I've been hanging around waiting to post about this until I could also post the link to the athlete tracking function on the Ironman website, in case you have the urge to follow at home, but have now realized that it really won't be up till closer to the time!
So, just to get it off my chest:
I can truthfully say that my only real goal for Florida 70.3 is to finish!
(When I do my first marathon in the fall, I will definitely have a more ambitious time goal, I am still slightly tormenting myself with the notion of a possible sub-4:00 finish though it may well be my ambitious goal comes in more like 4:10...--in a way it's pleasant just taking this race as it comes, time goals make things interesting but also stressful! It is the benefit in this case of being a genuine novice that even finishing will be quite an accomplishment, and if I cannot finish, I will be a good sport about it, it is an ambitious goal and I am going to make a very good stab at achieving it but that does not guarantee me anything...)
Despite lack of time goals, it is useful to have some sense of timeframe, not least because of questions about hydration and nutrition and the psychological issue of gearing up for a race of X duration.
I've got more information now about course and cut-off times and I think that there should be no worries in that direction--if I don't finish, it will be because of hydration issues coming out of heat and humidity and the length of the race, but if I am sensible I should be able to stay hydrated enough to continue functioning reasonably well. The course only really closes around 9 hours (with some more specific details of when you have to be off different parts of the course), and a lot of people are still finishing in the 7-8-hour range and some in the 8-9.
So these aren't precise figures, just ballpark (the bike in particular is terra incognita!), but it seems to me it breaks down like this:
0:15 T1 and T2 combined
Swim pacing may be a bit of a challenge--i.e. it might be tempting to get caught up swimming a bit faster, and my experience from running is that it is significantly more difficult to judge perceived effort in the adrenaline-drenched race environment than on a nice quiet training session--but I am concentrating a great deal of mental energy on the notion that I must swim very slowly and smoothly. Not a lot of open-water experience, none in race conditions, so it will be a useful opportunity to start getting used to this mass swim scenario. I'm looking forward to it--my swim conditioning is good, I'll practice some drafting if I can find a pair of feet, but I do not mind a slow time and will swim further to the outside if that makes sense. I'm going to follow Jim's advice and try and swim the first third at least with bilateral breathing, then switch to right-hand-side breathe-every-four when I need a mental boost.
The bike might be slower than 3:40, but probably not a whole lot slower--and of course we can always hold out hope that it might be faster! Somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00, that's what I'm guessing. The bike computer hasn't been working properly, and this of course is the area where I'm considerably undertrained, so really I have no idea...
In a stand-alone half-marathon, on current fitness, I'm definitely capable of sub-2:00 (my fastest time in the fall was 1:54 and change, I did a couple this winter at 1:56 and 1:57, and the one I did recently at training pace was 2:06--ran a bit too hard for the hilly last miles, but was very comfortable and fully aerobic up until about mile 9), but it will be very humid and I don't want to risk not finishing if I've gotten that far. It's a three-loop four-mile course, so I'm thinking if I'm feeling OK I'll try for negative splits. First loop at very slow pace, second loop pick it up a bit if I'm capable. By the time I get to the third loop, I will be utterly knackered and starving and dehydrated, so frankly I will run as fast as I can to make it be over!
Seems like often I accidentally stop my watch and lose track of exact time, so it may be more than I can worry about, but if I know where I am on the clock and it seems like I might be able to squeeze in under seven hours, then obviously I will make the effort. I would think that ultimately I should be able to go sub-6:00 on a not-too-challenging half-ironman course, but I am several years away from that goal, so there is no point worrying about it now.
Projected swim wave start is 6:57, I think, so let us say 7am to 2pm. Think of me on Sunday and send positive thoughts my way! I am very likely to post something short later that afternoon to say whether or not I've finished, with a full report to follow...
Also, though I am a resolute non-snapshotter, I am forced to confess that I do like it when other people have pictures on their blogs, so I promise at least one Disney tourist picture later in the week! Possibly one of me eating an ice-cream in the shape of Mickey Mouse...