Right now I’m about 6 weeks out from Haines City 70.3, and almost everything is pointing to a much better performance than the last time I did this distance. I credit this to sticking to the training plan much more strictly and actually listening to people who get paid to spout information about endurance training. I’m not saying I haven’t missed workouts…I have. Two separate sinus infections hurt me pretty bad. But I haven’t missed a single long workout, and I’ve done a much better job prioritizing workouts. For instance, most of what I’ve missed have been swims. If I’m going to miss something, I want it to be a swim.
I’ve also been reviewing my logged workouts from my last 70.3 as I go, and I’ve noticed a few differences. First of all, I never trained on heart rate before…I just did the distances. Also, it looks like my training was much more sporadic than I remember. This hurt me pretty badly last time around. In fact, I distinctly remember treading water right before the gun went off hoping the race would be cancelled because of lightning and wondering if I could really pull off that distance. I ended up having a pretty good race and hitting my goals, but I had no confidence going in. This time around, I know covering the distance isn’t a problem, even if I had to do it tomorrow.
So I’m expecting a PR this time. I do have a couple of doubts, but I’ve done my best to rationalize them away.
1.2 Mile Swim
This is no problem. An afterthought. I did a 40 minute swim last time, and I expect to go no slower than that this time. There’s a good chance I’ll go faster, but if I do it will only be by a couple of minutes…no real difference. I’ve done enough 1500+ meter open water swims since 2006 that I won’t be intimidated looking at the course itself. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
I’m not sure I’ll be any faster here, but I doubt I’ll be much slower. No wetsuit to remove like last time, so that should save me 3 or 4 seconds. I will have to apply some sunscreen, so it’s probably a wash.
56 Mile Bike
Here’s where I feel confident in gaining the most time. Last time around I trained at around 18 mph on hilly courses and raced at 19 mph on a hilly course. These days, I’m training at ~ 20 mph in windy conditions on flat courses and will be racing on a flat (hopefully less windy) course; being 50 miles inland should help with the winds a little, right? Also, looking at my logs from 2006, it’s safe to say I was reasonably rested every time I went out on my bike, which wasn’t often. This time I’m already tired before I even get on the bike. My weight will be about 18 pounds below what it was last time as well.
I’m hoping for 21.5 mph. I have some test data here to back up my projection. Two years ago I did an Olympic distance race where I trained at just below 20 mph and raced at 22 mph. And this was on the coast, so winds were a factor. My weight was about where it will be on race day in May, but conditions weren’t as hot as I expect they will be then. Heat will be the big X factor here. If all goes well, I hope to pick up ~20 minutes here.
I can guarantee an improvement here. I don’t plan on actually sitting down and eating a sandwich this time. I’m going to go ahead and get back out on the course. I should pick up at least 2 minutes here.
13.1 Mile Run
I really have no idea what’s going to happen on the run, but I’m trying to convince myself it will go great. And this is where I have to trust the program. Last time around, my training paces were waaaaaaay faster–sub 9:00 miles. I expected to go under 2 hours, but I ended up running a 2:14. That tells me that, again, I was running rested during training and was not really prepared to run 13.1 tired. This time around I’m training on heart rate, much slower pace, but I’m hurting pretty bad at the end of my long runs. Last week I did 100 minutes (10.25 miles) and was really struggling at the end.
The difference is that, just like on the bike, I’m running tired all the time now. The paces I’m running at are much closer to my training paces for my first marathon. That’s encouraging, because I raced at a pace 45 seconds faster than I trained for that race. If I can even get 35 seconds faster per mile on race day, I’ll be at 9:10/mile, and that will bring me home at 2 hours.
I’m working on a strategy to handle all possible situations for this run. I’m breaking it down into two five milers and a 5k.
- First five miles at 9:30/mile
- Second five miles at 9:15/mile
- 5k at 8:30/mile
Starting off at 9:30 shouldn’t be a problem. If I don’t have 9:15 in me for the second 5 miles, it will take some pressure off because there’s no way I’d be able to accelerate to 8:30s for the final 5k. I can back it down to the 9;30 pace and still make it under 2:05. That’s still a 9 minute improvement. Not optimal, but not bad either.
If I can make it through the second 5 miles according to the plan, I’m pretty sure I will be able to mentally push myself for that last 5k.
Goals–Good, Better, Best
I don’t see any way I’ll be over 5:44:59 if I actually finish. Anything can happen on race day (flat tires, temps over 95), and a DNF isn’t ever out of the realm of possibility for anything over 10k. But I can’t plan on things like that. If I beat 5:45:00 I’ll consider that to be “Good”. It’s still a PR.
I’d really like to hit 5:29:59. If I can pull a 2hr run and 20 mph on the bike it will come down to those couple of minutes on the swim and fast transitions. I’ll even give myself some buffer here….I’d be really happy with anything under 5:35:00. This is my “Better” goal.
If everything goes perfectly equipment wise, I have no serious injuries between now and then, weather cooperates, and my run really pans out, I think I have 5:14:59 in me. This would be “Best”.
Pretty cool photo of a “plus-sized” swimmer George Blagden courtesy of UIC Digital Collections