In my last crack at qualifying for Kona I came to realize that seconds matter no matter the race distance. I won a sprint tri a few years ago by three seconds and I missed a KQ by seven seconds two years ago at IMMT. This time around I'm going into the race with the mindset that every second matters. This means everything from setting up a clean, aero bike to dialing in how and when to take in nutrition.
I've grown in the past two seasons since what I deemed a failure in 2013 at IMMT. My goal for that race was very simple - qualify for Kona, and I felt that based on training it was a forgone conclusion. However, Ironman is a very long day, and little mistakes can have big consequences. I came off the bike in 2013 feeling great, so great that I neglected to take in any nutrition for the first six miles. I was running my goal pace and feeling awesome. However, between mile six and eight I quickly realized that not taking in calories was not a wise decision. I ended up with a run that was 15-20 minutes slower than what I was capable of. That will not happen this year.
I'm working with Leslie Why, a nutritionist who is a coach with PeakTri Coaching. I've altered my diet over the past several months and have a nutrition plan laid out, starting with race week nutrition and correct carbo loading. Race day breakfast and a clear hydration and nutrition plan for the race are mapped out. I really feel that this is my missing link that I lacked two years ago.
I spent a lot of time after IMMT two years ago thinking about those seven seconds. There are so many ways to save time over the course of an Ironman, and it took me quite some time to get over my 'near miss.' I feel that I have planned for this race much better than in the past. I plan to be at least one minute quicker in overall transition time. I won't rush, but will be deliberate and have absolutely no down time. I took a little over seven minutes in transition two years ago, while the top AGers were around 60-90 seconds quicker.
As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've made several changes to the bike, which should result in big time savings. These include: lowering my front end about an inch, adding a TriRig front brake, getting a new saddle, changing out my aero helmet, getting a sleeved race suit, removing my cadence sensor, and changing my BTA bottle and Garmin mount. Of course, the engine has to do most of the work, and I've been feeling very good on the bike. The goal is somewhere in the 240-250 watt range on race day. All of this should result in a faster bike split than in 2013 (dependent on race day conditions, of course).
As coach Colin frequently says, "Swim and bike for show, run for dough." He has done a fantastic job of embodying this saying, and I aim to join him. I plan to be smart on race day, and know that based on previous results that a time around 9:30 has been 2nd in my AG the last three years. I plan to be conservative on the run, and will target a pace in the 7:40-7:45 range for the first half of the race. This should put me in a good position to finish the race strong and be near the top of my AG. I also hope there will be no need to make a porta-pottie stop late in the race (90 seconds there at mile 19 two years ago!).
An Ironman is a long day for everyone, be it near 8 hours for the top pros to 17 for the midnight finishers. Regardless of time, seconds do matter. I aim to save as much time as possible on race day be being smart (not rushing) so that I can look back at my race and be pleased with how I executed my plan.