That wasn't fair. The Columbia was smooth as glass while I assumed the aero position and piloted the Cervelo east this morning on my 60-miler. Dead-calm air. On the way back, however, the river rippled as the westerly breezes picked up. My speed went from 21-22 mph to 18-19. Beyond cursing the unfairness of not getting the benefit of the wind one way but having to suffer its costs the other, this circumstance prompted me to think back to Ironman Coeur d'Alene last year. A strong wind was in our face for the final 10 miles of each of the two bike loops, the slightly descending and very straight stretch heading south into town. On the second loop especially, I gave not an inch to this wind. It was a fine and noble effort, but was it wise? Say I rode two miles an hour faster than I would have with a more moderate effort—19 mph instead of 17. That gained me three minutes and 42 seconds. A nice little chunk of time, for sure. If only the race ended with the bike.
You see, my marathon pace went from eight minutes per mile over the first third of the course to 10 minutes the second third and nearly 12 minutes by the end. Now, I'm not prepared to attribute all of that slowing to my enthusiastic approach to the final 10 miles of the bike ride—but I suspect the energy expenditure might have cost me 30 seconds per mile on the run. It's pretty easy to do that math from there: :30 per mile for 26 miles = 13 minutes.
So that's what I thought about on the heading-home portion of my ride today: race choices and trade-offs, being smart, being bold, leaving it all on the course, not giving up too much too soon, racing smart. Yep. It's easy to say "race smart," but even in hindsight it's hard to know the right call. So imagine the challenge that decision-making can be in real-time, on race day, at CDA. I guess that's why people turn to heart rate or power to guide them. Me, I have no power meter on my tri bike. And I really don't want to wear that damn strap around my chest all day. All I've got is experience to inform my decisions. It may not sound like much, but it is more than I had last year.