IMCdA Race Plan

Goal Time If The Bike & Swim Courses are Short + Tail Wind All Ways on Bike & Run 😉

This is a rough outline of my race plan.  This will be my 7th IM race and I could probably do the race without any planning.  My nutrition strategy is simple, effective & roughly the same at every race.  And by now I know what a well paced Ironman feels like and how to pace myself with power, heart rate, pace and feel.   I’m 6 for 6 in executing well (i.e. coming very close to getting the absolute most out of my body on race day & especially running a strong marathon with a strong 2nd half marathon), so there’s no need to do anything new or experimental.  My plan is quite similar to my plan from last year.

BUT, I did have some areas of where I could improve from last year’s race:

  • swim start: started too far inside and it was ROUGH– this cost me quite a bit of energy & I had high HR on the bike
  • transitions: were poor– I’ve made big improvements here & I just need to practice my transitions & visualize them until they are seamless
  • burning tons of energy passing people on the bike: a few times I had to pass a “barely legal” bike pack.  The problem with this is that you have to almost pass an entire pack in one fell swoop if you don’t want to risk a drafting penalty.  And every jerk in the pack picks up the pace as you try to pass them.  So even though you steadily reeled in the group going at 220 watts, all of a sudden you need to ride at 300+ watts to pass them.   Then once you pass them they try to suck your wheel or overtake you.  The only solution is to catch them, keep a legal distance behind them to get a rest and gather your energy, then to make the pass.  Or, hang out a legal distance behind them until the hills break up the pack (probably a good idea if you are close to the hills).
  • taking too long to recognize that my bike legs “weren’t there”– I was riding at my rehearsal watts for too long even though it felt too difficult (and my HR was high).  I dialed it back eventually, but I would have had a stronger race if I had recognized it earlier.
AND there are few differences from last year that I need to plan around:
  • I’ve changed my swim technique and I have a much higher stroke rate.   Now 4 stroke breathing can mean I’m working quite hard (similar to 3 stroke breathing last year) and I can test my effort with 6 stroke breathing (like I used to do with 4 stroke breathing last year)
  • The bike course is new.  Longer more gradual hills instead of short hills at threshold.  Power versus speed will need to be monitored carefully.  I need to be mentally prepared to go 50 mph on the one steeper / long descent (high speed descending hasn’t traditionally been my favorite thing).  Luckily my new Shiv + firecrest is much more stable than my old P2 + other race wheels and I’ve been much more comfortable descending at high speeds.
  • I have a new bike / new nutrition setup.  I’ll be using the internal bladder in my new Shiv instead of an aerodrink.  This holds a bit less liquid, but it should be enough.  I’ll take some extra swigs from my drinks before I toss the bottles.  I’m also keeping my flat tire stuff in a bottle between my aerobars.  
  • New Tri Shoes.  I’ll be wearing tri shoes and doing flying (dis)mounts, which will change up my transitions.


Race AM:

  • 3:45 up with a smile on my face: music, bib shorts on, coffee, water, breakfast
  • 4:05 partially dress, put wetsuit on to help digestion, sip on water w/ nuun until hydrated
  • 5:00 @ transition when it opens: body marking, drop special needs, put cliff bars on bike, put garmin on bike (with correct settings), fill drink bladder & make sure it’s working well, add run bottle to my run bag, check that brakes aren’t rubbing, check that bike is in correct gear, put my bike shoes on the pedals & make sure the shoes are open, put sunglasses in the bento box
  • I love race day!  Relax & have fun!
  • 5:50 back to hotel to hit the bathroom, put wetsuit on
  • 6:15 go to swim start: smile & relax, shake out arms & legs, mentally review my strategy
  • get into water before swim & warm up!  try to get to the point where my face isn’t burning anymore


  • line up where I did in 2010 (inside, but not all the way inside, behind the aggressive people), if in doubt, line up just a little bit further forward (but be ready to be run over)
  • start: 4 stroke breathing– if I have to use 2 stroke breathing then I’m above threshold
  • settling in: go from one set of feet to another; I’m very efficient at an intensity where I can alternate from 4 stroke breathing to 6 stroke breathing comfortably; if I’m going too hard, drop back onto a different pair of feet
  • technique: focus on rhythm, pulling myself forward & breathing into the pocket

  • walk up from the beach while I take cap & goggles off & wetsuit top off & shoulder straps off
  • relax & let strippers take off my wetsuit
  • jog to t1 bag, walk fast & put helmet on (stuff cliffs into shorts pocket)
  • in tent: socks on, ask volunteer to put my wetsuit into my the bag & jog to bike (buckle chin strap)
  • grab bike, flying mount, hit start on garmin, get up to speed & gradually put shoes on, put sunglasses on


  • If I’m feeling good, power should be around: * 240 watts flats (21-24 mph)- aero position * 250 @ 19-21 mph- aero * 260 @ 16-18  (semi aero position OK for a bit unless headwind) * 270 @ 12-15 mph * 280 (semi aero position OK except headwind) @ 10-12 mph; @ 10 mph or below can sit up (unless headwind) & go up to 300 watts
  • do not go above the wattages below (at least on loop #1)  and go easier  if those wattages feel too hard; mistake last year was to ignore that it felt too hard on loop #1; 
MILES 1-17 “Warmup”
  • BE CONSERVATIVE OUT & BACK AT THE START OF THE BIKE: constantly passing can burn alot of matches; when coming up on someone who is going somewhat similar speed to me, “take a break” a legal distance behind them before passing; burned tons of energy passing nonstop here last year
  • Start at 230s average or so and let it gradually go up if I feel good
  • MENTALLY: chill out on this part; better to go a little too easy
  • count # of people ahead of me on out & back- want to move up GRADUALLY
  • U turn: start wide; keep body upright & press down on outside pedal
  • Hill @ Mile 19-21: this is the hardest hill- shouldn’t feel any struggle here on loop 1; WATCH SPEED VERSUS POWER: don’t push too hard when speed is high; relax, coast & recover on downhill
  • Gradual uphill @ mile 24-27:  again, watch watts versus speed here- easy to push too hard on gradual uphill; 
  • 2 miles net downhill (flattish?): coast & soft pedal & high speeds
  • kicks up again to peak elevation @ miles 30-32, recover on descent afterward, little climb to turnaround, 
  • almost all downhill EXCEPT: short uphill right after turnaround, net uphill in the middle of the 2nd long hill, then a long 3 mile climb up the back side of the mile 19 hill; should be TONS of coasting in here
  • descending: the shiv has proven itself to be much more stable than the old cervelo– trust it!  Smile & have fun “weee!”; get aero on straight parts of descents; no brakes (braking destabilizes)
LOOP 2:  keep fueling, keep concentration up; if I feel bad then increase the amont of coasting I do
  • fill shiv bladder w/ 1 bottle IM perform / aid station; probably won’t fit entire bottle so take a couple swigs before I toss; probably close to 400 cal / hour of perform
  • eat 1/6 cliff bar / 10 min when watch beeps for up to 4 cliff bars; lay off cliffs for a bit if stomach not feeling good
If things go wrong, stay calm and adjust.   If things go catastrophically wrong (crash, double flat) and I lose a massive amount of time, then I’ll look to sign up for a foundation slot at a different IM and I won’t do anything today that will compromise my recovery (I’ll either quit or jog / walk the marathon).
  • take garmin off bike mount & onto wrist mount before dismount
  • feet out of shoes as I’m coming back toward transition
  • Flying dismount
  • helmet off as I jog to my bag, jettison anything I’m carrying
  • shoes on, grab bottle & go!
  • switch garmin to run mode as I jog through transition (hit start when I cross mat)
RUN Miles 1-2
  • run at a comfortable perceived exertion– do not go faster then 6:30 / mile!
  • don’t worry if I’m starting slow– for some reason I’ve been a slow starter w/ my runs this year; it’s actually ideal to make miles 1 & 2 the slowest
Mile 3- end of loop 1
  • after  a mile or two it will be obvious what is sustainable– if it’s good, then great!  If it’s not good (like last year)– oh well!  I’m probably still on track for a great race.
  • aim to finish 1 bottle cola / 4 aid stations (probably about 300 cals / hour if I fill bottle 2/3 the way up); if I fill the bottle all the way up I can do every 6th aid station; the more I put down on the bike, the less I need on the run; if stomach is bothering me, water the cola down or switch to water for awhile
Loop 2- OUT:
  • should start to feel like I’m increasing effort a bit to hold the pace here, but need to have a couple gears in reserve
  • walk a few steps in the middle of the hills while I drink
  • keep drinking
Loop 2- BACK:
  • FLY down the hill @ the turnaround & let it rip
  • GET ANGRY!  
  • If I’ve been drinking well, can ditch my bottle somewhere around mile 22.
  • Hard but sustainable– probably feeling like an open half marathon at this point, start pushing into the pain a little– trust that I can sustain
  • last 5k to the finish– give it all I’ve got!!!  No quitting now!!  GET EVEN ANGRIER!  I’d rather die than quit!
  • get to massage tent
  • caroline gently stretch me out
  • “ice bath” in lake cda
  • compression socks 
  • fish oil

About Coady

Lucky to be coaching some really awesome & fun people!
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