Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Worlds: "Give The People What They Want"

We’re honored to have Boston’s Magic Mike Espejo representing our national team at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mt. Tremblant, Canada mere hours from now.

Last week I had the following text message conversation with Mike: 

“Can we do a quick pre-race call from Mt. Tremblant for the blog? We’ve got to give the people what they want!”

Mike: “What is it that the people want??”

“A peek into the World Championships and the mind of a warrior going into battle.”

Mike: “I will deliver!”

Mike's been a busy man with last minute preparations, but we were able to make it happen!

So how are you feeling?

I feel good! I tapered for my other “A” race, Syracuse 70.3, but ironically not at Racine 70.3 where I was able to qualify. I dropped my volume a bit for Racine, but have definitely been staying off my feet more for this race.

How has training gone since Racine in mid-July?

I ramped it up big time, with a focus on my weakness, the bike. I put in a good 4-week push, with 15-16 hrs. a week of total training, peaking at 17 hrs. I also mixed in some new workouts, more speedwork on the run and a lot of threshold work on the bike. I also joined a local masters swim team here in Boston for August. I’m hopeful everything will pay off!

What are your goals for the race?

I'd love to go sub 32 min on the swim… hopefully. Targeting a 2:35 bike, but the course is pretty hilly from what I’ve seen and heard. Hoping to get my run in the 1:37-1:38 range.

Do you feel pressure or are you pretty loose?

I’m really not feeling nervous or anything. It’s a big stage but I have nothing to lose. I’ll race hard and control what I can control, trying not to worry about anything else. Winning my age group isn’t gonna happen so I just want to run my own race, race hard, and hopefully get a PR.

Talking about a PR is great and all, but somewhat at the mercy of the course, right? I’ve heard it’s tough, what do you know about it?

The swim is absolutely gorgeous. The bike is pretty hard, there’s a nice 15 mile flat stretch but it’s got some steep climbs for sure. I read some past race reports from pros such as Jesse Thomas and Leon Griffin and they talk about it being a challenging course. They changed the run from the old Mt. Tremblant course to make it even harder, so it’s pretty much a lot of rolling hills and climbing. I think this is to my advantage though, as I threw down a pretty good split at Syracuse, which has a tough run course as well. I’ve lost a few lbs. since the beginning of the season, so I’m hoping that helps on bike, but we’ll see.

What’s your race strategy? For example, how hard will you push on the bike?

For the swim I'll try to start fast before easing into a good stroke. I always start in front and try to grab on to some fast feet for as long as I can. I may make it to the first turn, maybe only the third buoy, but I'll hold on for as long as I can, then try to find another pack. My swimming has been more consistent lately, hopefully I’ll be able to show that when it counts.

Biking is my weakness, but I’m too scared to rip the bike too hard. I did that once last year at Rev3 Quassy. I had never walked in a race until then... I didn’t even walk at Ironman Lake Placid. I learned my lesson that day to not over-bike. I now have a power meter, so it’s easier to stay steady in zone 3, maybe a bit in zone 4, which will hopefully set me up for a good run. I’m confident my run will be there. I got a lot of good experience from my three HIM distance races earlier in the season.

What's the vibe like in Mt. Tremblant?

The atmosphere here is electric! Pros everywhere, top athletes of each AG male and female cruising around the course. It's a little overwhelming, but it's a great experience and I'm trying to soak it all in.

Thanks Mike, and good luck tomorrow!!

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