And suddenly you begin to panic.
Questions roll through your mind:
Can I do this? Will my body hold up? Am I mentally tough enough? Can you really do this? How do you know your body won't suddenly BONK and you find yourself in tears at midnight for missing your goal rather than smiling from ear to ear with relief and happiness that it's all over?
I think every Ironman wannba experiences questions of doubts. On Saturday, I spent a few hours obsessing over times, what I can do, what the average person does and cutoff times. According to the stats on RunTri, I came up with the following numbers.
In 2011, 2,276 athletes crossed the finish line at IMLOU (7% DNF). In my age group 40-44, 90 women crossed the finish line (6% DNF). Their average times were 1:18:14 for the swim, 6:45:30 for the bike and 5:08:08 for the run for a total finish time of 13:30:25.
I am sooo out of my league. And, again, suddenly I begin to panic.
OK, let's break this down logically. Ironman Louisville is a unique event with its time trial start beginning at 7:00 am. Because one athlete enters the water at a time, your day probably will not start at 7 am. In the past few years, everyone has been in the water by 7:45. Athletes have 2 hours, 20 minutes after the LAST athlete enters the water to complete the swim which allow someone like me who isn't a great swimmer more time to complete the swim leg; however, no matter what time you enter the water, you still have to finish by midnight. Not good for someone like me who doesn't have a stronger leg coming later.
If I'm in the middle of the pack, I can expect to be in the water by 7:20. Because I am not a strong swimmer, I expect I will take about 1 hour 45 minutes to complete the 2.4 miles hopefully coming out of the water around 9 am. Allowing 15 minutes for transition, I should be out on the bike course by 9:15 am.
On our last trip to Louisville with Awesome Cheryl, I averaged 15.5 miles per hour (moving speed). If I average 15 mph on race day, I should complete the course in 7 hours, 28 minutes; however, I know that I will have to stop at some time. If I allow 10 minutes for potty breaks and 10 minutes to stop and hug the shit out of my family, I hope to be off the bike within 8 hours which gets me back to transition at approximately 5:15 pm.
Now keep in mind, I haven't discussed bike cut off times. Athletes must start their second loop (around mile 60) by 2:30 pm. Based on my expectation to average 15 mph, I should hit mile 60 around 1:15-1:30....which is kind of cutting is close. The bike course will close at 6:20 pm. Athletes arriving at the dismount line after 6:20 pm will not be allowed to continue. Wow. Too close for comfort. And, again, suddenly I begin to panic.
Assuming I meet the bike cutoffs and meet my hydration and nutrition goals for the day, I will probably need 15-20 minutes in T2. I plan on taking my time and making sure I am hydrated and prepared for the run. Starting the run around 5:30 pm, I plan on running the first 6 miles at a 12 minute pace which will take me 1 hour, 12 minutes. For miles 7-18, I plan on running at a 11:32 pace with a 30 step walk at each aid station for a total time approximately 2 hours, 22 minutes. The final 8.2 miles will be at my best pace, but I'll be happy to stick with 11:32/30 step walk for a total time of 1 hour, 37 minutes. Or a total run time of 5 hours, 11 minutes.
Athletes must begin the 2nd loop of the run by 9:45 pm. IF I'm able to implement my planned pacing, I shouldn't have a problem with this cutoff.
So what is my planned total time? 1:45 swim, 15 minute T1, 8 hours bike, 15 minute T2, 5:11 run = total time 15:26.
Of course, I'll be happy to complete the event by 17 hours. I guess I just need to verify to myself that I can actually complete this, but who knows what strange twist of fate the day may bring.
So while I may not be average for my age group, I do believe that at the end of the day I will be able to call myself an Ironman and that is all that matters. Next step? Designing my M-dot tattoo.