Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Help! I'm having trouble deciding!

I'm having a very hard time deciding whether I should enter Ironman Florida for November, 2006. I have about 4 months until entries open to decide if I'm going to go for it or not. Now I'm tempted to say, what the heck, just enter and see how things go, but that would probably be exceedingly foolish and perhaps a waste of money.

Now keep in mind also that I'm fatter and slower than most and old (48) and I'd be hard up against the cutoffs, even if I trained hard for the next 16 months. I sure don't want to take this on and end up with a DNF, especially considering that I did an Olympic and a half ironman in the last 2 months and ended up past the cutoffs for both of them.

So I think maybe I should have some objective performance standards that I should meet beforehand before I stick that needle in. What do you think they should be, for someone taking on their first IM with still a year of training left to complete?

I was thinking of something like these - some combination of these, perhaps complete at least 2 from the list before I make that plunge:
  • Finish a marathon under 5:15
  • Finish a century under 6:30 riding time
  • Finish a 2-mile pool swim under 1:40
  • Finish a 1500-m open water swim under 40:00
  • Finish an Olympic distance under 3:30
  • Finish a half IM distance under 7:00

What would YOU plug in for numbers there? What would you recommend?

17 comments:

Keryn said...

I'm still at the just finish stage, so I'm impressed. I do think setting some realistic goals before you sign up is probably a good plan.

mipper said...

hmmm... i am at the same stage as keryn... just finsih a sprint and i'll be happy. however, i completely understand your thought process here and i know if it were me, i would be doing the same. i know i would not want to enter an IM unless i knew i could at least make the cutoffs. so, if it were me, i would aim for finsihing an oly in 3:30 and a half in 7:00. that's just me though. good luck with your decision making.

*jeanne* said...

Well...you already know what I'd do...I'd STAY OUT OF THE WATER! :-O

For YOU? Hmmmm...

Can't say as I really have the slightest clue as to how to approach this decision.

What happens if you don't make cut-off?

Chris said...

Of the items on your list, I think the two mile swim in under 1:40 the century ride in under 6:30 would be good goals. And I'd add to that not feeling like you're totally wiped after the ride (but you have plenty of time to get to that stage).

Ironman is largely about bike fitness and being able to come off the bike still ready to do some work. If you can make the swim and bike in 10 hours (say 2 hours for the swim and 8 hours for the bike), you still ahve 7 hours to make the run. That amounts to 16 min/mile pace, which is a brisk walk with maybe just a little jogging in there for good measure.

I'd also ask if this is something that you *really* want to do and if you have the time available to train for the event. There is a lot of time between now and 11/2006 - well enough to get you through your first IM, IMO. But you'll need a flexible enough schedule to allow you to get your training in. And you'll need to be out there day in and day out getting the work done. That said, although it's a very big commitment, it is obviously a very rewarding one! There are few things out there like the feeling you get when finishing an Ironman... Just be careful! They're addicting! ;)

Liz said...

I like your thoughts on setting some performance standards before entering an Ironman. That aligns with how I view my goals. It's a personal journey and naturally I couldn't tell you what's good for you, you are a bolder athlete than I am. However, those standards you mention certainly seem like good measurements.

For me (since you asked) I'm more cautious and need to gain confidence as this being an athlete for the first time at 42 is a new thing. Before I even attempted my first triathlon I spent time training and getting in normal BMI range. That was for me my first metric/prerequisite to achieve. Next will be to get a leaner, stronger and get faster at all three sports. I will be sticking to shorter distances and an Oly for a "reach" goal.

When I do go for the big one, and yes I dream of it too, I want to be a competitive BOP'er - at least. It's more than 'just finish' an Ironman, it's a celebration of a training journey that, for me, will celebrate fitness and well planned training....

Of courese, I want it soon, but I also want to give it the time it takes to ramp up at a sustainable training pace. Realistically I will need years as there seems to be no "athletic gift" in my genes. So I tell myself 'patience grasshopper'.

Phil said...

Nancy, I'm gonna throw my hat in here.

Sometimes, it's easy to get overly ambitious, and a little carried away. It's so easy for people to throw comments like - "Just do it!", or "You'll be fine!" And the the peer pressure can be a bit much.

I'm just starting Tri's myself, and I'll admit, I'd love to do an Ironman. And some of my friends tell me - the same thing - sign up, do it - you'll be fine.

But I know I'm not nearly ready, nor will I be ready for a while. I just can't commit to the Ironman lifestyle right now - and I'm not physically up for it. I've only been training for 2 years - and I that's not nearly enough experience.

There's no shame in admitting it's too much too soon.

Ironman for me is a lifetime goal. Something that will be all the more special when the time is right. I'd rather be properly trained and ready for it and come in second last, than to not be ready and come DFL.

tarheeltri said...

I second what Phil said... a lot of people seem to get swept up in the excitement and register for things they know are a very very long shot for them to complete for whatever reasons, be that time constraints or fitness or dedication or whatever.

That being said, if your goal is to just finish an IM, I agree with Chris in that there is A LOT of time between now and 11/2006, and I think you could probably do it if you dedicate yourself to it. Chris's strategy sounds like a good one to me.

Personally, my biggest obstacle is dedication. Seriously, I am only good for about 4 months of hard core dedication. If I can't find an IM training plan of that duration, I may not do it myself.

Brett said...

I agree with Tri Daddy and Phil as well. I think I read somewhere that it takes five years of training/doing tris before one's body adjusts to be able to properly handle the trials of an Ironman. That said, everyone's goals and motivations are different. Thus, I guess I'm absolutely no help. :)



Brett

Oldman said...

sign up for it! it's 400 and some days away you can train to finish it!

Ironayla said...

Well, I posted my thoughts on the yahoo board, but I thought I would post this link again here... as there is more than one way to finish an IM. Sure, everyone will have their own milestones they want to achieve before they would even consider signing up for one, and that is a personal decision. I just wanted to share this link from Gordo as what his golden rules for your first Ironman as he mentions that you don't need to kill your self on your way to your first IM. http://www.byrn.org/gtips/rules.htm

I think most people think you have to put in all this time and acheive all these tough milestones before you can even consider finishing an Ironman. But, IMHO, all thatit isn't necessary. Just consistent training, keeping your heart rate down, and building your bike base. Having done 3 IMs, I have seen many shapes and sizes of people out on the course, some the IM being their first ever triathlon.

Before sigining up for my first IM, I hadn't done a centry, hadn't run a marathon, nor even swam over a mile. I was after the challenge to see if I could even finish an Ironman. The test would be the event itself, and crossing that finish line - I was beaming ear to ear. I was so proud of myself.

"'tis better to try something great and fail, than to try nothing at all and succeed."

runr53 said...

Hmmm, do they kill you if you don't finish before the cutoff??? We used to say in the Navy, they can kill me but they can't eat me, as in cannabilism, not allowed you see! Train it and do it the best you can and if you have doubts, refer back to your post with the warning sign!!! Run Good!

Comm's said...

c'mon jump in the waters fine. Unless you count the two shark attacks last week and the marlin that broke the kids face and split open his throat today...other than that whats really holding you back?

mipper said...

the marlin??? good gravy Nancy... think long and hard sweetie! :)

trimomma said...

Here's a question to ask that oneone else has mentioned. Do you have total support from your family? Toddler twins? My girls aren't toddlers any longer, one is old enough to babysit while I train and I still can't see where in the world I would fit in the time required to train properly for a full IM (I do not have the time in my life to train or race stupid and risk injury set backs), without taking time from the kids. Priority one, family, priority two training. Ever checked out how many seniors are competing IM's? Not that I want to wait that long, but the kids will only be kids now. I vote for sticking to the Olympic and 1/2's for now. Get those nailed down then kick some butt on the IM course. Unless you have married super dad....

trimomma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
trimomma said...

Here's a question to ask that oneone else has mentioned. Do you have total support from your family? Toddler twins? My girls aren't toddlers any longer, one is old enough to babysit while I train and I still can't see where in the world I would fit in the time required to train properly for a full IM (I do not have the time in my life to train or race stupid and risk injury set backs), without taking time from the kids. Priority one, family, priority two training. Ever checked out how many seniors are competing IM's? Not that I want to wait that long, but the kids will only be kids now. I vote for sticking to the Olympic and 1/2's for now. Get those nailed down then kick some butt on the IM course. Unless you have married super dad....

nancytoby said...

It's going to involve lots of very early mornings if I do it, I can tell you that!!! :)