Friday, December 5, 2008

Speed Freaks

Cervelo P2. My new triathlon bike for the '09 season.

I "aged-up" this year, which means in triathlon parlance that I'll be racing in the next higher age bracket, in my case against 45-49 year old men. This is something that athletes oddly enough look forward to, unlike birthdays. In the back of their minds their still 44-years old and racing against all of those old men and women, "I'll certainly do well". Yea, right!

The fact of the matter is that older athletes are doing better and better every year, putting up times that in years past would have swept the event regardless of age. Here are the qualifying times this year for the 45-49 year old age group, times necessary just to get into the Hawaii Ironman Championships; where the best Ironman triathletes in the world are swimming 2.2 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles:

At Ironman Arizona you needed less than 9 hours and 54 seconds.
Ironman Wisconsin: 10:36
Ironman Western Australia: 9:05!
Ironman Australia 10:47 (10.05 for 50-54 year olds!)

Men and women have been competing in these events for decades now, and are currently on the cutting edge of state of the art athletic training techniques. They know exactly what they're doing, and are amazingly consistent year after year in their performances. Some experienced racers are putting up their lifetime fastest times well past the age of fifty!

As Lance Armstrong returns to the Tour de France this year at the tender age of 37, I wouldn't be so quick to relegate him to the back of the peloton.

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