12 hour Ironman…maybe, just maybe on a brilliant day

As a followup of my recent post about the possibility of a 12 hour Ironman

here’s what I’m seeing based on my most recent training results:

Swim: 1:20:00 / 1:55/100 yards

This is going to be a stretch…swimming in a local 50M pool on Friday, my fastest lengths were 2:16/100M (2:04/100 yards)…and that was only 50M at a time…rest interval…then go again…so to think that 3 months from now that I can swim 2.4 miles at 1:55/100 yards seems a bit remote right now.

…so having said that, it was my 3rd ‘fast’ swim session of the week…and first full week of ‘fast’ swimming…my left shoulder was feeling a bit stiff, so probably more tired than fresh…

So from where I sit now, a 1:30:00 swim, 2:07/100 yards sounds pretty ambitious…although I do have 3 months to get there…or faster…quite a bit of work to put into this swimming thing.

Bike: 19.5 MPH / 5:44:36

Interestingly enough, although this seems _really_ fast to me, it may be possible.  Yesterday, I did some testing on my Shearer road route, which is quite a bit hillier than Ironman Florida…it very humid 63%H, and hot 83F, but not crazy hot like it’s been…here are the results for 3 laps, short rest between them…so just over 2 hours of riding…minor distance variations depending on exactly where I hit the start/stop:

  • 43:13 : 14.434 miles = 20.039 MPH > 214W > max 135HR (Zone 3)
  • 42:59 : 14.467 miles = 20.194 MPH > 215W > max 134HR (Zone 3)
  • 42:45 : 14.417 miles = 20.234 MPH > 212W > max 139HR (Zone 4)

My last test on the bike was May 3, with an FTP of 270 Watts

…so for this ride, I was looking to average between 210-220W, which is 80% (216W) of my FTP, and actually my Half Iron race power…my Ironman power goal will be 70% of my FTP, or based on my 270 FTP, 189 Watts

…sooo, since Ironman Florida is a flatter course than the Shearer route, my speed for 210-220W would probably be closer to 20.5 – 21 MPH…wouldn’t that be nice…and even 190-195 Watts _could_ give me 19 – 19.5 MPH

So with 3 months to go, the optimal scenario would be get my FTP up to 285 Watts x 70% = 200 Watts on Ironman race day…which in ‘normal’ conditions would give me that 19.5 MPH with higher certainty…and maybe even a hair more

From where I sit now, therefore, 19.5 MPH seems doable…oh yeah…no stops allowed to get there, and all aero all the time…Ironman Florida is a trick ride, because it is flat, there’s no change of position, and many miles go by in the same cadence and gearing, so more fatiguing to the same muscles than something more rolling or hilly…one reason that Ironman bike course records are not set there…and then the wind…still getting some butt soreness on long rides, so still need to play with the right shorts and maybe have the fit tuned again

…oh and I can always buy a pointly aero helmet…saves 3-6 minutes in an Ironman ride…I’ve always had a concern about overheating, since I sweat like crazy, and not wanting to be commited to that head-aero position…although I’ve read tests that say that even pointing straight up they’re more aero…we’ll see…

Run: 10:35 min/mile / 4:37:17

This one is like ‘who knows’.  With a bum knee as perhaps a training/racing limiter, it’s more difficult for me to be really positive about this one.

…although, ‘theoretically’ it should be there…my Vancouver Half Iron run time of 2:05:16, with a few stops to chat to Iron Daughter and then a couple of her friends that were kind enough to come out to cheer us on…and considering it was a soft surface, and a few hills that don’t exist in Ironman Florida, it was probably a 2:00 hour ‘equivalent’ run time.

…so there are a few different formulas for predicting an Ironman run time based on a Half, commonly double the time and add 30-40 minutes…so based on that, it would give me a 4:30-4:40 Ironman run…

…or add 40-90 sec. per mile to your Half Iron pace…so 9:33/mile actual Half Iron pace, becomes 10:13-11:03/mile Ironman pace …9:09/mile without stops becomes 9:49 – 10:39 Iroman pace

Looking at the numbers from another direction, my last run test was May 5, and put my vDOT at 39…which translates into a ‘theoretical’ 10:23/mile pace for Ironman

Since my knee at this point doesn’t appear to like too much speed work, I may not be able to really drive up that speed to where I’d like it, into the 40-41 vDOT range…and hopefully not give up much speed….and may not be able to sustain the training mileage each week that I should be getting in.

On the other hand, if I actually do drop that 20 pounds…sounds staggering to me, but appears to be within reason…that should give me more speed…like a lot more, as long as running muscles aren’t melting off with the fat…still to be determined

So, other than not having the confidence in it at this point, and presuming that the body parts hold up to the training…and I have a nicely controlled 70% or less of FTP bike ride in front of it…a 10:35/mile pace _should_ theoretically be there.


Two 8:00 minute transitions, is pretty tight.  Up to now I’ve always had a complete clothing change into bike shorts, and then into running shorts, and bike jersey and running shirt…and the odd bathroom break, does add to time.

The transition times of the top pro’s are:

TI: Swim to bike:    3:30’ish
T2: Bike to run:      2:00’ish

So to get in the same range, I’d need to forgo the clothing change, and stay in the same shorts and top for the 13’ish hours…to that end I’m working on seeing if I can find bike/tri shorts that I can last 6 hours on the bike in…if not, I’ll lose time, if I’m so uncomfortable that I come out of the aero position to get some relief…we’ll see how this works out.

With the clothing change, it’ll be tough to get it down under 10 minutes each…my fastest transitions were in 2008: 10:59 & 9:27 respectively.

 So how about that 12 hour Ironman

When it’s all said and done, this still remains as my ‘exceeds’ goal…more realistically, here’s how it feels to me now:

Swim: 1:20:00 / 1:55/100 yards > hard to think I can get this…let’s say under 1:30:00…although dang, I’d really like to be at 1:20:00’ish, so I’ll put in the work, and see what it gives me in the next 3 months

Bike: 19.5 MPH / 5:44:36 > I have to say that although it ‘feels’ lofty to me, and would be a heck of a ride, I can see how I could do it…so yes, 19.5 MPH

Run: 10:35 min/mile / 4:37:17 > that would be a terrific run…if my body parts hold up during training, I can see that by the numbers, it should be there…and I’d need to be willing to trash the quads in the last 6 miles to get it there…and be stiff for a week…so yes, 10:35/mile pace

Transitions: let’s call it 10 minutes per transition to be rational

…so from where I sit, 12 weeks away, this means that an extra 10 minutes in the swim, and 4 minutes in transitions, may put me closer to 12:14:00’ish…add in a few extra minutes for ‘stuff’, and maybe a starting gun to finish line time, closer to, but maybe not over 12:30:00’ish

…so as it turns out, not much has changed since I first set this 12 hour goal, 9 months ago…it’s still lofty…and on a brilliant day, with some good training results in the next 12 weeks, still attainable…and even coming up a bit short would still get me across the line with a new PR (Personal Record)…under 12:57:44

…and the training that I’m doing in the quest, gives me a lifestyle that I really enjoy…what’s not to like 🙂


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