Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Art of War: Kona 2010

Well, folks, here we are again - after taking a 2 year break, my sixth Ironman triathlon is just a day away: the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. As is my pre-Ironman custom, I'd like to give you an idea of my detailed plan of attack for this race. It's not only useful for me to organize my nutrition and pacing plan, but I hope it's useful for you too, especially if you're a triathlon geek or you do Ironman yourself.

Also, I have plenty of time to waste typing, since I'm supposed to stay off my feet (nobody said I couldn't pre-exhaust my bike shifting fingers).

If you really want to familiarize yourself with this race course, head over my race course to

Swim Strategy:

My final workout leading up to this race was 10x400 at a 1:20 pace, and that was in a pool. In the choppy water, there will likely be an extra 5-10 seconds per 100, putting me out of the water in around 55 minutes.

This year, I have yet to do a triathlon where I did not draft, and that will be the plan in this race. I want to come out of the swim fresh, and not kick too much.

Pre-swim: 1 double-caffeine GU Roctane

Bike Strategy:

The bike will be split into several key portions:

1. Makala Blvd loop - replace swim energy with a bag of GU chomps and 2 Athlytes salt capsules

2. Out and back on the Kuakini highway - bike fueling "clock" starts at Hot Corner - take 1 gel and 2 more Athlytes (fueling early and often is key for Ironman)

3. Queen K to airport - hold ego back. Watch folks fly by me and trust my plan and 22-22.5mph pacing (that's AVERAGE - there will of course be portions where I'll probably be going 5mph into a headwind). I should be hitting the aid stations (spaced every 10 miles) every 50-55 minutes. At the second aid station, refill water bottle, and continue this for every other station. On the aid stations in between, grab a bottle for rinsing and cooling.

4. Airport to Waikaloa - Stay cool and continue to fuel with 1 GU Roctane every 20 minutes, 2 Athlytes every 30 minutes, and half a bag of Chomps at the end of each hour (total 390 calories/hr).

5. Waikoloa to turn at Hawi - Don't burn out legs, prepare for toughest portion of course.

6. Climb to Hawi - Maintain cadence, no gear mashing, stay aero.

7. Hawi turnaround - Get special needs bag, which will have 8 gels and 2 bags of Chomps, and a canister of Athlytes. (when I head out of T1, I will have 9 gels, 3 bags of Chomps and a canister of Athlytes).

8. Hawi to turn back onto Queen K - focus and be prepared for crosswinds. Fuel when crosswinds are down, be ready to adapt.

9. Queen K to Waikoloa - get through this portion, and then a mental high-five - done with toughest portion of course.

10. Waikoloa to airport - stay mentally focused and positive.

11. Airport to town - prepare to run. Stand and stretch several times. No gear mashing, cadence slows. Take final gel at Makala Blvd.

Run Strategy:

I'll be using a run-walk pacing plan for the marathon. For 21 minutes, I'll run 7:15 minute miles, which will put at the 3rd aid station in 21:45-ish, where I will then walk for 60 seconds at a 15:00/mile pace, and then begin to run again.

On the run, I'll continue with 2 Athlytes every 30 minutes, and I'll be grabbing a gel on each of my walk breaks, which will put at near to 3 gels per hour. Mentally, this splits the run into 8 run/walk portions. At *every* aid station, I'll grab 2-3ounces of water and as much ice/ice sponges as possible.

Several intermediate landmark goals on the run will include:

1) Aid Station #3, where I will be able to check pacing.

2) turn-around at Alii Drive (approx 5 miles)

3) Aid Station #6, another walk break.

4) Aid Station #9, another walk break.

5) Top of Palani drive, just past 10 miles.

6) Aid Station #12, another walk break.

7) turn into Energy lab. run to Special Needs, where I get one more canister of Athlytes, cross the timing mat, and turn around to head home.

8) Aid Station #15, another walk break.

9) Aid Station #18, another walk break, and a decision of whether or not to speed up by 5 seconds per mile.

10) Aid Station #21, another walk break, and another decision of whether to speed up again by 5 seconds per mile.

11) Aid Station #23: final walk break, and time to speed up and go to a world of pain.

12) Finish line. Try to get my hands on a camera and an American flag.
Finally, here's a pre-race video interview with me, courtesy of Dave Erickson.


Anonymous said...

Best of luck Ben! Hope everything goes well and you exceed your goals!

Patrick said...

Great Race Ben! It was awesome watching cross the finish line. Great celebration by the way!