Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship, Phuket - Pre Race Post

I'm just about 2 weeks away from the start of my first half Ironman (70.3).  I feel prepared yet nervous at the same time.  I suppose that's to be expected as I recall feeling the same way before my first half marathon in 2009 (Nottinghamshire, UK).  The jitters quickly fade after the heart rate gets going.

Phuket was an easy choice for the first 70.3 as its quite close to Hong Kong and is an awesome holiday destination.   1.9K Swim, 90K Bike and 21K Run here I come.  From what I gather the swim and bike legs will be quite challenging.

Swim Course:
We start with a 1.28K swim in the sea and then exit the water to a 100m sprint to a fresh water lagoon where we complete the final 620m.  Note that fresh water is less buoyant that saltwater so the transition to freshwater will surely mess with my brain.  I tend to swim better when I float. Errr...duhhh.  Let's see how this goes.  My plan is to ease up the pace a bit before I exit the saltwater to make sure my heart rate is steady between 130 and 140bpm.  This should put me in a better condition to adjust to freshwater. Then hopefully I can find a rhythm in the lagoon after a couple of hundred meters so I can pick up the pace and have a strong finish to the swim.  Overall, I think the key to my having a decent swim is to stay clam and relaxed.  If I tense up, push to hard or panic I am done for.  Let's just hope I don't swim into any of these:

Actually, although there is always a risk of a jellyfish encounter in open water swimming, I'm not particularly worried about it.  I will be father back in the pack so hopefully the front swimmers will act as machetes for anything lurking out there.

Bike Course:
This is the first running of the Phuket 70.3 so there is not much information online about the bike course.  However, a good portion of the route is the same as the Laguna Phuket Triathlon that runs every November.  From what I hear via rumors the course is extremely hilly and very difficult.  Finally today I found some information on the elevation of the climbs posted by Palermo Francesco.  I will line up this guy's figures for Phuket against a recent training ride I did in Hong Kong to give you an idea where we stand.  Its also worth noting that this guy rates the difficulty of the course as moderate.  Of course, it always relative to the ride.:

Phuket 70.3 Route (according to Francesco Palermo)
Accumulated elevation gain:  548m
Max elevation: 158m


A Recent Hong Kong Training Ride with JoggerJoel
Accumulated elevation gain: 1,377m
Max elevation: 907m

By the numbers I should have no problem crushing the Phuket hills.  Nevertheless,  I have heard too many comments about how bad the hills are by folks that have finished the Phuket Triathlon.  In the end, this is a big unknown for me and hard to form a decent pace strategy for the bike in advance.  I think I will probably go hard on the flats and then ease up for all the climbs.  I won't really know where the big climbs begin so if I discover, mid-climb, that the peak is a few hundred meters ahead then I will open it up and power over.  The plan is to always start the climbs easy.  I don't want to go balls out into a mountain guessing that its just a hill and then have to painfully grind my way to the top.  Remember GI Joe says "Knowing is half the battle."  Well, 2 weeks to go and I feel like I don't know jack smack.  If the above plan fails I will just turn the pedals until I see its time to get off the bike and run.

The Run Course:
This should be a flat and fast course that winds through various resorts and golf courses.  There should be plenty of cheering friends, family and tourists along this route which will be nice as a pick-me-up after the bike leg.  I don't really have a plan for the run as it will heavily depend on how I feel getting off of the bike.  I think the only thing I will be sure to do is to take the first 10K a little easy.  I want to avoid bonking and leave something in the tank for a stronger 11K to the finish.  I'd be happy with myself if I ran this as a negative split.  Another factor that may change my run tactics is JoggerJoel. If he catches me on the run (for the record I think he believes he can catch me on the bike) then I will have to switch things up a bit.  At this stage, let's just say that I have a plan and it doesn't involve cheating, weapons or nudity.  I'll let you know in the race report if I needed to use the plan and if it worked.

Lastly, just a side note on traveling with a bike.  I decided to buy a soft case to pack up my Synapse.  I am planning on wrapping cardboard around as much of the frame as I can and then zip tying it for security.  Let's see if I come back =) or =(.

Wish me luck!

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