The big day is getting closer every day now! I know that’s kinda obvious but it is beginning to feel much more serious now, humbling and a bit scary.
It has been a wild ride so far. I clocked another maximum effort week, collecting more than 700 TSS and as many as the week before. Just like I planned and I feel like that is also close to the maximum of what I can realistically recover with work and family keeping me busy. To be honest, I took work easy the past weeks, slowly bringing down my overtime account in order to allow for more freedom to workout. It is not only the time to actually workout, but also the degrees of freedom to time my workout when I feel in best shape. Makes a world of a difference to go for that 4k open water swim with a friend or to do that horrible 90 min exhaustion workout on the trainer when you’re feeling fresh and not after 9 hours in the office and with crap food in your system.
Anyway, I did another 4k open water session, just to be sure I’m up for it and boy am I! 4k with wetsuit in a pond, almost completely berathing bilaterally every 3. Couldn’t help thinking how 2 years ago when I took lessons 1k non-stop sounded insane. Then 1.9k under 40 min was a massive achievement. Now my only concern is to pull through my workouts even when it’s boring the living hell out of me. But even that got better, with improved swim skills I begin to enjoy the water work as well.
On the bike I blindly folloqwed my TR protocol with one VO2max workout and a 90 min exhaustion session. Horrible work, I call these the „Screw you Chad Timmermann +2“. All followed by a 100k brick ride on Sunday. It is good that race day is near because I feel like I am not improving much anymore and that I begin to just grind my outdoor rides away. I know I’ve got my nutrition and position down, I know how to pee on the move and am confident in my bike handling and pacing skills. Not to be cocky, but I got this and can’t wait to get to the start line.
Running was mediocre. I did a medium tempo session, an easy short cruise and a 80 min brick run. Felt good and was reasonably fast – at least for my usual performance. One thing, again, became abundantly clear: I really have to take it easy out of T2. Coming off the bike I focused on going out easy, kept my HR down and ran slow on purpose and still came out a pinch above 5min/km. Which of course felt good for 10k and from there you could hear time ticking until certain explosion. So, note to self: Whatever happens, I will run the first of 4 laps in Hamburg not faster than 5:50min/km and then take it from there. No matter what.
I’ve also been thinking about my expectation level for the race. I know this is my first and as they say – you can never plan for it until you’ve done one – and on raceday everything looks a bit different, and my training volume was on the very low side of things. But still, I need to make some plan in order to keep me focused, guide my expectations and calibrate my pacing. So here is what I think.
If I’ll have the best day of my life and everything goes absolutels perfectly to plan I think I can touch on 11 hours. Say I seed optimistically for the swim and find some fast feet to draft then a 1:10, maybe even a 1:05 is possible. Leave 10 min for T1 and I am on the bike at 1:20. The course in Hamburg will be ridicolously fast. So in Roth I did 182 W NP, whcih was okay for the rdie but too much if I had to run afterwards. Taking into account that the hilly nature of the Roth course inflated my VI to 1.06 I believe that 170 – 175 is a realistic range for Hamburg. Plugging those numbers into BestBikeSplits gives me a range of 5:10 – 5:30 depending on wind conditions and how much time I spend in aero. So, for the sake of it say it is 5:30 with no issues, smooth nutrition and no mechanical or flats, the I’ll be back at T2 at 6:50. Leave 10 min for a relaxed and smooth T2 I hit the run course at 7 hours sharp. Can I run a marathion in 3:59:59? Yes I think so. Will probably be unpleasant and I’ll have to walk many aid stations to ensure proper hydration and fueling, but holding 5:41 min/km average seems possible if I have a good day. So 10:59:59 is sort of my upper boundary and I would be beyond myself if I manage sub 11 in my first full distance race. But what’s sort of the lower boundary of my expectation? I don’t know, I guess so much can go wrong that finishing at all is still all that counts.