Lionel Sanders is lining up alongside a super deep field this weekend at Ironman Texas, the Ironman North American Championship. He will be mixing it up with the likes of Faris Al-Sultan, Andreas Realert, Jordan Rapp and Ben Hoffman, among others. Fellow pro Taylor Reid spoke with Sanders about his race in the Woodlands, Texas this weekend and more.
Taylor Reid: How does Ironman Texas fit into the bigger picture this year?
Lionel Sanders: Texas serves as the Ironman North American Championship.It will be my first championship level Ironman, so it is very significant for me. I will take what I learn from this race and apply it in Kona.
TR: You won Ironman Florida last year in your pro debut at the distance. But, since the swim was cancelled this will be your first Ironman with the swim. What are your goals for the swim?
LS: My goal is to swim to my ability level. I have had some breakthroughs in the swim over the last couple of days, and I have some open water experience under my belt now, so I am keen on performing well in the water.
TR: In Ironman Florida you really pushed the front end of the bike and run to see how far you could go. Have you dialled in your power numbers and run spits for this Ironman? What is you race plan?
LS: Florida was a great learning experience for me. I biked above what I had trained to bike, which is a big no-no in long distance racing. This time round I will bike as I have trained to bike. On the run in Florida, I went out with the intention of holding 3:40/km for as long as I could. I made it to the half-marathon. I will definitely go out a bit more conservatively on the run this time round, and try to run a more even split.
TR: You have not raced since Texas 70.3 three weeks ago. What have you been up to training-wise to get ready?
LS: It was actually exactly 20 days between Texas 70.3 and Ironman Texas. That is not really enough time to see any physiological gains. In fact, in that time I would say you could do more damage than good. All I did was execute some key workouts that helped build confidence and ensure that all cylinders are ready to fire when the gun goes.
TR: Do you have a favourite pre-race workout?
LS: Three days before the race I like to do 2 x 15min about 30 watts higher than I intend on racing at on the bike. I also like to do 4 x 2km at 3:15/km.
TR: Do you have any pre race rituals that you go through?
LS: I used to eat a sub the night before every race. Then before one race I couldn’t find a sub place and it played on my mind a bit. As I race more and more I try and eliminate as many superstitions as I can. So now, there is not really any ritual I go through before the race. I try and have a good light meal, I prepare my clothes and equipment for the morning, and I try and get to bed at a decent time.
TR: What are you looking to get out of Ironman Texas?
LS: I just want to execute my own race. If I find myself in the thick of it, that’s great. If not, that’s fine too. I want to swim to my ability level. Hold my intended power on the bike, while sticking to my fuelling plan, and then pace myself better on the run. If I accomplish that, the race will have been a success.