Ironman 70.3 – Race day technical stuff: doing it right.

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Locking your watch as you run in. Good idea.

Ironman 70.3 is probably the greatest, most enjoyable endurance triathlon distance. It tests you severely, but doesn’t kill you like it’s big brother. Herewith a few technical pointers that could make or break your race. Don’t overlook them.

Swim.
1. A swim warmup is a winner. It warms up the muscles and set them up for good swimming form. Also push your heart rate high during the warm up so your heart does not get a rude wake up call during the rush of the swim start.
2. Make sure your anti-chafe is applied sufficiently.
3. If your timing chip is exposed on your ankle, circle it with a length of insulation tape around the ankle. It is a better solution than safety pins.
4. Put swim goggle straps under, rather than over the swim cap for a safer bet. Many goggles get kicked off and lost during the swim.
5. Make sure your swim cap is pulled down flat onto your head. Many swim caps also gets lost. Don’t put your swim cap on with hands still covered with anti-chafe. It’s a sure way to make your cap slippery on your head and easier to lose during the swim
6. Lock your watch while you run into the sea. In the “washing machine”, many a clash of hands have stopped, or forwarded watches to bike or run legs while still swimming. If you want to ensure gauging your pace per discipline, lock your watch. Rehearse the procedure. It’s actually very easy with most watches.
7. Nearing the swim exit, remind yourself of the routine that lies ahead for Transition 1. Say to yourself: wetsuit off, goggles/cap off, keep running, find markers to locate bike bag, step out of wet suit, helmet on, sunglasses on, shoes on, race belt on, or whatever else you need to do in T1.

Transition 1.
1. When you exit the swim, pull your zipper as you stand up and get your arms out of the wetsuit ASAP, before you take off your goggles or cap. The water trapped inside your wetsuit makes for an easy peel-off. Once the water drains out, it gets harder to get out of the wetsuit.
2. Only unlock your watch once your watch arm is out of the wetsuit.
3. As you run up to the bike bags, focus on the first thing you have to do, and then the next and the next. Don’t get flustered now by trying to think of everything all at once.
4. Empty your bike bag upside down. Many people have left race belts and gels in their bags during the panic.
5. Then calmly, but “fastly” execute your T1.

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Make sure you have location markers for a quick run to your bike

Bike.
1. Getting onto your bike, be sure you have all your spares sorted: a spare tube, (maybe even 2), tyre levers, a small multi tool. Chains seldom break, but they do. Chainbreaker. Masterlink.
2. For a distance of 90 kilometers, make sure you consume at least one bottle per hour, right on cue. Don’t “not drink”, no matter how good you feel or how fast you are going.
3. Take your energy gels on cue. For 90 k’s, one gel per 45 minutes is a good minimum. Take them without fail.
4. If you take solids, also on cue.
5. Take your first “run gel” 5-10 minutes before you finish your bike leg. It is one thing out of the way for T2.

T2
1. As you near the end of your bike leg, once again play the motions of T2 through your head, and execute them calmly.
2. As you come in for T2, also test your bowels. If you need to sit down, rather do it now. Running with a stomach that wanted to go is a no-no. Sacrifice the minute now. It might impede your run and cost you much more later.
3. If you have a wee, you should have let that out on the bike. Loosing that minute is not necessary.
4. The run bag always looks very empty, but shoes, sunglasses and maybe a cap is all you need. A small tube of sunscreen is also a good idea should the volunteers get too busy.
5. Once again empty the bag upside down to make sure nothing gets left behind.
6. Grab your gels and stuff them in your back pockets on the run.

The Run.

1. Break your run up in 3 x 7 kms or 2 x 10 + 1 km sections. 21 Km is way to far.
2. Once again, nutrition is crucial, even more so on the run. Your body has taken some beating by now. Don’t skip ANYTHING. Take one energy gel every 35-40 minutes, no matter how horrible they may taste. Force them down with a gulp of water.
3. If you want to walk, limit it to the watering points. That way you don’t mess while drinking and you get a guilt free walk for 15 seconds.
4. Fatigue becomes more of a factor during the run. Most athletes should focus to race within themselves. Never up your pace unrealistically courtesy of outside factors like surging race buddies.
5. Keeping body temperature down is also crucial. Use the sponges and water consistently and sensibly.
6. We all know the story of “water poisoning”, but dehydration has had a million more victims. When in doubt, rather drink.
7. From kilometer 19, throw in the kitchen sink and/or savour the moment. It’s done. “You are a ”half Ironman!”. (Trick question: does two half Ironmans make a whole?)

The effort level of your race will be determined by your fitness and your goal for the day. Unforeseen things can happen that might derail your race and turn it upside down. Never lose perspective. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Unless the race kills you, it will add value to your life, no matter the outcome. It is a celebration of your life and your fitness. If it turns out good, be thankful and ride the emotional high for days on end. If it turns out to be a bad race, show character and tap yourself on the shoulder for the gallant way in which you handled it. You  were a winner already when you stepped on the start line.

Enjoy your Ironman 70.3!

About Frank Smuts 185 Articles
“The greatest moments happen when you step out of your comfort zone.”

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