Someone once said, don’t sweat the small stuff. That someone obviously never did Ironman.
There are all of these little things (that all add up and can easily make the difference between making it and not making it). When you think about it, so much has to go RIGHT for you to make it from Day 1 of training, 6 months of training. And there’s a ton of things that need to go RIGHT for you to cross the finish line on race day. These little things compound, especially (seemingly) after about 65 miles on the bike. And all these small things are the things we need to sweat right now.
Clothing issues: to tri suit for the day or change at each transition? Seams on your running shorts or bike chamois can cause major issues over 140 miles. Bike shoes slightly too small?
Gear issues: Aero bars too close or too far away? How’s the bike seat – do you have a road seat that doesn’t work once you need to spend hours in the aero position? Running shoes – too old or too new? Both can cause issues. Do you know where you chafe?
Temperature issues: How cold is the water going to be on race day? Are you acclimated to it? Have you planned for it (aka – booties, just in case? Ear plugs to keep the ice cold water out of your brain? Are you used to the neoprene cap that makes you feel like a little munchkin is hanging onto your throat for dear life the entire swim?)?
Then there’s the food issues: leading up to race day and of course during the race. Nervous stomach? How am I going to eat breakfast that morning with my stomach in knots? What am I going to eat to keep my energy up and not bonk but also not have gastrointestinal issues that put a premature end to the day? Can I possibly manage to choke down one energy gel every 40 minutes for 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 hours (for me, I’ve come to realize the answer is no)?
Hydration issues during the event: Have you been training with what they will provide on the course? Does your stomach tolerate it or will you use your own? If you’re using your own, how are you going to carry and restock?
Special needs bags – what’s going in them? You don’t get them back and they may get lost in the shuffle so it needs to be good stuff, but good stuff you may have to go without…
Race week strategy. Race day strategy. Survival strategy. All the stuff of many many little things.
As the workouts get longer, the small things become a bigger deal. A seventy mile bike ride last weekend left my lower back KILLING me. I could not have possibly ridden another 40. Something needed to be done. A new bike fit to make the aero position doable for hours upon hours.
This weekend’s 80 miler was a test run for the new fit – the back is much better. But now the saddle is no bueno. Great. Saddle research, saddle shopping.
It was also a test run for different food – non-energy gel food – sweet potatoes, tortilla with honey and almond butter, fig newtons. Mostly good – no Gu-gut bomb, and while I could’ve done a better job toward the end, no major bonk.
But with just 6 weeks to go, there’s a very small (and quickly shrinking) window of time in which to fiddle with things. So there is also a sense of frantic desperation… we are frantically fiddling, researching, and fine tuning with hopes that things will click in the next few weeks and we’ll be golden by race day! Here we go… sweating the small stuff 24/7 till we’ve got it all figured out!