An athlete I coach was kind enough to let me post his race plan and my comments since I thought it could be helpful for other people. Like many TriForce athletes, he’s a busy achiever with a job that requires long hours and lots of travel. He was smart and started his long buildup in the Fall and despite the fact that his training was far from perfect he emerged from the winter quite fit on the bike and run after a few months of structured indoor riding and consistent winter running, despite relatively low overall volume. He’s completed some successful sim workouts and has his nutrition and pacing (power & HR on the bike, and pace / HR on the run) dialed in pretty well. This athlete’s only major weakness is the swim.
My primary goal is just to execute my plan well so I finish strong and feel good about what I’ve done. I have worked damn hard for this!
My secondary goal is to really enjoy the day. It’s amazing to be surrounded by other people who understand what it takes to be here. I get really nervous leading up to competitions and for me, it’s nice to actually just begin the event so I don’t have the nerves anymore. YES! YOU’LL BE HAPPY TO BE OVER WITH THE SWIM. THEN YOU SHOULD TO THE BIKE RIDE AT A QUITE COMFORTABLE INTENSITY AND ENJOY IT. THEN THE FIRST HALF MARATHON SHOULD BE A COMFORTABLE JOG. SO BASICALLY RELAX AND HAVE FUN ON THE BIKE AND HALF MARATHON. IT’S FUN TO BE OUT THERE ON THE CLOSED ROADS AND TO RIDE/ RUN THROUGH CHEERING CROWDS! SAVE THE SERIOUSNESS FOR THE LAST HALF MARATHON!
Race Day Plan
4:15 am Wake up (I usually wake up at 3:45– more time to eat, drink coffee and water and hopefully be able to go to the toilet before leaving the room (a good toilet stop is key)
4:20 am Get Dressed: Tyr Tri shorts, warm-up pants, flip-flops, HRM strap, t-shirt and hoodie
4:30 am Breakfast: One toasted bagel (225c) with almond butter (200 c), banana (110c), two boiled eggs (140c), 1 c coffee, enough water to fully hydrate (THIS LOOKS SLIGHTLY LIGHT ON CARBS– MAYBE ADD ANOTHER 1/2 BAGEL IF YOUR STOMACH FEELS GOOD)
4:45 am Chillax: Do some light stretching, visualization and breathing exercises to keep nerves in check, sip water, be positive
5:30 am Leave the House: (get ride to start area (YOU MIGHT BE CUTTING IT A LITTLE CLOSE HERE)
6:00 am Body Marking: Remember to bring own marker. Apply Body Glide / sunscreen after numbers on (YOU ALSO MIGHT WANT TO ADD PUMP YOUR TIRES, ADD FOOD & DRINK TO YOUR BIKE, DROP OFF SPECIAL NEEDS BAGS IF YOU PLAN TO USE THEM (i never do); ATTACH AND TURN ON GARMIN & PUT IN BIKE MODE,
6:30 am Wetsuit on: Get help with shoulders/zip. Put on neoprene cap and race cap on top (IT’S ACTUALLY A GIANT CLUSTERF#$K GETTING TO THE SWIM START (EVERYONE HAS TO FUNNEL THROUGH A TINY WALKWAY) IF YOU WANT TO WARM UP YOU’LL NEED TO START TRYING TO GET DOWN THERE EARLIER. I
6:40 am Suck down one Gu with a cup of water. HAVE A “DISPOSABLE” BOTTLE IN YOUR HAND TO DRINK THE GU AS YOU ARE IN THE LINE TO GET DOWN TO THE BEACH.
6:45 am Warm-up for swim: Face in water, bobbing, breath control exercises. A few hundred yards easy swimming. Practice rhythm, long arm reach, front-extension, rotation (broken arrow feel). NO MATTER WHAT, BE SURE TO GET YOUR FACE WET.
7:00 am SWIM START
- Line up toward back and a bit to the left side. Start conservatively. DO NOT GO ANAEROBIC. YOU ALMOST COULDN’T STARTTOO SLOWLY– TAKE IT VERY EASY AT THE BEGINNING.
- Focus on rhythm, breathing, settling in. Use “bubble-bubble-breathe” mantra. Hum while breathing out. Sight with “alligator eyes” – not on breath stroke. This is not a short event for me.
- Find a pair of quiet feet to follow. Remember, you will get kicked, nudged, hit. Don’t get too rattled – it happens. TRY TO GO FROM ONE PAIR OF FEET TO THE NEXT. IF SOMEONE IS GOING TOO FAST, DROP BACK ONTO A DIFFERENT PAIR OF FEET.
- Roll over onto back with arm extended if getting short of breath, form breaking down and take a quick break to reset. Focus on deep breaths OUT to calm and reset. Roll over and keep going. DO THIS EARLY AND AS OFTEN AS YOU WANT.
- Before getting out of water after first loop, kick a little harder to get blood back into legs so not dizzy when standing up. NOT REALLY NECESSARY- YOU’RE BARELY ON THE BEACH.
- Easy jog/walk around to re-entry. Halfway done! Use the short break to mentally gear up. I’D WALK SLOWLY — ENJOY THE SHORT REST. BE SURE TO WALK ALL THE WAY TO WHERE IT IS A STRAIGHT LINE TO THE BUOY– DON’T DIVE IN AND START SWIMMING DIAGONALLY.
- Rinse and repeat.
- Exit water, celebrate swim being done, and jog easy into transition area. Pull wetsuit down to waist while cruising in. THEY’LL HAVE WETSUIT STRIPPERS TO REMOVE YOUR SUIT. JUST SURRENDER AND RELAX AND DO WHAT THEY SAY.
- Find bike (just like in pre-race walkthrough). Strip wetsuit all the way off. Drink three big swigs of plain water. YOU ACTUALLY GRAB YOUR BAGGED CLOTHES AND GO TO A CHANGING TENT (YOU TAKE BIKE STUFF OUT OF THE BAG AND PUT SWIM STUFF INTO THE EMPTY BAG)– IT’S EASY AND NICER THAN THE TYPICAL WAY. THEN YOU GO OUT TO YOUR BIKE AND GET GOING.
- Towel is on top of bike gear – 5-second quick dry and then towel on ground. Step on and wipe feet while doing other stuff. PUT THIS IN YOUR SWIM TO BIKE BAG.
- Tri top and rolled arm warmers will be next in bike gear pile. Put shirt and arm donuts on wrists (hot – totally rock this look).
- Dry feet well and put on socks and shoes.
- Sunglasses and gloves on. Helmet on head, fastened.
PUT THIS IN YOUR SWIM TO BIKE BAG.PUT THIS IN YOUR SWIM TO BIKE BAG.
PUT THIS IN YOUR SWIM TO BIKE BAG.
- Easy jog/ bike to line, mount up and start with the fun part of the day!
- Start easy (below steady). Sit up and drink water until HR drops into steady zone. Enjoy scenery along the lake. Don’t worry that people are passing you — ride your race!
- Target 180 watts on flats, 225 on more gradual climbs, cap effort at 256 watts on steepest climbs. Go conservative on big hills. There is a marathon coming!
- Consume nothing but water for first 15-20 minutes while settling in
- Target 400 – 425 calories every hour on bike
o First 4 hours: 1/6 Cliff Bar every 10 minutes, bottle of IM Perform per aid station (drink big swigs every other 10 minutes), salt pills
o Last 2 hours: gel every 30 minutes, Reward self with 2 Clif Shot blocks (with plenty of liquid) every other 30 minutes, bottle of IM Perform per aid station, salt pills (GOOD PLAN, IF YOUR STOMACH HAS PROBLEMS SWITCH TO WATER FOR A BIT– THAT’S ALOT OF CALORIES, SO YOU HAVE ROOM TO STOP FOR A BIT IF YOU’RE NOT DIGESTING WELL
- Force yourself to keep consuming calories t hrough end of ride (I totally lose my appetite at about 4 hours into a ride and have to play mental games to forcefeed myself) YES– KEEP CONSUMING!
- Mentally break ride into 4 segments: 30, 56, 90, finish.
MILES 1-25 WARM UP WITH MOSTLY FLATS (LOTS OF COASTING ON LONG DOWNHILLS ON LAKE)
25-44 (OR SO)HILLS- RELAX AND SPIN UP THE HILLS, COAST AND HAVE FUN ON DOWNHILLS
44-85 MIDDLE FLAT SECTION– RELAX, FUEL, CONSERVE ENERGY FOR THE SECOND TIME YOU HIT THE HILLS, BE SURE TO TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO COAST ON THE DOWNHILLS ALONG THE LAKE
85- 100- HILLS AGAIN (RELAX AND SPIN UP THE HILLS, COAST AND HAVE FUN ON DOWNHILLS; KEEP FUELING HERE!!!!!)
100-112- FINAL FLATS INTO TOWN– GOING BACK INTO TOWN ON BOTH LOOPS YOU MIGHT HAVE A STRONG HEADWIND– GET AS SMALL AND AERO AS POSSIBLE AND ALSO STAY A LEGAL DISTANCE BEHIND A GROUP (OR INDIVIDUAL) IF POSSIBLE
- Pee on bike – TriForce policy!! YES– FAILURE TO DO SO COULD RESULT IN EXPULSION!
- Easy jog in – take Garmin off bike on way in (REMEMBER THIS– SOMEONE TAKES YOUR BIKE AWAY TO RACK IT FOR YOU AFTER YOU DISMOUNT SO YOU’LL NEED TO REMEMBER TO TAKE IT OFF!)
- Rack bike, Cinch Garmin on wrist THEY RACK IT FOR YOU.
- Helmet, sunglasses, gloves, shoes off PUT INTO YOUR BIKE TO RUN BAG
- Hat on
- If socks are wet, take the extra 30 seconds and put on a new pair LINE ALL PAIRS OF SOCKS WITH VASELINE BEFORE RACE.
- Grab water bottle/harness and head out
- First two miles focus on turnover 90+, getting run legs to engage (IDEALLY THESE 2 MILES WILL BE YOUR SLOWEST OF THE DAY)
- First half-marathon: Target pace 8:30/mile (ALSO, I’D SET A HEART RATE CAP FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE RUN (OR AT LEAST BE VERY AWARE OF WHAT H.R. YOU THINK YOU CAN SUSTAIN!) I’D BE WARY OF SETTING A “TARGET PACE” (EXCEPT NOT TO EXCEED IT FOR THE FIRST HALF MARATHON). THE FIRST HALF MARATHON SHOULD FEEL LIKE A RELAXED JOG; THE NEXT 1/4 SHOULD FEEL HARDER (BUT FEELING THAT YOU HAVE ROOM TO PUSH MORE ON THE LAST 1/4); THE LAST 1/4 WILL GRADUALLY GO FROM HARD TO HELLISH IF YOU PACED WELL! THIS PACING STRATEGY SHOULD RESULT IN A PRETTY FAIRLY EVEN PACING. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE DOING ANY MORE THAN A RELAXED JOG FOR THE FIRST 1/2 MARATHON, THEN YOU MIGHT BE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR TROUBLE IN THE SECOND 1/2/
- Be conservative on uphills but get Flintstone legs going on downhills – 95-97 cadence YES. THERE IS NO REASON (UNLIKE ON THE BIKE) TO PUSH HARD ON UPHILLS. SAVE IT FOR THE DOWNS!
- Race-walk 30 seconds at every aid station (~40 steps). GOOD.
- Drink mix of water and IM Perform while walking. GOOD.
- Eat one gel every 4th aid station — 6 total on the run. IF THE GELS AREN’T GOING DOWN WELL, THEN TRY DRINKING 2 CUPS IM PERFORM INSTEAD OF 1 WATER. IF STOMACH IS BAD, SWITCH TO WATER ONLY FOR A COUPLE AID STATIONS.
- Second half-marathon: Bargains with self:
o You get to walk in another 8 minutes. You can do anything for 8 minutes.
o You get to walk 13 more times! Count them down backward.
- Keep turnover at 90+
o Mantra: “Light and quick, light and quick, forward, forward, forward, forward.”
- Mile 20 – only a 10k left!
o You can do anything for 6 miles. Mind over matter! I’LL SOMETIMES LIE TO MYSELF AND SAY THIS IS LIFE AND DEATH (THE MIND IS IN A VERY SUGGESTIBLE STATE WHEN YOU’RE THAT EXHAUSTED); SAY YOU’D RATHER DIE THAN STOP; TELL YOUR MIND THAT IF YOU STOP SOMEONE WILL KILL YOUR FAMILY/ ETC.; IT’S CRAZY, BUT YOU’LL BE ABLE TO DO AMAZING THINGS IF YOU CAN CONVINCE YOUR MIND THAT YOU’RE IN A LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION.
o You get to stop in less than an hour. NO MATTER WHAT IT WILL BE DONE SOON AND THE PAIN WILL STOP AS SOON AS YOU’RE DONE. IT’S GOING TO HURT UNTIL YOU GET TO THE FINISH– YOU MIGHT AS WELL PUSH HARD AND GET THERE 10 MINUTES EARLIER!
o Next 1,000 steps are for [person who said you couldn’t do this] YES! GET ANGRY– SOMEWHERE OUT THERE SOME A-HOLE IS HOPING YOU’LL FAIL OR THOUGHT YOU COULDN’T DO IT. THINK OF THEM. PROVE THEM WRONG
o Visualize the finish line and hearing the words “You are an Ironman!” YES!! THIS IS THE ONE DAY YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING IN SO MUCH WORK FOR!! ALL IT TAKES IS 130 MILES OF RACING SMART AND 10.2ish MILES OF BLOOD AND GUTS. AT CDA LAST YEAR AND AT SWITZERLAND I FINISHED THE RACE KNOWING THAT I GAVE IT EVERYTHING — THE EMOTION THAT COMES ALONG WITH KNOWING THAT IS AMAZING
o Finish this one and you never have to do another if you don’t want to. YES– MENTAL BRIBERY WORKS. I SERIOUSLY WILL BARGAIN WITH MY BODY “IF YOU DON’T STOP OR SLOW DOWN I PROMISE I’LL INDULGE YOUR EVERY WHIM WHEN THIS IS OVER– EAT ANYTHING YOU WANT, SIT AROUND AND DO NOTHING… AS LONG AS YOU DON’T SLOW DOWN.” THIS HELPS ENLIST THE LAZY FATASS PART OF YOUR PERSONALITY IN THE FINISHING EFFORT (AND THE LAZY FATASS PART OF MY BRAIN IS QUITE POWERFUL, SO I NEED IT’S CONSENT AND HELP).
Other Race Notes:
- TP in bag for emergencies
- Peel arm warmers if getting too warm and stuff in jersey pocket. LOOKS LIKE THE WEATHER WILL BE NICE ACCORDING TO LATEST FORECASTS.
- Keep a couple extra gels in pocket in case you need a few more calories. Bonk insurance. NEVER HURTS.
- If you get a flat, be glad for the rest. You can do it in less than 5 min, like practice ; NICE
- Pay attention – if legs feel achy, it means you’re not eating enough. Chow down, Dump Truck! YES– HOPEFULLY YOU CAN JUST FOLLOW YOUR PLAN, BUT PREPARE TO BE FLEXIBLE. YOU MIGHT FIND YOU WANT TO SWITCH TO LIQUIDS IF YOU CAN’T STAND TO LOOK AT ANOTHER PIECE OF CLIFF BAR OR YOU MIGHT NEED TO SWITCH TO WATER FOR A WHILE TO HELP YOUR STOMACH EMPTY. BUT YOU’LL ALWAYS HAVE TO GO BACK TO CONSUMING AT SOME POINT!
FINALLY, IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG IT CAN BE CORRECTED. IF YOU ARE BONKING ON THE RUN YOU CAN STOP AT THE AID STATION AND DRINK A FEW COKES, JOG TO THE NEXT AND DRINK A FEW MORE… AFTER 3 AID STATIONS YOU WON’T BE BONKED ANYMORE (THIS IS WHAT I DID IN IM SWITZERLAND– HIT THE WALL AT MILE 14 OR SO, AND WAS BACK RUNNING 7:10 MILES AFTER 3 MILES OF AGGRESSIVE COKE DRINKING.