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It’s coming.

Watch your butts….

Watch our whats!?

BOOM!

IRONMAN 70.3 Florida is coming, that’s what.

IM 70.3 Florida in Haines, City, FL, is coming FAST and I’m here with some tips to get you through race day and the finish line.

Enough with the BS, lets get into it.

WEATHER

Plan plan plan.  Know what you are getting into.  I’m developing a tool kit that will help you do your homework for race day, but it’s not ready.  FEAR NOT.  Read on and you’ll get a great idea what to watch out for.

Weather.  It’s still COLD and snowing in parts of the country/world, but Haines City is muggy Florida central.  Even in April it can get hot and if you’re not used to it, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.  LOOK AT THE FORECAST.  Here’s a screen shot for 2019.

91 degrees, clouds and sun…. warm…. no shit.

Here’s my advice.

  • I would say the best thing to do is be ready for a hot long day, for sure. Add humidity into that and it will be sticky for sure. If you have access to a sauna, steam room or small room and a space heater, after any other workouts consider sitting in there for 20 minutes and just sweating. It will help acclimate you a little bit.
  • Ultimately you will need to stay on the high end of hydration on the bike. The minimum is the maximum you had been drinking in training, if that makes sense. If you drank 3 Gatorades on a long training ride of 56 miles, that’s your minimum goal for the race. You will probably need 10% more than what you had used in training. Make sure also to balance that with sports drinks and nutrition to keep mineral levels up and not be imbalanced for fluids vs mineral levels – Hyponatremia.
  • You will probably need to back off your power/HR goals on race day by 10%. Heat will make everything harder, so if you race with your training goals not adjusted, you will have a hard 13.1 miles. So what was easy in training is probably the best goal for race day.
  • The race will be as much about energy management as it will be about your training. All the training will be for not if the temps go high and you get to T2 on empty.
  • Hydrate hydrate hydrate on the bike. Manage your output (power/HR) on the bike from the start to end, regardless if you are feeling great – don’t push it – and manage the first 10 miles of the run super conservative. In that last 3 miles, if you have something left over, by all means floor it.

SWIM

It’s the pants dance… I raced IMFL last year when they moved to Haines City for the hurricane that screwed up PCB, so I know the pants well from my two loops.

Key points:

  • It will be congested with all those turns.  Stay wide if you don’t like contact.
  • Site often.  It was easy to veer off course because there’s no right angles.  Engineers’ nightmares.
  • You will be fighting the plant life that grows in the “lake”.  I was tangled up a few times and you just have to fight through it.  Worry about getting it off after the swim exit.
  • Wildlife was not an issue.  Despite all the photos people share online, IM works with the local wildlife people to clear the lake so you don’t get eaten… but there’s a first time for everything.
  • Know what color the buoys are for turns.  They have orange, yellow, red…. just LOOK at the map before you jump in race day.
  • Look at the course BEFORE you start.  It helps cut down anxiety when you have something for your brain to work on.  Look at the start chute.  Know target 1, 2, etc and where turns are.  Locate land markers for sighting.  When you’re in the water, it’s too late to figure that out.
  • RELAX.  Take the first few 100 yards easy.  Find your rhythm.  Swim your race.  Don’t do anaerobic and freak out looking for air.  You are not going to be able to shoot out at your sprint pace and hold it despite that HUGE shot of adrenaline that you will get when you jump in.

 

THE BIKE

Yes, the course is flat, BUT it does have some rollers and if you don’t manage fluids and effort, you will pay for it.

TIPS

  • The bike course is relatively flat, but be mindful of wind.  If you go by power, RPE, HR, whatever, you can go a little harder INTO the wind or up slow climbs, but if you have a tailwind, let the wind do the work and use it as a respite and avoid hammering it to go faster.  You may spend 15% more energy to save 5 minutes on the bike, and have less for the run resulting in walking and being 15 minutes slower for the 13.1 mile run.
  • Temps might be higher and humidity up from what you are used to training in. Hydration will be key.  Take plenty of water in on the bike and keep up on the run.  You may feel a “bonk” midway in the run which sometimes dehydration gets confused with bonk from not enough calories.  If you come in T2 and feel exceptionally dehydrated, you are in trouble.  Watch the forecast and adjust fluid intake accordingly, but be sure to get nutrition and sports drinks mixed in for sodium and electrolytes to keep up with any added water.  Moral of the story, don’t be over 2% dehydrated into T2.
  • There’s no super technical about the bike course.  Some turns.  Some rolling climbs, but no hard breaking or maneuvers needed.  Be ready to stay in aero A LOT.  If you cannot stay in aero or your drops, you are giving the course a lot of energy that you will want for the run.
  • Coming out of T1, don’t gun it no matter how great you feel.  Give yourself 20 minutes to calm down and find your targets.  Your HR should settle and it will be easier to listen to your body.
  • Resist the urge to fly with a tailwind and hammer it.  If you have it at the start and come back on the loop with a headwind, it will be morally defeating to not be able to hold consistent speed or power since you burned it up with the tailwind.  Trust me.

 

THE RUN

Where the race really starts.  Did you manage the bike power/effort?  Did you hydrate and eat right?  You’re going to find out now!  And, if it’s as hot as foretasted, IT COULD SUCK.  Or, if you played the energy game right, you could be powering past the fools that didn’t listen to me.
 
TIPS
  • 540 feet of gain is not a killer, but on that third lap, it could be frustrating.  Manage the hill attacks early, you will want any energy you can get for that third loop.
  • Mind your training, save you it will.  Like mind games?  3 loops on the run will test your mental fortitude.  It does me, anyways.  Nothing can be more depressing than running loop 1 and realizing you have 2 MORE TO GO!  That’s how it was for IMFL.  3 loops and they had a lot more zig zags, out and backs and HOLY CRAP stuff to get 26.2 miles.  Oy.
  • HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE.  Personally, the run limits my on solids.  I need calories through sports drinks.  I alternate at every aid station.  Water.  Sports drink.  Sometimes if I feel that I’m sloshing in the gut, I will RINSE only and spit it out so my body is tricked into thinking I’m getting some in, but I’m not adding to the GI problem.  Temps will be high, so you CANNOT skip hydration on the run.  Don’t be thick headed.  Slow your pace if you need to in order to get fluids to process.  You might be able to power through 8… 9 or even 10 miles, but mile 11 when you are getting light headed and sleepy, you’ll be glad you listened to me and didn’t get a DNF with 2 miles to go when medical pulls you off the course for the med tent.
  • Don’t be a hero early.  Again, that adrenaline will spike after T2.  Off that bike! Past the spectators.  People cheering.  YOU’RE SUPERMAN! Ok, well maybe Iron Man in this case.  BUT MY POINT, bottle that stuff up and save it for loops 2 and 3.  YOU WILL NEED IT.  I like to see people finish strong, not limp to the finish cursing their decision to sign up to begin with.
  • Walking aid stations not only the best way to get fluids on board, but it also forces energy management.  Especially loop 1 and 2.  Walk it.  Drink while you walk.  Get cold wet sponges if they have them and jam them into your shirt and shorts.  Get comfortable.  Blow a snot rocket.  Whatever you need to do, do it at aid stations and then run out.
  • If it is balls hot, use this jedi mind trick.  You will be able to see the lake on parts of the run.  Imagine a breeze blowing cool air across the lake into your face.  Think COOL WET WATER when you look at it.  Covered in sweat?  No man, that’s lake water that you are swimming in!  Get the picture?  If it helps, throw water on your head at aid stations as well.  Slippery when wet man.
  • Why does all this sound so real?  BECAUSE I HAVE DONE EVERY BONE HEADED MISTAKE I just told you not to do.  Listen to me.  Don’t be stupid Ryan.

ANY QUESTIONS?  WHAT DID I MISS?

And as a bonus to those that read ALL THE WAY THROUGH, here’s a link to my packing list I use to travel to races.  Enjoy.

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