So you've made it to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Congrats! That's a huge accomplishment. It's like competing in the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympics combined, at least if you're a serious triathlete. But what race strategy for Kona will give you your best race day? Here are a few tips to help you go from Ironman to Superman on the Big Island.
Get to Kona at Least One Week Ahead of the Race
Most Ironman races take place on Sunday and many amateur triathletes arrive the Friday before the race. The Kona Ironman, however, is on a Saturday, and you'll be selling yourself short if you don't get to the Big Island at least by Monday. The week before the race is not only a great time to swim, bike and run the course, but there's plenty to do for you and your family.
You'll also have a week to get used to the heat and humidity and, most importantly, the infamous bike course trade winds, so that on race day you won't be surprised by the course or the weather.
More: 10 Things to do in Kona
You Can't Win the Race on the Swim, but You Can Certainly Lose It
On race day in Hawaii, there's a lot of pressure on the pros to stay at the front of the pack in the water. The reason? It sets them up for the pro pack on the bike. But unlike the pros, amateur athletes don't need to keep an eye on the competition because, with about 1,800 amateur triathletes racing, it would be almost impossible.
However, amateurs can easily get caught up in the moment and go out too fast, wasting too much energy for only a few minutes of advantage. The average amateur triathlete swims the 2.4-mile Kona racecourse in a time of one hour to an hour and 20 minutes. If you really push it you might go a few minutes faster but chances are the energy you'll burn will cost you later on the run when you'll give away much bigger chunks of time. The best way to swim the Kona course is to enjoy the beautiful blue waters and the colorful fish, and save your energy for the bike and run.
"Pee by Hawi"
The docs that work the Ironman World Championships in Kona have a saying: "Pee by Hawi." It just means that you had better be peeing by the time you get to the town of Hawi on the bike course, or you'll be visiting their emergency medical tents.
The Ironman World Championship bike course is hot, windy and humid; In other words, the perfect recipe for dehydration. If you aren't peeing by Hawi, chances are that you're not drinking enough—and chances are, by the time you get to the run, your race will be over.
Running Through a Black Lava Field is About as Fun as it Sounds
If you've watched the Ironman World Championships on NBC you can't help but be struck by the beauty of the sparse lava landscape. But did you know that entire first half of the Kona run course is in and around Kona? For the most part it isn't until the second half of the run, when you get to the Energy Lab, that you're running through the classic lava field.
By that point it's the hottest part of the day; you're tired and haggard. There's no magic bullet or secret shortcut. The sun beats down on the lava, which radiates heat like an oven set on "Broil." Drink, drink, and drink. Then, just think of the finish with the thousands of fans, friends and family waiting for you to cross the finish line as Mike Riley says those four magical words: "You are an Ironman."your Ironman.