Post race, even small ones, I always try to pull out a couple of successes and learnings. No matter how awesome or terrible a race is there are always things to remember and replicate – or never ever do again – next time.
Lather. Rinse. And Repeat. Self, remember these tips!
- Race vacations are a must!! Spending the week in Penticton, but away from the chaos, was a really great decision for me. By the time race day rolled around I not only felt totally engrained in what was happening, but also totally relaxed. Heck, I even had a favorite Safeway checker at that point! When all of the crazed triathletes arrived I retreated to our castle townhouse and stayed away from anyone that would psych me out (everyone). I lived in my Ironman-less bubble of denial until I was ready to get amped up rather than letting the crazies rub off on me.
- As part of Operation: Survive the Ironman Swim I’ve been quietly trying to figure out ways to avoid a panic attack during the swim. Turns out a mile warmup run with strides plus swimming for just a few moments does the trick quite nicely.
- Usually I try to only focus on myself during the swim, thinking that if I don’t acknowledge the feet kicking in my face that it’ll calm me down. It wasn’t intentional, but during the IM swim I found myself focusing on EVERYTHING happening around me, and sighted far beyond the clusters in front of me. I didn’t get an anxious about the people right in front of me because I was able to look past them, to the open clear water up ahead or the next buoy.
- You don’t win an Ironman in transition… but I feel like I sort of deserve a medal for my T1 time! And my T2 time was slower but it included a trip to the porta potty so I’ll take it. Though I haven’t done many triathlons to truly have the art of transition down I did put a lot of planning and thought into what I was putting in my bag and what I could enlist help with should I get a volunteer to myself. I didn’t put anything extra in my bags because I knew I didn’t need to take time making decisions and it kept me focused and moving. Keep it easy.
- I went out on the bike too hard, and I knew it. So once I calmed down I checked my HRM and worked hard to relax and lower my average heart rate. I let people pass me and said “so long!” It was hard to do, but when I got to Yellow Lake and passed folks back during the climb I knew I made the right move. I made smart decisions and stuck to the plan.
- Special Needs Rules. I had plans to not stop, but once I did the math I realized I’d need more hydration and infinit than I could carry (duh) and I didn’t want to have to mix on the go. I included 2x 24oz bottles in my bag and made sure to drink from mine first. Those extra bottles saved me, because I was having trouble taking in calories that weren’t in liquid form. The set up was easy and the volunteers rocked. I just tossed my empties at stations along the way, slowed to a stop, grabbed my bottles from the volunteer handing them to me, and rode on!
- Again with the smart decisions. My stomach was not happy and I feared that everything would make it worse. Rather than risk a total bonk I had tiny drops of gu at a time and resorted to Pepsi for additional calories. When the pain scale got too high to think about withstanding for more than a mile I slowed to a walk for however long I needed to alleviate the pressure. None of this was in my plans, and I’ve never had GI issues during a race or training, but I’m glad I stayed calm because no matter how much my run disappoints me I still believe this was the right method.
- I didn’t allow myself to think of the run as a marathon, but rather an aid station-to-aid station event. This attitude got me through 4 hours and 16 minutes of running, but looking back it felt like maybe 3 hours. Small goals worked for me at that point much better than larger ones.
Do Not Accept $200. Do Not Pass Go. DO NOT REPEAT!
- Too. Much. Food. I attribute my demise on the run to my Ensure, 2 bagels, peanut butter, and banana. Blech. All that after the previous day’s pasta dinner, sandwich, bagel, etc. My stomach still sort of hates me, over a week later.
- There are many things I could do to improve my swimming, but given my current fitness, pace, and swim anxiety there is nothing I could have done – other than be a better swimmer – to make my swim better.
- I knew I would go out too hard, I always do. I wonder a little bit if my stomach issues were due to the intensity up front. They started on the bike but didn’t hinder my performance until the run.
- I could have used more nutrition on the bike; once my stomach started up I stayed conservative. Ideally I would have had more calories and more liquids to top myself off for a strong and hydrated run. I did a good job bringing a couple of options just in case, but I need to force myself to eat while I train like I want to eat during a race to simulate how to handle GI upset.
- Cut up Powerbars don’t work. If you slice 3 up into little tiny bits and put them in a bag – even after letting them try out for 24 hours – they will still end up as a single glob.
- Mile 15 was the only point during the run where I remember focusing on distance. My thought was, “Well, eff. I haven’t run more than 15 miles during training, and I still have over 10 miles left to go!” At this time my body was starting to kick the GI distress and wanted to run, and my legs were honestly not that poorly off, but my knee-jerk reaction was to continue to conserve. With some better psychological preparedness I could have better spent that energy focusing on HTFU.
- Despite stomach issues, tiredness, etc., etc., I could have pushed myself more on the run. As soon as my GI alleviated I picked it up for a handful of miles. Then I let doubt creep in a bit knowing that I still had 5 miles left and backed off. At the time I thought playing it safe was smart, and it might have been, but I know that I could have fought harder out there.
- There is no need to carry any food, at all. With aid stations every mile my own bouncing gu’s did nothing but annoy me.