A Few Pre-Ironman Pieces of Advice From the Homestretch
Hard to believe it was almost a year ago when we decided to sign up for Ironman Canada. It’s my second time doing Ironman, and there are a lot of things I’ve put in place to have a better race than the first time. Peter has nailed his training and prep as well. So we’re down to the wire. If you’re in the same boat—homestretch, just getting the last couple workouts and prepping for race day—I’ve got a few pieces of advice that I wish someone had told me seven years ago. However this weekend goes, I know that I’ve done my best to be prepared for it while juggling the rest of my life (reasonably well!). It’s been, of course, a crazy year, and even though some training weeks were a little shorter than I’d prefer, I wouldn’t change a thing at this point. We’ve done the work, and that, to me, was most of the goal to begin with. So bring it on, Whistler!
You Paid a Lot and Trained a Lot. Act Like the Athlete You Are.
I’ve had to remind myself of this a few times this week. It’s not a cheap race, number one. Number two, you’ve put a ton of time and energy into training. Make this week count by acting like a pro athlete. Eat right, sleep well, keep your training on point, make sure you’re not saving $20 on a bike or shoe repair only to have a blowout in the race.
Race morning of Ironman SUCKS. And if you’re like me, don’t expect to sleep well on race night. So make sure you’re getting full nights of sleep, even banking an extra hour or two when possible. Naps during the day are your friend.
Get your packet the first day, hit the meeting the first day if possible. SUre, it sucks to spend your valuable vacation days dealing with pre-race stuff when you’d rather have a few extra days of downtime after, but if you’re serious, taking the time now will pay off later, I promise. Make sure your bike is perfect. Make sure your bags are carefully packed and everything is properly labeled (they are SERIOUS about that).
Swim or at Least Check the Swim
Nothing worse than jumping off a dock into a total unknown. If you can, swim a bit in the body of water where the race is (this is super easy at Ironman Canada, but wasn’t possible when I did Louisville). If you can’t get in the water, get as close as possible: scope it out, stick a hand it, and do some googling for other race reports that talk about the swim so you know what to expect.
Check the Course—and Parking
Obviously, you should look over parts of the course as possible. But more important, IMO, is checking where you’ll park at 4AM and how you’ll get from one spot to the other. I remember last time, I was a mess because we had to park HELLA far away and walk a ton.
Eat a Bit More
Don’t sweat that extra Clif Bar.
Spend Time on Slow Prep
Dial your gear. Slowly organize your bags. Be prepared.
Make a Plan for Post-Race
It’s great if you have a tech-savvy pit crew not racing, who can keep an eye on your splits and be at the finish line for your big moment. But in a lot of cases, you’re solo-missioning the race or you’re there with a partner who’s also racing (like us!). This adds to logistical difficulties since you can’t race with a phone. Designating a meeting spot and having contingency plans is huge, especially since Ironman is crazy and the person you thought would finish an hour faster can sometimes be hours behind. (Note: I’m arguing with Peter about this, but I’m firm that I’m running with a $20 in my zip pocket so that post-race, I’m not completely sans resources if something happens (i.e we somehow accidentally parked in a tow-zone and the van is gone; I need pizza to keep from having a full-on hangry freak out…)
I’ve been trying to keep up with my drinking, especially since we’ve had two big travel days this week. Not always easy, but heading into the race feeling totally hydrated is key. I’ve been drinking water with nuun tablets—normally, I wouldn’t do that off-bike, and I’m not doing it with ALL of my water, but I want to keep my electrolyte status solid.
Chill the F Out
Thanks, book club! The Athletic Bookworms are in the middle of reading The Brave Athlete and it’s all about keeping calm and getting confident. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s really helpful to be reading that right when I need it the most! (You’d think I stacked the deck so that would be the first book we read or something…) I know I have a tendency to let anxiety get the best of me, but not this time!
But Don’t Just Netflix and Chill
Taper doesn’t mean lying around and not moving. Easy, short rides, runs and swims, with a couple dashes of intensity thrown in. But you’re in for a world of hurt if you take the week off.
Do a Little Post-Race Dreaming
I don’t have any intention of having the post-Ironman blues. You know, that feeling you get when you’ve hit a big goal (well, hopefully hit that big goal!), and now you don’t know what to do next. I know that this can be a huge problem—I’ve written about it a lot over at MapMyRun—so I know the importance of having goals beyond the event that you’re doing. (Our podcast episode on Big Scary Goals covers that too!) I’ve actually spent a good amount of time these last couple days thinking about my next athletic endeavors! Definitely A LOT more mountain biking next summer, and a lot of strength work and yoga this fall and spring, plus more trail running. (Noticing a theme of EVERYTHING except road riding and running?)
OK, this one was sort of more for fun and style (more on that later!) but I did get a quick haircut at Mozaic when we were in Canmore, and I think it’s going to be a super aero advantage 😉
Wish Peter and I luck on Sunday and send good vibes towards BC! If you want to follow us, the Ironman Tracker is amazing. I’m bib 484 and Peter is 833.
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