(I originally wrote this post last year on my Facebook page for my friends racing Ironman 70.3 San Juan. I recently found it and realize it still relevant and some other people may benefit from it)
- It’s a long day
When things get tough remember the good days of training where you overcame your expectations and finished that monster workout. Also think about how the accumulation of all those days and challenges now make you much stronger. Remember the sacrifices you made to be there today on that starting line. The days you woke up at 4:00am, that day you couln’t play with your child because you were hammered after a killer long run. Remember every time you told your wife/husband; sweetie/honey I’m exhausted from training but I love you for supporting me on my crazy goals & personal challenges. That would be the greatest gas source for you during the whole day. If things go south in the first hour remember that in 60 minutes you get a new opportunity to make it go right. If the swim goes a little slow or your goggles fog, RELAX! we’ll get in rhythm on the bike now! If the run is not going well remember you already overcame 2 huge segments and that, already makes you a heroe. Finally remember that there is always a next day and life doesn’t depend on your race performance. Your people will still support you, they love you and will always be there!
2. The bike is key
My main advice for long course racing is to focus on nailing the bike. It’s the discipline with the longest time duration and distance extension. You must EAT here! Your posture on the bike, it being a non weight-bearing activity makes digestion easier than the other 2 disciplines. Eat & drink! Your body needs water to absorb whatever carbohydrate source your ingesting. The bike segment has to be paced and really well administrated. Don’t try to be a super heroe, trust me! 5 minutes slower here and your run split will be grateful. Be friends with the wind, if you have to choose wait for the part on the course with the most headwind to keep your best aerodynamic posture (tuck). You can rest your back with a tailwind or at the turnarounds. Do your best to stay low the rest of the way. Hold back! In those first 10km hold back your horses. Too many people go out too hard because it feels easy and pay their price in the last 10-20 km coming back home with a painful walk r shuffle. Calm down, relax ,90-180 km is plenty of time to suffer.
3. Mind games
As in the bike you must hold back a little bit when running out of T2. Don’t run on emotions, the cheering crowd might make you lose control of the situation and put you on an ecstasy , please don’t let this happen. Let your body assimilate the posture change from horizontal to vertical again, and your back to get loose gradually. Trust me, trust me, trust me! If you go out :30-:60 slower those first 2 miles you WILL pass a lot of runners in the closing phase of the race when the mental aspects become 90% of the equation. Once you start to feel the urgency to stop and walk, it’s the cue to start playing mind games with yourself. Set short-term goals and make deals with yourself. Run to that tree and then I can walk for a minute, or only walk through aid stations like Jan Frodeno did to win the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Once you get that done, set another goal immediately and so on. The urgency to walk will be powerful and relentless, try to avoid it at all cost even when you’re struggling jogging at 13’00’’-14’00’’ pace per mile. It’s no sin to walk. We have all done it & we still get the same medal at the finish line. The biggest satisfaction we get is by accomplishing a goal we set ourselves,not by meeting someone else’s expectations.