Get a look at Tim O’Donnell’s and Luke McKenzie’s Ironman Hawaii cycling power data.
This story was originally printed in the Jan/Feb, 2012 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
Luke McKenzie of Australia charged into T2 of the 2011 Ironman World Championship behind only super-cyclist Chris Lieto and eventually finished ninth, the best finish of his career, while highly touted Kona rookie Tim O’Donnell suffered miles behind and dropped out before starting the run. Both athletes train extensively with a Quarq power meter and use the tool to dose their efforts, but only one of these athletes effectively minded his power meter during key portions of the race—and the race results bore this out, notwithstanding O’Donnell’s illness heading into the event.
Outcome: McKenzie averaged 271 watts normalized power for the entire bike leg, 82 percent of his threshold power and well within his pacing goal for the day en route to the sixth fastest ride in Ironman Hawaii history. O’Donnell averaged 257 watts normalized, but held an average of only 226 watts for the final three hours after riding too hard for the first two hours. He dropped out in T2. McKenzie preserved enough energy to ride strong for 112 miles and follow it with a solid run by measuring his effort with a Quarq power meter. Despite using the same tool, O’Donnell pushed harder than his goal wattage in the first hour and faded in the middle stages of the bike leg. As McKenzie and O’Donnell demonstrated, effectively pacing the first half of any iron-distance event can make or break a race. A power meter is a critical tool, but the athlete is still ultimately responsible for riding the proper effort and for his or her race results.