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Reflections on the Ironman World Championships

*Even though Chrissie Wellington got it done with a weak swim, age groupers shouldn’t use her success as an excuse to avoid the pool.  Faster swimming means faster people to draft behind, meaning you exit the water with faster people to ride with.  Chrissie riding through the womens’ field with fairly clear roads is much different than an age grouper swimming slow and then trying to ride through the masses. 

*That said, I like mens’ runner-up Pete Jacobs’ comments in his post-race interview about having a bad day on the bike and preparing his “loser” speech mid-race.  There’s a lot to be said for a fast runner cruising the bike, saving it for the run, and letting everyone else crumble as the day goes on. 

*Still feels awkward calling the race a true “world championship” for age groupers when many top racers stay home due to high cost of traveling to Hawaii for at least a week.  Nevertheless, anyone who won an age group title there earned it fair and square…you’re not responsible for beating the people who don’t show up; you just have to beat whomever is on the start line. 

*Alexander and Wellington aren’t that young (38 and 34 respectively).  Triathlon is a late specialization sport.  Age groupers (and parents of Juniors and Under-23’s) should realize that fitness takes years and sometimes decades to develop.  Think beyond the current season training plan and short term gains. 

*Inevitably, the aftermath of Kona leads to armchair quarterbacking by those criticizing pros for dropping out.  I think this a pretty asinine opinion to have.  Cutting their losses on a bad day gets them back into training and racing as soon as possible.  A male pro going 9-10 hours or a female going 11-12 hours doesn’t prove anything, other than extending the recovery time until they can make their next paycheck. 

*When Mirinda Carafre slices through the field on the run, it’s not because she wants it more than everyone else, as some commentators would have us believe…she paces herself appropriately on the bike, effectively manages her nutrition, and is one of the fastest pure runners Ironman has ever seen. 

*Crowie broke Luc Van Lierde’s 1996 course record.   It’s a bit surprising the record has been around this long.  Bike technology, sports science, and the overall talent pool have come a long way since 1996.  Let’s also remember the current bike rules allow groups to work together without pure drafting.  However, with so much money on the line and the new rules effectively neutralizing the uber-biker, the race has become more tactical in waiting for the run. 

*Good to see the top Ironman pros excelling at the shorter distances as well.  Age groupers should follow this lead.  Short course and long course racing will complement each other with proper planning. 

*There’s a saying in golf: “There are no pictures on the scorecard.”  Chrissie’s run form ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.  Think movement before form.  Form must harmonize with one’s underlying physical abilities and limitations.  Based on her results, she seems to have found an effective mix for herself.   

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