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Pacing advice needed for first half-iron
CREATED: 09/11/12 by HappyRunner REPLIES: 4
HappyRunner's ravatar HappyRunner    JOINED: 1/15/11    POSTS: 281
Pacing advice needed for first half-iron
POSTED: 9/11/12 1:56 PM

Now in my second year of triathlon and have done a half dozen Oly distance races. I am scheduled for my first half-iron distance at the end of the month (Augusta HIM). Totally looking forward to it.

Any advice on translating bike / run Oly pace to Half-Iron? Is there some sort of "rule of thumb" for this? I've found calculators for converting half-marathon run pace to equivalent effort marathon pace -- but nothing that could be used for triathlon pacing at all.

On the one hand, I don't want to "crash and burn" for my first half iron, on the other hand, it would be a waste of all the training time I've put in to finish with lots left in the tank.

Unfortunately, I don't have a power meter or heart rate monitor, so I can't work off that.

Any advice appreciated.

hamburger1971's ravatar hamburger1971    JOINED: 8/13/09    POSTS: 46
RE: Pacing advice needed for first half-iron
POSTED: 9/12/12 9:29 AM

Hi Happy.

It seems that pacing a HIM is all about the bike. I'd worry less about run pace than making sure that you don't blow up your legs on the bike and leave nothing for the run.

It's tough to say "back off 16.5% from your Oly pace" because everyone's different. I'd say ride the bike comfortably fast, but noticeably slower than you'd take an Oly. For example if you averaged 21mph on the bike in an Oly, try riding at 18-19 mph for the half. It'll feel like you're riding too slowly, but better to start off slow and pick up the speed partway through the ride than realize at mile 45 that you killed your legs for the run.

Then once you get off the bike, you'll have a feel for what your legs can handle on the run. Again, IMHO it'll be noticeably slower than your Oly pace, and also slower than your standalone half-mary pace, but I'm not sure anyone but you will be able to say if that's 30 or 60 seconds slower than those races. Of course, there may be some conventional wisdom about the pacing that I'm not aware of but I think that if you target 1:00/mile slower than your standalone half marathon pace then you should be OK as long as your legs aren't toast from the run. Of course, hilly courses also change that pacing so be flexible!

Good luck!


HappyRunner's ravatar HappyRunner    JOINED: 1/15/11    POSTS: 281
RE: Pacing advice needed for first half-iron
POSTED: 9/13/12 12:23 PM

Thanks for the reply (and thanks to the couple of people who emailed advice). I've adopted the mantra: "There is no such thing as a good bike followed by a bad run" so I definitely hear you on pacing.

I was a little shy to post my numbers, but averaged 21.4 mph at Nations last weekend followed by a very strong run. I was thinking 17.5 to 18 mph for the half, so based on your reply I'm feeling more comfortable about that.

Granted we are all an experiment of n=1, but it's kinda surprising that there isn't more data available for comparison. Probably most who do a half have done an oly first, so I can't be the first person wondering about this.

pmahler's ravatar pmahler    JOINED: 1/21/12    POSTS: 42
RE: Pacing advice needed for first half-iron
POSTED: 9/13/12 1:21 PM

Hey Happy, I'm doing Augusta too and it will also be my first half, as well as a fair share of others I think. We can calculate an average drop off for our group vs. an oly and share it if you think that would be interesting. At least we'll have an n=2 so we can calculate a variance.

shannontri's ravatar shannontri    JOINED: 6/28/12    POSTS: 54
RE: Pacing advice needed for first half-iron
POSTED: 9/14/12 12:14 PM

Good luck with your first half. Agreed that the pace should feel comfortably hard but it also depends completely on the course and your strengths. I'm a strange athlete in that I have trouble pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to really hammer an Olympic, but I can maintain my Olympic pace through a half.

Case in point: my last 70.3, my bike pace ended up 20.4 - and I've never averaged greater than 20mph on an Olympic in my life (and yes, this was an accurate course, which I'd done three years in a row). Don't worry so much about the numbers and race by feel.

Although by the numbers, if you can go 21mph in an Oly, I'd say that aiming for 17-18 is too low for you. The 19 range seems more reasonable to me. But hey, everybody is different and that's the beauty of the sport.

If you are worried about blowing up, try to build each segment of the race. If you really did go too easy on the bike, your legs will surely let you know on the run and then you can just push the pace.

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