February 2005 By Gordo Byrn
What a wild time it is in the final four weeks leading into an Ironman race. The key preparation has pretty much all been done but the mind is constantly looking for that little edge. At times, my sessions appear to alternate between just-get-it done and life best performance. Is it like this every time? Perhaps. I’ve been through it a few times before, so I guess that’s supposed to make it easier. It certainly makes it familiar.
Thought I’d check in a little before the race this time and share a bit about how my preparations have gone since my last note. In the end, Epic Camp was a lot of fun for me. We did some crazy training and I managed to improve my swimming as well as my mental skills, nothing like long hours alone to simultaneously calm and clear the mind. Suppose you do need to be into that sort of thing.
Returning to Christchurch, the focus shifted back to Ironman New Zealand. We’ve got a great group training down here this time around. The House of Pain is loaded with dedicated athletes and I’m fortunate to have three of our sport’s fastest “swim, bike, run”-ers living and training with me (Monica Caplan, Bjorn Andersson and Clas Bjorling). They provide inspiration to me to keep at it in each discipline. I’ve made progress since last year but they show me what is still to come, if I persevere.
Anyhow, as you’ve probably read, Cam’s the man up in Taupo. I was curious just how much of The Man, he was. So I did a little research…
· Six races on the Taupo course, “worst” finish was 2nd (phew!)
Take his slowest splits from each discipline and it’s still faster than my PB for the course, oh boy! Clearly, I was going to need some superior mind power to help me with my preparations for March 5th, so I called a meeting of Team HOP 2005. It’s a pretty good team. Too bad they don’t have elite Ironman relays. It would be fun to watch these athletes race if overall pacing wasn’t a concern.
Monica has been the first woman out of the water in Kona the past two years. Training down in Christchurch, the short course boys have been known to whimper a bit when she jumps in their lane. In fact, we’ve got the provincial 1500m champion swimming in our squad as well, Hannah. So there’s a fair amount of grrrl power around. Bella is known for her running but they’ve renamed her lane the “Bella Lane” and she pulls a wagon train of AGers through their session every morning.
Bjorn had some foot issues at the end of last year but he’s riding great on a modified set-up as well as a slightly different training protocol. It turned out that riding 20-25 hours per week in a 58-12 places a fair degree of strain on the foot (who knew?). Baron? Well, he’s the same old guy. I really get a kick out of him. His current long run is a combination of three of my favorite local runs – he knocks it out in about 2:20 – the one time that I attempted it a few years ago (with Baron), it took us close to three hours. What can you say about a guy that does training marathons in 2:50 … just for kicks?
We were going to invite Molina along but he’s Cameron’s coach so we didn’t want to place him in a conflict-of-interest situation. We’ll have to hope that he doesn’t read this article.
We started with Miss M. She told us that the secret to a good swim is to simply hang on and remember “if it hurts then the other guys are hurting too”. Hmmm, the whole reason I started going long was because I didn’t really savor that short course type of pain.
Mister A was 5th out of the water last year so I asked him what he thought of the swim. His reply, “it was pretty easy, Brent Foster didn’t start all that fast”. Suppose that’s all a matter of perspective. Bjorn did a 2K TT the other day and held 1:14s (LCM) without a wetsuit. So, it might feel just a little different for me.
On to the bike… Mister A blitzed the bike last year with a 4:33 on a windy day. 17 minutes faster than Cameron, who had the day’s second fastest ride (4:50). So how did he do it? Did he break it up into sections? Did he seek to negative split? Nope, turns out that his best advice is… “ride steady the whole way”.
“Ride steady the whole way” – oh boy, I felt ready to rock with that nugget!
OK, so far I was going to “hang on” for the swim and “ride steady” on the bike. Turning to Baron, I was hoping for something at least approaching insightful. After all, he managed to break the event record with a 2:42 last year. His offering, “run fast downhill”. After thinking for a bit more he added, “and push the uphills”.
I suppose that I might have had my expectations a bit high but it turns out that there aren’t really any secrets to racing well. Turn up fit, stay calm and make the most of the day. Not a bad strategy for any event. Should be a lot of fun for me and the boys. Given our different strengths, hopefully, we’ll be able to at least make things “interesting” for Cam.
I’ll check back in after the race.