Saturday, January 1, 2011

What's next? Help me decide!

Alright, after all of that Ironman Western Australia fun, all of the relaxation and vacationing, all of the Christmas spirit and family time... it's time to sit down and really figure out exactly what I'm going to focus on in 2011.

I'd like to do another Ironman-distance* triathlon this year, then another (or perhaps two?) in 2012, and then retire to a tropical island, where I will get fat on spam and pineapples. I'm going to have to be on top of sign-ups for the big 2012 Ironman races to ensure I've got a spot on the start-line in New Zealand, or Nice, or whatever glamorous location I eventually settle on. But that's neither here nor there, and I need to bridge the gap with a 2011 race that's not yet sold out.

The way I see it now, I have four options for 140.6 races this year. They all have their pros and cons. I'd appreciate a little bit of help making the decision. When you're done reading through the options below, voice your opinion via the poll on the right-hand side of the screen. Feel free to elaborate on your decision in the comments section.

Without further ado, my options are...

Vineman Triathlon

July 30 - Santa Rosa, California - Link

This is the race that I did as part of a relay team this past July, where I came in second on the swim. Our relay smoked the competition, finishing in just over nine hours. The bike course was lightly rolling but otherwise awesome. The run sounded hilly and super hot... but it's close as heck to home.
Pros - Inexpensive entry fee ($350) and only a short drive from home means very little travel cost. (Saves money for a more epic race in 2012?) Lots of friends from CA would be able to come out and cheer me on.
Cons - Swim's a bit murky, can be very warm. Does it have the same weight as a real Ironman? Too early in the year to really allow for any improvement over my performance in Busselton?

Ironman Canada
August 29 - Pentincton, British Columbia - Link

I know a few people who are doing this race and a lot of people are selling it as one of the few remaining "pure" Ironman events. M2 won on this course twice in the 90's and knows it very well. Unfortunately, general admission slots have been sold out for a while now, so I'd have to fork over a boat load of cash (over $1,000) to secure my entry via the Ironman charity foundation.
Pros - Probably a beautiful location & beautiful course. "Pure" course, meaning just one lap of each discipline. Several M2 spin class folks headed up to participate. "Official" Ironman race.
Cons - "Pure" course is not spectator friendly. Would require flights, etc. VERY high entry fee ($1150).

REV3 Cedar Point
September 11 - Sandusky, Ohio - Link

I just found out about this today. Rev3 is a new triathlon organization looking to compete with Ironman. It's USAT sanctioned and completely legitimate. Cedar Point is one of the most ass-kickin' amusement parks in the world, by the way.
Pros - Inexpensive. Driving distance from my parents' home in Ohio means my parents (and even some family from PA) would be able to come cheer. Close to Cedar Point, which is awesome.
Cons - Potentially hot/humid in Ohio in September. Not the most glamorous location. Still requires a flight. Same Ironman concerns as Vineman.

Silverman Triathlon
November 10 - Las Vegas, Nevada - Link

So this is probably the most difficult 140.6 that I'm aware of and reminds me a lot of the Auburn "World's Toughest Half" Triathlon that I did in May. The 112-mile bike course includes almost 10,000 feet of climbing! Holy crap. The marathon includes 2,000 feet on it's own. Damn. This wouldn't really be a race for a time; all I'd want to do here'd be finish.
Pros - Inexpensive entry ($300). Late in the year means lots of time to train for it. INCREDIBLY hard course means it's actually one of the most bad ass 140.6 races you can do, which eliminates Ironman authenticity concerns.
Cons - INCREDIBLY hard course. Lateness in the calendar year means limited time to turn around for spring Ironman races in 2012. Did I mention, it's really hard? Might be a last-resort race.

* - Aside: Ironman, if you don't know, is just a corporation - an Ironman 140.6 is in no way more or less difficult than any other 140.6-mile event. Others are just put on by different race organizers. They're still Ironman races in distance and difficulty - just not in branding.