70.3 in 5:10?!

We had Coach Brian over for dinner the other night and, amongst much laughter and great talk, brought out the preliminary 2009 race schedule for review. He is very excited to see if I can get into Clearwater next year, and also gave me a very helpful mindset about my previous comment of winning my age group. I’m not going to win my age group – at least, not any time soon. This doesn’t mean I can’t qualify for the World Championships – the list rolls down for those who cannot make the trip. However, to win a chance at those spots you’ve got to perform well. How well?

We’ve targeted Boise as my race to get a slot at World’s. Oceanside in April will be my warm-up 70.3 and Boise is my primary target. Boise has 50 slots for Florida, which probably means 5 or 6 slots per age group. Last year 6th place in my age group finished in 4:43:56 and 20th place finished in 5:04. (I finished in 6:59.) Often the “rolldown” reaches into the 20th position, meaning 20 people can’t make the trip to Florida for whatever reason. I don’t know if I can make the trip to Florida, but by June we will know what the wallet can yield. What’s important is to know my goal time in order to have the luxury of accepting or declining the opportunity. Which means I have to finish Boise in 5:10 or better. That breaks down into:

Swim – 34:00
Bike – 2:40 (21 mph avg)
Run – 1:50 (8:30/mile)
T1/2 – 6:00

According to Coach Brian, it’s “definitely doable”. I appreciate his optimism. I also have a good idea what it will take to get there. Most of that time comes in the bike and swim. I’ve already run a sub-2 half marathon and I know what that pace feels like. However, I don’t know what it feels like after putting in a 2:40 bike split. The only way I’m rolling a 2:40 over 56 miles is on a new tri bike and a good set of bike shorts. Oh yeah, and another 5 lbs of muscle on the quads! Getting faster on the swim is all about proper, efficient form, and increasing my shoulder strength to move water faster. Boise is a reservoir swim, no current or tide to mess with the timing. There’s no reason I can’t hit that number if I spend the off season in the gym and get into a masters or private swim class to get my form corrected.

I cut an hour off my marathon time from my first to my second. I know it’s possible to post incredible change. Before Boise I didn’t know what 70.3 felt like. Now I do. Before Malibu I didn’t know what 100% race pace felt like. Now I do. The last year has taught me much about myself, what I can do, and what lies before me. Taking two hours off my half Ironman distance seems like a huge number, but I’m not scared. Typing the words are a lot easier than doing the work, but I am excited to have a goal, a plan to reach it, and a little time off first!

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