Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ironman Bolton Familiarisation Camp - Pictures and reminders

A bit more on last weekend's familiarisation camp with The Tri Life. First a few photos:

The view form our hotel room window that greeted us on Sunday morning

Mrs getting our stuff together for a drive rather than our expected ride

Massive respect to the guys at The Tri Life for making what must have been a really tough decision to tell us we weren't riding the course - they could have had to deal with a lot of annoyed people, but as it was we all saw the sense in the decision.

Point if you can see a lake...

...there it is!

The swim is different this year - we're going to have to swim 1,900m, then exit for a short run of 20m or so, then back in for another 1,900m.

Sam Baxter, top age group Ironman athlete, showing his pointing skills

Sam (@SBaxter220) was with us for the Wimbleball familiarisation day too. His insight as someone who is actively racing at the highest level was invaluable. I had the pleasure of riding two of my hill reps with him.

This field will be transformed into T1 and crammed full of sexy tri-bikes

A feed station will be here - conveniently half way down a fast downhill section

It rained non-stop, all day long. When the wind whipped up it was very cold too. After the trip out the team estimated it was just 8 or 9 degrees Centigrade all day. Definitely not a good day for cycling.

This will be T2 - hopefully with the gate open!

Secondly, some reminders from the notes I took - hopefully useful for others competing in Ironman UK. Here goes:

  • Ensure rear bottles are well mounted - speed bumps out of T1 and another into T2
  • If you pee on bike, rinse down at aid stations thoroughly with water
  • Bike course is fast, good surfaces - one hill - 10 min climb if that
  • Descents are safe and fast with good visibility
  • First couple of run miles are downhill but don't get excited and run too fast
  • First feed station a mile into the bike loop - on a fast descent (helpful!)
  • Make sure you research what is on offer at the feed stations and the order that things will be handed out in - water is normally first and last
  • Climb from Rivington at 15.5 miles - 1 mile up, short flat break, final steeper short section - very exposed at the top, very steep final 1/10 mile - it's not hard though, pick a gear and dig in
  • Potholes on left during descent after climb - stay aware
  • Change down when road gets mega narrow well in advance of 90 degree left and short hill in Belmont, there's no room to change on the descent and there's a hill right around the corner
  • Checklist essential as T1 and T2 are miles apart you won't be able to get to or do any last minute checks on T2 bag - repeat: checklist is absolutely essential
  • What's our transport plan? How are we recovering our stuff? It looks like you can pick up on the Monday morning, but need to check the race pack to be sure
  • Dry bag is available as soon as you cross the line (snack, money, bit of food, etc) and T1 bag is transported to T2 for pickup along with T2 bag and bike
  • The whole first half of the bike course seems like descent - no need to work too hard, just tap through
  • Top tip #1: Always have your arm warmers with you - can have them on your tri bars or arm rests - can make a huge difference if there's a chance of rain or chill - think about slipping them on ahead of long descents
  • Don't forget - train on race bike, and in race kit, leave nothing to chance - TEST IT (Try Everything Several Times In Training)
  • Make training specific and relative to profile of course
  • Keep a gear in check - always be thinking you can go faster if you wanted
  • Some say the race starts at 80 miles, Sam said it isn't a race until the last 10 miles of the run!
  • Ensure you maintain one full rest day/week
  • Do not panic train!
  • Learn your pacing on swim bike and run - hold off ending up in a horrible mess for as long as possible
  • Be honest with your capabilities
  • Stick to your plan, your little race bubble
  • The swim is the warm up - don't end it full of lactate and anaerobic
  • Taper - get as fresh as possible - 1 day taper per hour average week of training 
  • During the taper, roll off run, then bike, then swim - include some race pace intensity even during taper
  • Don't try anything different ahead of race day
  • Relax ahead of race, read a book, do something normal to calm down
  • Practice nutrition strategy in training
  • Two days ahead of the race, make sure you're eating as normal, nothing new
  • Practice a pre- race (night before) meal ahead of a massive training day
  • Avoid too much protein/fibre/dairy in advance
  • Remain well hydrated the day or two before
  • Remember salts if it's hot - have one/two the day before
  • Get up 3 hours before race
  • Eat light well-practiced meals - there's no real need to eat masses the night before
  • Energy bar or banana 1 hour before race
  • Let stomach settle on bike before eating
  • 30g carb per 30 mins (check the nutrition levels on wrappers)
  • Only shiny gold powerbars available on bike leg
  • 500ml Gatorade is 30g approx - remember calories from drinks count too 
  • Can front load nutrition on the bike but ease off towards the end onto gels or liquids, not solids and bars (bars take 40 mins to clear remember)
  • Work out what works for you - keep it interesting - think about the carb content in other foods, e.g. Sandwiches
  • On a normal day, 20C 500ml/hr, 25C 750/hr, 30C 1000ml/hr - adjust according to your sweat rate
  • Run cups are 230ml, about 200ml filled. 10g carb in Gatorade, 20g per 200ml in coke
  • Need to practice with flat coke - remember coke has caffeine in it
  • Save some caffeine gels for the last hour in the run too
  • Need to try caffeine use in training too, especially if you're planning to cut it down in advance 1-2 weeks
  • Carb loading - don't bother, eat normally - see how it works around a big week of training
  • Cut crusts off bread it helps it digest better
  • Have some treats - e.g. half a sandwich if I get to 80 miles, segments of bagel
  • Can dilute some gels with water into a water bottle - need to try this again
  • Check out Clif jelly shots
  • Think about sticking a cycling top on already filled pockets with choice of nutrition - also keeps shoulders covered - long zip for managing temperature
  • What if... scenarios - list of things that could go wrong and what the backup plan is - bike computer fail, weather, goggles snap, drop nutrition or drinks, etc - note there isn't always a Plan B - if googles snap, swim without them! Just make the call ahead of time and practice it
  • If I drop something on the bike, do I go back for it? What if you miss an aid station (keep an emergency gel in your pocket?) - these things need to be considered in advance
  • List personally the worst things that could happen for me (this is a tough thing to work through, but if you have a plan for these things, you can survive anything!)
  • There will be some rough patches - expect them - get 2-3 strategies for getting through it - particularly on the run. e.g. count 100 paces, see how you feel - visualise yourself strong, practice this in training
  • Visualise the entire day, step by step from getting up on race day
  • Take 30 minutes solo quiet time for reflection the day before
  • Where do I want supporters to be, what do I want them to shout? What will motivate me?
  • Hold back on the run - there are some short sharp climbs and a steady hill on the run - stick to race pace and race plan
  • Take a pair of latex gloves for emergencies - v handy (mechanical greasy emergencies, not grim biological things!)
  • Chain tool and quick links - what else to put int the bag?
  • Prevention better than cure on mechanicals - bike must be in tip-top condition
  • Check out where all the shuttle buses and bags go
  • Might want to carry some gels on the run, there's a long gap between aid stations

Let's hope all this thinking helps race day go smoothly!

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