Ironman World Championship 2015 | Pre-Race Report

By S


I’m doing a race tomorrow. The Ironman World Championships. It is this little race in Kona, Hawai’i. You might have heard of it.

If not, I’ll answer a common question – Are you going to win it? Hahahahahaha. Funny. But no. No I’m not. Not even close. These are the best long-distance triathletes from around the world. If I finish in the top 800, I will be happy.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into the rest of the post. There are three sections in this post:

  1. Training Update – Two Ironman races in ten weeks. Waning motivation. So much intrigue (not really).
  2. Race Prediction – My goals for race day.
  3. Miscellaneous Kona Tidbits – All of the fun stuff we’ve done in Kona this week presented in bullet form.

Training Update
Immediately after Ironman Boulder my thoughts started turning to what I was going to do next. “Ok” I thought, “9:44 is a good time, but with some serious focus on improving my speed I think I could go sub 9 in one year. So the best way to do that is to aim for a 1:15 half marathon, then aim for a sub 4 hour half ironman, and then go for a sub-9 full Ironman. After that….

This is pretty typical after a good race…you start to think the sky is the limit (see: Danielle post-LT100). My honeymoon phase did not last as long as Danielle’s however, because I was immediately focused on training for Kona. And once I got back into training, those ‘pie-in-the-sky’ ideas of how fast I was going to go died quickly. When I was faced with the task of training for another Ironman I realized I needed a break. I was done. Done with swimming. Done with biking. Done with running. Done with long weekend bike rides. Done with feeling guilty when I skipped a workout. Done.

I still enjoyed getting out for a bike, run, or swim, but I was tired of it feeling like a chore. Unfortunately, not training for the Ironman World Championships isn’t an option. At the same time, my schedule between Boulder and Kona did not allow for a ton of training time. There were 9 weekends between Boulder and Kona. Two of these were dedicated to rest (my body was pretty beat up after Boulder), four were dedicated to travel (Iceland, Leadville, and Hawai’i….not that I’m complaining), which left three weekends (four weeks) for dedicated training. Not exactly a recipe for a PR.

Due to my time and motivational constraints, my Boulder to Kona training plan was unstructured. I attempted to stick with my previous training schedule in terms of number of workouts per week, but I also wanted to mix things up a bit by:

  • Signing up for a sprint triathlon (my first!). This was fun! I’ll post a short recap later.
  • Biking to work. 34 miles/day (three days per week) saved me bunches of training time. Plus, biking with a 20+ pound backpack is a good workout.
  • Shortening my swim workouts (nothing more than 30 minutes) and focusing on building speed. I also tried to go swimming four times/week.
  • Doing shorter, upper aerobic run workouts. No speed. Not because I didn’t want to, mostly because I was tired (some say lazy, but I think tired sounds better).

Takeaways:

  • Swim – I really enjoyed shortening my swim workouts. I found this blog and followed his advice. This is something I’m going to continue to do when I start back into triathlon training. Band work, plus 50 yard repeats worked wonders for me. Mentally and physically.
  • Bike – Biking to work helped with my power (see: sprinting to make a green light). A little less so with my endurance. Biking to work is pretty nice though. Decent time saver if you are training for a tri and working full time.
  • Run – Not much improvement here. Might have lost a little endurance, but this is also the one area I typically feel confident with.
  • Overall – I’m definitely not as confident in my fitness compared to my lead in to Ironman Boulder, but I feel that I am ready for the distance. Just need to bring my expectations down a notch.

Pre-Race Goals
Swim
Goal – 1:11. I’ve swum almost every day since we arrived in Hawai’i. Initially, the waves gave me some trouble, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the ocean and think 1:11 is a decent target for race day. Variables here include waves, wind, and congestion. My plan is to take it easy at the beginning – no initial sprint from this guy – and then attempt to pick up the pace a bit on the way back.

Bike
Goal – 5:35. I’ve put in two training rides on the Queen K. Winds weren’t an issue on either since I was only riding near Kona proper. From what I’ve heard, the winds really pick up when you approach Hawi. We drove to Hawi to do some hiking in the Pololu Valley and the winds were pretty strong when we were driving through. Using a sample size of one, I predict 100% chance of strong winds on race day. Although I’ve put in some decent short training sessions since Boulder, my bike endurance has definitely taken a step back over the past month. I’m not worried about completing the course, but I think I need to temper my expectations a bit for this portion of the race. 5:35 seems like a doable target. If the winds are really blowing, it might be slower.

Run
Goal – 3:35. I feel like this is a realistic goal for the run portion. Good golly, it is going to be hot. I am drenched in sweat after a 10 minute easy run here. At the same time, I’ve noticed my body has started to adapt to the heat since we have arrived in Kona. Arriving early is definitely a good thing. My goal is to complete the marathon at a comfortable pace. I want to soak up the environment and enjoy myself. At the same time, I know that my competitive juices will only allow me so much leeway.

Likely scenario – People will pass me. I won’t like it. I’ll speed up. 3:35 seems like a good compromise. If I was really putting my all into this race I would shoot for a 3:20. 15 minutes slower seems like a good place to be.

Transition
Goal – :10. Whatever.

Total Time
Goal – 10:31. In the end, my goal for the year was to make it to Kona. Now that I’m here, I want to enjoy it. Well, enjoy it as much as one can ‘enjoy’ an Ironman. I’m not here to break records. I’m not here to try and win my age group. At the same time, I don’t want to completely mail in my race. When I cross the finish line, I want to feel like I gave a good effort. I would also like to be smiling. If those two things happen, I will call it a success.

More! The Sights and Sounds of Kona Edition.

  • I did a practice swim on the Ironman course on Wednesday. On my way back to shore, I noticed a group of swimmers treading water. I stopped five feet away to see what was going on. They were on my left side. It appeared that they were just resting, talking amongst themselves so I put my head into the water to start swimming again and….I see a dolphin swimming beneath me, 20 feet to my right (at most). And then two more breach the water to my right. DOLPHINS! ON MY SWIM! HOW COOL IS THAT?!
  • Kealakekua Bay. We visited this bay two days in a row. First, we hiked in and snorkeled. Next, we rented kayaks and did a kayak/snorkeling adventure. We saw a pod of spinner dolphins on day two. Such an amazing experience. If you’re in town, I’d recommend a visit. Read up on the environmental issues associated with kayaking (specifically landing kayaks) in the bay first. Make sure you know what you can and cannot do.
  • Coffee bar. There is a boat that serves coffee (and nutritional products) to swimmers a little less than a half mile from the pier. Swim out. Get a cup of Joe. Pretty cool.
  • Underwear run. Triathletes running in their underwear. At least 1,000 of them. Words do not do it justice.
  • Acai bowl at Basik Café. So delicious. My only regret is that we didn’t make it here until day four.
  • Kona Haven. Lava Java gets the rep for being the triathlete hang-out on race week. But this place next door has great coffee without the crowds. Win win.
  • Daylight Mind. SO DELICIOUS. I WANT TO EAT ALL OF THE BRUNCH AND COFFEE.
  • Rinny’s scavenger hunt. Mirinda Carfrae – three time women’s champion – has been doing a scavenger hunt all week. She’ll post a clue on Instagram and you have to go out and find a back pack with free stuff from her sponsors. Danielle and I haven’t found a bag yet (too slow) but it is a fun way to see the town!
  • How to feel un-fit – Come to Kona during Ironman week! I feel incredibly un-fit in Kona. Danielle feels the same way. I’ve never gone to a race where I have felt like I’m on the bottom half of the bell curve. But Kona. Holy. I feel like need to lay off the sweets for a year. Bunch of fitness 1%-ers here.
  • Triathlon heaven. The atmosphere in Kona during Ironman week is indescribable. It is the Boston Marathon times 100 with a sprinkle of magical dust. I’m so happy I have had the chance to be out here this week. All of the training for the past two years…worth it. Worth it. Worth it.
  • And lastly, a short video from last year’s race. I’ve only watched it 10 times or so.

That’s it! If you’re following along on Saturday my information is below:
Bib #2203.
Start time – just before 11 AM MST, 12 PM CST, 1 PM EST.
Projected finish time (could be later) – 9:30 PM MST, 10:30 PM CST, 11:30 PM EST.
Live video stream here.

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Me and my family at Dig Me Beach (swim start) early race week.

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Daylight Mind.

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Dig Me Beach (swim start) on Tuesday morning. The crowds grew each day. So much fun.

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Excursion to Pololu Valley.

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All checked in!

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Snorkeling. Kayaking. Dolphins. This bay is amazing.

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Lava and water.

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Triathlon heaven.

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8 comments

  1. Ha! “Using a sample size of one, I predict 100% chance of strong winds on race day.” I SO wish I could be there cheering you on in person, but the internet will have to suffice. Love you! You’re awesome 🙂

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    1. Thanks sis! Wish you could be here!

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  2. i’m sooo excited to stalk you all day! … when i get off of work, which means sometime after you get on the bike. we really want to get out there for the world championships one year … ideally qualify, but more realistically, to cheer and volunteer.

    GO SAM GO! WOOOOO!

    p.s. – sprints are a BLAST. a painful blast. i miss sprints.

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    1. You have to make it out here some way or another. Do it.

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  3. GOOD LUCK!! You’re going to do amazing out there. Enjoy it!!

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  4. Curious about your race report, the timings sure got higher. I guess the heat got to you as the Belgian team almost collectively quit due to the heat as far as I read…
    But I sure hope you enjoyed it to the fullest, it is and stays a major accomplishment to get there!

    Like

    1. Yes, the heat was as bad as advertised, but I still enjoyed the experience!

      Like

  5. […] Ironman Boulder | The Plan Ironman Boulder | Training Update I Ironman Boulder | Training Update II | Ups and Downs Ironman Boulder | Race Report | Part 1 Ironman Boulder | Race Report | Part 2 Ironman World Championship 2015 | Pre-Race Report […]

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