Kona isn't that far away and with that in mind many athletes who head off to Kona end up making mistakes in the days before the race that will affect their race-day performance.
Remember that in the time you are there no gains in fitness can happen, so relax and enjoy your time leading up to the race.
What You Should Do:
1. Set up a checklist of what you will need in Kona and during the race. This means laying out clothing and equipment for each leg of the race. Include reflective tape for your run clothing.
2. Plan on new tires for your race wheels. You have spent time and money to get to Kona, so plan on new rubber that has some protection against sharp objects.
3. On the flight over wear long pants to protect the legs against the cold air. Get up and walk often along with self-massage of the legs. Also try a diluted drink with some electrolytes. The air on an airplane is very dry and can affect your fluid levels and muscles.
4. Bring some snacks with you for the flight. Look at fruits, complex carbs and quality protein. Stay away from sugars and alcohol as these can strain your immune system.
5. Once on the island adjust your body to that time zone right off. Do take some short power naps a couple times each day to help the body recharge. During taper time the body needs extra rest to help you to recover from all the past training.
6. Assemble your bike and make arrangements for the area bike shops to check it over so everything is working right.
7. Drive part of the bike course- especially the turn around in Hawi around the time of day you will be there on race day. Also consider riding some short sections of the course- drive your rental car to these areas and park.
8. Rely on the supermarket for most of your food in the days leading up to the race.
9. Drink only bottled water
10. Have insulated bottles for your fuel on race day- especially in your special needs bag.
11. Increase your salt intake the last 24 – 48 hours before the race.
12. Take Thursday off and rest - stay inside and out of the sun.
13. Friday is total training of about 60 minutes: 30 min bike/15 min run and then a 10-15 min swim. Each should include some race pace efforts- then relax for the rest of the day.
14. Special needs bags: extra fuel (insulated bottle)/electrolytes/skin lube. I also suggest something in case of stomach issues.
15. Try to avoid excess sugar, bad fats, and alcohol in the days leading up to the race as these items can weaken the immune system.
16. For the swim: if you are an over 60 min swimmer- move somewhat left to start and gradually move in as you approach the turnaround boat. This allows you to avoid the mass at the start.
17. On the bike (most likely the most important item): start conservative for the first 20-30miles. Then build the pace and at mile 80 is when you will need to really focus. An even, aerobic pace is what will work best. Dictate your own pace and don’t let others do that instead.
18. Follow your Hr/power zones that you have set- since the heat will increase your Hr. Your pace may be slightly slower- but that is alright since the heat and humidity do cause that to happen.
19. Pick fluids at every aid station- some to drink and some to pour on your head.
20. Make sure you apply sun block before heading out on the ride.
21. Wear sunglasses for the ride and run as this brightness can cause issues later in when you are fatigued.
22. Start slow on the run- since you will need a few miles to change over from the ride. It always takes me about 4-5 miles before I start feeling better.
23. Take the run as 26 x 1 mile repeats. This way it is easier to concentrate and you get a break at every aid station to fuel up.
24. Bottom line: set up your race plan and stay with that plan. It is a very long day - many athletes start out too hard and pay the price in the last part of the run.
What You Shouldn’t Do:
1. Spend many hours each day on the beach (save that for after the race)
2. Training too long that week before (I saw so many riders last year putting in some big miles in the days leading up to the race)
3. Drink tap water - avoid the potential of getting sick.
4. Make last minute equipment changes or bike position changes- this could really affect you on race day.
5. Attack the bike course early- this would really affect later and carry into the run.
6. Start the run like a 10k race- best way to lead to walking. Start slow and focus on a shorter stride and higher stride rate. Also try to contact the ground with the mid foot instead of the heel.
7. Have dairy products the night before and for breakfast on race day- this can lead to lots of congestion during the race. I usually advise avoiding dairy for at least 3 days before the race.
8. Hold the same position and same gear on the bike- change positions and gears often during the ride. This will spread out how the muscles work and keep them fresher.
9. Start in the main pack in the swim- the best way to really get beat up and waste lots of energy. The goal for the swim is to stay steady and smooth. When you exit the water you should not feel wiped out. That would carry into the bike and run.
10. Pass an aid station if you are all set - take fresh liquid at every aid station. During the bike it gets very hot- but the winds will cool you some but also dehydrate you as well. During the run take liquid to drink, sponges for cooling down, as well as ice in your hat and even into your tri shorts.
Bottom line is to sit down and set up your race plan. Follow your Hr/power zones no matter what it feels like as the heat and humidity will take its toll later on during the run.
You may feel very slow in the first part of the bike- but stay with it as things change. Pay close attention to fueling, fluids and electrolytes during the entire race.
Most of all embrace race day to the fullest and let all those feelings pour out when you cross the finish line.
I wish all of you the best of luck on October 14th.