Patrick Lange stormed to a third place finish during his first attempt at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona thanks in part to that course record breaking 2:39:45 run. But we can likely expect more fabulous days from this fast German.
Slowtwitch: Hi Patrick, how are you feeling today?
Patrick Lange: We had a really good after race party yesterday and I am still a little bit sore, but pretty happy and humbled about everything what happened on Saturday.
ST: From what I understand, you came to Hawaii to experience the race, but did you have any goals beyond that?
Patrick: It was my main goal to gain experience, and I gained one experience that I did not want to make, and that was a penalty. My position goal was that if I had my best possible race I would maybe finish in the top 5, and if I had a solid normal day we thought maybe a top 15 was possible. But that I would go that well was something we really did not expect.
ST: You mentioned the penalty, and some folks might say that the penalty might have helped you out.
Patrick: Oh really?
ST: You have not heard that before?
Patrick: No, not really.
ST: The idea I guess is without that penalty you may have ridden too hard to stay with Kienle, Frodeno and Böcherer, and actually many other strong athletes blew up because of it. But because you now rode your own pace, maybe that made you fresher for the run. Not that you wanted a penalty, but this scenario forced your hand.
Patrick: Yeah, that is an interesting point of view. I did not really think about that, but I guess the guys in front really put the hammer down at the turnaround point in Hawi. The group was splitting up, guy after guy and maybe there would have been another guy to ride with even if I had not stayed at the very front. Basically something between the first and second group, but I have an SRM and I can look at my data. So I was aware and tried to not push too hard so I would not kill my weapon, which is the run obviously.
ST: Up to the point when you got the penalty, how close where you to the power numbers you wanted to hold?
Patrick: I hit the power numbers pretty much on target and I was lucky that the penalty tent was filled with so many good athletes. It sounds weird, but we had Andy Raelert, Frederik Van Lierde and Brent McMahon etc, and I was aware that this day was going to be long. Andy [Raelert] also told me that anything is possible and that I just need to be cool. He told me to calm down, focus and not waste energy. When the penalty was over Fredrik was riding very hard and I was then together with Brent McMahon, and we had a little fighting group then. We helped each other and picked up folks like Jordan Rapp for example, and he rode some parts with us. So I was not alone, but it was harder than when I was with the group. The group was actually very nervous and it was pretty much an on and off ride, with maybe 150 watts at one point and then 400 watts next. Plus you had to be on the bars braking so you did not accidentally ride into the [draft] zone. So when I rode with Brent it was more constant.
ST: So where exactly was that penalty tent?
Patrick: It was behind Waikoloa, so I guess mile 30.
ST: What kind of power numbers were you trying to hold?
Patrick: It is my goal to ride 4.0 watts and I weigh 63kg and that is what Faris [Al-Sultan] told me. He said to me that if I want to be at the front I have to ride 4.0. In the end I did not quite make it, and it was about 3.9 but I felt pretty good about it.
ST: When you started the run did you feel good?
Patrick: I did, but I did not feel as good as I had felt in Texas. In Texas I really felt that these legs were flying, and that is golden legs almost. And that was a little different here, but I felt that the legs were really good. What made me a little bit nervous was that Brent [McMahon] started out really fast. He was out of transition and he put the hammer down, and I thought oh, maybe my legs are not as good as I thought. After the first kilometer I looked at my watch and it said 3:37 and I thought ok, that is not too bad. I found my stride quite fast and luckily was able to keep it up.
ST: So what pace were you running after that first kilometer?
Patrick: I did not really run after specific numbers. Basically I am running and I am listening to what my body tells me. I feel the little voice in my mind telling me that I have to run slower. So when I see the auto lap kilometer showing 3:45 I think that is really good, but I think that I will run the next kilometer maybe 5 seconds slower. But then the next kilometer is the same pace and it becomes to some degree a little mind game. And especially on this course it is almost impossible to run after time because it is up and down and up Palani, and especially out to the Energy Lab I did not expect it to be that steep. I had been riding it in a car and on my bike, but during the run it felt really bad.
ST: Often folks look good going into the Energy Lab but not so much coming out, but you looked good when you came out.
Patrick: Thank you, I was actually aware of that and I was thus really respectful. I trained there in the mid day heat and it was almost killing me. So I was thinking that when I am entering that Energy Lab [on race day] I will need to have some beans left. I tried to slow down a little bit but then I saw Boris Stein and I thought, oh man, a couple kilometers ago he had a 3 minute lead and now he is only 100 meters away. Plus I could see Frodo in the Energy Lab and I thought wow I am really fast.
ST: When you caught Ben Hoffman for 3rd place after starting the run in 22nd place, did you think that was possible?
Patrick: No, no, and I didn’t even try to think about it. I tried to make the best out of my power and did not waste any energy thinking about third place. But when I saw him another push of adrenaline was helping me out.
ST: Did he fight back when you passed him?
Patrick: No, not really.
ST: Did you know how far Sebastian Kienle was up?
ST: You got no splits?
Patrick: Well, when you are running you get many splits ranging from 15 minutes to 1 minute 30. When I saw my girlfriend I told her that I really wanted that Lei and I guess that was really pushing me.
ST: When did you learn that you had the run course record?
Patrick: You know I stopped my watch in the finish area and I knew that I had been running fast. I had quick glance at the watch and it said something with 2:39 and I thought that might be a course record, but you don’t know if you started the watch correctly, whether the GPS was accurate and where exactly the timing mats were.
ST: So who confirmed it for you?
Patrick: Well, that was another emotional scenario. Mike Reilly announced that I broke the course record, and where I stood I looked Mark Allen straight into his eyes. So I said I am so sorry, and I apologized, because I really look up to that man. I was very much overwhelmed.
ST: You know that any time someone has a superb performance folks now seem to be suspicious and have doubts. How does that impact you?
Patrick: I do everything I can to show that I am a clean athlete and I have been in the anti doping test pool for almost 10 years now, and I had been tested twice within 3 days here both blood and urine. But I also understand why people think about it. There are some black sheep out there, but I want to do everything to prove that I am not one of them.
ST: Do you think it is a big issue in the sport of triathlon?
Patrick: No, luckily not, I actually think that most folks in the sport are driven by passion and not drugs.
ST: So what is next for you?
Patrick: I am flying home to Germany tomorrow and then I will have some media events, but in terms of triathlon it will be off-season. I very much enjoyed partying hard yesterday with my friends, and now it is just legs up and rest up for two to three weeks.
ST: Have you selected your next event?
Patrick: Faris and I we are really focusing on one event, and after that event there is nothing. That puts me in a good mind set as I am only focused on one race. I could have said prior to Kona that when I screw up in Kona that I then can go to Cozumel. But I think that is a wrong idea, as you really need to focus on that one event. Should you indeed screw up, then you can worry about what is next.
ST: How long have you been working with Faris Al-Sultan?
Patrick: It has been exactly one year.
ST: How did you two connect?
Patrick: I had always been looking up to him and he has always been a big inspiration for me. We met for the first time during a training camp in February of 2015 and straight from the beginning we were close. We were doing all the rides together and we chatted for 6 hours straight. After that camp we met again during another camp and we started to joke about him coaching me once he retired as a pro triathlete. So he then retired after IRONMAN Texas and then called me after Zell am See and asked me if I still wanted that and I said yeah.
ST: But he is not here?
Patrick: No, unfortunately not.
ST: So what did he say when you called him?
Patrick: He was Faris and he was like “you did good” and that is the best thing he ever said to me. [laughs]
ST: Well, congrats again and enjoy the rest of your time here.
Patrick: Thank you very much.