Saturday, June 7, 2014

US Long Course Nationals--The Predictions

Niels Bohr, the great Danish physicist, once said: "Predictions are very difficult, especially if they are about the future."  These are sage words from a sage man so I'll approach my predictions with a bit of trepidation.  Before I make them, let me give you a bit of summary of my trip out.

I left yesterday morning at 4:00 a.m. from Delaware and generally made very good time.  The total trip (to Grand Rapids, MI) was right around 700 miles and since it looked like I was going to make it by 3 p.m., I decided to detour a bit to East Lansing, MI--home of Michigan State--my alma mater.  I hadn't been here since I graduated in 1979--35 years ago!

I made my way over to the Engineering Building and eventually found my way to the Chemical Engineering department.  I was amazed to see that my academic advisor from that long ago past, Dr. Martin Hawley, was still there.  I stopped by his office but alas he was gone for the day--I left him a note..

Of course, I drove by and took a pic of Sparty (the original--not Dave Spartin!):

I also drove by and saw where I lived while I was there--here is the front door of Williams Hall where I lived for 4 quarters:

I lived in the room on the 4th floor that is 3 to the right of the chimney with my roommate of the time, Gordy Martin.

Anyways, after a pleasant stroll down memory lane I got back on the road and in between East Lansing and Grand Rapids I hit a milestone in my trusty Black Beauty:

Many of those miles have been doing just what I'm doing on this trip--driving to and from triathlons...

Anyways, I checked in and drove the 11 miles over to Ada, MI, which is where the race is actually being held--right near the HQ of Amway.  The swim is being held in the Thornapple River.  The river is damned at one end and this creates a pleasant lake-like body of water with no detectable current.  I swam there this morning and it was fine as a swim venue.  The water is a little warm for a full wetsuit, but I'll have to just deal with it.

The bike course is a reasonable one.  It has some poor chip seal in some areas and quite a few potholes, which will need to be navigated successfully.  It's a pretty fast course I'd say on balance.  there are definitely some hills--especially on David Hwy--but these will allow one to move around on the bike and not just stay locked into aero position.  The bike is essentially a 28-mile out and back.

The run is essentially a 3.3-mile double out and back through the neighborhoods that sit near the river.  The course has some up and downs and doesn't have much in the way of shade.  My guess is that the run will be pretty challenging--more so than say Mount Tremblant or Las Vegas.

In any event, let me turn to my predictions.  As I alluded to in an earlier post I analyzed the 44 guys in my M55-59 AG and determined that there were 15 guys whom I judged as very likely to beat me.  They are:

-Blake Saionia (MD)
-Brian Lengling (WI)
-Bruce Los (MI)
-Curt Penland (MI)
-Dan Skinner (MD)
-Hans Porten (ONT)
-Jim Reid (PA)
-Jim Winegarner (AK)
-John Grice (IA)
-John Zangmeister
-Max Anthouard (MI)
-Michael Wendorf(MI)
-Richard Punches (MI)
-Ron Gierut (IA)
-Shane Eversfield (MD)

Now the top 20 qualify for the World Championship in Sweden in 2015.  As you can see, a number of these folks are from MI and perhaps would not take one of the slots so it's possible for me to qualify finishing as low as 25th (if 5 slots roll down).  In addtion to these 15 gentlemen, I see another 6 guys that have a reasonable chance of beating me.  There are another 3 guys I couldn't find any info on.  the other 19 I think I should be able to beat.  So, if you put that all together, and assume that I beat the 19 I would be projected to finish somewhere between 16th and 25th.  Of course, predictions are difficult, as Niels pointed out above, but it does seem clear to me that I'm likely right on the bubble and I'll either just barely qualify or just barely miss (barring unusual events).

Given all of this, I've concluded that I'll need to do a 5:30 to make this happen.  7 weeks ago, at IMNOLA70.3, I did a 5:45:57 (36:03/4:29/2:44:56/2:53/2:17:31).  To do a 5:30 tomorrow, I think I'll need to swim 35, bike 2:35, run 2:14 and spend 6 minutes in transition.  Normally, even given my current fitness, I wouldn't be worried but with my lower leg problems--this could be tough for me....

I feel like I have a good shot at doing a 35.  I did a 36:03 at NOLA, and my swim is quite a bit better than it was then.  For comparison purposes, here are my 21 other 1/2-Iron swims over time:

-Diamondman 2002:  38:09
-LC Nationals 2004:  46:32 (non wetsuit)
-Devilman 2005:  34:38
-Eagleman 2005: 45:33
-Devilman 2006: 33:01
-Eagleman 2006:  39:47
-IM70.3 WC 2006:  32:59
-White Lake 2007: 34:47
-Eagleman 2007: 32:45
-Timberman 2007: 36:29
-Gulf Coast 2008: 33:44
-Eagleman 2008: 37:03
-California 2010: 33:07
-NOLA 2010: 35:24
-California 2011: 35:33
-IM70.3 WC 2011: 44:41 (non wetsuit)
-SkipJack 2011: 33:16
-Shoreman 2012: 34:32
-Mont Tremblant 2013: 37:51
-Diamondman 2013: 35:50
-NOLA 2014: 36:03

So 9 of the 21 times I've been able to go 35 or better.  I think I have a good chance of doing so tomorrow.  If I exit the water with a lot different time than 35 (and I think I had a solid swim), then I'll just assume the course was not accurately measured.  If I do exit in 35, I'll assume that I'm in 10th-12th, with a few minutes separating me from the 20th position.  BTW--I'll need to push it fairly hard to do 35 and that will be my intention.

The transition zone is very long so if anything, my transition times might be longer than 6 minutes combined.  I'm pretty solid at transitions so I'm guessing I'll gain about a minute combined over the 20th slot.

If it's going to happen for me tomorrow, it will have to happen on the bike.  It's hard to compare from course to course but when I did a 2:45 at NOLA this year I averaged 183 watts.  If everything else is equal (and it's not), I'd need to average 218 watts.  I just did 230 watts over 15 miles at Jersey Genesis--this implies I'm ready to do about 202 watts, so that would seem an unreasonable expectation.  This course is harder than NOLA--although the weather forecast is calling for considerably less wind then I dealt with there.  I'm going to target 190-200 watts tomorrow--where I settle in at will be a function of how I feel.  This may be good enough (due to the lesser wind) to get me a 2:35.

As with the swim, here are my historical 1/2 IM bike splits:

-Diamondman 2002:  2:29:06
-LC Nationals 2004:  2:32:09
-Devilman 2005:  2:32:59
-Eagleman 2005: 2:26:28
-Devilman 2006: 2:28:17
-Eagleman 2006:  2:28:59
-IM70.3 WC 2006:  2:24:10
-White Lake 2007:  2:24:47
-Eagleman 2007:  2:24:04
-Timberman 2007:  2:40:02
-Gulf Coast 2008:  2:26:32
-Eagleman 2008:  2:27:32
-California 2010:  2:43:44
-NOLA 2010:  2:37:11
-California 2011: 2:57:33
-IM70.3 WC 2011:  3:06:04
-SkipJack 2011:  2:29:35 (56 mile equivalent of a 66 mile bike split)
-Shoreman 2012:  2:40:18
-Mont Tremblant 2013:  2:54:50
-Diamondman 2013:  2:33:00
-NOLA 2014:  2:44:56

So, I've been faster than 2:35 13 of the 21 races--although only twice in my last 9 races.  If I can do a 2:35 tomorrow, I figure I'll be in 5th-7th place in my AG and more importantly will have about a 15 minute buffer on the 20th place time.

Then will come my nemesis.  I had one of my worse runs of my triathlon career last week at Genesis. I'm in poor run shape and this is compounded by the continuing muscle weakness problems in my lower left leg--a residual effect of my peroneal injury.  Normally 2:14 shouldn't be too tall of a order but I'll have to be careful on the run--I can't afford to risk further injury--I'll be starting my Kona build in a couple of weeks.  If need be, I'll scuttle my qualifying attempt and just walk off the run....

Hopefully though, my leg will be strong enough to jog through to a 2:14 and that will be good enough to get me to Worlds.  Here are my historical 1/2 IM runs:

-Diamondman 2002:  1:55:15
-LC Nationals 2004:  1:44:54
-Devilman 2005:  1:47:12
-Eagleman 2005:  1:57:58
-Devilman 2006:  1:49:33
-Eagleman 2006:  1:45:04
-IM70.3 WC 2006:  2:20:33
-White Lake 2007:  1:38:01
-Eagleman 2007:  1:43:56
-Timberman 2007:  1:50:45
-Gulf Coast 2008:  2:07:25
-Eagleman 2008:  2:36:50
-California 2010:  1:58:30
-NOLA 2010:  2:10:18
-California 2011: 1:59:50
-IM70.3 WC 2011:  2:06:21
-SkipJack 2011:  1:47:33 (13.1 mile equivalent of a 10 mile run split)
-Shoreman 2012:  2:08:25
-Mont Tremblant 2013:  2:02:53
-Diamondman 2013:  2:27:41
-NOLA 2014:  2:17:31

So I've done 2:14 or better 17 of 21 times--still, I think this will be the hardest number for me to hit tomorrow.

Finally, for completeness, here are my final times historically:

-Diamondman 2002:  5:12:06
-LC Nationals 2004:  5:06:49
-Devilman 2005:  5:00:23
-Eagleman 2005:  5:14:59
-Devilman 2006:  4:58:21
-Eagleman 2006:  4:58:27
-IM70.3 WC 2006:  5:24:55
-White Lake 2007:  4:43:14
-Eagleman 2007:  4:46:55
-Timberman 2007:  5:12:32
-Gulf Coast 2008:  5:14:55
-Eagleman 2008:  5:48:22
-California 2010:  5:22:04
-NOLA 2010:  5:28:06
-California 2011: 5:40:09
-IM70.3 WC 2011:  6:06:13
-SkipJack 2011:  4:54:49
-Shoreman 2012:  5:27:36
-Mont Tremblant 2013:  5:42:50
-Diamondman 2013:  5:40:59
-NOLA 2014:  5:45:57

I've been 5:30 or better 15 of 21 times.  Although only 2 of my last 7.

Enough with the predictions--almost time to race!   Bring it on.

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