That's actually the easiest thing to answer. How long? A really long time. A co-worker asked me if I thought it would take between 2-4 hours. Ummm... you can't even drive the course in that amount of time. Thanks for the confidence in me though. I did Ironman Canada an entire decade ago, and my time was 15:17. I think I can beat that, even though I'm ten years older. Aging process be damned.
The swim. I started swimming again at the beginning of this year after taking several years off. I was always an ok swimmer, but getting back in the water was pretty depressing as I was a lot slower than I used to be. Duh. I have worked hard in the pool and am pleased to report that I'm pretty close to where I was ten years ago. I think my swim will be close to 1:10 for the 4 km, especially if I pick a good line, get a pretty good draft and don't get boxed in by the 2,799 other competitors. About six months ago I was thinking I'd be lucky to break 1:20, but now I'm feeling much more confident about the work I've done since then.
The bike. Kirsty and I have been focusing on the bike, as this is where I'll spend the bulk of the race. Let's face it, 180 km is no lunch ride, even when that's all that's on the agenda. I am REALLY hoping to break 7 hours (which is a lot faster than I rode at IMC in 2000). Even if my split is 6:59:59 I will be happy! I know I can break 7 on a good day; it may be up to the wind and luck (no flats...) to help get me there. The course is known for a rather intense headwind section, repeated three times, so I have been working on staying aero and still. I will do everything I can to get back into transition in under 7 hours, except completely shatter my legs as I still have to run the marathon!
The run. I have no time goal for the run. I am not a great runner, but Kirsty and I have been working on a run/powerwalk plan that I really like. My goal here is to always be moving forward and to hustle.
My real goal... is not time related. Time is what everyone has been asking me about, so there is your answer. But if you want to know my true goal for the day: it is to soak it all in and have fun. For even the speediest athlete, Ironman is a long day; longer than most people's work day. Therefore I think it's imperative that I enjoy it. I see too many people taking Ironman so seriously that they forget that it's recreation. After all, I chose to do this (indeed, I paid a large sum of money for the ability to participate). I have a fantastic and privileged life that allows me to make that choice, and I intend to enjoy the day. There will be points that I am marvelling at the beautiful desert scenery, points that I am feeling strong and powerful, and points that I will be wondering just why I chose to do this and feeling tired and in pain. But I plan to enjoy all that. To really take it all in and get what I can from it all, the good and the bad, the fast and the slow, the strength and the pain.
At the end of the day (literally, the end of the day), there is nothing that can really go wrong with my race. If there's a serious headwind and torrential downpour - really? Can't be any worse than some of my training rides this fall. If I get a flat tire, I will change it. If I get another flat, then I will wait for neutral support to see if they have another tire or wheel. If I get yet another, or if my bike undergoes catastrophic failure and I can't finish the race, that's ok as just doing the training was my real goal. Will I be disappointed? Of course, but it would be a pretty minor disappointment when put in perspective. If I can't finish due to fatigue (pretty unlikely) or push myself so hard I end up being carted off the course by medical (even more unlikely), I still did the training to get to the start line. If some unexpected scenario arises, I will roll with it to see where the day brings me to. I have a super-duper team of friends and family showing up to support me and cheer me on, and it really feels good knowing that I have peeps in my corner.
I believe I will finish the race. I believe I will finish strong and achieve all my goals. I will have fun and enjoy what the day brings.