This past Tuesday, an arsonist ignited fires in Lake Tahoe, endangering lives of brave firefighters and residents across the region. Over the next few days, the fires would spread and on early Saturday evening, the night before the Ironman Lake Tahoe, smoke filled the air across the region. The Ironman, which was set to go off at 6:30 AM, was canceled only a few minutes before the start of the race. Ironman had called for swimmers to report to the water and it was in the water, moments later, where we were informed that the race was canceled. Triathletes who came from 49 states and 65 countries would not be able to compete that day. And it was the absolute right call. The smoke’s spread had made the event dangerous to human health.
But while this was the right call, the call should have been made on Saturday night so that Placer County health officials could have been focused on what really mattered — fighting fires and saving lives rather than devoting their limited resources to the race. Ironman also dropped the ball with respect to their communications. Not once in the days prior to the race did they directly communicate with the event’s participants about the smoke. So when Ironman did inform the racers at the very last moment when we were all pumped and ready to go, it came as a shock. But it shouldn’t have. Ironman was aware of the developing smoke across Tahoe since Tuesday and made several comments to the local press. But Ironman athletes shouldn’t be expected to read the local press. Ironman had a responsibility to update their athletes directly via email, text, or Twitter. Their only direct communication about the race was to state that it was canceled.
The Ironman is a boon to Lake Tahoe’s economy. It certainly has the appearance that the Ironman organization was primarily concerned with participants — and their families and friends — potentially leaving Tahoe early or canceling their trip outright, thereby hurting local hotels, restaurants, and businesses. It’s unsettling that most of the communication to the press by “Ironman Lake Tahoe organizers” in the days leading up to the race was handled by the Chief Marketing Officer of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, and not the Ironman organization itself.
They say that swimming exercises every muscle of your body. As someone who grew up a swimmer, this notion might be true. But it more than likely isn’t. Because when one rides on a bicycle for 80 miles, leg strength goes up exponentially. You can literally feel the difference in your legs at the end of the ride. And the next day. And even the next week. The thighs get bigger. A lot bigger.
In swimming, thighs don’t grow exponentially by doing 10 100′s breastroke kick followed by 10 100′s freestyle kick. They just don’t. Sure, those sets are tiring — depending upon the intervals given — but you’re not going to get out of the pool and think, “Wow. My thighs are so much bigger.” When you bike 80 miles, it’s very easy to think that. The difference is remarkable.
So for all those folks that say swimming exercises every muscle in your body, it might indeed be true. But it certainly doesn’t exercise your legs as well as cycling does. Even if you’re a great kicker in swimming. Even if you push really hard off the wall on those flip turns. The two just don’t equate. It’s as simple as that. There is no sport that improves your leg strength more than cycling. Not swimming. Not anything.
Are you considering signing up for an Ironman race this coming summer? While it’s only the end of October and it may seem like the summer just wrapped up, now is a good time to sign up for a race next summer. If you wait too long, you risk not getting into the race as they fill up very quickly. For some races, they fill up the day of the race exactly a year in advance. So don’t get locked out of competitions next summer by planning ahead. Check to see which Ironman races are open and which are likely to fill up in the coming days and weeks ahead.
If you’ve never done an Ironman race, consider doing one. They’re incredible — the most organized events you’ll ever participate in. The folks involved are wonderful people and you’ll be surrounded by people who endeavor to complete the ridiculous. How cool is that. Most Ironmen have trouble with the swim but if you’re a competent swimmer, know that it’s the shortest portion of the race. This third of the race takes about an hour — not much when you put it up against the bike and run portions of the Ironman.
Have a question about Ironman races? We’ll be happy to field answers to your questions. So let us know what you’ve got on your mind by posting a Comment below!
Ironman Louisville is coming up on August 25th and this is always a phenomenal event. With the Ohio River the epicenter of the race, Ironman Louisville is one of the most visually stunning and exhilarating Ironmen on the circuit. With the first Ironman held in 2007, Ironman Louisville very quickly established itself as a premiere destination for the Ironman and the city immediately embraced the race as its own. With 50 qualifying slots, it’s also the final race of the year to qualify for the Kona Ironman Championship (the one you get to watch on TV if you’re not an Ironman competitor yourself and aren’t already familiar with it).
According to the Ironman Louisville website, “Steeped in American history and part of the country’s historic Bluegrass region, Louisville is home to stately Victorian mansions and a vibrant urban parks system. In recent years, it’s attracted a thriving indie music scene, and families vacationing to the city will find plenty of free summer concerts and festivals along the famous Waterfront Park.”
“Athletes begin their day with a rolling swim start, a unique feature for a full-distance IRONMAN and a welcome one for anyone nervous about the typical mass start. After lining up along the banks of the Ohio River on a first come, first served basis, competitors jump in one at a time to start the first leg of their 140.6-mile race…A mixture of rolling hills and flat pastures characterizes the Louisville bike course, and riders can expect to be challenged as they traverse the Louisville Metro area and Oldham County…After finishing the bike, athletes only have one thing separating them from their memorable finish: 26.2 miles of flat running. Passing Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby, and the University of Louisville, there’s no shortage of distractions.”
Doesn’t it sound amazing? You get to pass through so many historic sites during this 140.6 mile journey. From the site of the Kentucky Derby to swimming in the Ohio River to the University of Louisville, this is certainly one of the most scenic Ironman competitions you’ll find in the United States. We at The Bike GPS wish all of those competing in the Ironman Louisville on August 25th our best of luck. May your race be easy and may you remember it always.
While you’re here, read about Ironman Bike Training.
Want some Ironman bike training tips? There was a great piece a couple of days ago on “TriRadar.com” entitled “How To Build Bike Speed For Your Ironman.” The bike is a very important component of the Ironman race as it consists of 112 miles (whereas the swim is only 2.4 miles — which admittedly can be rough for an inexperienced swimmer). In the piece on “TriRadar.com,” the question is asked: “ If you’re training for an Ironman, should you do lots of hard interval training?” No way! Hard interval training and Ironman shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence. That’s like the folks who mention that they just did a sprint or Olympic triathlon and were thinking of doing an Ironman next. Apples and oranges, folks!
So what can you do to increase your biking race pace on an Ironman? According to the article, “Some short, hard intervals at somewhere approaching the outer edges of an athlete’s aerobic capacity, included during the off-season and in the period just before the start of the race season, can be a very effective means of increasing race pace without overly incurring fatigue. I also encourage athletes to include some maximal aerobic training in their programme year-round, typically on a weekly or 10-day cycle, as a means of slowing aerobic capacity decline associated with ageing, especially in athletes over the age of 35. This need only be a few three-minute efforts at the required intensity with three minute recoveries, performed once every week or 10 days.” Seems simple enough.
Try a few minutes of going at maximum aerobic power (after a several minute warmup) and be sure to follow the maximum aerobic power segment up with some easy riding. Do a few sets of a few minutes at max power and try to increase the number of sets you do each week. This can pay off big time during the often grueling 112 mile bike portion of the Ironman.
Are you signing up for an Ironman next summer? If so, let us know which one by posting a Comment below!
Want to do some biking in IRONMAN Florida (the 70.3 version)? If you’re considering signing up for the IRONMAN 70.3 in Florida (the race is on May 19, 2013), you might want to sign up today. Like right now! As of April 4th — just two days away — the registration cost will increase. By signing up for the Ironman 70.3, you earn a chance to win an entry into the regular IRONMAN Florida (the full 140.3 distance). The race will be at Lake Eva Park in Haines City, Florida.
According to IRONMAN’s description of the bike course, “The bike course will travel through eastern Polk County on rural roads. Aid Stations will be at 18 miles, 30 miles and 42 miles. It is an open course with local traffic sharing the roadway, please stay alert. Polk County support and race volunteers will be located on the bike course to help keep you safe. You will travel through residential and country roads passing orange groves, lakes and golf courses. Keep your head up as the course is very fast with only a few gently rolling hills. You will bring your bike back to the same bike rack in the transition.”
It sounds like a fun half IRONMAN. They even repaved part of the bike course, which is always nice. Florida is a beautiful place to try a half IRONMAN so if you’re considering ever doing one, you might want to sign up. It’s only April 2nd. You’ve still got some weeks to train. But if you’re going to do it, you might want to get started on that as the clock is ticking!
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