“It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process – what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands – those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.” – Silken Laumann
It’s true that you learn so much about yourself during an Ironman, not just the race, but throughout the training. You learn what your limits are, and that it’s possible to go beyond them. You realise your threshold for suffering is a lot higher then you once thought, and that your already ridiculous appetite can indeed double.
I previously did a post after my last Ironman on things that I have learnt, mostly about what we (human’s) are capable of, but I decided it might be more useful to write a post about practical things that I have learnt, even just from the 2 2/3 Ironman races that I have done.
Thing’s I learnt in Austria
This was the race I couldn’t actually complete due to a fractured back. I went anyway (because I couldn’t get my money back) and just did the swim and bike!
Be seriously thorough when checking your bike, especially if you have flown it to another country and put it back together yourself. Might sound obvious, but evidently not. Break wires can get trapped around Garmin’s (seriously adding more resistance to your ride). I had also forgotten to close my breaks on this ride.
Things I learnt in Vichy
Vaseline is a wonderful thing. Lather that stuff on like no tomorrow. Seriously – chaffing causes so much pain by the time you get to the marathon.
Nutrition really is just as, if not more, important then perfecting the swim, bike, run. After this race I have learnt to loose the solids after the first 3-4 hours on the bike and switch to easier digestible gels.
Take advantage of the aid stations – if someone is there wanting to hose you down with water, let them! Those extra seconds you use to slow down and take on nutrition or be cooled down with water is far more important then what happens without – especially on a hot race.
Thing’s I learnt on Bolton
To take my time when getting organised in transition – be careful putting important things in tri tops, or suffer the consequences when all of your gels and food (and pump and gas canister) fall out, never to be seen again.
To be sensible about race conditions – just because you cope fine during training just drinking water, doesn’t mean that’s the case on a race. Having never experienced cramp before – I didn’t appreciate the need for electrolyte drinks. You loose a hell of a lot more salts and sugars in a race – so drink for it!
Take care of your feet. I will now ALWAYS go and see a chiropodist before a race. When hard skin has grown over blisters on the balls of your feet so that you can’t even see them – you are sure going to feel them on the run. I felt like someone was setting my feet on fire and it significantly slowed me down trying to relieve the pain!
If you have any other useful things that you have learnt on your races – please share!!