Earlier this year, I reflected on my experience at Ironman Barcelona in October 2017 and wrote an article on the '10 Things I Would Do Differently For My Next Ironman'. This weekend is The Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon. Let's see if I succeeded in doing things differently!
What is The Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon? It's apparently the ultimate bucket list adventure and includes 1.2 mile swim in a loch, 56 mile cycle through the highlands and a 13 mile run up and down Ben Nevis itself!
1. Know how to change my bicycle tyre before 2 weeks to go - YES!
I have practised several times this year, even just before the Surrey Spring Triathlon!
I'm still not the most skilled bicycle-wheel changer (it takes me soo long!), so my fingers are crossed that I won't be needing to do this in the Scottish Highlands!
2. Know my sweat rate - YES!
Until triathlete coach Mark Kleanthouse, founder of IronMate Coaching and competitor of over 1,000 worldwide events - including some seriously insane events - started training me last year, I had no idea about sweat rate and how important it was.Listen to my episode with Mark on how to work out even more on how much you need to drink during race day and training.
Did you know that a 2% drop in body weight from fluid loss can result in a 10% decline in your performance?
And dehydration during long training sessions, especially rides, can weaken your immune system and cause you to become sick.
I now know approximately how much I need to drink per hour during training and racing, which has allowed me to optimise my performance and recovery rate.
I've been practising all year and feel I have this pretty nailed.
You also need to be aware of sodium loss through sweating. You must replace this sodium loss with electrolyte drinks and salty foods to prevent cramp.
During training and on race day, you don’t want to drink too much plain water as this can result in hyponatremia, which means you’ve diluted your the sodium levels in your body by too much.
I have been experimenting all year and my favourite way to replace sodium loss is using High5 Zero Electrolyte Sports Drink - Berry Flavour and OTE PH Neutral Energy Drink.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type="No Line"][vc_column_text]
3. Calculate how many calories I need to consume every hour - YES!
By calculating how many calories you burn in an hour you can calculate how many calories you need to replace, as Mark explains in his blog here.
I prefer to get my calories from natural sources, but this is challenging when you’re going abroad for your race (and our kitchen has only just been renovated!)
During training, I either eat Nakd Crunch Bars or dried fruit like dates or apricots.
My race nutrition is still an area for improvement, but for the moment this is all I can stomach and it keeps my energy levels up!
Here’s an insight into Mark’s A-Z of Sport Nutrition and there’s so much on his site!
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4. Order your kit months, not weeks, before your race - YES (AND NO)
Ok. So this hasn't been quite executed to plan....
It was at the forefront of my mind for the entire season, but due to various reasons, I've only done this half as well as I should have done. Months in advance, I either bought or had the key pieces of kit, like a wetsuit, goggles, trainers etc. However, other pieces of kit were ordered last week, such as arm warmers, leg knee warmers and a neoprene swim hat. This wasn't the plan, but due to working at the Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon and getting sick. It is what it is. Have I practised with all of my kit as much as I wanted to? No. A pesky urine infection got in the way of this, so it's going to be an adventure.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type="No Line"][vc_column_text]
5. Practice taking snacks/drinks from people while cycling - YES!
Mark suggested this last year, so a week or so before the race, my dad and I practised on the road outside our house. I would cycle past him and take bottles and snacks from him!
This boosted my confidence for Ironman Barcelona and as my cycling confidence has increased over the year, I'm feeling really good about this in the Braveheart race too.
6. Really understand what the morning of the Ironman entails - YES AND NO!
I knew roughly what to expect for Ironman Barcelona...
I had racked my bike the evening before and walked through the swim to the transition area to my bike and then from my bike to transition area.
This meant that when it came to race day, I knew the quickest path to my bike and didn't become confused as to where I was going.
I wasn't 100% sure what else the morning entailed, apart from checking my bike, adding final touches such as my Garmin, changing into my wetsuit, dumping my street bag etc.
We were going to do everything as a group, but when we got there we all dispersed to do final checks and handle race nerves in different ways.
I was feeling slightly nervous at this point because it was passed the agreed time, no one was here, I didn’t know what to do and race time was approaching!
Luckily one of the guys was very tall and I spotted him in the crowd, so we put our wetsuits on together and headed to the water to warm up - I don’t think he realised how much this meant to me!
Again, I wasn't 100% sure what I should do for a warm up so relied on the others.
For the Braveheart Triathlon, again, I know roughly what to do, but until I have received my race info from Braveheart and listened to the briefing I won't be 100%. Come race day, I will be.
7. Woman with a plan - NO!
For Ironman Barcelona, I fastidiously worked out my pace for each leg based on my estimated pace and also the minimum pace I would have to do as to not miss the cut off times. So if the worst happened, I knew what I would have to do to become an Ironman!
I laminated and taped this to my handle bars, as this is the leg I was most concerned about regarding making cut off times and I places a copy in each transition bag and my run food pouch.
This helped me to really relax about race day, as I could see that my training had really paid off and that if all went to plan, I could walk the marathon and still finish!
I can't believe I did the above! It sounds so anal! But it gave me the confidence I needed to have fun in the race and finish! I'm not racing Braveheart like that for 2 reasons:
I'm much fitter than I was and am fully confident that I will finish each leg well within the cut off times
As I've briefly mentioned, I have been sick with a urinary tract infection for the last month and so I will not be racing Braveheart. It's a training race for next year's Ironman and so I'm just going to relax, take in the views and have fun. It's going to be an adventure!
8. Quicker Run Time - YES AND NO!
From Barcelona: The run was my weakest element of the Ironman, so this time around I'm working on improving my core strength, endurance and speed, so my pace quickens.
For Braveheart: I've been working on this ALOT with Mark, sadly an injury to the foot (I chipped one of the Sesamoids - like knee caps in your feet - during the Surrey Sprint Tri in July) meant I was off running for 6 weeks and then I caught the urinary tract infection. So run training has been stalled for a while. However, I'm definitely quicker and fitter than last year, but will my run time be faster than last years? I doubt it. Last year I only had to run a marathon on a flat road surface. This weekend it's up and down Ben Nevis!
9. Practice transitions - YES!
So last year I didn't really practice this and in Transition 2 (when you change from cycle to run gear) I took TWENTY MINUTES!!!!!
This year I'm doing it properly, especially as I have so much more kit due to the conditions. I'll be testing it before I go up to Scottland in the hotel.
10. Kit list for each bag and packing list - YES!
For Barcelona, I had an excel sheet with individual columns for general packing, street bag, swim, run bag and bike bag.
As I packed my suitcase for going to Barcelona, I put a tick next to each item and as I packed my kit bags the day before the race, I put a tick next to each item and took a photo of the kit I would place in each bag.
This put my mind at ease, as I knew I had packed everything I needed and that I was 100% ready to race and become an Ironman!
I said I would do it again and I have!