It's Ironman week in Kona, Hawaii. I don't have any athletes racing this year so I won't be there. I've had several first-timers do the race over the last 22 years. Here are some tips I give those whose goal is to finish their first Kona IM, and that includes a pro I once coached to his first. We prepare for all of these over several weeks leading up to race day.
* Allow 30 minutes for body marking on race morning.
* Never think about the entire race. Only pieces of it.
* Put back-up nutritionals in your special needs bags. Use it only if you lose nutrition stuff during race such as a sports drink bottle on the bike.
* Start on left side near the boat.
* Hold back at the start and swim your own pace right from the beginning.
* Find feet and stay behind them--but check frequently to make sure you aren't going off course.
* You should have a 25T gear on your bike. Use it on hills right from the start.
* Hold back for the first hour on the bike--especially in town. This is the single most important suggestion.
* The wind will play tricks with your mind. Don't try to fight it. Accept it and keep pedaling.
* You will experience good and bad patches. In a bad patch, just keep pedaling. In a good patch, just keep pedaling.
* Coast downhills in a tucked position to conserve energy. Don't try to go faster.
* Use horns, not aerbars, in strong cross-winds.
* It's hot and you're going to run slowly and probably walk quite a bit. You aren't the only one.
* Do the marathon in small chunks. Just get to the next aid station.
* Walk through aid stations. Drink to satisfy thirst.
* You may experience nausea. Slow down until it goes away. It will.
* Don't race other athletes until mile 20. Then go as fast as you want.
* It's ok, and probably a good idea, to walk up Palani hill.
* Smile when you cross the finish line. You did it!
Good luck to everyone doing the Ironman Championship this week!