I completely forgot to see myself removing my wetsuit. That's why you do this, so that at race time you know exactly what you will do and how you'll do it. It's a lot easier to go back to transition for gel in your mind than it is to do it in a race.
5) Stack the Odds in Your Favor
When race day comes, we are all betting on something whether we know it or not. Some of us are betting the weather will be cold, others are betting that it will be hot, while most of us are betting that it will be just right.
More than one triathlete has called it a day after having a flat on the bike. They bet against this happening by not being prepared (or even knowing how to change a flat tire). When it happened, they lost the bet and were forced out of the race.
But every so often, the stars align just right and a perfect race emerges. That's why it is important to bet big on race day--especially when racing the longest and biggest race of them all.
Don't give yourself an excuse to fail, but give yourself a reason to succeed. Hedge your best by nailing down all of the small-but-important details (like how to change a tire). Then hit the water on race morning believing that you will tear up the course and exceed your wildest expectations.
4) Find a Comfortable Race Outfit and Wear it for the Entire Race
Transitions are a time of profound confusion for most of us. Why add another layer of worry and waste time by changing clothes? Take a page from the professionals: simplify, simplify, simplify. If you need to, spend a little extra money on good-fitting garb. Just make sure race day isn't the first time you're wearing it.
3) Figure out Your Nutrition and Hydration Plan
In an Ironman-distance race, it is not unreasonable to say that success relies heavily on your nutrition and hydration.
Use a simple two-part strategy: 1) figure out what works best for you, and 2) train like you race. And always remember to bring your own food. There's a good chance that the race may not have your preferred gel or drink. This can be a disaster if your body is not used to what you get on the course.
I stole my best Ironman race supplement from my 10-year-old son: Uncrustables. These are peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches that come individually prepackaged and frozen so they don't make a mess. I put them in my bento box so they are ready to eat on the bike. They are small, crustless and about 250 calories each; for me, the perfect amount of fuel for a strong run.
This advice also includes pre-race dinner and morning-of breakfast. Don't rely on a hotel's continental breakfast. I learned the hard way that cereal, milk and Gatorade don't mix well in my stomach.
Probably the best thing that you can do before your Ironman is just chill out. Whether it's their first Ironman or their 10th, many people get caught up in the moment.
There are a million different things that can go wrong; most easily solved. That's just part of the Ironman package you signed on for a year ago. When these things happen--and they certainly will--take a deep breath and chill.
You have trained countless hours and given up mornings, lunches and weekends to be there, but freaking out before the race won't help. Save that energy and adrenaline for the race. You can buy almost anything at the typical Ironman Expo. Doctors are standing by, along with bike mechanics and race officials, ready to sort out these problems.
1) Thank the Volunteers
True, this is your big day. But there would be no Ironman without volunteers--at least not one that many of us could afford. (The first three Ironman events required competitors to bring their own support crews and provide their own nutrition and hydration.)
All those people checking you in, sorting your transition bags, getting you settled in the correct place in transition, watching out for you on kayaks during the practice swims, and all those thousands of people taking care of you during the race are volunteers. In fact, there are more of them then there are competitors.
Create a tradition of thanking volunteers before the race, because during the race you may just be a bit too busy or too fast to really show your appreciation.
There you have it, a fool proof plan to get you up to the starting line relaxed, focused and ready to race. Just don't forget to smile for the camera and, above all, have fun.
Roman Mica is a amateur Clydesdale triathlete who lives and races in Boulder, Colorado and has his own website; www.EverymanTri.com. He is also one of the founding members of www.raceAthlete.com. His first book is entitled My Training Begins Tomorrow: The Everyman's Guide to IRONFIT Swimming, Cycling & Running. He recently published a sequel, No, Seriously, My Training Begins Tomorrow.