MS: I think what’s interesting is how different the men’s and women’s races are. The guys are racing like typical dudes. It’s pure testosterone, going to the front. The men’s race is probably the worst possible way that you could race an ironman. They’re riding the first 40k as hard as they can. It’s sporadic, they’re attacking each other the entire time on the bike, it’s not really even steady state anymore. It’s very tactical and all positive split bikes. It’s very different. You see the men’s runs suffer. I mean you look at the tenth male coming through and he looks like he’s marching it in for 30th place. It’s just the way the race is – you can’t let the race go. The women’s race just seems so much different. I don’t have Julie think of tactics. That’s one of the big things we changed this year. I tell her: You’re racing your race, because the moment you start changing what will get you to the finish line the fastest is the moment you derail, the moment you get away from your strength and your plan. Because if she’s riding along thinking she has to put X amount of time on Rinny, she can take herself over her limit. Where if she swims the way she knows she can and bikes the way she knows she can and then runs, you add it all up and she gets to the line as fast as she can. The moment she tries to do something different is the moment she doesn’t have the best race she can. A lot of the women, they have the luxury to do that. The guys can’t just say, “I’m going to ride to my level and not go with this attack and let the group go.” Because the rest of those guys will work together. In the women’s race they’re more spread out. There’s not a lot of group dynamic.
SL: I totally agree with you. I remember at Kona last year when they announced that Chrissie wasn’t going to race. Rinny was like: What do we do now? I said, “Nothing. We just stick to our plan. Nothing changes. Because it’s all about you racing your race.” Ultimately, if you’ve prepared properly, that’s going to get you to the finish as fast as you possibly can, which will lead to the best possible result for you.
MS: You just add up swim plus bike plus run, and there’s your finish time. Those are the kind of conversations that Julie and I have. Can you ride 10 minutes faster and only affect your run by five minutes? You’re five minutes quicker doing it that way. So you have your own strategy, but it’s about what you’re doing, not what you’re doing against the other women racing. It’s really about doing what you can do to get to the finish quickest.
SL: The key is keeping that focus on yourself and what you’re doing. If an athlete is thinking tactically how do they race this person or that person, that takes them out of their comfort zone of doing what they need to do the way they know they need to do it. And that automatically will take away from their performance on that day. So I agree with you totally – you race your own race. You have your own strategy and you stick to it and let the cards fall where they may at the end of the day.
MS: It’s been really great to sit down and talk about this stuff. I don’t get to talk to too many coaches like this. We kind of go through the same thing out there. You’ll say hi to each other on the course, but you don’t really get to share this kind of information.
SL: I so enjoyed having this conversation with you. And I’m so excited to be out there with you going through the same experiences, and watching our athletes – who are friends – out there going after their best day. Congratulations on the success you’ve had so far, and let’s hope we can both walk away and share a beer at the end of the day in Kona and be feeling happy. Good luck and thanks so much!
MS: Good luck to you, too!