Training for your first 140.6 Ironman Triathlon race is one of the most tiring, rewarding, daunting and exhilarating experiences ever. At least for me! I still enjoy every single athletic race I do, but Ironman’s have their own special place in my heart. But bottom line. If you do the work, you’ve got this. Put in your training, be smart, stay on top of nutrition and start packing early!
Start Packing 2 Months Early
Make a list, check it twice. three times. Four times. The reason I start so early is so that I can order items that may be needing replaced or are missing. Early preparation guarantees they will arrive on time and allow plenty of time for training with it. NEVER have something new on race day.
Organize With Large Ziploc Bags
Showing up at Ironman village can be really overwhelming and up the anxiety. I start my organization prep at home (see the 2 month previous prep above).
The goal is to make sure I have everything before heading out and just have to transfer from one bag to another.
I take one bag for each discipline and pack into large storage Ziploc bags and write on it with a marker to identify what I need.
- Bike (smaller bag inside for special needs)
- Run (smaller bag inside for special needs)
- Extra bag with extras that I may want last minute
Note: Special needs bags are rarely given back – and if they are, they are probably not going to be incomplete. Never put in another that you can’t part with!
Source from your friends and family encouraging words. A few weeks prior to my first Ironman, I posted a status on Facebook and refused to look at it. I allowed my husband to print out all of the encouraging words and put into little slips of paper (inside tape). I snag these out of my run special needs bag and have a few miles of laughter and tears as I read through them.
I recommend laminating or putting in a baggie that you can shove into a tri top. We had tried using safety pins – it worked but next time I would use a ziptie or yarn.
Don’t forget to prep for your Sherpas as well. These are the folks who will be helping you prep, emotionally supporting you and probably loading up all of your stuff (including you) after the race!
Be good to them, spectating and Sherpa-ing is hard work!
- Bag: I recommend creating a bag for them with the following items: sun screen, snacks (bananas, bars, candy), water bottles, compression socks, cowbells, hat/visor, and a recognizable t-shirt so you can find them in the crowd!
- Course Maps: I print out all of the course maps along with my expected finish time for each discipline.
- Social Media Updates: If you want your sherpa to give social media updates to friends, be sure to give all access through technology + set guidelines (You may not want some of those photos posted!!)
- Meeting Place: Identify a meeting place for post-race. You probably won’t have your cell phone and traipsing around to find them can be tiring after 140.6
- Task them!: Give your Sherpa the tasks you want them to do during the day. Whether it is going to get the bike while you’re on the run (make sure they have the Ironman provided ticket), getting your swim and bike bags from the volunteers or packing the car from the hotel, etc.
Get A Mantra
Pick a saying, or a few, to focus on when the going gets tough. Cause, friends, it will get tough during the day. You can write it on your arm or just remember it. If you can’t find one – I’m sure you will on race day!