What to Do When Things Go Wrong at an Ironman

I inadvertently punched someone on the swim. How can I reset my karma?

Yikes! Be nice to the rest of the folks in the swim and resolve to be user-friendly and competitor-conscious the rest of the day. You can point out debris on the roads, share water, ice, etc.

I threw up on the swim; how should I adjust my nutrition plan?

You will need to start eating right out of T1; odds are you didn't throw up a lot since you ate at 3:30 a.m., but you still lost food and fluids. Keep the pace conservative for a bit so your body can reset before going to work.

My swim cap came off.

Don't worry, you only need it to enter the water, not to exit. Let it go.

Where should I line up?

You swim placement is a reflection of your goals. If you want to be top 50 overall and compete for Kona, you'll have to get into the mix. Otherwise you can use the entire swim space to make your swim as comfortable as possible.

More: How to Excel at the Ironman Swim

Biking Questions

This is the longest and most important leg of your race. Here you need to be steady with your pacing and focus on nutrition. Fail to do either and your race will be in jeopardy.

More: Why a Steady Effort Pays Off

I just got a flat!

Chill out. The hardest part of this exercise will be remaining calm and getting all your tools off the bike now that you've taped and stuffed it down. Put your bike in the right gear as you slow down and pull off carefully. Put your sunglasses in a safe place. Start the whole process by eating something so you make use of your time. Then change the tube. Check the tire, make sure there's no leftover debris. Make sure your CO2 is connected properly so you don't waste it. Once you're all set, make sure the wheel is inflated and properly seated before continuing.

My bike computer won't start.

You won't need it. You will have to go by your watch, heart rate monitor or by perceived exertion. Be smart and focus on what you can control. Then resolve to fix your computer issue once and for all after the race.

I just dropped my super-secret nutrition bottle.

You have to stop. If you trained with it, you need it. Unless it blew to smithereens, slow down and safely retrieve it. It will be totally worth the effort.

More: Race-Day Nutrition Tips From an Ironman Coach

It's been 56 miles and I haven't peed yet?am I screwed?

Not entirely, but you aren't in a good place either. You need to up your fluid intake to make sure that your system is topped off. Your goal on the bike is to replace all fluids lost—100 percent—so that you can suffer a bit on the run. Consider dropping the water and using the sports drink on the course as you'll need sodium to get the liquid into, and through, your system.

My back or butt is killing me. What can I do?

Consider stopping for a second to stretch. A quick left-twist, right-twist and left/right toe touch can make you feel like a million bucks. Also add in a few seconds of stand-up pedaling in a bigger gear every 10 minutes to stay loose. Only take Tylenol if you are accustomed to taking it in training.

It's way hotter than I anticipated. How should I adjust?

Dial the effort down a bit, up the fluids a lot (especially sports drinks), and consider taking a salt pill every hour. Pour water on your body anytime you head uphill or slow down. Calories are more important here (if that's possible) as it will be even more difficult to eat on the run than usual.

More: Acclimating to Heat and Humidity

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