I looked up my 2008 goals that I'd set a year ago.
"So, what about 2008? I've never really worried about having an "A-race" to plan around, but I really want to concentrate on two races this year. I've done the BSLT 70.3 before, but mostly I just wanted to finish the race. Given the level of competition there, I won't ever finish on the podium (top half of my age group is possible), but I'm going to shoot to finish in under 5:45. (The winner of my age group will be about one hour in ahead of this.) I did the Half-Silverman in 2007, and I'm moving up to the Full Silverman this year. OK, just finishing is my goal, but if I train the way I plan to train, I should be able to finish in under 15:00. (The winner of my age group will be about three hours ahead of this.)"
How did I do? The short answer is that I was one for two. I finished BSLT in 5:44:27 (13/36 in my age group). I finished Silverman in 15:30:09 (6/12 in my age group).
Now for the excuses. Although I "met my goal" at BSLT, I could have gone even faster. It was raining during almost the entire bike ride. My bike handling skills are pretty limited as it is, and given the wet road conditions I was really careful anytime there was a turn in the road. Heck, sometimes it was scary just passing people on a straight section of road. I'm thinking I could have gone a little faster on the bike if the roads had been dry. However, I might have gone slower on the run if I'd burned more matches on the bike. Who knows?
The weather at Silverman was brutal. With about one-half mile to go on the swim, a cold front arrived. The waves and the spray on the last half mile of the swim slowed me down quite a bit. The killer was getting on the bike in a sleeveless jersey and shorts. The air temperature went down into the 40 or 50 degree F range, it started to rain/sleet on everything, and the winds picked up to 20 mph with gusts to 40 mph. I have never been so cold as I was during the first hour of the bike. It was very scary going downhill at any speed above 20 mph because of the wind and the slick roads, and I was shivering so badly my arms were shaking the entire bike. After an hour or so the weather didn't necessarily become nice, but at least it was less nasty, so I was able to finish the bike. But it sure took a lot of energy out of me, and I more or less gave up on trying for any particular finish time. I was simply looking to finish. Having said that, after T-2 I saw that I only needed to run a 5:20 marathon to finish the race under 15 hours. Even on the Silverman course, I should have been able to do that. But I still couldn't get warm on the run. By the time I hit the 16 mile point, I needed to grab a "space blanket" from one of the aid stations to drape around my shoulders to keep me warm. I'm not sure that I would have finished in 15 hours even if the weather had been ideal, but I know that I would have been faster.
So, what about 2009? OK, I've got three goals. I will "age up" to the M55-59 age group this year. I'm not going to blow away the competition there even if I can go as fast this year as I have in the past. However, while the "best" guys are quite a bit faster than me, the older age group is just a little slower overall. My first goal is to place in the top ten of my age group at the BSLT 70.3. In order to do this, I will almost certainly need to be faster than last year, but given "normal" weather conditions I ought to be able to do this. My second goal is to finish the Silverman in less time than it took this year. This might seem like a "soft" goal, but just finishing the Silverman is pretty challenging. If the weather there is better, and assuming that I do finish, I should be able to go under 15:30. My last goal is to run a sub 21:00 5K. This is not going to help me much when it comes to running 13.1/26.2 miles at BSLT/Silverman, but it's something I want to do. I used to run 3 miles in 21 minutes when I was a cadet at the USAF Academy, and that seemed pretty easy at the time. As recently as 1996 I could run 1.5 miles in less than 9 minutes. OK, I'm older now, but there are plenty of guys in my age group who can run 5K's even faster than 21 minutes. I'll work on this during the next few months. If I can do it I'll do it before the end of May. One way or the other, I won't worry about trying to do this after the end of May. After that, I'll be racing BSLT and ramping up for Silverman.
Three goals for me. Good luck to everyone in 2009!