Up until the last couple of years prior to every big race, I would sit down and gather my thoughts into a “concrete” race plan. This forced me to take some time and create an outline of how I want my day to unfold, and it also gives me something to compare the actual outcome of the race to, allowing me to review the race somewhat objectively. For whatever reason I stopped doing this a couple years ago, but for whatever reason I felt the need to do it for Ironman Arizona this year.
I read through my plan from when I did IMAZ in 2011 and was not really surprised to see that the thoughts I had for execution then, still really apply today – a few minor changes in target paces, but otherwise not much.
Rather than just say this is the plan from 2011, I’m going to repeat it, I want to rehash it to make sure it’s set in my mind so I don’t just let it fly.
My goals for the day are tiered:
- Goal #1 is to get a Hawaii spot
- Break 9
- Win my age group
- Be the top amateur
The more of those I achieve the “better” the outcome of the day, I want to execute a race that puts me in a position to accomplish all of those, and on paper to accomplish that I need to execute the race really well and put myself in a position to run a very strong last 10k of the marathon.
Like usual, I just want to get through the swim without issue and not overexerting myself – this isn’t a mass start so it should be fairly easy to just roll at my pace. I want to swim mostly straight and not along the buoys to shorten the distance a bit.
Move with purpose – nothing special about this one. Get the wetsuit off, grab my bag, helmet on, glasses on, gel flask, and move
The overall power target for the day is 235 watts – nice and relaxed, when appropriate I’ll push it up into the 240s to keep the speed going, but I will take a split every 20 minutes or so and I want to have NP/AP right around 235. Nutrition plan is 4 gels in a bottle with water to start, a flask of EFS, and then 10 gels in the aero bottle. Drink the first bottle and swap it out at aid station number 3. There will be a backup flask of 4 at special needs.
From that point do the normal thing of a hit from the gel bottles every 20 minutes followed by water, and plain water every 10 minutes. EFS first, then aero bottle.
When mixing the bottles cut back on the amount of caffeine in the early bottles, and no supplemental salt – I haven’t don’t the added salt in training, and it and the caffeine are suspects in recent poopy problems in races.
As tempting as it will be to worry about steve J and others – focus on my race, because of the rolling stat it’ll be hard to know where they are at relative to me. Focus on doing my job – staying fueled, staying hydrated and riding within yourself.
Hand the bike off, socks, shoes, go. 2x flasks
The goal for today is to have a decent run, not a crappy run like at Texas and Kona. At a minimum that means 3:15, but the bar is really ~3:10. The course has a couple of hills, but nothing major. Try to settle in right around 7:10 pace and then cruise.
Start the run with two gel flasks. Take a shot of one about every other mile, and then pick up a fresh one at special needs. If the stomach starts to get yucky, back off the gel and increase the water intake a bit, but stay on the fuel intake as a whole.
Just like the bike – don’t stress about where others are. At Texas, on an off day, you came off the bike #4 amateur, and moved up to 3 without too much problem before falling back again.
It will be the same on Sunday – let those behind you come to you. If they catch me, make decisions then, based on the current lay of the land, but don’t endanger my overall result by running or riding scared. I have put too much work in to have a bad race, and a bad race is ultimately only going to happen if I allow it to happen. I can choose to have a good race, or I can choose to have a bad race.
My best results have happened when I’ve executed with the mindset of going through the day in a bubble separated from the world – don’t let anyone or anything cause me to execute a race that my training has indicated is not feasible.
At the end of the day remember, success or failure at this race is ultimately about having a positive experience during the race, and that choices that lead to that positive experience will lead to the fastest outcome. Focus on making the small choices during the day that will lead to that positive experience.