So in 10 days we will all be lining up in our waves in Buffalo City with the hopes of completing a Half Ironman race in top condition without injury, incident or suffering, to finish ahead of our scheduled times in perfect weather with amazing people, flat water, no wind on the bike and loads of shade on the run, right?
Thought so. Let’s get to grips with the following things you can accept already…
1. You will suffer. It’s a Half Ironman. A 1.9km rough water swim, a 90km super tough bike and a 21.2km run with 2 big hills in it. It’s safe to say you`ll suffer. Accept it. Feel it and relish it and put it away in that sweet spot where it cannot hurt you. Do. It. Now.
2. You will doubt yourself. The bike course in East London is made to doubt yourself. You will be too slow on the way out… accept it! Many of you will wonder if you are going to make the cut off time on the bike… JUST KEEP PEDALING!!
3. There will be wind and more hills on the way back. It has happened every single year. Prepare for it. It’s not ALL downhill on the way home.
Right, now that we have that cleared, here are some vital tips to making it through the day.
1. Have a plan. Make sure you have a plan. Eat at designated times, drink enough fluid and make sure you do NOT overcook the first 20km on the bike.
2. Stick to the plan, stoopid!
3. Bodyglide goes a long way on race day where the swim is in a salty ocean. I go with the N.A.N principle, that would be Neck, Armpits, Nether regions….
4. Ask for sunscreen before the bike and before the run. Sun burn = poor performance. Would be useless to train for 6 months and throw it out the window because you couldn’t spend 10 seconds getting properly protected. Ask a volunteer, they rock and will do almost anything you ask them to do.
5. Have fun! Connect with the people on the way. Put a bubble around those who are negative and share energy with those who are positive.
6. On the hills on the bike, to kill time, count 50 right leg pedal strokes, then 50 left leg pedal strokes. Eases the mind a little.
7. Wash yourself at the last aid station. By now you are a mixture of sunscreen, Bodyglide, Coke, gel, dust, sand, grit & spit. You are NOT pretty. Your finish line photo and your family will be happier if you just give yourself a quick rinse.
Those are some small tips to make your day easier. I am going to use all of them, considering I have never raced this particular race and am going in with a humble mix of brave and stupid. Should be a cracker. If I do not acknowledge you on the run, its simply because I am suffering so badly that I can’t remember my own name.