Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pointers Towards Preparing For Your Virgin Ironman (Part 1)

Here is, yet, another 'pre-travel' list for preparing for your first Ironman.
1) Test-drive all your race attire. Never race in brand-new, unwashed, race-kit. Race in the same attire you trained or raced in (bring two: one-piece, or two-piece choice). This minimises the incidence of chaffing (abrasion). Bring warm clothing, especially on race-morning, and after-the-race. It can get cold in the morning and late-evening. Slippers are great to walk, with less trepidation to the swim-course. Pass it to your Iron-Mate before you dive off. Slippers are great after the marathon.
2) From your training experience, identify the sweet spots that are vulnerable to chaffing. Lubricate with the venerable Body Glide, or silicon-based lubricants. Worst-case scenario: use baby-oil or petroleum jelly (Vaseline), however synthetic oils can damage your wetsuit and tri-suit.
3) Send your bike in early (about 2-3 weeks before the race). Apply for a queue ticket, as last-minute servicing from nervous first-timers can hold your bike idle for a longer time. You need to ride as part of your tapering.
4) Replace worn-out parts like tyres or tubes, brake-cables, and bar-tape. Check with your mechanic for cracks to your frame and seat-post. Replace rusty screws with new ones. Check your helmet for suspicious cracks, and condition of your straps. Bring additional O-rings to tighten your chin-straps. Bring two sets of used goggles.
5) Bring parts that you cannot get easily (at the bike-fair), such as spare (used) tyres, duct-tape/electrical-tape, large rubber-band (for your aero-bottle), velcro-straps, and Ziploc bags. Purchase new carbon-dioxide canisters/cylinders at the race-fair (due to stringent flight regulations on aerosols). Bring your set of allen-keys that fit your key screws. Bring a small bottle of chain-lube to grease your bone-dry chain. It would be ideal to bring your own bicycle-pump; share it with your racing buddies.
6) Bring your own race-day nutrition. Stick to what you are used to consuming, during training. Gastro-intestinal (GI) issues will ruin your performance. Avoid testing new nutrition purchased at the race-fair (keep them for after your race). Bring your own electrolytes (up to 2-4 tablets per hour), race-fuel (maltodextrin-based or with protein: 2-3 packs per hour, based on your personal observation), solid food (sandwich, low-fibre bars) and 'motivators' (confectionary treats).
7) Check your bike-shoes/cleats (bring extra cleats and screws); running-shoes (bring two); bike-case for cracks and defective-locks/fasteners; sun-glasses (ensure that lenses do not pop out easily); race-belt/elasticity of fuel-loops. Bring at least 3 empty bidons (water-bottles) that you are ready to dispose of during/after the race. You will switch these for those served at the aid-stations. Two of these go on your bike, and one in your Special Needs bag.
8) Ensure that you have your visa (apply Australian visa online), or it will cost much more at the airport; or it will delay your flight. Have all electronic, soft-copies/hard copies of documents available within easy reach (e-ticket, accommodation and car-rental details). Bring enough cold, hard cash for purchasing fuel and food supplies (especially large bottles of water). If using GPS, ensure that your android-phones are fully charged.
9) Ensure that you bring all connectors (wires and international adaptor) to charge your phone, digital camera AND sports-watch (e.g. Garmin or Polar watch).
10) Travel with a buddy. Bring your Iron-Mate* or Iron-Crew**. They will actively remind you about pre-race preparations. Use a Check-List*** and share it with them.

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