Today I had my final strategy meeting with Michael. This past year has been designed around qualifying for Kona, and then a successful race. Michael qualified by winning his age group (30-34) in Coeur D’Alene with a time of 9 hours 34 minutes. The issue then became: “How does one then prepare for a second IronMan in the same year?” Well, to quote Frank Shorter, “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” Michael’s training since June 26th has been strictly oriented towards success in Kona on Oct. 13th. He is now ready to race here: he is leaner than he has been since grade school, and he is nervous but confident.
Today we discussed race strategy. In general I do not like to focus on specific goals, e.g. a time goal, since weather conditions (wind and heat) may dramatically impact such goals. Instead, athletes should focus on the process; the outcome will take care of itself. The other key point for an athlete to remember is to focus only on those issues that YOU can control. There’s no sense worrying about how fast your competitors will race. YOU cannot change that on race day.
Because Michael is a strong swimmer he should finish within three minutes of the leader. So, our strategy is to follow the leaders, let them plow through the water, and take as much time as possible from other contenders.
Over the last couple of years Michael’s cycling has improved to the point where he may be one of the leaders off the bike, but this is the World Championship and it is a different ball game this weekend. So, again, our strategy is to be patient, use the competitors, and keep in mind that 112 miles is one long time trial. We know that the last turn with 35 miles to go will be the point that separates the leaders from the rest of the competition. It is a long way back to the Pier and if the winds do what is forecasted then there should be a slight headwind. Ouch.
The run is Michael’s Achilles heel, but he has improved significantly over the past year and we look at the run as an opportunity. For the run, we did set a time goal, but only to assist Michael with his pacing. This is to ensure that he has energy left as he enters and exits the Energy Lab.
Stay tuned. Now it all comes down to execution! Tomorrow: Sights around Kona and people or, I should say, triathlete watching.