Austria Pre Race Preamble

AustriaPreRace11In a break with tradition here’s an arty shot of our hotel from our window rather than a shot of the race bike ready to rumble.

I used to like exams. I viewed it as a chance to prove myself. In general, I went into them well prepared and confident of doing myself justice. I try and take that mentality in to my racing now. The doing yourself justice though is something I believe in endurance racing you will alway do UNLESS you have some form of bad luck. By this I mean results generally line up with the preparation you put in.

So leading in to this race there’s an element of excitement because I feel good but I don’t really know what to expect as the months leading up to this race have been quite different to my previous history of training. I’ll be honest that I have no idea of how I will go. This lack of confidence in predicting my performance stems back to, surprise surprise, my 100 hr monthly cap which I have stuck within without fail since Kona last year.

I will look at each discipline in turn. (The number in brackets after a split is where that split would place me overall)


I’m pretty confident of a solid swim. I’ve been in a good squad now for a few weeks and I can see from 400 times I’ve been hitting that I should swim solid. Whether I swim a great time will depend on getting in a good pack though my plan is to not stress about it since if I’m on my own the swim is generally slower but more fun. My nerves as usual are around getting the start right and I’m still thinking through my approach.  My plan for the start is to go just hard enough to keep ahead of trouble and then settle into a steady pace where I can continue bilateral breathing – for me this means my breathing is not at all laboured.

Based on how I’m going in training I would hope I could swim 53 or 54 mins in a wetsuit on my own. So going to go with this range of splits:

52 (16th In front age group pack) -> 54 (39th)

If I were a betting man: 53:30


2:15 (36th) -> 3:00 (169th)

Betting man prediction: 2:45

[Gabriel pointed out change in transition – so adding a minute. Having been to the briefing the change in transition looks quite significant as it now includes a pretty long run. It surprises me that they’re not made every effort to keep transitions quick as it could be the difference between getting a new Ironman World Best and not]


I rode fantastically at Busselton but back then big BIG weeks of training through to Kona were still pretty dominant in my training history. Going in to this my biggest weeks would have been my smallest weeks back then. The power numbers in those weeks have generally been higher and the figures I saw during our camp are the best I’ve recorded. Limited over distance riding makes me wonder what impact riding that hard will have on my run. My plan is to aim to ride at a normalised power of between 230 and 245 … in practise this means aiming for about 235-250 on flats, cap at 325 on hills (thats just below FTP) and the long rolling descents are lilely to be under 200. In my mind I want to be stronger in the second lap than first – I need to think like this to prevent myself going ballistic early on.

Nutrition – 50g snickers bar in T1 bag which I will eat some / all of as I move through T1 and onto the bike. 15 x PowerBar Vanilla gels mixed with water. Water at aid stations. May supplement with banana / energy drink but will plat that by ear. Thats ~ 1700 cals in just under 5 hrs.

As for a prediction… I just don’t know ! Go with my heart or go with my head. My feeling is this course is at least as fast as Busselton… so my dream prediction is fastest ever bike split.

4:45 (30th) -> 4:55 (127th)

Gun to my head… 4:52

Going to stick with this even though due to the change in T1 they’ve added an out and back (so a dead turn) to make up for the shorter start to the bike.


2:45 (63rd) -> 3:30 (232nd)

Betting man: 3:00


Here the 100 hour cap is pretty much irrelevant. The biggest change since qualifying at Busselton has been a complete change in my running technique. Since Ironman New Zealand I’ve managed to up my mileage, my default pace on long runs and I’ve managed a couple of solid 30+ KM runs. This has to be the best prep I’ve had for running in 2 years. I am by no means where I can get to with my run but I am excited about finding out on Sunday how I can run.

My plan is to start the run on feel but try and ease up if I’m running too fast (sub 4:30 is probably too fast). I will see where this settles me – I’m hoping at around 4:45s. I will try and stay relaxed through halfway then for the next 10k focus on maintaining the speed I’ve established. Final 10k I hope to push on like I did at Wimbleball. I’m under no illusions … the final 10k could be survival.

In my T2 bag I have the following to stick in my pocket – salt tablets, some dextrose tabs (some cals + magnesium) and that super caffeine energy shot that Paul T put me on to in Lanza. I’m holding this in reserve hoping it will have the same effect it had in Lanza on a 30km run. I will collect a gel at the first aid station and then take one before every aid station after that only stopping if I start to feel my tummy getting dodgy. Coke as and when required but aiming for not before halfway.

I feel/hope I can run 5 min/ks. so…

3:20 (77th) -> 3:40 (273rd)

Betting: 3:25 (slight hope in that figure… proper British betting)

Having had a fair bit of down time here in Klagenfurt I not only looked at where the above splits would have placed me in last years results but I’ve also looked at where they would have placed me heading on to the bike and heading on to the run. This is partly as it calms me and it also gives me an idea about what to expect in terms of guys riding by me and what I should do about it. Wimbleball was incredibly disconcerting… I felt I was riding well and in the past if I’ve felt like that I’ve not had a huge number pass me.

Here’s it all pulled together:


I did these estimates without totting them up so the total times are interesting in view of what I know in my heart I’m aiming for.

The first and foremost goal is to PB – this means going sub 9:15:29 – my betting man estimate would place me just outside. So…

  • GUTTED  if time greater than 9:45
  • DISAPPOINTED if time is 9:30 – 9:45
  • SATISFIED if time is 9:20 – 9:30
  • VERY HAPPY with 9:15:29 – 9:20
  • OVER THE MOON with 9:10 – 9:15:29
  • OUT OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM with 9:00 – 9:10
  • OUT OF THE UNIVERSE with sub 9:00

That latter one is my ultimate goal which I’m pushing for in the next few years. It’s out of reach on Sunday really. Perhaps I could be a minute faster on the swim but could I get under 3:20 on the run? I’d be very surprised.

Looking at the placing gives me an idea of what to expect on the bike (big assumption is general quality is like last year) – pretty much I shouldn’t see too many go by me as my net drop in places is pretty low. If I swim above expectations and ride below I could get 20 to 30 riders passing. I need to be prepared for how I deal with that.

Each race I put this sort of prediction up. Why do I do it ? Couple of reasons

  1. Predicting before is a way of testing whether my view of how my training is going is correct. It helps me see whether my assessment of my form is accurate.
  2. I believe in making goals public. I feel more committed to them. Some people worry about getting criticised about ambitious goals but to me those that criticise are not worth worrying about. Your friends may help you be realistic but they will always be supportive.

Overall my aim and hope is to have double the fun (double the course) that I had at Wimbleball.



ok … I couldn’t resist my traditional pre race photo of my bike ready to go and my bags ready to pack.

This entry was posted in Race Preview and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s