I know quite a few people getting ready to do an IM event this weekend. For some it will be their first and for some it will be one of many.
Here is some advice for you from me, an extremely "experienced" IM distance athlete (please realize that is sarcastic); take it for what it's worth:
1) Be patient
This applies to almost every facet of your race, but most of all it applies to your bike. I would always rather finish a race having run my guts out because I properly paced the bike than finish a race aching for the finish line with every fiber of my being, run-walking zombie shuffles between aid stations and crashing into the med tent. Personally.
2) Be smart
I remember Brian telling me once a while ago about the line you flirt with on the bike. Being smart doesn't just mean exercising intelligence and general smarts (although that's where it all begins) it means planning ahead and exercising good judgement. Decisions you make on the bike can have dramatic effects on your run. Biking just a little bit too hard (20 watts is only worth about 6 minutes over an IM distance race, FYI) can mean a 60+ minute swing in your run time. A good run can vary but will exist along a much narrower spectrum of possibilities than a "bad" run. (trust me, I know this one from personal experience)
3) Be friendly
In general, a friendlier outlook on your experience is going to lead to you having a better race. If someone is drafting off you just ask them if they're enjoying the view and move along with your day. They are not affecting you...too much. If a volunteer doesn't do a perfect job of handing you a cup or a gel...oh well. They are volunteers! There's about 100 yards worth of other opportunities to get your much needed gel or water or whatever.
4) Be relaxed
It's a long ass day. Relaxation is the key to happiness. "Maintaining an even strain." Controlling your valleys and your peaks and managing them effectively is imperative. Ultimately, less tension is a good thing. It helps your bike position, it helps your run mechanics, and it helps your sweet positive outlook.
5) Be ready
Seizing opportunities when they present themselves is important. In the swim look out for some good feet and use those things like there is no tomorrow. Be ready to adjust if necessary. I hate reading race reports where people say things like: "I added at least 200 yards with that course mistake (i.e. following bad feet." I hate reading them for several reasons, the most glaring of which adding is that 200 yards is a ridiculous, outlandish estimate. Be ready to dodge someone at an aid station on the bike as those will likely be chaotic. Or bottles. Potentially volunteers. Spectators. All that. Be ready. Be ready to change and adapt your race plan and strategy if necessary. Drop some nutrition? No big deal, plenty of opportunities to refill if you think about it logically and rationally. Forget to take in calories for 2 hours on the bike? No worries, plenty of time to dig yourself out of that hole, especially since you'll probably be walking quite a bit on the first part of the marathon. Cramping on the bike? Oh well, you went too hard for your abilities. Be ready to slow down and change your race plan.
No, not just at the finish line. Celebrate your day because it is simply an extension of the long (LONG) journey you have taken just to get there. For most people, the Ironman itself is just a culmination of a very long march through countless training hours, misery, excitement, camaraderie, fatigue, elation, rain, snow, heat, sweat...need I go on? Celebrate that you get to be out there, paying for this extremely expensive sport and lifestyle, enjoying the greatest things available to us: the outdoors. Be happy your are healthy (well, hopefully you arrived at the finish line healthy and not burnt out, but we all know most do not...).
No matter what have fun, enjoy the experience and celebrate your journey. Those are the keys to any good race. And life, for that matter...
|"Having fun" in first triathlon|