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Six Things They Don't Tell You About Ironman Triathlon

Posted Feb 19 2010 3:16pm
No matter how prepared you are on race day for your Ironman triathlon, there are a few important issues you should know about that will help you have a smoother, happier race with fewer "surprises". So in no particular order, here are six things you may not know about Ironman triathlon.

1) The Volunteers Don't Have Built-In Auto-Banana Releasing Switches. When you zoom past on your bike, with your hand extended for a water bottle, gel, banana or any other aid station item, the Ironman triathlon volunteers don't necessarily KNOW to release their death grip on that item as you grab it. This especially holds true if you're a fast swimmer and one of the first cyclists to reach an aid station. So be prepared to "miss" a few hand-offs, don't get angry with any volunteers, and don't wait until the end of the aid station to go for your fuel, or you may be disappointed.

2) For The First 5 Miles of the Bike, Drafting Rules Don't Really Count. If you swim anywhere from 55 minutes up to around an hour and 20 minutes, you're going to be in a "sea of bikes" for the first few miles of the Ironman triathlon, as the majority of swimmers are going to exit the water around this time. Plan for this cycling cluster, and don't let it upset you or ruin your day when you glance around and see a half dozen riders who appear to be drafting off your wheel. It takes a little while for everyone to get spread out.

3) All Your Pacing Rules Get Broken In Transition. You know your tidy little heart rate graph or specified zones that you plan on following during your Ironman triathlon? Be warned that as you rush into transition from the swim, and go from a horizontal to upright position, and also as you leap from your bike and power it into the transition area, your heart rate is going to go sky-high. Don't let this bother you. As a matter of fact, it will likely be a good 10-20 minutes into the bike before you really achieve the heart rate that you want to follow. It also typically takes about 5-10 minutes into the run for your heart rate to "settle in".

4) Your Special Needs Bag Isn't Always At The HalfWay Point. Did you plan on an exact 50/50 split with your gels, electrolytes fuel or water for halfway through the bike or halfway through the run of the Ironman triathlon? In reality, especially for the bike course, many races do not have your special needs bag exactly at the 56 mile mark or the 13 mile mark. So be sure to study the course and carry enough fuel and water to get you to the actual special needs location.

5) Wetsuit Strippers Aren't Necessarily The Fastest Way to Go. Unless you have slipped out of your wetsuit, removed your arms from the sleeves, have pulled the suit down to your waist, sighted to make sure there's not a line of swimmers waiting for wetsuit removal, and are prepared to do a baseball-style slide into the wetsuit stripping area, it may actually be faster to simply remove your wetsuit yourself in the Ironman triathlon changing tent.

6) Don't Plan on Seeing Your Expensive Tubular Again. Anything you put into your special needs bags is at risk of not being found after the race, including your change of tire, CO2 cartridges, energy bars, lucky rabbit's foot, or your favorite inspirational picture of dear Uncle Clyde. So don't put extremely valuable items that you don't want to lose into your Ironman triathlon special needs bag.

OK, that about covers it for now! And for more practical Ironman triathlon tips just like this, from Rock Star Triathlete Academy coaches who have spent time in the trenches, just visit
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