Yeeeehaw – Ironman Texas preview – my big training day!

Since I finished the race weight project a little earlier than expected, and since I experience some very good performance gains the the final 3 weeks of cake-eating, I decided to pull the trigger and enter Ironman Texas (April 22nd), as a big training day for Ironman Boulder in June (11th).

This will be an interesting exercise in “Just in Time” training. Basically, I’ve maintained my bike and run with regular training, at a level at which I can just launch into an Ironman build at short notice without any issues. This “base” is not very time intensive. In fact my weekly hours between January and April has been under 11 hours per week. Most of that has been biking and running, since my swim volume has averaged 1500m per week (for comparison, my normal swim volume training for an Ironman is 15-25km per week). My longest run before I entered Texas was 14 miles, and most rides were not longer than 2 hours.

So with 2 weeks to go, I had a bit of work to do, especially on the swim. 1500m per week just really nothing, and my swim was in terrible shape. Last Monday, I was struggling to swim faster than 1:35/100m for short intervals (like 100m) and my 200m intervals were coming in at over 3:20. My strategy was to swim every day, as far as I could before my form would break down, building up to where I could manage 4000m easily. That took about 7 days (17k of swimming), and by this Monday (April 17th) my swim was back on track. My 100m intervals were down to 1:22 and my 200s were down under 3 minutes, under 2:50 if I swam hard. Plus I could get through 4k of swimming in one session with not too much fatigue.  So we’ll see how race day goes, but I’m confident that I will at least make the distance.

Biking has been going well. I haven’t done any long bike rides (4 hours max, with a few 3 hour rides). But my power is good, so expect a decent bike split at Texas. I’m guessing it will be under 5 hours but I’ve never raced there before so I’m not sure. Best case 4:40, worst case 5:00.

Running is a bit of an unknown. No long runs at all, although I got in 18 miles last Friday. I feel my pace is where it needs to be, but not sure about my endurance at all. On race day I will just start with a run/walk structure (9 min run, 1 min walk) and see how things go. I expect I could run a 3:30 marathon if everything goes well. Probably more around 3:45, but I really just don’t know.

But whatever happens, I will be there with quite a few friends, and two of my coached athletes. So just being there for a big supported training day will be fun!

Ironman Boulder 2017 Bike Course

Ironman Boulder has a new bike course for 2017. It’s 3 loops of fast rollers, but it’s a bit over distance at 114 miles, so don’t count on a fast bike split even if it is quite fast. There are no technical sections, but there are a few sections that I would call “key sections”:

  • Neva Road Eastbound is nice and fast with a great surface. You can take the turn from 36 at full speed and the first corner can be taken in aero. 
  • Nelson Road climb is about 4 miles. It’s a grind and you’ll probably have a headwind, but it’s not steep. Maybe 4% grade. Try to stay in aero, especially on later laps when you’re tired – that’s when you need to be aero. Sitting up into a headwind is the worst thing you can do. Having said that, there are some little kickers along Nelson that may be sheltered from the wind, where you can sit up briefly to get some relief from being in aero for so long.
  • St Vrain Rd starts with a fast descent and two blind corners, but they can be taken at full speed. However, on laps 2 and 3 this section will be congested so please be very aware of other riders. There is one pothole on the flat section of St Vrain road but hopefully they fix it by race day.

For route maps, here is a link to the route on MapMyRide
Here is a link to the course on Best Bike Split
Here is the GPX file download

Here is a video I shot of the course



Ironman Boulder Bike Course Preview (2016)

The IM Boulder Bike course is fast and not technical. It has some elevation gain but it’s mostly just rolling. The longest hill is Nelson rd but it’s not very steep. I race this course with a 54 tooth chainring and an 11-23 cassette.

Here is my strava route map for the 2016 course. My very short summary of the sections:

  • Out of T1, down and up diagonal: take it easy and settle in, be careful and be patient at the turnaround on the bike path (where you transition from southbound diagonal to northbound, just over 2 miles in)
  • 52, 287, Lookout is hilly. You’ll be feeling fresh and tempted to ride too hard. Don’t. Unless you’re one of my rivals, then I suggest you go for the strava KOM on all segments in this part of the course.
  • Jay Rd is a false flat (slight uphill but you won’t even notice)
  • 36 is rolling
  • Neva Rd is super fast and a great surface. This is most technical part of the course, even though it’s not technical at all.
  • Nelson Rd is the longest climb, but it’s not super steep.
  • Back on 36, heading to 66 is fast.
  • The rest is flat or rolling
  • Be careful going over the railroad tracks just after Hygiene on 75th. Every year hundreds of bottles are ejected here. (and also, make sure your bottles are secure so that they do not become part of this statistic)
  • Repeat the above, except for the 52, 287, Lookout section

Here’s a quick video of the “technical” parts of Neva Rd – as you can see, nothing to worry about.

Ironman Boulder Swim Course Preview

I recorded a short video looking at the Ironman Boulder Swim Course. It’s just a quick recording I made to help those who are unable to check out the course beforehand (since there is no pre-swim of this course). Apologies for the windy turbulence in the audio, but this was just a “quick and dirty” recording!

The key points:

  • It may or may not be wetsuit legal, come prepared for both
  • The visibility is bad, and most people don’t swim straight here. So choose good reference points to sight off, and sight often
  • Don’t go out too hard, it’s not fun going into oxygen debt at 5000ft!
  • Use a good anti fog. I use Sven Can See, see link below

The links for the retailers and products I mentioned:

  • If you want to swim in the reservoir before race day, drop in at the Boulder Aquatics Masters Open Water Swim on Tuesday and Thursday at 6:10am ($15 drop in fee)
  • Anti Fog: Sven Can See – I use the Anti Fog Spray (use code ROBGRAY15 to get a 15% discount on your order)
  • Colorado Multisport 2480 Canyon Blvd
  • To get a wetsuit or swimskin, visit the Roka booth at the expo.

Good luck and swim safe!