1) Race YOUR own race.
Don’t worry what anyone else is doing! I don’t care if an 80 year-old woman or a 400 pound man passes you. They are not you, and they don’t affect your race, unless you make the mistake of letting them. Trust me; 80% of the people that will be “racing” you up those hills on the bike will be the same people walking the whole marathon. Don’t be one of them! If you’re doing the opposite of most people, i.e. going easy and getting passed, then you’re doing the right thing.
The Ironman is about how you execute your race with the fitness you have built up, NOT about the fitness you bring to the race.
2) Forget about the first word in #1. You are NOT racing!
This is not your weekend 10k. You are simply competing against the course, weather, and yourself. (If you get to mile 20 on the run and you still feel great and want to race all the people walking around you that tried racing the first 134 mile, then be my guest. But until mile 20, you are NOT racing.
Focus on what you can control and take your time. Don’t rush through transition like a sprint triathlon. Use the bathroom; get sunscreen rubbed on your shoulders and back. Walk, smile, and enjoy the whole experience.
3) Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition.
If you’re not thinking about when the next time you’re going to take a bite of something or hydrate, aside from cooling yourself off with water or your pacing, then you’re thinking about the wrong things.
4) Smart Pacing = High cadence, controlled easy breathing, and smiling!
It should feel like an easy effort, one you can sustain all day. Just like every endurance workout you have done. Yes, you are going to feel great during the first 50 miles on the bike. You trained to race 140.6, so you have to hold yourself back and stay relaxed.
Don’t be afraid to stop and stretch during the ride. Or pull over and get a little extra food from the aid stations. A few minutes won’t hurt your race. But riding too fast or forcing yourself to keep going when you just need a little break will.
The key to your fastest Ironman is not about going fast early and seeing if you can hold on; it’s pacing well enough that you don’t have to slow down.
Just remember, there is no such thing as a good (fast) bike split followed by a poor run (as in walking most the marathon). Go easy enough on the bike so that you can execute the run to the best of our abilities.
5) Have a thought out race plan and follow it. That way all you have to do is worry about yourself (following steps 1-4) and executing the plan on race day.
This should include your nutrition plan for the whole day.
• On the bike (How much, when to eat it.)
• Bike check bag (What extra nutrition do you need? Peanut butter sandwich?
What other items do I need in my:
• Swim to bike bag: Change of clothing to bike clothes?
• 80 mile checked bike bag: Extra riding cream? Spare tire? CO2?
• Bike to run bag: Run clothing?
• Half run checked bag: Change of socks? Chaffing cream? Gels? Salt Tabs?
Your race plan should also include where your family and friends will be on the course. Have a plan for where they will try to see you at different spots during the race. Looking forward to seeing them is a huge confidence booster.
Have a mental plan of action.
• What will you say or do to calm you down if something goes wrong?
• What words will help you relax and refocus?
• What is the one thing that will keep you going when you want to stop? This needs to be thought about well before the race starts, and you need to know that when you think of it, you will keep your body moving when it wants to quit.
• Finally, take a deep breath and relax!