Well, my bags are packed, and I'm ready to go. Not knowing what the blogging opportunities will be when I get to Madison, I thought I'd provide some race day 411, especially for those of you out there who have never spectated a triathlon--either in person or via the internet.
There is race day coverage on http://www.ironmanlive.com/. There is an "IronmanLive" link on the top of the page on the right side. Follow it for live athlete tracking and you can put in my number, 2157, and keep track of when I exit the water, finish the bike, etc. Follow it for live "race day webcasts" you can get race day video, which will be focused on the finish line during the evening. But when should you expect to receive a split time? When will I finish?
I really don't have any firm expectations, especially since this is my first Ironman. The lack of expectations is also one of the reasons I have remained relaxed; I have placed no pressure on myself to achieve a particular result. In addition, I learned as an observer last year that goals go out the window if conditions are hard. Still, if I put in some paces and lollygag them out a bit, I think there are some rough estimates that should help out anyone who has taken an interest in my journey to this point.
The swim: This is my weakest discipline, but I know for a fact that I can cover the distance in the time allotted. I've done it (and more) six times since January. Even as slow as I am, I have made the intentional decision to pace this down because I know I have plenty of time to do so, and impatience kills me on long swims. The race starts at 0700 CDT, and I would expect to be out of the water no sooner than 1:30:00 (0830 CDT) and hopefully no later than 2:00:00 (0900 CDT).
The bike: I'm OK on the bike, but I've never ridden the course before, and I want to resist the temptation to try to gain back time here, only to give it right back (and then some) with excessive walking on the marathon. I would not expect to be off the bike in less than 6:30:00, and hopefully no longer than 7:15:00. Taking the longest swim time as a benchmark, this means hopefully finishing the bike some time between 3:30 and 4:15 in the afternoon, CDT.
The Run: This is a mystery. I've done four marathons, one with a decent sub-4 time, but never, NEVER after this wee little acquatic and cycling warmup. I have no idea what I can do, and a lot will depend upon the success of my nutritional plan and whether the conditions are harsh. I have been practicing a run walk plan after the long bikes. If I have a really good day and am able to keep that pace reasonably well, I might do a 5-ish hour marathon, which would be finishing 8:30 and 9:15 in the evening for a total time of 13:30:00 to 14:15:00. If I have to walk and stretch the time to 6-ish hours, that's more like 9:30 to 10:15 in the evening.
Ironmanlive can totally suck sometimes, and I may or may not have anyone updating my blog during the day. So to get the race day coverage from all the many Iron Sherpas who are coming out to watch us, go here. The peeps will be doing their best to update with eye witness sightings of the blogger army and maybe even race day pictures.
The current weather forecast looks ideal, with highs in the mid-60s, a small chance of precip, and cool temps during the evening run. That said, I am taking clothes suitable for "hot as balls" Texas weather or an early, Wisconsin snowfall. If the forecast holds, this is what I will be wearing.
I will be swimming in my 2xu superhero wetsuit with magical powers:
You'll recognize me in transition if you look for this.
I will most likely be biking and running in my Houston Racing team kit (except now I have a red white and blue specialized helmet to match the team colors):
If, as expected, it cools off on the run, I will be putting on an old University of Houston Track and Field jacket given to me by Coach T.
Also, to be more visible on the run, I will have a clip on, high vis, red, blinky light so you can see me afar off. And, sometime after dark, I will probably don my bright green, reflective, Brooks hat you see in this picture:
Why all this detail? Because no one reaches an Ironman start or an Ironman finish alone. I will be thinking about and relying on friends and family who are in attendance, and those who just check in by computer.