The only thing separating you from you from a podium or top-10 age group place is a lot, lot of pain and hard work, much more so than Ironman. The difference is time. Achieving either of these in a competitive age group race requires intelligent training and less time. You don't need 6-hour rides, 15-mile runs are something you'd never contemplate.
Here is a qoute from Lance, I think you can take two things from this. 1. He's going for Pro at Ironman Hawaii 2011, otherwise this qoute makes no sense. He has just as much chance at IM Age group as he would at short distance. 2. He agrees with me about the difference between the two.
Which leads me to my point. Hey Lance, smackdown challenge, take on someone who IS old by your standards. Waco Olympic distance 2011. It's at a great point in your IMH training, it's super fast and flat on the bike and the run. Oh yeah, and stop whinning about your knee, you've nothing to complain about, ask Dr Doug Elenz!
"The first thing I have to do is to compete in a half Ironman to test myself. Because of my age  I would rather not compete in Olympic distance. Those triathletes who dispute this distance achieve speeds that I cannot get close to. What is clear is that if I want to be competitive, I have to focus on the longer distances as they often have tougher cycling sections and that would benefit me." Lance Armstrong on his preparations for Ironman Hawaii 2011.