Contemplating a Race Strategy for Ironman Wisconsin #IMWI

As I leaned against the orange boom this morning, I thought about (for the 1000th time) how I would tackle the Beast.  The other day, coach sent out a note suggesting we plan our race backwards, so with that in mind, here goes nothing.

1149742_378482225613742_1354585257_oThe Run

I’ve said all along, the run is my wild card.  I have yet to run more than 14 miles and will be knocking out my first full marathon at the end of an ironman.  That thought is both daunting and insatiably intriguing.

There’s a saying in sports that typically goes with scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run, “Act like you’ve been there before.”  Traditionally it means, don’t be over-the-top or anxious because is says your surprised, or don’t believe in yourself.  You didn’t think you could do it.  But how do you act like you’ve been there, if you really haven’t?

The only way to do this is mentally.  I have been thinking about it on every run I’ve taken for the last few months.  Embracing the inevitable pain and moving through it until something else hurts.  Then, repeat.

Strategically, I have gone back and forth with the idea of wearing a Garmin, but predict I will not.  I’ll likely start my chrono swim watch when the canon goes off and use it more as a reference than an obsession.  The run will have to play out by feel and my goal is to negative split each half of the run with intention of starting very slow off the bike.  (I know, everyone says this, but I really mean it!).

The last, and potentially crucial intangible, is the crowd.  It’s hard to put a value on spectator support, but everything I’ve heard about Wisconsin has me excited to run through downtown Madison, loop through Camp Randall (home of my beloved Badgers), and soak in my favorite campus.  I’m banking on the distractions, not the least of which will be family and friends lying about how great I look!

The Bike –

I have started to regain my mojo on the bike and the timing couldn’t be better.  Add to this a recent tune up and new chain (delivered by the Godfather of bike maintenance) and I’m feeling pretty good about the ride.

The “x factor” for me will be, “How does my training ground, Natchez Trace, compare to the Wisconsin bike course?”  If it is favorable (ie… the Trace offers a more difficult ride) I will cautiously push the envelope.  Of course, I won’t know this until the second loop, so up until then I will be paying close attention to my effort and gearing down anytime I feel like I’m breathing hard or my legs leave a comfortable spin.

If the Trace vs. Wisconsin comparison is unfavorable (equal terrain) I will all but take off my race hat.  This doesn’t mean I will be on a country stroll, but conserving energy will be top of mind.

My goal is to come off that bike excited about the challenge of the run, not to wish I could go back to the hotel and and watch meaningless NFL games.  In fact, I may use that for motivation.

The Swim –

My strategy on the swim is simple.  Start slow, build by feel, and don’t stop.  I have a goal time of around 2 minutes per hundred and 5 or 10 seconds either way will be fine as long as I feel like I just had a nice and energizing swim.

We’ve been swimming open water at least twice a week for the last few months, so I feel comfortable with the lakes and crowds.  I really just want to stay calm, find clear pockets, and keep my arms moving.  The pace will take care of itself.

Pre-Prologue –

This will be my first Ironman.  I haven’t officially “been there,” but thousands of training hours have exposed me to relevant thoughts and feelings.  Along the way I’ve learned a lot of things and quite possibly the most important is, your mind will look for a hundred reasons to throw in the towel.  In fact, nine times out of ten, your mind will try to talk you out of everything.  That’s why I’ve been so adamant about simply listening to my body.


18 Days Out LessonNeighbor James – Man, it gonna be mid-week and u gonna have some doubts, but u can’t let that shit up in you.  We all had our doubts, but keep ya eye on the prize.  Shine them damn shoes or eat you a salad to keep ya weight down.  You gotta be light, man.  You can’t dance all day if u got a big ass at night.

5 thoughts on “Contemplating a Race Strategy for Ironman Wisconsin #IMWI

    1. Mike Post author

      Solid point. Good thing I have 18 days to figure that out! ha…. The tentative plan is, eat like a pig on the bike, drink like a fish on the run.

  1. spudgt2

    Great strategy. I got given a tip which is to swim on the outside of the loop I.e if its anti clockwise swim out to the right, go wide this will ensure you have those pockets. It worked for me 🙂 good luck! Good strategy for the run btw!

    1. Mike Post author

      Thanks, man! I am still weighing a few different starting places, but that’s definitely an option. Do you have any idea what the average swim time is for IMWI? I feel like with all the open water training we’ve done I may be a smidge above average and while I don’t want to be too aggressive, I don’t want too many people to pass either. It’s a tough one!

      1. spudgt2

        No idea what it is for IMWI. If you think you’re faster than average, take on the above strategy, after half a lap you’ll be spreadout and be able to join the main route

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