Friday, October 7, 2011

My Pre-Ironman Perspective | T-24 Hours

Training on the Queen K. It's a long hot road to that finish Line.

As I’m writing this, it’s less than 24 hours until the start of the 2011 Ironman Hawaii! First, I wanted to thank everyone for their well-wishes and support! I really appreciate the positive vibes … thank you!!!  Here’s a little bit of an update on how things are going and my thoughts about race day, as well as my goals.

I did Ironman Hawaii for the first time as a 22 yr. old back in 1991, accompanied by my Dad and sister.  Back then, Ironman was still very much a fringe event in the world of endurance sports with only a handful of Ironman distance races throughout the world. Flash forward 20 years and Ironman is an internationally known brand and a huge commercial entity generating Millions and Millions of dollars in revenue.  My, how times have changed!

After 1991, I went on to do Ironman Kona six more times and carved a unique career out of the sport as a coach and athlete.   Needless to say, the sport and this event in particular means a lot to me and I feel it’s an honor and a huge privilege to be able to toe the line again 20 years after my first time…. This time as a masters athlete.

Many have asked me about my goals for the race.  Well, my first goal, as always, is to finish without needing medical attention.  In fact, Hope, my 7 yr. old, asked me on the phone from Tucson to try not to get hurt.  She apparently still remembers my mangled body and broken bones as a result of crashing at the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race last year. I told her not to worry….that daddy would be fine.  She was happy to hear that.

My second goal is to be within 10 minutes of my time in 1991, when I was a young 22 yr. old buck.   That time was 9:19 and breaks down to approximately a 1:03 swim (2.4 miles), 5:10 bike (112 miles) and 3:05 run (26.2 miles).  Although I noticed another gray hair this morning, it would be awesome to try and defy age by beating my former self! I think it’s a possibility. Even though I’m not as physically capable 20 years later, I know I’m a smarter racer.  In addition, back in 1991 I raced on a road bike with clip on aerobars, changed clothes during each transition and supplemented my sodium by eating salt encrusted powerbar chunks. Technology has come a long way!

Also, now I race for a time as my strategy, not to ‘win’.  Ego and the desire to win seem to drive many of the younger athletes, especially testosterone powered males.  That makes for a long day on the race course for many as they “Burn their matches” early out on the Queen K and then blow up in spectacular fashion. I know… been there, done that.  Nowadays, I try to focus on staying within myself, doing my own race and being steady all day long.  If the day goes well, I hope to hit the following time goals on this historically difficult race course.

Swim:  1:05-1:08
Bike:  5:10 – 5:15
Run:  3:10 – 3:15
Transitions 5-7 minutes

If I can deliver upon these time goals, I’m pretty close to my 1991 time of 9:19 … 9:30 ish! :)

My third goal, or “perfect day” goal is to podium with a sub-9:15 time.  I think I have the engine to do it, given my recent results over the past two seasons, if everything goes perfectly well.  The masters division is incredibly competitive this year with several former pros toeing the line, so it’s possible that a good day will enable one of the old guys to crack the 9 hour barrier.  We’ll see very soon!

In any case, it’s incredible to be here again after investing so many years competing here in the 1990’s.  Although I’ll be incredibly anxious and nervous before and during much of the race, I’ll also be smiling a lot with thankfulness and gratitude for the ability, good fortune, support from my family and friends (Jen, thank you!) and good health to still be participating in this unique sport at this level for so many years. 

I wish everyone doing the 2011 Ironman Kona good luck and to finish in good health.  3-2-1 GO!!


Troy Jacobson is the creator of the Spinervals Cycling series, official coach of Ironman and the head triathlon coach for Life Time Fitness. Learn more at


  1. Great race plan! I’m eager to hear about how you did!!! And early congrats for finishing another Kona! Hopefully, I’ll get there one day!

  2. Have a great day out there! I am pretty confident that if things go relatively smoothly you can beat your old time handily...