Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Ironman Race Plan

I’m pretty sure this is going to a level of overthinking that even I’m embarrassed about but here we go!

Let the freakouts commence!

One week out:

Luckily, I get a 3-day weekend the weekend before the race.  This is fortunate because I can a) have one last night of staying up past sunset (IF I feel up to it, TBD) and still get plenty of rest b) have an extended weekend to get everything ready to go out of town and c) spend some time with my BSS peeps at the Spring Social and my family for easter without feeling all frantic.

However, the mandate will be to not go cuh-ray-zee and I’d like to be 95% packed and ready to go for The Woodlands by Sunday night.

Race week:

Workout plan will be:

  • No weights at all
  • 30-45 min *something* in the AM/lunch on Mon-Wed (no night workouts)
    • Preferrably 1-2 of these will be short lunch runs to continue the heat acclimation.
  • Stretching, rolling, legs – ALL OF THEM every day.

Life plan will be:

  • Time to be in bed = sunset
  • Normal food.  No crazy reductions or deficits or anything, but making sure my eating is in line with my activity and limit the spicy/fried/fatty/etc.
  • Excepting the possibility for gameday on Monday, no social stuff or doing anything besides going home and going to bed by sunset!

Basically, I want to be the most boring person I can be.

Thursday (Travel Day):


  • Up as early as possible while not sacrificing a normal night of sleep.
  • Hopefully an uneventful 3-4 hour drive to The Woodlands.
  • Packet pickup and making one of the athlete briefings.
  • Enjoy the pool and hottub
  • No workouts (except my credit card buying IM stuff from the expo).


  • Normal breakfast (yogurt or breakfast taco or smoothie)
  • Lunch and dinner: carb-heavy fare.  Lunch is not as important as dinner, which is typically some sort of lower fat tomato sauce pasta, salad, and bread.
  • Snacks: fruits, veggies, pretzels, hummus, jerky, etc.

This is just another long day, right?



  • Open water practice swim 8-10 am (but probably not at the specific lake we’re swimming at – it’s supposed to be REALLY gross and the last thing I want to do is have it make me sick the day of the race).  I love a day-before-the-race swim lately, and its an excuse not to sleep in (so I’m not struggling to go to bed at 8pm…).
  • Bike and bike gear bag check in just after that.
  • More pool, hot tub, and just relaxing and trying not to freak the fuck out.  Depending on the timing, maybe a movie (but not if its a hassle).
  • Reading in bed with the TV off no later than 8pm.


  • Hotel breakfast (pick decent choices of things I normally eat at home vs sugar loaded waffles and crap).
  • Sandwich for lunch
  • Chicken, potatoes, salad for (early early) dinner.
  • Snacks: fruit, sports drink, pretzels/hummus, jerky, baked chips, etc.

Saturday morning:

  • Up by 4am.
  • Breakfast: english muffin w/bacon and cream cheese, pb pretzel cliff bar, watermelon, coconut water, caff chews.  In stages.
  • Second/third/tenth check of my bike special needs, run bag, and run special needs bag.  I had a dream I forgot my change of run clothes so I had to run in either my bibs (NO) or my swimsuit.  That is NOT happening.
  • Get to transition/bag drop around 5:30.  Drop bags.  Pump up bike tires.  Stuff self into wetsuit.  Swim warmup if they let us.  Try not to freak the fuck out.

The swim can’t be nearly as bad as some days at the Pflug lately, and even if it is, I’m prepared.


  • Wearing: regular swimsuit + sleeveless wetsuit
  • Backup: 2016 bss tri kit (if it’s not wetsuit legal)
  • Pacing goals: Hard to say.  Original goal was 1:30 or better, but that’s like… really slow compared to my pool pacing.  I’m going to need to see how my OWS develops in the next few weeks.   I’m going to say 1:25-1:30 is how I’ll seed myself, and if I end up finishing faster, fantastic.
  • Effort goals: This is more important.  I want to feel like I’m doing something, otherwise I’m going too slow, but I need to make sure that a) I’m able to bilaterally breathe and b) I keep good form and am not gasping.
  • Again, this lake is supposed to be GROSS.  I usually swim with my mouth open.  I’m going to try to not do that as much as possible so I don’t get sick.


  • Take my time.  I’m not winning this race.  Taking a moment to collect myself is fine.  Full change to be comfortable.
  • Bike bag contents
    • Wearing: BSS jersey, gore bibs, UA sports bra #1*, bike socks
      • If it’s going to be a warm day I’ll wear this under my swimsuit.  If it’s colder and I want to be fully dry I’ll have some volunteers help me wriggle into it.
    • Optional stuff: sleeves and leg sleeves depending on the weather.
    • Accessories: gloves, aero helmet, bike shoes (new or old?), crotch junk, sunscreen
    • Noms – english muffin w/cream cheese and bacon, packs of chews, gels (options), coconut water (maybe freeze these the day before?
    • First aid kit of 303s (2) and salt pills (4) and 3-4 packets of chamios cream
  • Bottles will be full of gatorade, my bento box will be as full of gels/blocks as I can (the rest in my jersey pockets)

I’ve ridden my bike a few miles to prepare for this race.  In the cold and the wind and the heat and the hills, so 112 miles on a tollway should be easy-peasy, right?


Pacing goal: It’s a long day.  Pace yourself.  Both long day outings on this bike have been about 16-ish mph (so about 6h30-7h).  If you’re rolling above 16.5, check your effort/HR/power.  If you’re too far below 16mph average after 20-30 miles, check it as well.

Fueling goals: One gel/three blocks per 45 minutes and I should go through about a bottle an hour.  If I have real food (english muffin, pb sandwich, etc), that should last about 1.5-2 hours.  In other words, my goal is to, as evenly as possible, space out about 1100 solid calories over the ~7 hours and suppliment with gatorade (at least another ~100 calories per hour).

Caffeine: I will aim to have gel #1 or 2 be caffeinated, and a gel in hour 5-6 be caffeinated (just the 20 mg salted watermelons).

Special needs bag:

  • Snacks: Some sort of salty chips/pretzels, PB sandwich, some sort of fruit, frozen coconut water wrapped in aluminum foil (thanks internet!)
  • Another First Aid baggie of 303s and salt pills + tums and other things that calm my stomach just in case, small disposable extra sunscreen.  Plus a disposable PVC pipe to use as a roller.
  • Co2 cart and tube (I’m still butthurt about not getting this stuff back but I’ll sacrifice 10$ to potentially save my race – I can probably throw it in my jersey if I’m feeling cheap and I have room)
  • Unless the weather looks questionable, I’ll keep this one simple.

Effort goals: I dialed in the effort pretty well.  Keep some power on it (120-130-ish?  if that feels right?), but I should never be breathing hard for more than a minute or so to get up a hill.  Stand up occasionally to stretch the legs.  Stay in aero as much as possible but not at the expense of tweaking my neck too badly.


Again, take my time if I need.  I found I ran better if I gave myself a SMALL break to compose myself and didn’t rush.  I’m not winning this thing but 5 minutes in transition might mean the ability to run more regularly.

Run bag contents

  • Wearing: BSS 2017 tri top, tyr bottoms, UA sports bra #2*, run socks, Hokas, xterra vest
    • *I probably won’t change into this but just in case…
  • Accessories: aquaphor, handheld bottle (frozen w/grape gatorade)
  • Noms – some salty chips/pretzels, premade chicken broth in water bottle, maybe another pb sandwich as an option.
  • Another First Aid baggie of 303s and salt pills + tums and other things that calm my stomach just in case, small disposable extra sunscreen.

Yep, just another long day like this one, with a slightly longer run.


Pacing goal: Well, this is the huge and great unknown.  I’ve run 2 hours off a 5 hour bike at sub-11 minute miles, which would PR the fuck out of my marathon if I could keep up anything close to that (even if I slowed down to almost 12 minute miles on the second half…).  It really depends on my legs, my heart, my stomach, the weather, and how much pixie dust exists in the universe on April 22nd.  My goal is 5h30-6h but the real, ultimate goal is just getting across the line to hear my name called and my results counted.

Effort goal: I can pretty much keep up a 11:30/min per mile clip forever on your average long day if it’s not STUPID hot.  Sometimes this is best achieved by running an even 11:30/mile pace.  Sometimes it’s walking for a bit and then running 10 minute miles.  I’ll be prepared for either.  What it comes down to is that the more I concentrate on my form, the longer I can stave off that awful ache in my hammies/glutes.  So, I want to cruise as long as I can at an easy pace, and then decide if it’s kick ass, continue, walk/run, walk, limp, or crawl the later parts.

The one thing I’m greatly looking forward to is this run will generally get COOLER, not warmer, like a half or a standalone marathon.  So, I’ll have that to look forward to in the later miles.

Run special needs:

  • Snacks: Same fare as the bike with some additions: a new gatorade flavor or some packets since it’s all lemon lime on the run course (my least fave).  Also, another chicken broth water bottle rocket fuel (just in case I need it and it’s not out at the stations yet).  Yeah, sounds like a buffet.  I’d rather have options.
  • Another First Aid baggie of 303s and salt pills + tums and other things that calm my stomach just in case and some aquaphor and bandaids in case my feet are torn up.  Maybe some packets of biofreeze?  Definitely another disposable PVC roller.
  • Head lamp.  If by magic I finish before dark, I’ll just wrap this around my wrist, but I need to see where I’m going.
  • It will depend on the weather if I do this, but I’ll potentially have a long sleeve shirt and gloves if it’s looking REALLY cold at night (though cold = inspiration for me to keep running…) and mayyyyybe a change of socks (to ones I don’t care about ditching but can run 13 miles in) if it’s looking rainy.

If the day goes right, I’ll get me another one of these that DOESN’T say 70.3 on it…

Finish Line:

If I execute solidly on what I expect that day, I’ll be rolling in about 15 hours, give or take.  Hopefully at that point, I’ll be upright, smiling, and making silly faces.  I’m rarely ever in bad shape at the end of races unless I’m overheating (which is unlikely here), but we’ll see, there’s a first time for everything.

Then… it depends.  If Zliten is done or going to be a while, I will go start making a dent in the 7k calories that I will have lost.  I hope there’s crappy pizza because crappy pizza is the BEST after a race.  And also beer.  There will be beer.  If he’s close on my heels and I’m not ready to crime for a gatorade or plate of WHATEVER, I’ll wait and cheer him in.  Making myself not fall down is priority #1.

I told Zliten I would do my best to do something with the bikes if I was first in and he was significantly behind me (and he would do the same), but we’ll see depending on the car situation or if there’s a shuttle to the hotel or whatever.  Worst case, if we’re both done around midnight and completely wasted and can’t even, there’s always Uber XL or whatever to get us and our bikes and shit back to the hotel and we’ll figure out the car thing later.

Considering the late night options, it’s very likely that I’ll end up with something like this in my face after the race.


Here’s another place I feel like I need to be overprepared because I feel like I need super easy access to various types of food, and not have to count on dealing with humans to do it.

If we can people, some late night options in the area:

In case we can’t people, we’ll make sure to have a lot of food stored up at the hotel.

  • Cups of mac and cheese and potatoes and chef boyardee and soup
  • Salty snacks
  • All the coconut water and nuun (since we’ll need electrolytes but probably won’t want gatorade for weeks).
  • Some microwave/prepacked meals
  • Leftovers from other meals
  • And of course… there will be beer and champagne chilling in the fridge, whether that’s for that evening or mimosas in the morning. 🙂

Luckily we have the whole next day to lounge and relax, and we’re not heading home until Monday.  I’d love to hit up the Omega Grill and/or possibly Willie’s Icehouse but also our hotel has free breakfast and there’s a IM lunch/awards about a mile away (y’know, just in case a meteor hits the entire upper 75% of my age group and I’m first across the line, lol… just kidding.  Free food.  That’s the only reason.), and our hotel puts out a spread at 5-7pm and popcorn all afternoon and drinks and there’s other places within a mile so we may not do any of the things that involves getting in the car.

While a lot of this is indeed complete overthinking, we’re going into this with two athletes and no sherpa.  Two first time Ironman hopefuls who have NO IDEA how to expect to feel after.  I fully expect not to follow everything to the letter or have to type A the whole thing (just some things), but it’s like when I speak in public, I always write myself a full script JUST IN CASE I blank and all I can do is read from my paper.  Here is the map and the plan, should I lose my mind and all I can do is follow along.



10 Days Out


Race week and the taper tantrums


  1. Matthew Weigel

    I can’t remember how you feel about pickle juice, but I’d recommend having some handy ‘just in case’ – in the special needs bags, in transition, anywhere you don’t have to carry it. On the one hand it has a lot of salt (moreso than the salt tabs I’ve found, too!), and it can help with cramping. On the other hand, if you aren’t experiencing anything that makes you think you need it, it’s pretty easy to just go right past when you’re pulling things out of the bag.

    • I know you are a pickle juice fan. I’ve not been able to stomach it the few times I’ve tried (and I love pickles… weird, huh?). I have packed my special needs stuff and added a few things – nuun tabs in each which can either be a change of flavor in my bottles or in desperate times, dissolve on the tongue for straight salt. I also have ADORED chicken broth when I’ve used it in training so that might be my pickle juice.
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