JohnHurlbut.com | Holy Crap! Only 20 weeks!
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Holy Crap! Only 20 weeks!

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When you say it like that, it seems like a LONG time, or maybe it doesn’t? The bottom line is that in 20 (or so) weeks, I have committed to doing a 1/2 Ironman triathlon. In just 5 months, I intend to propel my body swimming for 1.2 miles, biking for 56 miles and running for 13.1 miles. All of this despite the fact that I’ve NEVER run more than 8 miles in any one stretch. Only biked more than 50 miles a couple times. And swum . . . well, OK, I’ve got the swimming down. One outta Three ain’t bad! Actually, I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that pressed right NOW, I could knock out the swim and bike portions without too much worry. It’s the run that has me spooked.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually weird in the fact that I ENJOY running. Yup, I said it. I actually ENJOY running. The one caveat being that I ENJOY running when I’m in RUNNING shape. I am not however, currently in RUNNING shape. (Don’t ask, I just enjoy CAPS tonight) I can run and I do run, but that is not to mistake me for a RUNNER. Yet. This is going to sound like the guy that caught the winning touchdown in his High School homecoming game and that’s all he has to hold on to 20 years later. BUT, in my Sophomore year of High School I was actually able to propel this body of mine to a Sub 6 minute mile. 5:55 to be exact. At that point in my life, I was in running shape.

Fast forward some 24 years and I am NOT in running shape. I’m 70 pounds heavier than I was then and oddly, 24 years older. (It really feels good to say I’m 70 pounds heavier because last year I would have had to tell you I was 150 pounds heavier. The 70 doesn’t seem so daunting now.) In road races, back then, I would average an 8:00 minute mile. Now? 12:00 would be pushing it. But I am running. And for the most part, I can run/walk my way on the treadmill for an hour and knock out over 5 miles. But 5 miles is not 13.1 (the .1 is the important part) miles. And the task of completing 13.1 miles seems REALLY scary at the moment. Not even counting the fact that I intend to do it after the swim and bike.

But I’m convinced I have what it takes to be a half ironman. I’m in the best shape I have been in recent memory. (READ: Last 12 or so years) My cycling strength has steadily improved over the past couple of years, enough so that now I don’t feel as though I’m slowing Steve and Brandon down . . . and even get to push them a little from time to time.

So I’m trying to figure out what a good goal time would be for said half iron. I want something that will challenge me, but not something that’s completely not obtainable either. So how does one go about figuring such things out? I do intend to lose about 30 pounds in the next 20 weeks too, so that’ll help improve my times all around. So going off some guesstimates at the moment, I came up with this:

Swim:
In my Sprint tri, I swam the .25 miles in 10:20, so extrapolating that data, I should expect the swim to take about an hour.

Bike:
The ocean shores course is really flat and hopefully there won’t be a ton of wind. For the sprint tri, I averaged 18.62 MPH, so since the course is just over 4 times as long, I’ll plan on maybe averaging 17MPH? (I AM in much better cycling shape now than I was then) So quickly, 56 miles divided by 17 gives a time of 3:18. So I’ll shoot for under 3:30 on the Bike.
Run: Here’s the killer. Based on my average of 12:00 miles over a 5K, the Runners World Training calculator estimates that it would take me 2:52 to run a half marathon. Wowsers. And that’s not even taking into consideration having already biked 56 miles and swum 1.2 miles. So if I can knock out the run in 3:00 and that’s a BIG if, that would give me a GRAND TOTAL time of:

SEVEN HOURS THIRTY MINUTES

Now obviously as things progress throughout the coming months, as I get stronger and faster and run a couple of 10 and 12K’s, I’ll have a better idea of where I stand with everything.

I wonder if the Ocean Shores Tri will allow me to be on the course that long? OK, just checked, the 1/2 Iron starts at 7:30AM and the awards presentation is at 3:00PM . . . 7.5 hours. YIKES!!

I’d better figure out how to shave some time!!

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AUTHOR - John Hurlbut

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