Oilman Half-Ironman pre-race report

As before, I will not have time for a full pre-race report tomorrow, so I’ll write one today. Tomorrow I’m flying to Houston, TX for a half-Ironman distance triathlon Oilman.  Initially I planned to do Ironman Austin 70.3, but on the Slowtwitch forums there were a lot of negative feedback about the bike course. So I went for a non-WTC branded race with very good reviews.

Training: Execution

It is my third long distance triathlon training cycle and I didn’t execute is as precisely as my sixth marathon cycle. The time and logistic commitment is bigger for triathlon. Basically I need to have all aspects of my life figured out to be able to spend even 10-12 hours per week for training.

Which I hadn’t this time. The first month was quite unstable because I was trying to figure out a difficult career move and it took all my mentaL strength. Only after I got this under control I was able to exercise regularly.  In the PMC graph for the whole year you can see distinct parts:

  1. up to end of April – carefully executed Boston marathon training cycle
  2. up to September  – very weak Poconos 70.3 training cycle with an aggressive ramp-up in the last month
  3. September – November – more stable Oilman 70.3 training cycle with an easier ramp-up in the last month

This attitude will not work next year, when I’m going to try to go full distance.


Training: Build cycle

I tried as much as I could to have a “build” cycle in the last month. Overall CTL was flat, but I think I was pretty close to the definition of the build. I did plenty of hard 3+ hour rides, several race-pace runs and pretty much every swim was also race-pace. I managed to have at least one quality interval running session and one quality spinning session per week. There were a couple of ~5 hour bricks, where I pushed myself to complete exhaustion. The overall weekly schedule looked similar to the one before Poconos:

  • Bike: 1 interval session, 2 easy rides, 1 long ride (sometimes Brik)
  • Run: 1 quality session, 1 easy run, 1 long run
  • Swim: 2 pool workouts, 1 OWS
  • Strengths: very easy yoga 1-2 times per week.

Pre-race stats. Poconos vs Oilman

Parameter Poconos Oilman Comments
 Max CTL 108 104 Shorter, but more intensive workouts generate less TSS. Also, no century rides in the fall
 CTL drop before the race 7.4% 12.5% I felt a bit tired last time, so this taper was less aggressive. Vance’s recommendation is 7% max, but it was not enough for Poconos
 TSB on the race day 17 28 28 is probably too much, a max of 20 is recommended.
 Weight 157 159 Both times a bit higher than I wanted

The most important change though is that I feel much better psychologically this time. I don’t have to take care about a thousand problems and feel much more relaxed. The travel will add some stress, but it should be relatively mild. Just one direct flight with JetBlue and plenty of time to get  things done before the race. I will not even have to wake up to early, because we’ll be staying at the resort, that hosts the race.

Race plan and goals

With the new bike I might actually target the podium in my age group this time. In order to do that, the bike segment must be pretty fast, ideally around 2:30. But I’ll take 2:40. I’m not much worried about the swim and run. So, to recap:

Goal A: Age-group podium

Goal B: sub-30 swim, sub-2:45 bike and sub-1:30 run

The plan for the race is: go reasonably hard on swim, thinking about quality pull. Then keep 90-95 IF on the bike. Check speed only at 5 mile lap ends. Keep 6:50/mile pace on the run as long as I’m able.

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