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What is it going to take to qualify?

Posted Sep 07 2012 8:02am
Yesterday I picked up my packet.  No lines, no waiting.  It was nice.....then I got stuck in rush hour traffic. 

I'm number 1850 so if you go to www.ironman.com on Sunday and click on the athlete tracker at the top of the page, you can track my progress if you want.

The Numbers Are In:

Last night I did my last real workout before the race.  I swam easy at lunch and after work I did a brick.  I biked 90 minutes easy with 3x10' at ironman power.  Then I ran 20 minutes starting out slow building to ironman pace.  My legs still felt heavy and sluggish, except when doing ironman power or pace.  That was the only time I felt good.  Strange.  I don't know what that means.  Today is a rest day.  Tomorrow is a short swim, bike, run.  The whole workout will take about an hour.  Then I'll do some final prep, rack my bike and go out for dinner and try to get some sleep before race day.

Since signing up for IMWI last September, here are the numbers:

Total - 733 hours (2h ave per day)

Swim - 563,736 yards (320 miles)
Bike - 7,309 miles
Run - 1,265 miles


What Is It Going To Take To Qualify?

My best guess - 5th place.  In 2010 my AG got 8 Kona slots, but since then IMWI has lost some slots with the addition of new Ironman races.  I'm guessing my AG will get 5 slots, maybe 6.  I'm only counting on 5.

My AG is absolutely stacked this year with 3 guys who have gone sub 9:40 and been to Kona.  Then there's a multi-time USAT AG champ that hasn't done an IM in a few years, but definitely has potential to go sub 9:40 if he has a good race.  I suspect he'll be racing for overall amateur along with another guy from my AG.

So assuming those 4 show up and have a good day, that's 4 slots right there (assuming they all take the slot and don't let them roll down).  That leaves one slot and about 10-15 guys with sub-10 potential fighting for that one slot.  Including me, there are 7 guys in my AG that are either signed up for Kona or have been to Kona (that I know of - and that doesn't include the USAT AG champ).  That means that some people who have already been to the big island in my AG will not be getting another ticket.  

It's going to take a good day.  

For 2010, I didn't focus on the competition so much as the time I thought it would take.  I estimated I needed to go no slower than 10:15.  It turns out I went 10:15 exactly and got the final slot.  It was via rolldown, but that approach worked.

Here's what 5th place looks like over the past few years:

5th Place Times the Past 6 Years

So the finishing range is 9:49-10:04.  With a tough field, I think you absolutely need to break 10 hours if you want a shot.  In fact, you may need to break 9:50, but history shows that if you can go 9:50 you're in line for 5th. I think you'll need to break 10 hours for a shot at a roll down.

The swim range is 1:02-1:04 so that's what I'm targeting.  It's interesting that 5th place has never broken an hour.  My solo 2.4 mile swims at Devil's Lake this year have been in this range, with my best being 1:00:50 so I feel confident I can hit this number.  I'm hoping for 1:02 because I swam 1:12 in 2010 so that will knock 10 minutes off my time right there.  Based on these numbers, you absolutely need to break 1:05.  If I don't, I'm switching to "just have fun" mode and going to hammer the bike and see what happens because I've always wanted to do that and at that point I won't have anything to lose...it's already lost.

I should be on the fast end of the bike, if not faster than those numbers.  I rode a 5:17 in 2010 and have made some good gains on the bike since then, mainly due to my nagging run injury.  My power will be 10-25 watts higher than 2010 (will most likely shoot for the middle of that range) so I'm hoping to break 5:10, but that all depends on conditions.  If I repeat my time from 2010, history shows I'm still in it.

The run is where things get tough for me.  If I run well, I'll still be on the slow end of that scale.  I ran a 3:37 in 2010.  I think I've improved since then, but it's hard to say for sure since my running has been a little off and on with my injury.  It's good now, but did interrupt my training at times over the past two years.  My goal is to run sub 3:30.  I believe I can do it.  We'll see.

So....if I swim 1:02, bike 5:10 and run 3:30 and add 9 minutes for transitions that puts me 9:51.  Historically, if I can do that, I'm fighting for 5th.  

But can I go 9:50?  I don't know.  My training indicates those numbers are realistic, but you never know.  Anything can happen out there.  I'm not making any predictions.  I'm only saying what I think it will take to KQ and that I think I stand a fighting chance if things go well.

The Weather:

Wow. 

How about that?  You can't ask for much better than that.

The forecast works for me and against me at the same time.  Cooler temps help.  I feel like I handle the heat pretty well, but as a bigger guy (in the endurance sports world "big" starts at about 165 pounds) the heat can get to me.  The downside to this is that cooler temps mean faster run times which means the runners will run well.  I hope this means I will to.  I believe you need to race your strengths, which means I do the best I can on the swim, bike toward the front of the race and then hang on for dear life on the run.  That's what I'll be doing Sunday, and the runners will be running well.  I'll need to dig deep and push hard and risk blowing up.  

However....winds are forecasted to be from the N or ENE.  Those are the worst winds for fast bike splits.  Winds from the N give you a headwind on the flatter, faster portions of the loop and give you a tailwind when you're climbing.  They also give you a headwind on the way back to T2, but you probably won't have that tailwind on the way out of T1 since winds are typically pretty calm early in the morning.  This works to my advantage.  The tougher, slower the bike, the better I typically do.  The runners will want S winds to speed up the bike and make it a little easier.  I want N winds to do just the opposite.  It will slow my split as well, but that doesn't matter.  It's all relative.

So there you have it.  That's what I think it will take to get a ticket to Kona this year.  My taper is typical, I bounce between confidence and doubt.  Right now I feel pretty calm and have accepted that it is what it is.  There is nothing I can do now about my fitness so I'll just go out there and do the best I can and hope it's good enough.  

If not, there's Cozumel. 

 
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