So this post has been floating around in my head for the last couple of weeks... probably would have been better if I would have gotten to it when the lessons were super fresh in my mind but I'll try to do it justice here today! Essentially I'm going to go through some of what Team BSC athletes learned (good and bad!!) from the Ironman racing we did in August. It's all pretty much race day execution kind of stuff so maybe some of it can be used by some folks racing in Wisconsin or Cedar Point this weekend. If you're doing Kona, you probably know all this already. :)
~Use the bike to fuel yourself well. Across the board, those who took in more on the bike ran closer to their potential. Those who, for whatever reason, consumed less on the bike had periods of very low energy both toward the end of the bike and at some point during the marathon. Specifically for the 10 of us, it appeared that 1800-2200 cal on the bike = solid marathon. 1200-1400 cal on the bike = bonk during marathon. Fueling correctly is a choice. Don't skimp here.
~Don't look for a new magic pill or piece of magic equipment the day before the race. If you have not tried those race day formulations with taurine and other ingredients that are supposed to keep you motivated throughout the day, don't overdose on them during the race. This seems like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised.
~On race day, turn your machine on and press play. Those who had the best PR days were those who did the training, and then trusted themselves and just did what they were trained to do when the cannon fired. If you're well trained, effort across the board should be steady and solid, never panting breathing (even through T1 when you're feeling super hyper). The pacing goal through the day is to slow down as little as possible, so start each leg at a pace that you KNOW from training that you can sustain for the long haul. If you need a power meter or heart rate monitor or garmin to use as a leash in the beginning, use it. Going too hard early on and "banking time" will most likely backfire. Ironman is too long for that strategy.
~Make sure the equipment you choose to use on race day reflects the course and conditions you will be facing. If its super hilly, put the 25 cassette on your bike. If it's super hot and you're not adapted, skip the aero helmet. Make sure the shoes you choose are ones that will hold up and support your legs through 26 miles. If it's cold, dress yourself appropriately so you're comfortable.
~Ignore your swim split. You won't know if the course was a little long or a little short until after the race when you see everyone else's splits... and if your swim seemed 'slow' and you let that get to you and you get all negative down on yourself OR try to 'make up for it' in the first half of the bike, you're screwing yourself. Let me say it again- ignore your swim split. Just train appropriately and trust your training and swim strong/steady then ignore it and go ride your bike.
~Ironman is about strength, not speed. Don't try to go fast. Try to stay strong.
~If you're having a crappy day and not living up to your expectations, finish anyway. DO NOT DROP OUT. On Monday morning you'll be happier with a slower finish time than you would be with a DNF next to your name.
~Whether you're hurting or not, smile a lot and high five little kids. That positive energy will come right back to you! :)
Good luck if you're racing an Ironman in the coming months!