Any Ironman is scary, and Standard Bank Ironman 2015 will be as well. Period. You know your body will experience pain way above and beyond what it is used to. First on any athlete’s mind is: will I be the best I can be on race day? The other nagging fear is: how will my day unfold? Will there be any nasty surprizes waiting for me? A third nagging fear is the pain. How will I deal with it?
As far as your fitness goes, doubts will do their best to creep into your mind. For now, a few days from race day, we have to make things simple. There is no time left for intricate permutations of stats, splits and VO maxes. You have to swim, bike and run. So, for this last week, pick your best long swim, long ride and long run you have done in your training. Can you remember how good you felt during and afterwards? Now remind yourself: that is the swim, bike and run leg I am going to deliver on race day. You have proven it to yourself in training. Relive that training session over and over in your mind till it becomes all you’ll remember on race day. Race day is there for you to repeat that. End of story.
How will your day unfold? It is not rocket science. It is about being sensible and disciplined. Don’t get caught up in trivial matters. Beet juice and other mythical con-cocktions will not turn you into a race monster. Regarding how your race day will unfold, you can control two aspects: nutrition and energy expenditure. You don’t eat and drink when you feel the need for it. Feed on the clock, whether you feel thirsty and hungry, or not. Regular, timeous feeding is the key. That is all you can do, and all you need to do. End of story. As far as energy expenditure goes, less will be more in the end. The thing is, marathoners get out of bed to run a marathon. You will swim 3.8 Km and cycle 180 Km to get to your marathon. So back off, be light on the pedals, ease down your running pace. Start pushing when will-power becomes the only thing left to make you go forward. Remember, it is not about how fast you can go on race day, but about how little you slow down. End of story.
Lastly, the pain thing: how will you deal with it? No-one can tell. The body and mind of each person are too different and complex for accurate predictions under such stress. Remember, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. You have chosen to go where angels fear to tread. That pain and hardship become a prime reason for doing it: every Ironman is a journey of self-discovery. Just keep going. The pain will build or show character, and character will take you to the finish line. Others have done it. So can you. End of story.
I can already hear Paul Kaye saying to you: “You are an…Ironman!” See at Standard Bank Ironman 2015.