MC: So then I would ask you, how do you make the steps forward in training? Do you just believe that the years building up on each other is enough to get faster every year?
PNF: Yes. And the biggest lesson that I learned, that turned it all around from that level where we were going around 9:40’s and then made a jump right to the 9-hour level, was learning to differentiate my training. That when we go out easy, it’s so easy. It was to a point that we would be dropped by age-groupers. Slow running was truly, truly slow running. And slow riding was truly slow riding. And you know who I learned that from? I learned it from Mark Allen. I would go out with the guys and do some of these rides, and we would have all the contenders there. Like some of these rides the guys do now. I would tag along, and we would go around and hit the climb up the backside of Carter Lake. One guy would go, and then the next and the next. Go, go, and go. And I watched Mark and he would say, “I’ll see you guys at the top.” And he just didn’t deviate. He just knew. He’d just go: I’m out there for this. And I’ll kick all their asses in Kona. The other guys were leaving it out there. For me the biggest thing was that I learned to really believe it was OK to jog – to do 8, 9-minute miles. I learned it was OK to just flat-out get dropped by people going up hills. But then when I went out to really go, I would go. I would go! And I would let it roll and if I felt good, I would keep going. And I would break through. Being inside myself I’d push and I’d come to a hill and think: No, I’m staying in my big chain ring up this hill. I would push. But I learned to make my training a little bit more black and white in terms of intensity, which I think is a big issue in triathlon – a triathlon epidemic, the perpetual hammering. But that’s ego and greed every time. Nobody is going to give an inch – so give them a mile. Because then when your time comes you’re a mile ahead of them. And I watched Mark do that in the most incredible way. It blew me away to watch him let every one of his main contenders just ride away from him.
MC: From what I hear, Dave was the complete opposite.
PNF: Oh, Dave was the hammer. Hammer at all costs at all times.
MC: And I think that’s Chrissie.
PNF: Oh, they’re perfectly matched! I’ve known Dave for a long time. They are perfectly matched. Their running styles look the same almost, and their personalities fit. Mark was just very different, and he believed. I took from that and that’s where those years just started to roll. I believed, because when I needed to go hard, I could go hard. But I learned to respect and make myself go easy. When I lived here, believe me, there were times when I only swam in the evenings for no other reason than I never wanted to get into it. I would go to the evening workout; there were a bunch of age-group swimmers there. It’s just the consistency of it. You have to believe in what you’re doing and you have to allow yourself space. I can tell you, I saw the athletes last night [at a pro athlete meeting] and I saw Chrissie sitting there and I thought: Wow! She looks so thin and so fit. I saw you and I thought: You look so good and so fit. But the difference is, where is there for Chrissie to go now? This is the beginning of August – what’s left? Are there any more veins that can come out? Is there anywhere further to go? You’ve always got to allow yourself somewhere to go. And I thought: Mirinda looks fit and healthy and she’s left herself somewhere to go, which I think is huge. I think it comes a bit earlier and earlier, everybody starting their ironman training, and every ride is a mental visualization of Hawaii. I think it’s a problem. That’s why I never started until mid to late August. I have a very short attention span! I wanted my upswing to be pretty up. Every week was like: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!