November 02, 2006

28 Pieces Of Advice For IM Florida Racers

Ironman Florida is two days away. Wow.

I know that two-day-out feeling. I know what all you first time IM-ers are going through. The over-whelming palpitation of fear and excitement. The ferocious rumbling of anticipation and dread. I know that sensation in the pit of your stomach, wondering whether it is butterflies of amazement or tremblings of disaster. Oh, if there were even a way to know the difference.

I know that tomorrow you will be solemn. If you walk through the Ironman village (and do not walk through the village if there is no need to), you will wonder how you got there. Whether you did enough. Whether you are prepared.

You did.
You are.

Your first Ironman is a fantastic voyage. It is the defining crossroads where your biggest dreams meet your darkest nightmares. It is the one day where everything that is good and everything that is bad square off in the ultimate challenge. The classic battle of good and evil. White Spy vs Black Spy.

I have traveled down that road. I know how it feels.

And when you wake up on race morning, you will prepare yourself like you've done time and time before at all those triathlons in your past. There will be anticipation in the air, but it will be more relaxed than you think. And when you stand on the beach amidst the thousands of participants, the thousands of spectators, the hundreds of volunteers, the National Anthem being sung over the loudspeaker, you will look out into the Gulf of Mexico and realize you are standing on the precipice of your future. Your new life hangs before you.

The starting gun will go off. And it will be surreal.
And then you will begin to race your race, the race you've been preparing for all of these months. And you will do it right - you will race your race the way you want to race. You will do it. Because that's what you've been preparing for. And that's what you're ready for.

The hard part is done. Trust me on that one. You don't believe me now, but you will when you are standing on the other side of the finish line. The Ironman is a celebration of what you've already done. It is a celebration of who you've become.

I want to give you advice, simply because I'm drawn to it. Because it helped me. There are 28 pieces of advice I want to impart on you...

First, there are 14 random things I'd tell first time Ironman racers.
And then there are 11 things Ironman racers will tell you before your first race all of which seem true now that I've crossed to the other side.

But all of this boils down to what are arguably the three most important things that got me through my first Ironman. These are them...

1. SLOW and EASY.
Go slower than you think you should. Lots of people will pass you in the first 125 miles of the race. But if you take it slow and steady, maintain a consistent pace, you will be smiling through the last 15 miles and feeling strong while those others are cramped, tired and struggling to walk as they stand crying by the side of the road.

2. EAT and DRINK
You've done the work already. Your body is ready; you are in shape. The only thing standing between you and the finish line is consistent nutrition. Know how much you need to consume each hour, and do it. Nutrition will be your best friend or your worst enemy. It's your choice. Make it your friend.

This is arguably the most important of the three. You will go through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout race day. Through it all, stay positive. In the worst of times, stay positive. When your body is tired, your legs unable to move another step, don't give up. When you get to mile 130 and every atom in your body wants to stop. Don't. Let your mind take you to the finish line. Stay positive and you will get there. The mind controls the body, don't let your body control your mind. Stay positive, and you will be an Ironman with a smile.

I wish nothing but the best of luck and fun to all of you IM Floridians, especially the first timers.
I'll see you on the other side!



carmen said...

Forget two days before racing...
I needed these because it's two days before my first IM registration!