How to Prepare for a Half Ironman

I'm going to talk a little bit about the training side of things, but mostly about all of the little details that you never even thought of until you are a week out from your first half ironman and there is like a million things to do. A tri is no joke, and especially not one of this length so you have to be prepared. 

TRAINING

So, leading up to the event, obviously you have to train. I'm going to be honest. I'm winging this race. I did not train accordingly to what a half ironman plan looks like. I swam once per week and normally did like 2000-3000m. I rode my bike twice weekly. One day per week would be a brick workout in which I would do about 10-15 miles followed by like a 6-8 mile run and then on Fridays, I would always have my long ride day. Riding the bike takes A LOT of time, and something that I didn't even realize that you really have to dedicate yourself to. So, on Friday mornings, I would have to allot like 2-4 hours for a bike ride. Like HOLY COW! So, the furthest that I ever rode was 40 miles (which takes approximately 160 minutes but I had potty breaks in there so it took me right around 3 hours). I never did a brick off of my long bikes, so I have no idea what it will feel like starting to run after 56 miles. However, I was also training for a marathon so my running was WAY more than it needed to be for this half, which in my head was the make up for the biking I didn't do. 

However, needless to say, I normally go into every race not prepared....even marathons up to this point. Life happens, and I don't have a coach so I tend to "slack". I want to do a full ironman next October (this same race), and I'm going to write out a plan start to finish and stick with it. A full ironman is not something that you can pull out of your butt. It's just NOT going to happen. But, I do want it. I also want to prepare for my marathons well. It's like when you take a test and you get an 86 knowing that if you would have just put forth a little more effort, you could have had that A. That's how I feel race day always, and I'm kinda tired of feeling that way. 

The details of a tri were my nemesis. Who in the world knew there was so much to worry about?! I'll go through each part of the race, and explain what I mean. 

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SWIMMING

So, you are going to need a wet suit, and a tri suit. The wet suit will go on top of the tri suit, and you'll also need this glide stuff to put on your skin so that when you get out of the water, you can easily pull the wet suit off to begin the rest of the race. Wet suits run like $300-400 for a cheap one however you can rent one. I rented one from a place in Charlotte for $50. I plan on doing my full next year, but don't see myself doing enough ironmans to need to buy one. You need goggles of course, and they will provide a race cap the day of. You will need to make sure you have a hairstyle for the day of that is going to allow you to remove your cap and keep going. 

You need to make sure that you've had at least one open water swim (OWS is the cool lingo) before your race day. It's not 100% necessary but everyone talks about the fear of this, and if you've already done it then it's one less thing on the list of 10000 things to worry about. 

TI (Transition 1)

So, this is your first transition from swim to bike. These transitions are huge in a race, and people always talk about saving time, and I could care less about time. I just want to make sure that I have everything. They give you bags for each transition area to have what you need for the next leg and you have to make sure that this gets there race morning. You drop off your bike the night before the race at the end of the swim. You want to have your bike shoes here as well as food (especially for a half or full ironman). There is something called a bento box that attaches to your bike that you can easily access that many leave food for the bike in. I like real food so while most people do gus/gels/chomps/candy, this girl is going to pack PB&J, deli sandwiches, quest bars, and protein waffles (#notevenkidding) along with gus and candy. I have this really weird fear about running out of fuel and that's my strategy. I want to stay under my fitness threshold by going slow in everything and eating a lot of food since my "readiness" is not all there. 

You also have to make sure that everything that you used during the swim is going to get back to where you want it at the end of the race. They give you bags at that point that you put your wet suit in, your goggles and your cap that volunteers will transport back. There are like 5000 athletes, and you know someone's wet suit is going to get lost. I just hope it's not mine.

BIKE

So obviously, you are going to need a bike. There are cheap places to get bikes such as bikersdirect.com and I would have TOTALLY been all about that route but Tanner is all about my safety and wanted me to have a fairly decent bike. Biking is not like my thing. It's just my vehicle to finish this tri, but I'm learning to love it. Lucky for me, I get to stay on it for 4 hours! HAHA! In 100% honesty, my biggest fear for this race is my traps. Weird right? I know it's probably my form but I cannot have a long ride without having like excruciating pain and cramping in my traps from holding the bars so long. I legit might have to get off the bike and stretch halfway through. HA! Any tips welcomed! 

For race day, you want to know your course. Mine is flat so I knew I didn't need to train hills really. However, this does mean that I'll never be able to coast and it'll be like a 4 hour spin class. HAHA! If yours is not, then you need to find hills to ride on and how to appropriately do this with gear shifting. You will need a helmet, bike shoes, and everyone will pressure you with everything else you need to buy. Bikers KILL me in all honesty. You need this and that and this and that, and Tanner knows how I am. All that nonsense is not about money but it just stresses me out. Like I have a bike, and I have a helmet. I tried clip ins (and I have bike shoes) and yes I know they are better but I can't figure it out for some reason and now it's too late so I'll not be wearing bike shoes. I will be the goober in tennis shoes on the bike and at least I won't have to change to run.

T2 (Transition 2)

This is going to be another bag that they provide for you that is everything that you will need for your second transition. You will drop this off the morning of the race as well, which will have everything that you need from the bike to the run. I will be wearing the same shoes, but many people put their running shoes in this bag and take off their clipped in bike shoes. You will need whatever fuel you need for the run as well. I'm going to take my flip belt, and put that on at T1, so that I can fill that with whatever food I want on the run, and it's already ready to go.

This transition feels the worst. After you've been riding the bike that long, your legs have that tingling numb feeling and it takes about a mile to work it all out. I go really slow that first mile because I feel like my quads are gonna like rip in half, but after that your legs get warmed up to the run and you can progress accordingly. 

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Run 

At this point, I know that I'm at my baby and I'm on the home stretch. I know that if I can get to the start of this, I'll easily finish. Running is clearly my strong suit, which is nice because it's last and I know I've got that. There isn't much needed for running which I kinda love that too. 

At the end of the race, there will be a drop off location for your bike and all of your bags that you left at the transition. They tell us to decorate our bags so that they are easy to be spotted in a sea of 5000. GREAT! haha!

Beach to Battleship is so organized. They put out a video for us to watch and sign that we did, and I know that it is so well put together from everything that I've heard, so I'm really not all that worried about any of that.

More than anything, I'm thrilled to do this. I can't wait to have one under my belt because the nerves leading up to it are REAL! Haha! I'll report back next week with the recap of course! :) YAY! 


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