March 18, 2009

Ironman South Africa 2009 – Course Preview

So, before you do that, you can also ready my report from last year for a fresh look at what was going through my mind a year ago. You can check that at Tricape , a gret resource for local triathlon, here

Now, here goes a quick description of what to expect on the day and what to expect on the course. Port Elizabeth is a deceptively slow course and has a few tricks you should know about.

Wake up early enough to chill through your morning routine. 4pm should be good. Have a quick, 2min shower while someone makes you a cup of coffee and gets your breki ready. Your major bags should be in transition already and you will have your special needs with you, as well as your swim bag. Also, have your loved ones carry a day-pack with your after race gear with them (just… never mind) so you can change after the race.

Pump your tires, add your nutrition to your transition bags, get your special needs bags in, and get to a zone where you can take 5 minutes to have a nice think about how amazing your day is going to be. SIT. Do NOT walk around all morning. Have a short stretch and get your wetsuit on and some last carb drink in. stick a gel in your wetsuit leg and say goodbye to your loved ones. Make sure to thank them there and then for their patience with you.

Have a good, 400m warm-up for the swim. it will get the body going and the blood flowing and some of the nerves out. slow, easy swimming with a few 10 second sprints. find your place on the beach (I prefer middle but if you are a weaker swimmer, stick left, as there is a bit of a current which drifts you all right, so by the time you get to the first buouy, you will be spot on). Have your gel about 10min before the start and look out for someone with some water to wash your mouth out.

At about 1k, the group you are in WILL split up. Dig in and find a nice set of feet to follow back to the beach. Draft where you are allowed I say. when you hit the beach, jog… dont RUN and raise your heart rate. wave to the crowds and high five someone. ENJOY your WHOLE day. You are here to rock out, remember! Find those same feet immediately into the water. Your first 100m on lap 2 will SUUUUUUUUCK big time until the blood is back in your arms. Just hang tough, its happening to everyone, I promise. Stick with the feet the whole way and when you are done with the swim, do yourself a favor and take your wetsuit off on the beach. there is some water just before you head up the steps to T1, stop and rinse yourself. salt on your skin is not nice for a 180km ride, and the 5 seconds it takes you to rinse will not affect your overall placing.

relax in T1, get your goods on, and if its hot, get the volunteers to cover your shoulders in sunscreen. get your nutrition in your pockets and take a easy walk to your bike. do NOT drink anything for the first 20-25minutes out the water. your tummy will not love you.

the bike route in PE is 3 laps. your HR will be quite high onto the bike and the muscles will feel stiff. thats normal, and the worst thing you can do is hammer. the first 3km in PE is also the hardest of the whole lap. there are short, sharp drags. take it easy. Once you are past the hill at the Oakley factory, you can start finding a rhythm. its a 10km drag from there to the top of the hill, and you should be finding a good cadence around 85 rpm here, get aero as the wind is most probably head on as well, and once you get to the top of the hill, have a big swig of your juice and your first gel of the bike.

Follow your nutrition plan. Follow your game plan. I guarantee there will be people coming by you, flying on the bike. Just stick to your plan. You should get off the bike thinking you didnt bike hard enough. Thats the perfect scenario if you plan to run the whole way.

The bike rolls for the middle 25km and then you hit the coastal road. this is flat and fast and generally has the wind from behind you. this is a great place to eat, stay low in the aerobars, and enjoy the gorgeous view. stick to the draft zone, but use it to your advantage as well.

the first lap will FLY by, and the second lap you need to focus to stay on your pace. its the most important lap on the bike. FOCUS FOCUS.

I take my waterbottles as 1 bottle normal strength and then the second bottle I make triple strength. After the first bottle, I take on water and just take about a 1/3rd sip juice and then 2 sips water for the second lap. I suggest you freeze 2 bottles the night before and stick them in your special needs bag and collect that at the end of lap 2. Fresh, cold bottles seem to always cheer me up.

Your last lap will be trying and you will want to get off your bike. You will doubt yourself a little at this point, and you will worry about the run. If you feel great, hold back, it will go away eventually. I take a fresh batch of vitamins on the flat section about 10km before T2. It seems to perk me up for the run.

At the end of lap 3, ride the last 3km, as you take the turn at the bottom of the university, very easy. put it in the small blade and spin quite high cadence all the way to T2. Walk through T2 into the tent and get your run gear on. A fresh layer of sunscreeen, and some vaseline in various places will go a long way later in the day.

Walk out of transition and dont take any water/coke/juice till the first aid station at the turn around.

I will bet my life you will run the first kilometer too hard. Take your split every km, and make sure you hit the first few spot on. If you need to run 5:30, run 5:30. when you can see the km board and arent near 5:30, walk to the board. Dont overdo the first 5km.

I take 1 glass of coke and one sponge of water at each aid station. Coke in the mouth and water over the head. Its routine and I walk the aid stations. I run aid station to aid station, breaking the marathon down into 20 manageable chunks.

The absolute key thing in PE is to hold form on the run. its flat, its boring, and as soon as you lose form, there goes your run split. I have seen it so often. Keep your mind busy, get in the zone and get aid station to aid station. The section in the university is the hardest, so save something for that piece every lap. Soak up the vibe in town because there is NONE of it in the University. It will be tough in there.

Again, check your pace at the end of lap 1. You should be holding back until then. On lap 2, you should be spot on as fatigue sets in and you should be focussed and comfortable until about 3/4 way through the 2nd lap. Once you hit town again, your spirit will lift and I really want you to bottle that energy for the last 10km. Once you hit the turn-around 2km into the last lap, thats about 1/2 way for the day, and thats where it either goes perfect or very wrong.

Close your eyes and run counting your left feet paces. Count to 100 and then switch to your right foot. Do this until you get to the University.

When you make the turn and as you are out of the aid station, this is the essence of Ironman. Its very real at this point and you are sore, tired, sore and tired. Did I mention sore and tired.

If your nutrition intake has been right, you should still feel mentally aware and I want you to focus here on your style up the long drag to the next aid station. its 2km, so put your head down and get there. Rock the last aid station and its a long downhill from there.

When you take the last bend into town, I want you to take a deep breath and remember that you only have 10minutes max to go. The pain will dissipate, the fear will go, and you will feel INCREDIBLE.

Soak it up.

As you cross into the finish line, stop, and walk. Your urge will be to run. Dont. Take your time and enjoy it. make sure you are in the finish photo by yourself, with sunglasses off, face smiling and hands in the sky…



an Ironman!!!

One Comment on “Ironman South Africa 2009 – Course Preview

March 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm

That just made me really really want to do it!!! Haha… one day!


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