David Fernandez (Florida) is in The Woodlands as we speak, primed and ready to give Ironman Texas a Triple Threat takedown on Saturday. Leading into the race, I asked if he'd be willing to comment on his training, as well as strategy, goals, and nutrition plan for the big day. 1. Training I didn't have a coach that put a training plan together for me nor did I follow a plan downloaded/purchased from the internet or a book. I created my own plan and I started training specifically for IMTX after Christmas (my last race last year was onNovember 11thand I didn't do much in between that race and Christmas). First I looked for a couple of races to help me prepare for IMTX. I did two HIM, one onJanuary 26thin Key West (Bone Island Tri HIM) and another one onMarch 22ndin Clermont (Florida Challenge). Without doubt, one of the benefits of living in South Florida is that you can pretty much race all year long. Once I had the race schedule ready I set weekly and monthly goals for swimming, biking, and running. Since biking is my "strongest" sport, I dedicated more time to the swim and run at the beginning, especially to swimming (my weakest sport by far). Starting in March I became more serious about the bike training and pretty much all my weeks were divided as follows: Swim 20%, Run 30%, Bike 50%, mixing endurance, recovery, and intensity (very few) sessions. My highest volume weeks were after the race in Clermont and until 3 weeks before IMTX. I trained between 18 hours and 23 hours a week during that period of time, definitively not easy to balance with work and life, but my wife was a champion and I was able to train as much as I needed/wanted/was able to (depending on the week). I am feeling confident going into IMTX this weekend. I think I am physically and psychologically ready to finish my first IM and can't wait for it! My only concern is my right calf... I suffered a calf injury before the HIM in Clermont and I am not still fully recovered. I should've taken a few more days off of running.
2. Race Strategy / Goals I've thought many times about times, splits, efforts, etc. I've visualized the swim, bike, and run course (there are a few videos online that explain the race and you can watch the entire course!) many times as well as crossing the finish line. My competitive nature wants to finish under a certain time, but I also tell myself that this is my first IM and my main goal should be finishing the race without getting injured and with a smile on my face. Having said that, this is what I have in mind:
a. Swim: - Goal: 1:15- My actual goal here is to get out of the water. I swam the distance many times in training, but I don't have experience swimming with 2,500 people and it intimidates me a little bit. - Strategy:Be patient and conservative. Try to go through the first 500 yards without panicking, finding my rhythm, and hopefully a group of guys I can draft from. b. Bike: - Goal: 5:40 - This is my strongest sport. I know I am capable of doing a bike split ~5:20 and be ok for the run; however, I don't want to suffer during the run and I'd rather have fresh legs (have never run a marathon, stand alone or after a bike ride). Also, although Texas seems flat for many people, it is quite hilly for a guy from Miami. I am used to pedaling straight for as many hours as needed on flat terrain, but I am not sure how my legs will react when the road turns uphill... it's been quite a few years since I mountain biked in Spain! - Strategy: Be really conservative and take advantage of getting some nutrition and hydration to avoid bonking on the bike and run. I will have to fight to not go faster, but I need to think that my success or failure will be decided on the run, not on the bike.
c. Run: - Goal: 4:15 - According to my training pace and HM run pace, I should be able to finish a marathon somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45. But having a calf that is not 100% healed and the brutal heat conditions during the run everybody talks about (I hope it doesn't hit me too hard, after all, I live in Miami...), I will be happy finishing around 4:00. - Strategy: Negative split. I will start at a pace that I know I can sustain for the entire run and I will push it up after mile 20 (if I have some legs left at that point...). d. Overall: - Goal: Finish and break 12 hrs(hopefully around 11:30) - Strategy: I am taking a conservative strategy, but I'd rather finish knowing that I could've been faster and wanting to try another IM than beat up and not wanting to race another IM soon. 3. Nutrition I think I have a little bit of an advantage here compared to other age groupers... My sister is an excellent sports nutritionist, whose clients are duathlon world champion and many of the best pro triathletes from Spain, among other top world athletes. We started working on my daily diet and race nutrition last year and the results are spectacular. Not only has my body composition changed significantly, but also we were able to dial my training and recovery nutrition as well as my race day nutrition. I truly believe I owe her most of my improvement during the past year. Nutrition is an art that needs to be adapted to each person. This is what I am planning to do for IMTX: - 3 hours before the race:120 grams of cereal + 400 ml of milk with Nesquick (she is not a fan of this pre-race meal, but it is kind of a superstition for me) - 60-90 min before the race: 1 banana - 15 - 90 min before the race:500 ml of water / sports drink (don't abuse though) - After the swim:PowerBar gel + water - Bike: During the first 5 miles on the bike: Bonk Breaker + Sports Drink 1 Bonk Breaker at the 1 hour and 2 hour marks + 1 gel every 45-60 minutes after that (either the 2nd Bonk Breaker or the first gel can be substituted by a banana). Last gel should be within the last few miles of the bike Drink between 500 and 700 ml of sports drink per hour - Run:1 gel every 45-60 minutes with water and sips of sports drink in between. Do not over eat/drink to avoid GI issues, but make sure sodium levels stay high. - After the race: I am planning to go to the best BBQ or burger joint in Houston and eat until I pass out. I used to live in Austin, TX and I really miss a good BBQ place.