There is more to doing an Ironman than just swimming, biking, and running. Like I mentioned before, there is actually a fourth sport involved with partaking in an all day triathlon event; nutrition. Without a good nutrition plan on race day you are setting yourself up for failure.
I received this email from fellow triathlete and accountant Sam Barnes of Ephrata, Washington whom had the chance to chat with a Kona Ironman veteran. In their meeting the 'Kona stud' went through what his nutrition plan was for the Ironman World Championships, and some things to expect on raceday. Mind you, because of the extreme climactic differences between the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii and other Ironman's there is some wiggle-room for caloric and electrolyte intake. However, his plan serves as an excellent baseline for any Ironman nutritional strategy. In order to alleviate confusion; this is Sam emailing me what the Kona veteran told him, and what Sam will do during his Ironman race. The stuff in parentheses are my explanations to help clarify the tri-geek vocabulary.
""The Kona guy ran me through exactly how he does nutrition on race day.
Starts carbing up (eating lots of carbohydrates like pasta, breads, fruits etc.) 3 days prior to the event with lots of water. Then on race day 2 1/2 hours before race he has bagel with PB&J, banana, and 24 oz Gatorade. Then 10 minutes before race 12 more ounces to top off. On bike, water only for first 30 minutes, then sips on second bottle which has 12 scoops of Perpetuem (pure carbohydrate mixture in powder form) and a little water (think pancake batter). The Perpetuem bottle gives him enough carbs to fuel the entire bike for his weight, about what you and I need to, he is 5'10" 160. Then he fills his second water bottle, aero bottle on handlebars at each water station, grabs water at one station, Gatorade at the next and keeps alternating for the next 112 miles. He just tosses the bottles after emptying into aero bottle. Takes a gel (gel form of pure carbohyrdate) every 45 minutes. The three back pockets of his triathlon shirt have gels, endurolytes capsules (electrolyte tablets like look like Tums tablets),and small bike tool. 4 endurolytes every hour too.
Then on the run he has one small flask bottle of hammer gel (fuel belt sized
bottle of gel form carbohydrates) in back pocket and carries a second in his hand. Drinks some gel just as arriving at each water station. Still taking 4 endurolyte capsules every hour. And that's it, no solids for him. I'll pretty much copy this but also take a ProBar energy bar (like a Powerbar or Cliff Bar) that I like for a solid on the bike. He (Kona vet) does not use a special needs bag (this is a bag you get to put your ancillary items in that you think you might need during the race) but I figure why not, put anything and everything you may need in it another perpetuem bottle, electrolyte capsules. He did drop his endurolytes on the bike at mile 80 and had to turn around and go pick them up which he said almost caused him to crash. Could have skipped picking them up if had some in a special needs bag at T2 (good point, better safe than sorry).
If it's hot wear a hat on the run vs visor and put ice in it. Always use the iced sponges (they hand these out at aid stations during the race) to put in your Jersey top, shoulders, and if you really are overheating carry ice cubes in your hands. He began to overheat at mile 5 of the run and had to walk, but another passing runner told him to start carrying ice in his hands and that helped cool him back down.
He said expect lots of unexpected bad things to happen (on swim getting hit in face just as you are starting to take in air, move to the side until you get your air back, etc.) and run through in your mind what you will do to take care of them (For instance in one race I actually had a guy unzip my wetsuit and it filled with water in the middle of the lake... no bueno). You WILL have negative thoughts especially at start, "I did not train enough" "How can I really do this for 12 hours?" Get rid of those right away by remembering your best workouts and simply plan to slow down a little every time you feel sluggish, your nutrition will catch up in a few minutes. Walk through your transitions at T1 and T2 the night before
to make sure you have everything!
He was great, real positive. Kona times were 1:05, 5:05, 4:10 (This guy is fast!). Increased his bike speed to 21.5 over final 40 even with stiff side winds. The temp on the run was in the 90's which he wasn't ready for so the slowed him down
:30. Chris Lieto (one of the fastest cyclists in Ironman circuit) told him there to get ready for the humidity and heat, he turns on his shower and rides his trainer in the bathroom for 1 houri twice a week for the 4 weeks prior to the race. Heather Fuhr (She rocks too!) told him to get better at the marathon, run a couple in training and run the last 6 miles harder than the first 20 to get your body better ready for those last 6 miles of hell. Easy for her to say, not a workout any of us would get excited about.""
I have modeled my race day plan after this guy's. It is always great to get information from someone who has been there, they really do help pave the way.
News worthy information: Former Major League Baseball star Jeff Conine will be participating in the 2008 Ironman World Championships. Check out the press release on Ironman.com (http://ironman.com/mediacenter/jeff-conine-set-to-hit-home-run-in-hawaii)
"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great."