Mr ‘No Limits’ struggled in the searing temperatures of Dallas at the PTO US Open, finishing 21st out of 32 finishers, over 10 minutes off the pace of his recent training partner, and eventual winner, Collin Chartier.
“I mean I came home, to the hotel, after the race and Erin and I just sat on the step and I sulked – I wouldn’t even say sulked, I wasn’t in disbelief – I don’t even know what happened,” said Sanders in a YouTube video reflecting on the event.
“All my worst performances occur in the heat, so that one really put the nail in the coffin for me and it’s like ‘you suck in the heat’, it’s not even up for debate now, like you are really bad in the heat.
“There has to be something there, it just doesn’t make sense how one month prior you can go toe-to-toe with Sam Long, and then one month later he’s getting third, leading the race, and you’re fighting for last, there’s got to be something there.”
After struggling in Dallas, Sanders questioned his next step with the ferocious heat and humidity of the Big Island a daunting task for the Canadian, but words in the ear from Chartier and coach Mikal Iden soon lifted his spirits.
“Mikal and Collin both had seen me training for quite a while and they were both able to pick me up because I, pretty well wasn’t coming to Kona after that one [PTO US Open], like Kona is hot and I have had that experience here basically every time.
“It’s really difficult when you go to a race and you think you are going to be competitive then you are literally fighting for last – that’s a tough one.
“I’m in phenomenal shape, in some of the best shape of my entire life, I know I am in good shape because my training partner – who I train with every single day – Collin Chartier won the race, so I know I’m in decent shape anyhow.”
Inspired to learn
But instead of self-pity, Sanders is channelling the disappointment of Dallas into his efforts in Hawaii, and will use the IRONMAN World Championship as a fact finding mission.
“That inspired me to,” said Sanders of his PTO US Open performance, “it invigorated me to learn more and to understand myself what’s going on under the hood, in the hot conditions and that inspired me to say let’s go to Kona then whatever to the performance, whatever to the outcome.
“Go to Kona, do a nine day data analysis camp in the conditions, in the heat and understand what’s going on under the hood.
“Now I am understanding the right questions that need to be asked, understand where your heat tolerance threshold currently lies, understand how the temperature actually is bringing your thresholds down.
“Use all that data to show, to prove to me that you can at least race the race, even if you have to do an ITT, totally solo, within your zones.”