Sunday, August 19, 2012

Long races

I'm watching athletes' progress in Ironman Mt. Tremblant, where my buddy D__ and sometime training partners M__ and B__ are racing. Initially, that looks to be the destination race of the decade, with perfect weather, reportedly great course conditions, and relative ease of access -- drivable from the mid-Atlantic.

I'm intrigued to see, once again, that long triathlon is a runner's sport. Some great swimmers were easily eclipsed by faster cyclists -- 1 mph differential on the bike translates to nearly 20 minutes over 112 miles. But the guys (and I suppose gals, but I'm watching guys) who get off the bike and run well -- not fast, but well -- are passing the cyclists.

I'm also intrigued that once again the older age groups are so much faster than the younger. If you're halfway through the run in 8 hours, you're 9th in the 35-39 age group but 5th in the 25-29 age group. Betting now that the differential gets more dramatic when the final results are in. I noticed this in Boulder -- a whole lot of really fast young guys right up until the end of the first lap on the run, and then a big field of young guys walking. This reality seems to me to be of a kind with the observation in the prior paragraph. Young guys can go hard, but it takes patience to go long. Or put another way, and reversing what Greg Bennett once said ("I'm not slow enough to race Ironman"): "only slow guys can race all day." (B__ is in the late-20s age group and he is proving to be the exception -- he's getting faster as he goes.)

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