OK, it's starting to sink in: After one Ironman and two Half-Ironmans, I'm learning the hard way that the key to a successful race is pacing towards the run and not trying to set PR's on the swim and bike. At least I think so?
I put this theory to practice today in a pedestrian 3.5 hour ride with my buddy Frank. We twice replicated the Amgen Stage 8 route from last year, Agoura Road to Cornell to Mulholland up Rock Store and down Decker. Our pace was slow (trust me), but I kept my heart rate mostly in zone 2 (typically south of 141 bpm). This also was because I chucked up a fair amount of mucus from chest and nose through the first half of the ride. But, by the end I felt pretty decent -- though my body was telling me a third loop would be a mistake.
The highlight of the ride was spotting Team HTC/Highroad (Cavendish, Martin, Renshaw, etc.) at Westlake Boulevard on its way presumably to Hidden Valley or up Decker. Granted, the "big three" aren't with this particular team as they're at the Giro d'Italia according to the curt German team mechanics I quizzed as I visited the team's truck. They're training in Southern California instead of Northern because, as the jerky bike tech said, "you want them to train in the snow?"
Gee, thanks dude.
After the ride, I did something I rarely get to do following a workout -- sleep! Steph is trying on her wedding dress down south today and that meant I could take a nap that I desperately needed. It's quite clear my body is still fighting infection as an alarm had to wake me up nearly two hours later. But I still rallied to jump in the pool for 40 minutes and I'm glad I did. My performance was much better today than yesterday, which is encouraging.
Maybe I haven't lost as much fitness as I thought.
That said, I probably couldn't have gone much harder on the bike today even if I tried. Which brings me back to my main point. I may have to accept the realization that if I want a faster Ironman time, I need to hold back a bit on the bike and swim. I simply need more energy to expend later in the day and can't get caught up in trying to PR any one particular area of my race. I did have that kind of mindset at Wildflower, as I feel like what's the point of racing if you're not trying to outdo yourself in each of the three sports every time? But, ultimately it's how you finish the race -- not how you start or complete a particular segment. The fact is that it's probably a lot easier to make up time on the run than anywhere else. On a swim we're talking a matter of minutes between a PR performance while still turning in a respectable time. On the bike, what's 15 more minutes on the road if it ultimately means saving 20-30 minutes on the run?
I need to focus on the long-term goal. Finishing the race in my goal time. Not what split I've achieved.
Easier said than done, but today was a good lesson in that area.
Let's see if it sticks.
50 days and counting.