Michi's bike-split from Ironman St.George
Michi celebrated the biggest success of his triathlon career so far! With an impressive performance and of a gap of more than 12 minutes in front of Ben Hoffman (USA) who got second, he won the Ironman St. George in Utah.54:30 min for the swim, 4:43.02 hrs for the extremely challenging bike course, and 2:58,03 hrs for a fantastic run on a hilly marathon - this was Michi's day!
St. George is a very popular tourist spot in the USA, the famous Zion National State Park is just a 40-minute drive from downtown. Even though the park is not part of the course, the race includes some dramatic scenery like Sand Hollow Reservoir, Snow Canyon and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. After the swim in the Sand Hollow Reservoir the bike course lead the athletes through a picturesque, two-loop section with a long climb and a fast downhill, and offered views of Snow Canyon before heading into downtown St. George. The marathon that headed out for a climb toward Red Cliffs Desert Reserve was also a challenging two-loop course."For the swim split my goal was 55 minutes. After 54:30 min I left the lake. It was a good swim with about 90% because I was in a good group. The water was really cold, just 55° F.On the bike my goal was a constant ride with an average of 300 watts. The race course is not at sea level, so I knew I had to be a little cautious and stay in a heart rate range of 125 to 135 bpm. I started out of the transition zone with 315 to 320 watts. I was really happy that my coach, Mario Huys (www.mariohuys.com) was there and followed the race on a media motorbike. He was able to give me important information about my gap to the leading group."
Have a look at Michi's SRM data from the bike split. He rode with a very constant power. The athletes had to climb the 45 k uphill with 675 altitude meters twice.
The first 90 k took Michi 2:29 hours with an average of 312 watts, while the second half took only 2:14 hours with an average of 286 watts due to the two fast downhills. The lower average of the second half can also be explained by his intentionally lower power output in the last 30 minutes.
The outside temperature on the race day was pretty cool in the beginning. While the water in the lake was about 55° F (13° C ) and the athletes wore their neoprene suits, the bike split started with an outside temperature of 50° F (10° C) and rose to 55° F (23° C) on the last uphill. Perfect weather conditions to keep the core temperature in a normal range and not struggle with the heat like the athletes do at the IronMan World Championships in Maui.
A closer look at the uphill in laps one and two shows how well Michi paced himself. With an average of 310 watts for the first lap and a cadence of 93 rpm he pedaled very smoothly. It seems that it was even better when he rode the 45 kilometer uphill for the second time: 297 watts average and just six seconds slower, most probably because he held his aero position better.
"When I got closer to the leading group of 6 to 8 riders I kept my speed. When I passed them on a 6% downhill I attacked with 55-11, 400 to 500 watts and a cadence of more than 110 rpm and tried to keep 350 to 400 watts for some minutes. When I was in the lead I got back to my perfect pacing speed."
The SRM data shows the high speed downhill and Michi's efforts with really high cadence. His max speed was 78.8 km/h. Riding with this speed and cadence and keeping the power on a level above 300 watts need a lot of motor skills and experience.
"The last downhill to the finish line I consciously rode with less power to be recovered for the run."
He averaged with 240 watts for 30 minutes spinning his legs, that's an effort which allowed Michi eliminate lactate in his muscles, eat and rehydrate. A perfect strategy for a perfect run.
"Coming out of the transition my run felt like flying - the first 15 kilometers with an average of 3:50 min/km. It was a very hard, hilly course. But I never had problems with digestion or my muscles."
Compared to Michi's race at the Oceanside 70.3 in March, where he had massive problems with fluid and energy intake his pacing and food strategy was much better this time.
"I drank a lot this time - mostly water in a combination with 2 to 3 PowerGels an hour and a PowerBar in the first hour."
In theory this is the perfect strategy: about 300 calories easy digestible carbohydrates with sodium combined with about 1,5 liters of water per hour. For most athletes this is very hard to follow. In training most athletes carry just two bottles and some Gels on their bike, so they are not used to the situation in the race, where you can get food and drinks on several feeding stations. Plus, you need to be focused not to forget this strategy in the heat of the race. After Michi's bad experience in California he did everything right this time - and the race went perfectly as well.
When you compare the statistic view of the Ironman World Championships you can see his progression as a long distance time trialist. He uses power to pace himself more now- the power peak is closer and higher while the speed peak is wider compared to his performance in Maui. His average cadence is slightly higher with the cadence peak at 100 rpm, about 3 rpm higher than last year.
With his performance in St. George, Michi Weiss has won his first Ironman and is now qualified for this year's Ironman World Championships in Maui.