely) on the first page of results. Very scientific. Very logical approach.
This time, I actually had the benefit of having ridden a road bike and done a timed open water swim before creating my goal times, so I think these might be a little more accurate and meaningful. I actually came up with my overall stretch goal a week or so ago. I had been wondering if I should set a goal time at all for the Ironman, so I did some quick addition with some reasonable (but off-the-top-of-my-head) numbers. 1.3 hours for the swim. 7 hours for the bike. 4.5 hours for the run. I did the addition on my phone and just kind of sat there blinking when the answer popped up. 12.8. I did the math again (in my head this time), and the answer was the same. That was under 13 hours which was far more impressive that I had been thinking was even possible for me to do. But those numbers kinda sorta made sense. And they did indeed add up to under 13 hours. And thus, my stretch goal was born. I fleshed it out a bit the other day, and I’ve come up with what I feel is a great little system of goals. I like it because, even if everything goes terribly, I should be able to meet at least a couple of my many time goals.
This speaks for itself. Regardless of my time, I paid $700 for this race will have put blood, sweat, and tears into my training for this race, and I don’t want that to forget that even finishing an Ironman (if I do, indeed, manage to finish it) is really great accomplishment, even if I don’t meet the time goals I set up for myself. Even finishing is something to be proud of because it shows commitment to a goal and shows I’m willing to work hard for things I care about (and other things your mother tells you when you try real hard but mess up anyway).
I break it down more specifically in this chart with a goal time for each portion of the race:
You’ll notice that all of my goal time for the individual events add up to a time pretty significantly below 13:59:59. That’s part of my “make sure I hit some of the goals” plan. These are all time goals that I really do think I can hit based on my typical training times and my times during the half Ironman last year. I’m quite confident I can hit these goals, but being “quite confident” almost a year out from a race doesn’t amount to much.
Again, broken down specifically:
These are all times I know I can hit. I just don’t know if I can hit them all in succession during race conditions. Will the bike course be too hilly for me to hit my reach goal? Will I have stomach problems or leg cramps during the run? Will the waves in Lake Coeur d’Alene and the feet and arms of other swimmers slow me down on the swim? I’ve been spending that last few days obsessively thinking about the different possibilities that race day might hold for me and how these factors will affect my ability to meet the above goals. In fact, I’ve thought about it event-by-event.
The swim is just a touch slower than my pace in the half Ironman, but I’m a stronger swimmer now, and I feel like my pace was pretty easy, meaning that as long as I train to swim that pace for a longer period of time, I’ll be able to without too much hassle. The biggest obstacle here will be the waves. There aren’t many large bodies of water in Salt Lake City (besides, you know, the Great Salt Lake), so the open water swimming near me is not all that different from swimming in a pool. I’ll have to take a few weekend trips and get used to choppier waters.
The bike time is quite a stretch. I feel like I am a much stronger cyclist than I was even a year ago, so I’ve made this goal with the assumption that have improved since my half Ironman and will continue to improve throughout the next year. I’m sure with proper training I could bike a 6:30 on a perfectly flat course, but the Coeur d’Alene course is not perfectly flat. It’s not the level of climbing that one finds around Salt Lake City, but I need to make sure I don’t underestimate it. I’ve read that this course is on the harder side of Ironman bike courses, and I want to make sure I respect that.
The run could go either way. I think after doing marathon training this winter, I’ll have a better idea about my running ability. I’ll be trying to pace my long runs this winter at a 9:00/mile pace which gives me a lot of pace time to play with during my run leg. But there are enough horror stories about Ironman marathons out there to remind me that anything can happen and that running 26.2 miles after biking 112 is far different from going out on a long training run.
I wanted to post my goals early on in my training process (really early on, it turns out). I think it’s good to get them out there and be accountable for them. They may still change as my training progresses, but if I decide to change them, I’ll have to do so knowing that anyone who follows this blog will be hoping for a legitimate explanation of the change.
I’m sure this is not the last time I will analyze and over-analyze my goals, the Ironman Coeur d’Alene course, and my own abilities. Anyone who knows me knows that if over-analyzing were an athletic event, I might be in the Olympics instead of writing a blog no one reads. And it’s an important part of the process for me, so I’ll continue to document a small portion of it here.
353 days until Ironman Coeur d’Alene!