July 2019

What to do in the few weeks before your Ironman race

The past few months have been a whirlwind with for me. I did a 340 mile unsanctioned relay race from LA to Vegas (I promise, more on that soon)  on *that* weekend Brexit was supposed to happen and in June, I did another relay  race in Sweden (again, post on this soon!), plus I started a new job. But, with fresh content, I’m back. And what better way, for the comeback than to talk about Ironman and advice I’d give to you if you’re doing one soon. After all, it is peak triathlon season and IM UK is approaching fast. So, here are my tips for those last few weeks before race day.

1.Learn how to fix a punctutre
Just do it. Though saying that, I’m still awful at doing it. Getting more comfy with bike maintenance is on my to do list though…  

2. Do a kit check of everything
Finalise what you’re taking and wearing. Have you got spares of everything? (I remember seeing someone’s googles breaking while we were at the starting line and another person’s swimming cap literally tore apart at Grafman Middle Distance tri).  

Lay your things out for each segment and pack each section in different bags.

Have you got water bottles you don’t mind being binned? Whatever water bottle you take, these will be thrown out during the course. Bear that in mind.   

3. Food and stuff for your special needs bags
When it comes to food, I craved savoury food on the run. Yes, they provide food in the form of crisps, and drinks in the form of water, energy drinks and coke, but the crisps tasted like paper and were the most unsatisfying thing I’d ever eaten. I’d say pack savoury foods you really like in your special needs bags. At low moments, reaching for this special needs bag and getting your special treats may perk you up.

And pack immodium in your special needs bags, just in case. I’ve heard so many bowel-related stories (politest way to describe it) that people have had especially during the run. And that reminds me, during the run, the loos were absolutely grim. Avoid them as much as possible if you can…  

4. Stick a piece of paper on your frame with the total distance along with key mile points
This can be whatever distance point is key for you. E.g key mile points where there are hills. I met someone who marked points just before hills were to remind her to take on certain types of fuel before she climbed the hills. You could use this to help you mentally tackle the course or to remind you where water and fuel stations are.    The only risk with this is the course may change at last minute. When I do another Ironman next year, this is a tactic I will be doing though.   

5. Wee as early as you can before your start time.
The queues get longer and longer as the start time nears.6. Do the practice swim session on the Saturday. This really helped me get used to swimming around the course

7. Be aware the organisers have the right to change the course
In 2018, last year, so many Ironman races had courses changed – Hamburg was changed to a duathlon (the swim was cut). With IMUK, we were faced with so many issues: there were major fires near to the course which meant parts of the bike course had to be rerouted. In the end, the bike course was cut short as a result – rerouting a huge course is a huge task for an event organiser – they have to consider things like permits and residents. In the week leading up to the race, there was even talk that that the swim would be stopped due to a certain type of algae. Luckily, the swim was never cancelled. IM Ireland this year had the swim cancelled very last minute too…  

8. If you don’t have a car, look into transport for the racking the bike in advance
I was so lucky that one of th race volunteers went out of their way to find me another volunteer who dropped me off to to Pennington Flash for me to rack my bike. The race organisers don’t have any transport from Bolton town centre to the lake.   

9. Ladies, think about your period
Is it due around then? You could either use a  menstruation cup and empty it at portaloos, use tampons or speak to your doctor about taking the pill. For me, my peroid was due around IMUK, so I went on the pill in the last 2 months or so. It was the first tine I’d been on the pill but I’m glad I did. I know that if I was on my period then, I would have been stressed. Equally, I find exercise makes my period pains worse, so I wouldn’t have “enjoyed” the event (what is the right word to describe doing an Ironman?).  

10. Be prepared for all weather
Last year, we were absolutely lucky to have gloriously warm weather. But, you never know. It could be wet and windy. Did you see IM Ireland this year!  

11. Breathe
I’d say don’t stress, but I know I stressed and that was part of the journey for me (it would have been boring otherwise!). If anything, if this is your first time, remember to enjoy it. Take it all in. You will look back with such rose-tinted views. You only lose your virginity once…   Good luck! 

Have you done an Ironman before? What would you add? Are you doing one soon? What do you want to know? Let me know in the comments.