I'm looking for tips and tricks from those of you that have completed a half IM distance triathlon. I'll be doing my first long distance triathlon this June and would appreciate any pointers you folks would like to pass along.
Drink early and often on the bike. Most people don't do a significant swim/bike brick workout and aren't used to taking on fluids and calories as soon as you start riding. You will start the bike a bit dehydrated but you may not realize that until you have been riding for an hour. By then, you have to play catch up for the rest of the bike to avoid cramps. I learned the hard way.
I have done 7-1/2 IM's and 3 IM's - to me the 1/2 IM is fun because you can just let it all hang out on that edge.
First congrats on scheduling and committing your efforts to a 1/2 Ironman, but being that it's your first - the main goal of your day is to get over that finish line with a smile on your face and not end up in the medical tent. You have to be smart out there and respect Mother Nature. One 1/2 IM I did was in Boulder, Colorado the race temps near 98 degrees (by the time I started my run) and not a cloud in the sky. Many that were seasoned Iromman triathletes were walking a good part of the run course just to survive.
1. Practice your transitions try to be no longer than 2. min (same as short course), on the course stay within you limits - don't get caught up in how fit everyone else seems to be - race your race.
2. I swim in a Speedo Fastskin Kneeskin or an Ironman longjohn wetsuit (depending on what is allowed/legal per race day water temps) with a speedo under in either case. I then pull on my bike pants over the speedo (with a bike specific jersey) in T1 and in T2 I pull off the bike pants/jersey and pull on CWX running shorts and a running top. You want to be comfortable and dry, also wearing a bike jersey is important because you can preload it with food in the back pockets - Fig Newtons are one of my favorite energy foods (about 6-8 of them).
3. I have a special bottle in T1 that I drink before I head out on the bike, actually I drink it as I am pushing my bike to the bike start line then toss it to the side as I mount the bike.
4. Feast on the bike eat the stuff you place in your bike jersey - also use the bike jersey to your advantage at the bottle exchange points. What I mean by this is open your zipper enough to stuff a new watter botle in and grab a second drink part of it and dump the rest over your head to keep cool. Take the one you stuffed in your jersey and place it on your bike. You always want to keep a free hand to grab other food as well like fruit. Remember every bit of time you push for on the bike (above your limits) you will pay for on the run - Bike smart and stay within you limits. I race with a Polar HRM and make sure I'm racing smart.
5. Your many long bricks will have prepared you for T2. I am a runner so I can be pretty fast off the bike - I tend to skip the first water stop because I am so well hydrated from the bike - this is your call - if you need it take it. I love this part of the Tri in that I just get so pumped running down as many people as I can, in fact I make a game out it and count my "kills", it's a great confidance booster. If you have to walk at all do it during the water stops. The key to the run is to KEEP MOVING...you will gain so many positions on those who are walking.
All: Thanks for the replies so far. I really appreciate your hints and tips. I realize I have a few months and many workouts to sort things out but here's some questions I have been pondering:
Gu vs Gatorade. At the aid stations for the bike course they will have gatorade available. I'm trying to decide if I should stick with GU and water or just drink gatorade or would a combination of the two make better sense? Perhaps GU's for first half of ride and then gatorade on 2nd half? Or does it even matter .
RugbyToTri: Good point about swim/bike bricks. I hadn't even considered doing any of those. I can see the importance of doing them though. We kind of do them when we (I train with two coworkers) ride our bikes to the pool, swim, and then ride back to work.
cjbruin: I'm interested in any tips you have to offer. One of the guys I'm training with is a 2x Ironman Florida finisher; however, I realize training is a pretty individual thing and what works for him may not work for me. My weakest event is the run so any advice in that area is especially appreciated.
MHR: Congrats on your accomplishments! This half IM started out just as a challenge between us in the office and now it has evolved into the first step in a long journey. After doing the half IM in June I have my sights set on doing another half IM in October down in FL. Next year I want to run a marathon on April 1st (my 45th birthday) and then complete a full IM (either Ironman FL or Great Floridian)
This thread has some really great information. I find that the more I read and research, the things that help me prepare the most are hearing first-hand accounts and experiences of past triathlons!!! Keep the suggestions coming...and thanks!
I completed my first half IM last summer and while it was pretty tough for me, it was such a great experience! I think my biggest training mistake was not doing enough bike-run bricks that involved a long run (I'd usually only run a few miles after a 40+ mile bike). I wasn't used to how much I needed to eat/drink on the bike to prepare me for the run. It was a bit disappointing because I felt so great in the swim and bike, but by mile 4 of the run I felt lousy. I'll know better next time!
Another thing to think about, not sure if your race will be wetsuit legal, but if it is - WEAR ONE! Even if the water temp is nice. I was kind of anti-wetsuit, being a decent swimmer I thought it would feel uncomforatble and bulky. But so many people raved about it, I rented one and wore it for the first time in the half! (OK, not the best idea to not at least practice once with it, but hey....) Anyway, I felt like I was floating on top of the water and going SO fast! It made a significant difference in my level of effort on the swim.
Good luck to you in your training and races this year!