Guesstimating Ironman performance

I wanted to put down in writing what I think my completion time for Ironman Louisville six months from now will be. Upon finishing, I want to be able to come back to this post to see how close (or way off!) I was. Naturally my estimate at this point is conservative. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised by coming in under my estimate.

For the swim, I am averaging about 1min 45sec per 100 meters, so that puts me finishing the swim leg slightly under 1hr 10mins.

For the bike leg, 112 miles at an average of say 19 miles per hour would have me completing it in about 6 hrs.

For the run leg, I am going to guess 4 hours. For the marathon I ran in 2013, I finished in about 3hrs 50mins, though I know I could have been much closer to a 3hrs 30 min marathon.

All three combined, I should be finishing my Ironman in about 11hrs 20mins, including transition time.

If I am overestimating, then I suspect the bike leg is where I will be able to shave off the most time. If I underestimated, well, that would just suck, so I better not let it happen.

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How to find motivation through a change in mindset

This Saturday morning I woke up dreading my weekend workouts. With a simple change in my frame of mind however, I found the motivation that I needed to get me outside and enjoy my workouts. How did I manage? Let me explain.

1) Identify the problem(s):

  • My legs felt sore
  • My training partner is out of town
  • I didn’t want to repeat one of my recent training routes
  • My training schedule called for a 1:45min bike ride today and a 1hr run tomorrow, but the weather forecast was cold and snowy for today and I didn’t want to ride my bike trainer indoors for that long.

2) Solve the problem(s) by:

  • Being flexible:  switch workout days – run today and bike outdoors tomorrow
  • Adopting a different frame of mind.

I decided to think of the run workout as an opportunity to explore new sights in the Washington DC area and went for a run on the Potomac Heritage Trail (thanks John W. for the idea!). Here are all the amazing and enjoyable benefits that I got out of it:

  1. I explored a trail I had never been on before
  2. I enjoyed the beautiful sights of the Potomac river, including wildlife and frozen waterfalls
  3. I checked out prospective fishing spots along the river
  4. My body appreciated the soft running surface of the trail, a break from running on asphalt/cement
  5. The terrain (roots and rocks at times) challenged my reflexes, agility and quick footing
  6. Having to push off and jump up from rocks worked my body in new ways, similar to plyometrics training. I even had to squat to pass under a fallen tree!

How awesome is this??? Tomorrow I plan to ride my bike outside to enjoy the sights of  beautiful Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, which is greatly motivating!

To finish, I leave you with the positive lesson that I learned today: sometimes when you need to find motivation, all you need to do is be a little flexible and approach the challenge with a different frame of mind.

Need my Ironman partner

In one of her recent blog posts, Gabi wrote about the value of having a partner or group to help stay motivated through training. I couldn’t agree more!

photo(35)Gabi has been out of town this week for a few days and this has meant that I have been on my own for training. I must say training has been harder without her around!

The part that has been most difficult without her as a training partner has been to muster up the energy and find the discipline to wake up early in the morning for a training session. I felt like I was dragging myself to the swimming pool on Thursday morning, and I felt out of it getting up for a run this Friday morning. I am ok alone once I start working out and get into my mental zone; it’s the part that comes beforehand that is made more challenging without a training partner.

Granted winter weather and a late sunrise don’t help the situation this time of year, but my message for this post is this: I am glad Gabi and I are both in this Ironman journey together, in part so that we can support each other on though training days. Now hurry up and come home Gabi!

“What’s your favorite triathlon sport?” you ask

‘What’s your favorite triathlon sport?’ you ask.

Being a triathlete—and most recently when I share my Ironman dreams with those around me—I often get the question “so which of the three sports is your favorite?” This sounds like an easy question, but for me the answer happens to be a little more complicated.

Let’s start with swimming. Most triathletes come from a one-sport background as their strength before choosing to take up the other two. In my case, I come from a swimming background. I swam competitively in Costa Rica from my early years (~6 years old, best I can remember!) through my mid-teens. As it turns out, I was Costa Rica’s national champion in 50m breaststroke, and continuously placed at the top in various other events.

Odd thing is, I hated swimming! I hated cold water, I hated the 4:30am workouts, I hated the repetitiveness of lap swimming. Why did I swim then? Well, let’s just say that at that age, I didn’t have much of a vote. My parents made me do it. Retrospectively however, this taught me the discipline that I carry in many aspects of my life today, as is needed for Ironman training. So coming back to my original question, is swimming my favorite of the three disciplines? Doubtful, as I’ve always dreaded going to the pool, and still do. I am a good swimmer, but I don’t love lap swimming (though I do love to swim and free dive in the ocean).

My new Felt B16Next let’s transition to biking. Mountain biking was a hobby of mine growing up in Costa Rica, but I don’t sense much of a connection to triathlon biking. In the US I’ve relied on inexpensive bikes for transportation, never for racing. Last year, during my first triathlon season, I raced with my 2005 heavy aluminum roadbike, which just the year before I was locking up outside of campus buildings at Yale (or should I say New Haven for a different perspective?). As a result, my 2013 triathlons went something like this: Pablo comes out of the water ahead, then Pablo gets passed by lots of people with fancy tri bikes. Depressing… Things have changed however: I now have a tri bike myself! Watch out! Thus, coming back to my initial question, is cycling my favorite of all three? Well, it wasn’t last year, but it might just become so this year!728576-1021-0049s

If not swimming nor cycling, then that must mean my favorite sport is running right? But wait; I didn’t take up running until the Fall of 2012, so clearly it must not have been at the top of my enjoyment list. As it turns out though, the typical triathlon for me last year ended like this: Pablo comes out of the water ahead, then Pablo gets passed by lots of people with fancy tri bikes, and then Pablo passes just about everyone on the run. The running leg of triathlon racing felt really good! I only wish running wouldn’t be so bothersome to my IT band…

As you can see, I don’t have a decisive answer to the question “Which of the three sports is your favorite?” Ask me again later into my training and racing season and I might just have made up my mind.