Friday, July 15, 2011

Coming to Grips with What is Possible @ Lake Placid

I don't want this post to sound like I am selling myself short, but I would rather go into Lake Placid with a conservative plan rather than an unrealistic plan. I am heading into unknown territory here!

People asked me a year ago what I thought I would do @ Lake Placid. I told them, "I will let you know three weeks before the race."

Sorry for the major cliffhanger folks! But I didn't know then. How could anyone 52 weeks out?

But I think I do now.

As long as I cross that finish line, I am PR-ing this distance.

Ok, now that that is out of the way, what should I expect? Based upon my training and where I am now (less than two weeks out), here are some predictions:

I first need to mention that I am purposefully forgetting that I have gone a 5:03:xx in a HIM. It was a flat course and it does NOT count! The "take your best HIM time, multiply it by 2 and add an hour" formula just got thrown out the window. The "you will finish when you finish" formula has been enabled

Swim: 1:10+
In training: I did the full 2.4 mile swim 3 weeks ago in 1:10. I did this on my own with no draft. I also followed the buoy line and didn't need to site (which I think saves time). I also ran into three different people and was interrupted.

On race day: Following the buoy line? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Not gonna get near that mayhem! Hopefully on the second loop it will stretch out enough to get on it. Not gonna worry if I don't. I am also not gonna gun it and swim at any sort of high intensity. The swim could be as little as 1/12th of my day. Its NOT worth the energy! I still have a LOT of biking and running to do.

Bike: 6:15-6:30+
In training: I have done this course in hot conditions, windy conditions (from both North and South Directions) and in cold and wet conditions. Other than a tornado and snow, I think I have my bases covered in riding this course in the most extreme conditions.

I have done a single loop in 3 hours flat. I have done two loops in 6:15. I have also done two loops in 6:38. For some reason 6 hours on this course seems to be some standard to break. Did you know that riding 112 miles in 6 hours flat is an 18.67 mph average? So I have averaged 20mph in training on a couple 100 milers. BIG F-ING DEAL. Did I have to run a marathon afterwards? NOPE? Was the terrain super hilly? NOPE! Does this mean I should try to maintain 20 mph for Lake Placid? HELL NO!

On race day: First Loop: My easiest gear is still too hard. My easiest gear is still too hard. My easiest gear is still too hard. This applies specifically the first 8.5 miles of climbing out of town. Gonna be fun watching how many people buzz by me standing up on this first section. It will also be fun buzzing by them on the 2nd loop as their gas tanks reach the big ole "E".

The Placid bike course is one to be respected. Its surely does not have the steepest climbs, but it has the additive effect that bites hard. Its a neat course that somehow hides 6,000 feet of climbing. You also have to remember that there is a 26.2 mile run to be done!

I train with power on the bike, and based upon my last few long ride, putting a cap at 170 watts on the flats will hold me back, yet still allow some speed. On the climbs, its all about RPE. This is holding 40 less watts than my HIM wattage, which is 210. Swallowing my pride with this one! I may have lost some top end speed on the bike this season, but I surely sacrificed it to go long (except for the Ridgefield Sprint where I won my AG. THAT was fun!).

Run: 4:00-4:30+
The biggest unknown. I have swam 2.4. I have Biked 112. I have never ran a marathon. Does this really matter? Not really. My coach explained to me that his first ever Marathon was at Kona and that his longest run prior was only an 18 miler (of course I am still wondering if he is human).

In training: The longest I have ever run is barely over 19 miles, and that took me 2:45:00 to do. I run best in cold weather (I think everyone does). Placid could be hot and muggy to downright cold and rainy. For the run especially, I wouldn't mind a little drizzle and cold.

On race day: My run training is there and I am ready to run a Marathon! I would rather bike a 6:30 and run a 4 hour marathon than bike a 6:00 and run a 4:30 marathon. Is it a pride issue? I think its more of a "my feet hurt" issue. 30 extra minutes on the bike is not that big of a deal compared to an extra 30 minutes of pounding pavement.

What will get me here? A) Pacing the bike. B) eating properly and C) getting fluids down. The bike is the #1 thing that will make or break this run. I hope it makes it.

Transitions: 10-15 minutes for both.
Its a bit of a run from Mirror Lake to the Olympic Oval. Then you gotta get your bag, get your bike gear on, pack your swim gear. Get your bike, run across the oval to the bike out. I am just exhausted thinking about it!

For the bike to run transition, I might need to take a moment and just sit down and recollect my brain. At this point I will be 7+ hours into the race. My brain might be on Mars or Jupiter.

Total Finish Time Estimate:
11:35 - 12:25+

Oh great, even my most conservative time has me freaking out!


  1. I agree, the bike makes this race. It looks like you are being reasonable, but I am rooting for you to smash it!

  2. Just started following your training, and I'm so excited for you! You have put in some incredible high-quality work. It will show on race day! I'll be cheering you on!!

  3. So conservative I worried you might move to TX. haha! kidding! It actually looks totally realistic to me.

    "Stupid Easy" on that first loop. That's the key. It is better than looking stupid on the second loop if you are on E.

    It sounds like you have gaurenteed long transitions as well. I've heard that if you make it out of IMWI transitions in 8 minutes, you are flying.

    Totally get the feeling for the run. I'd rather the extra 30 minutes on the bike as well. For me, it is just a matter of checking the ego at the door.

    What is your plan for the run? Walking through aid stations? Running until you can't run anymore? Run/walk combo?

    It sounds like this could come down to the weather. If it cooperates, I have no doubt you'll go sub-12. Even if it doesn't cooperate, you have enough experience training in the fumidity and crap that you are going to be able to suffer through it like a champ. You've got this!

  4. Wow great time breakdowns (and impressive for a 1st ironman). Since you will be 2 hours ahead of me can you make sure to prep the medics and have some cupcakes waiting for me at the finish line. will finish with light in the sky!!!! I think I will be around 13:30-14. I am heading out there on Thursday so lets connect when I settle in!

  5. Sounds like a solid plan. I'm also curious of your run strategy- run solid or run/walk combo of some sort?

    You are absolutely correct about the bike. I read your pre-ride report awhile ago and it scared the crap out of me which is the biggest reason why I went to pre-ride it a couple weeks ago even tho I didn't plan to pre-ride.
    You were right. The elevation is hidden!!

    It sounds like you and I have the exact same plan and expectations. However My math puts me at 12:00-13:00hrs. and that is optimistic for me. I'm nowhere near as quick as you!

  6. You have a plan and you have contingencies. That is all that matters. Just remember that whatever you do will be a win!

  7. It's so close!! I think your expectations are really reasonable and will result in a kick-ass IM! I found my "no ego" mantra really helps when people who look like they shouldn't be passing me do on the bike. No ego. No ego. Just keep it easy and get up this hill! Good luck!

  8. Alright, doubt that you care too much about everyone's opinions on this (since I know you and you have it figured out and planned out.) BUT, I will chime in :)

    Brilliant plan.

    I like that you have based your experience with the distances on your planned times.

    As long as you don't get sucked up into the "race" I think you will execute the plan precisely. At Muncie I got sucked up. Took me about 30minutes to realize this is NOT a bike race.

    From a runner's perspective, your view on being on your feet is SPOT ON! It sucks. I like running fast because it doesn't hurt. I ran at Heather's pace for a couple marathons and was IN MISERABLE PAIN!

    Besides, no one wants to be the guy saying, MAN DID I HAVE A GREAT BIKE SPLIT! That means you will blow up on the run and suffer.

    I fully agree with your expectations based on following your workouts this year. Be smart, please please please be smart out there. If you are asking yourself if "I should back off" then you probably should.

    Go get em man. You are probably the most prepared one out there I have been following. You know the course, OWN IT!

  9. Whats your gear of choice? You going with your trisuit all race or you going with a bike kit and then a run kit for more comfort?

    I am excited for you!!!

  10. Sounds good. Now just RACE THE PLAN!

  11. Your head is in the right place Jon. Your plan is perfect. Now go execute it!

    Ps.. I've seen you s/b/r and my prediction is: 10:40 (-:

  12. You've clearly thought a lot about this. I like that you have conservative estimates and a realistic outlook but also a super impressive final goal. I have no doubt that all your preparation will get you to where you want to be. Can't wait!

    Want to figure out and write up my goals next?

  13. Jon - I think you being conservative in your times is the right direction and I agree with Kevin and Jeff completely.

    You are so prepared that I can't imagine anybody else being this prepared and to top that off you are smart. You have a plan and you will execute it to a T and not get caught in the heat of the race.

  14. Sounds like a really solid plan.

    I'm curious where you got the caps for the bike. I've always read (and used with success 3 times now) to cap your power on the flats at HIM and the hills at threshold. Capping the hills at 40 watts below HIM power seems really low to me. I'm not trying to get you to change your plan, and I agree being conservative is the best option. I'm just curious where those numbers came from because they're different from what I've read in the past.

    Swallowing your pride on the climbs is tough, but it pays off big time in the end. At IMWI last year I got passed by small chicks and fat men on the climbs. I actually remembered a few of their numbers so I could see what they biked, and I ended up out-biking them by 20-30 minutes.

    You'll have to deal with a lot of passing and re-passing, but it will get better as the race goes on. I've found A LOT of triathletes put out very little power on the backside of hills and the flats and hammer the hills. So they pass you and you re-pass them on the downhill or the flats. It gets old, but eventually you pass them about mile 80 and never see them again.

    It sounds like you've done your homework and you're setting yourself up for a great race. A first IM in that time range is very impressive.

  15. Awesome plan, love the attitude you have going in. You are going to rock it and love it!

  16. excellent plan and thought process! you have done great work and have a solid process/plan in place to follow! really great projection/prediction/goal setting. You do really well staying in the moment leading to a race. Im all over the map and have totally tipped over several times already, NG!


  17. I like how you're thinking about not killing it on any part of the IM. You're going to be amazing!!!

  18. 7
    Holy crap.

    Nice plan. You will be at least 3hrs ahead of me. So I expect an Ubu ale at the finishline. :)

    Seriously, checking that ego at the door is a great plan. I have run 5 marathons (never after biking 112miles) and will say that you are going to be freaking fine on the run. I think you have such a solid plan!! Trust your training.

    See you very very soon.

  19. It sounds like you have a great plan!! I am so excited for you!!

  20. You and Dangle the Carrot might end up getting close to the same time!

    Just based on your times during training, those all sound like achievable goals to me. Wouldn't surprise me if you got near the lower end of your time estimate.

    I think your heartrate was 144 on that 18 mile run you did a while back, I don't know what your maximum HR is, but that is an insanely low heartrate for that long of a run. So I bet you will get around a 4 hour marathon or below on race day. You are definitely ready. Good luck!

  21. Nice looking plan Jon! Regardless of what folks say, you really do need a plan even if your goal is to just finish. And a well executed plan is how you get through 140.6 and feel good about what you did.

    I'm glad to see your thoughts on the bike, particularly the early climbing. A lot of people underestimate this section because it doesn't look like climbing, but I find that stretch to be really taxing and the descent that follows is so technical that you don't really get to relax. Good approach. Also just remember to ride VERY conservatively out of T1. It's steep, the turns are sharp and people don't have their wits about them. There are a lot of stupid crashes as a result. And T1 is crazy long. The run to the tent is long and the run to the bike out is long. T2 is SO much faster.

    If you have a good bike you'll have a good run, at least that's my theory and it's always worked for me. I ride the LP course pretty slowly and the best I've done is just under 7 hours. Race day I did 7:09 and got off and ran a 4:35 marathon with no long runs over 17 miles and minimal run training (had only been running on the healed PF since March). I walked through all but maybe 2 aid stations and walked the steep hill into town the first time. I felt really good on that run. The hardest part for me was the River Road stretch. It's hard on the mind and you are really alone with your thoughts, plus have to look at the faces of everyone coming the other way, some not in such good shape. It can be difficult.

    I wish I were coming up to cheer! I considered it but logistically it was a pain so I'm going up in August. I'll be stalking you all day for sure!!!


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