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Aaah...I think I wrote that exact message on this board about a year ago. What we learn with experience...
I might remind you that the IM bike is 112 miles long. There will be maybe 20 people in that race riding "fast". My guess is that you (and 1800 others) won't be one of them (no disrespect intended). Until you're at the very top of the overall, forget about riding "fast" in an IM. You have to ride long and aerobically. It's what Joel Friel and his gang of coaches call "steady". The way to get faster at your "steady" speed is to put in lots of miles riding at "steady" speed. You may not think it now, but go out and ride 6 hours a few times at the upper end of your aerobic range (150?); no stopping for coffee; no goofing around; ride the whole time. Write back to us at the 5 hour point and tell us if you think that workout is a waste of time.
It's hard to believe (I didn't believe it a year ago), but packing in the big mileage rides will make you faster. Maybe not faster in a 40K TT, but faster over the 140 miles you have to travel in the IM. If you ride "fast" in the IM, you'll crater 80 miles into the bike and you'll walk half the marathon. Nobody rides "fast" in an IM except the pros and elites.
By "fast" -- I mean by your own measure. We all know what "fast" means for each of us. If 18 mph is your steady, all-day speed, then 20 is "fast". If 21 is your all-day speed, 23 is "fast"...etc. If you try to ride the IM at your own definition of "fast" you will have very bad day. The goal in IM is to start the run feeling as if there had barely been a bike ride.
Anyway, that's my 2 cents -- from a guy that wasted 4 of my 6 months of IM prep time doing bike intervals instead of riding long.
It appears that you are in decent shape as far as your base goes. Though I am not a certified coach, I can tell you that you might want to complete another 6-8 weeks of your base. But do it in 4 week blocks, where you add 5-10% each week. Then back off every 4th week by about 30% to recover for growth and regeneration. You probably will want to keep one long ride at your high end aerobic HR to simulate race pace and keep the fast twitch fibers honest during each week in your base.
Then at around mid March, you should transition to a build phase where you cut your distance and increase your intensity. This is where you'll start to get faster. And you will be able to handle this becasue you've build a sturdy base. But you'll need to allow for more rest. My coach say's at least 8-10 weeks in the build phase to peak out.
So don't worry too much about speed yet. Keep building your base.
I can't say that I necessarily disagree with any of the above comments. I've shared this before, and many of you know, I had to use a different routine last year for IMC based on more kids, family obligations, etc. What I did all summer was one ride a week which was a 70 mile flat out time trial type ride every Saturday morning right when the sun came up. I'm talking as hard as I could possibly go - had to b/c I had to get home to the kids so that mama could go to yoga class. Other than that I had 2 100 mile rides to and from a family vacation (100 degrees out!).
I was scared for IMC due to the limited training but ended up with my fastest bike split on that course (4th time, 12th IM). So, I think hard and long beats long and slow, for me. Of course a little of each would be good. Also note that I may be a different case b/c I have been doing Tris for soooo long (22yrs).
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I'll agree with you that in order to increase your "steady" pace you should be doing long 6 hour rides non-stop. I know those aren't easy. I've done a number of them but I also believe that if you want to pick up the pace a little you got to do the long intense stuff as well. And what I mean by intense is not necessarily intervals but more just riding at your aerobic threshold for long periods of time. I'm not the fastest rider and i'm new to ironman but I can hold my own at 22mph over a 100miles (in decent conditions here in the rockies) without too much of a problem. I'm sure I can bumb that up a little too. Which is a bit faster than the 1800 average age groupers.
Thank you all for your input and help