Elliot Bach, one of our triathlon Pros and coach to several triathletes, has been riding IRWIN’s carbon wheels and racing as a Pro for a few years and has a lot of experiences coaching endurance athletes in both full and half-ironman distances.
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Preparing for race day in your first Ironman
It is almost time for the big day, and most likely you have been training for the past several months to finally complete your first Ironman. With race day comes all the stress of making sure every little thing is ready to go as well as knowing where you need to be at what times. For some Ironman’s you will have different transitions which means that everything may not be in the same place. Also you typically have to drop off your bike and most things you will use for the race the day before. In addition to being nervous for the actual race, all these things may contribute stress and anxiety. My hope is to help ease some of that stress by providing some helpful tips, so that your big day is all you hoped it would be.
Whether you are flying or driving to a race, whatever the mode of transportation, the very first thing upon arrival is to build your bike if necessary and check it over, to make sure everything looks good. This is a great to do first, because more times than not something can happen in travel, and taking care of that first allows a better chance of finding a shop with time to take care of repairs, as opposed to waiting closer to race day. Think of your bike as being the most important thing that you need for race day. Things like running shoes, goggles, and such are usually easy to replace if needed right before the race. The bike, on the other hand, can be a challenge to replace if you have issues.
Next getting your packet pickup done and out of the way is important. I like to tell my athletes to do it as soon as they can; get in, get your packet, shop for souvenirs, enjoy the Ironman village, and take care of the mandatory athlete briefing, so all the focus can be on race day. Doing these things promptly also gives you the chance to check over everything you are going to use on race day, because if you forgot something there is still time to get it. Taking care of all these things two to three days out from race day will relieve stress and let you prepare for the Ironman.
Five Bags You Need For The Race
Two days out from race day is when all your bags for the race should be set out and ready to go. Typically you are given five bags with your packet. Following is a discussion of each bag:
1.White or Green Bag
White or green is your morning clothes bag, to be used for anything you want to have leading up to the start of the race, such as warm clothes, shoes, a water bottle, body glide, etc. Right before you start you can hand in the bag with your personal things, to be retrieved after the race. You could possibly be waiting awhile to actually start, so having these things is bonus.
The Blue Bag is used to hold your helmet and shoes unless you decide to clip your shoes on the bike already. In this you will also put your bike nutrition bottles which will be placed on your bike before the start of the race. Upon completion of the swim you will also place your goggles, swim cap and your wetsuit or swimskin inside this bag before staring the bike portion.
The Red Bag is used for anything you plan to use on the run portion of the ironman. This will include your running shoes, socks, watch, nutrition, and any other little things you may want for the run. Additionally you will place your bike helmet inside this bag before starting your marathon.
The Orange Bike Special Needs bag is where you will place nutrition or anything you think you will need on the bike, which is usually placed on the bike course somewhere around the 60-70 mile mark. You will have the option to pull off and get this. Some people may not like the nutrition that is on course so this is where you can have extra food and drinks. Maybe you want a Redbull or something real to eat this is the bag for those kinds of things. Something to remember is that you are not required to grab this bag; if you come across special needs and think you are fine, then it’s perfectly okay to keep going.
The Black Run Special Needs bag is where you are going to place anything extra you may want on the run. That could include more nutrition, a dry pair of socks to change into, a hat, etc. Anything you think you might need for a marathon or to have as backup goes in this bag. Run special needs is usually about the half way mark on the run, so around 13.1 miles.
In my opinion having all of your bags ready to go and laid out relieves the most stress from the actual race day. The only thing left to do is to check your bike in the day before. Usually you are given a time window for placing your bike. On morning of, you will carry your bags with you and place them in the designated areas. Special needs will have a place: your bike and run bag will go with you to your bike: and the morning clothes bag goes with you to swim start. With all the preparatory work finishes, your will be able to kick your legs up and relax for the big day. All that’s left to do is race and become an IRONMAN!