Sunday, October 19, 2014

Next Year's Ironman

As I mentioned in my Race Registration-Palooza, I'm returning to ironman-distance racing with Ironman Louisville.  I completed my first ironman race with Beach2Battleship 140.6.  The goal was to have fun and just complete it (which I did in 10 hours, 24 minutes).  Now it's time to see what I can do.  The planning for this started soon after Beach2Battleship when I signed up with Midwest Triathlon Coaching.  I then started attending the local Master's Swim class for stroke efficiency training.  I have even gone so far as to purchase a Power Meter in September to help with cycling. I feel confident in my running, it's just making sure I can get to the marathon in great shape.

The next thing to do is to pick a race.  This planning started in May with, of course, a spreadsheet analysis. There are a lot of good options out there but there had to be one major requirement before it got a row in the spreadsheet: It had to be an Ironman-branded race.  Maybe I'm one of the few triathletes out there that don't care to throw cash at the World Triathlon Corporation hand-over-fist (WTC owns the Ironman brand).  It wasn't until this year that I registered for a race that was associated with the company, Kansas 5i50.  So why bother?  If you want to play at the big dance, you have to play their game.  The big dance being the Ironman World Champions in Kona, Hawaii.

The remaining requirements are a late summer, early fall race in the US that is an easy commute.  This limited to:
  • Boulder:  Brand new for 2014.  I wanted to avoid an altitude race though.
  • Wisconsin: A good race that normally sells out fast.  I would have to volunteer this year to guarantee a spot.  Bike course is technical with lots of turns so hard to get in a groove.
  • Chattanooga: Brand new for 2014, so not sure what to expect.  I think this would be a good race; however, having the bike course end up long by four miles made me question the race planning.  I'm apparently a good cyclist, so maybe this is a good?  It's close to friends and family in North Carolina, so that is a plus.
  • Louisville: Known to be a very hot and humid race BUT it was moved to October 11 for 2015.  Bike course is known to be hilly too. Doesn't sell out.
I didn't want to be concerned about registering for a race that sells out in minutes.  Since Boulder and Chattanooga were new, it was unknown as to how quickly it would sell out. As it turns out, Chattanooga and Wisconsin are sold out; however, I'm not sure how quickly they did.

My good friend Vicki did Louisville this year and she really enjoyed it.  She also did Beach2Battleship with me in 2013.  With the concern of the bike course, it turns out her IM Louisville bike time was 13 seconds faster than B2B.  With the race moving to October AND the fact that we loved Louisville when we were there for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, I was sold.  In addition, my coach has done this race multiple times and he qualified for Kona there last year.

The run course for IMLOU follows most of the same roads that I ran for the Louisville Marathon (between downtown and Churchill Downs), which was super flat.  So I'm loving this decision!  The swim is challenging in the first 1/3 of the course.  You swim against the current, but it is somewhat protected by a small island.  You turn around and then can enjoy the current.  The swim start is also a time trial start not a mass start.  You line up and jump off a dock to start the swim.  With 2000+ participants, it's a rather long line.  Some people start lining up hours before and so I'm debating about my strategy.  I have a full year to figure it out.

I went backwards from October 11 and found a good half ironman in Muncie to do in July (another WTC race).  It requires some travel, so I can practice the travel preparation.  I have a couple friends, Kevin (from Chicago Triathlon) and Kristen (who has appeared here multiple times) joining me.  Anyone else?

I mentioned Kona earlier in the post.  Am I doing IMLOU with the full purpose of attempting to qualify for Kona?  In 2014, I would have to complete a 9 hour, 35 minute ironman in Louisville.  That's 49 minutes faster than Beach2Battleship on a less forgiving course.  These are based off of times racing in the heat and humidity of summer.

That being said, every goal race needs to have a purpose.  From here on out, any Ironman race I do will be to qualify for Kona.  It may be years before it happens but I have the tools and trust in the plan.  These races are way too expensive to do for fun... or their overpriced merchandise... or simply a tattoo.

Will Louisville improve my chances?  Not sure.  Being an October race likely means I need faster than a 9:35 to make it; however, it is the day after Kona, which means all the fast freaks will already be in Hawaii that weekend!

Hopefully I'll be active on here posting about my training in the next year leading up to the race.  Work has me crazy busy right now and into the foreseeable future, which means the time to blog suffers.

Thanks for reading!!


  1. You put so much more thought into what race you're doing than I do. I still think you should do Boulder with me as a warm up race!!!