Here are some Triathlon Tidbits (some are only specific for 70.3 and Iron distance). This could easily be turned into multiple shorter posts but knowing that a few athletes I coach and/or friends who still have their final long race of the year to do are in preparation, here are some tidbits from Ironman Chattanooga. As with everything else, TEST, TEST, TEST. Nothing new on race day!
Racing in heat can severely impact your performance. This happens primarily because you body has to protect itself from overheating and will divert resources away from race performance in the interest of survival. Trying to stay cool or cooling off before you overheat can make or break your race. Acclimating/acclimatizing for a hot race is a good idea but I won’t get into that. Here are some things you can do during the race that could help you. Note that I do not include drinking water. Though this is good for hydration, it’s cooling effect is short-lived. It also could cause you to drink too much if you’re desperate to cool off. I also didn’t include dumping water over your head. That also has a short-lived cooling affect. It’s not worthless because it might dampen clothing for additional evaporative cooling but if you’re already wet from sweating, water isn’t going to help.
1. Chew ice – if aid stations on the run have ice, take a cup and chew the ice into a slushy mass before swallowing. This cools your core but also has an affect on the nerves in and near the mouth. It should be counted in your hydration equation.
2. Put ice in your hat and down your race kit to cool you as it melts.
3. Avoid getting sunburned. Use sunscreen, a hat, and protective fabrics.
4. Arm coolers or DeSoto Sports skin coolers are sleeves or similar apparel that can provide sun protection, and when dampened, offer a cooling effect. I used these at Ironman Chattanooga: on the bike and the run.
5. I’ve never done this so don’t know if it would work but I 1stthought about it 4 or 5 years ago: take one of those “cooling towels” (like Mission), sew it into a long, tubular bag, and sew in a zipper or Velcro closer on the open end. During the race add ice on the race course and drape it around your neck for cooling.
Keep it simple because things tend to go out the window during the race as fatigue sets in. Carry a minimal amount if possible and instead use the on-course nutrition if possible. I carried a throwaway water bottle with carbs in it out of T1 and electrolytes (in the form of SaltStick Chews) as well. I carried a sleeve or 2 of Clif Bloks that could have been in my pocket but I also could easily have used the ones on the course.
Bag Marking for Identification and Easy Opening
You have 5 gear bags for most Ironman races: Morning Clothes, Bike Gear, Bike Special Needs, Run Gear, and Run Special Needs. Besides using the number stickers provided by Ironman, use a black Sharpie marker to write your name and number elsewhere on the bag. Some people use a colored tape to help them find their bag during transition but I don’t find this necessary. The other thing I do is use marker or blue painter tape or even black electrical tape to mark the strings to tell me where to pull so I don’t make a knot when I open the bag. I’ve seem people rip their bag open which then forces them to struggle to put their wetsuit or their bike helmet, etc. into the bag once the contents is dumped out. How do I mark the strings? First I tie the bag using the standard tie-your-shoes bow. I do NOT double knot them. They are a continuous string so you have loops, not string ‘ends’ and you may not know which one to pull. So I then mark the end loops that I need to pull so I don’t end up with a knot and I don’t have to think about it while in transition.
Open Nutrition Packages
Nutrition packages (and other wrapped items like Tylenol blister packs) should be prepared for use before the race. Depending on the item and how you carry it, consider cutting open the package. Clif Bloks, Sport Beans, and similar items can be opened. With Gels and GU’s you are probably asking for trouble. If you have something like a plastic tube or tablets with a safety seal or the like, remove that in advance for easier access.
If you’re wearing temporary tattoos (race numbers, etc.) put them on the night before.
If you want to have a mental playlist of particular songs playing in your head during the race, create an actual playlist and listen to them in the days leading up to the race and especially on race morning as you go to transition and wait for the start. This will help you avoid having earworm songs you don’t want stuck in your head. (Christine used this for Chula Vista Challenge and it reminded me of how beneficial this is to do.)
If there are specific things you might forget when you’re tired or excited or fatigued, include a concise “To Do” list in your transition bags so you don’t forget to do something. Put it in a Ziploc bag so the writing doesn’t smear if it gets wet. You can also write a simple instruction out that you could hand to a volunteer if there’s one available to give you extra help.