Kona Countdown 9 more days: Time to pack!
I think most athletes would agree with me that a triathlon can be a bit time consuming (and stressful). For in a running event, you must bring your shoes and well, that's really all you need.
We have a full day of flying on Tues October 4th. My parents are leaving from Tampa Florida on the same morning and they arrive to Kona around 1 hour after we land on the big island. Our longest flight is 8 hours and 20 minutes (Houston to Honolulu) and the other two flights are fairly short. I think Honolulu to Kona doesn't even count as a flight. Our 37 minute trip will be a quickie!
I will be bringing my bike with me on the plane, as will Karel. He is looking forward to doing some climbing while in Kona - any suggestions as to where he should ride? I am just so happy that Karel and my parents will be with me as we all love traveling together and spending time together. I know my brother will be cheering loud from Pittsburgh as he recently started a new job with Ernest & Young and wasn't able to get away for a vaca.
As for the packing......
Certainly there is a lot to bring for a 140.6 mile event. I wish Campy was on my list :(
Although this event is in paradise, my days before the race will not be spent laying by the beach in a bikini, soaking up the Kona sun.
Although I have only completed 4 Ironman's (I suppose I am no expert compared to some Ironman veterans), I know what works for me at this point in my racing career. Each year, something new or different is added to my pre-race routine/packing list but overall, my packing list represents what I would do to prepare for a long weekend of training as well as what has worked for me in the past. However, in an effort to help you prepare for your upcoming event (Ironman, running race or triathlon) I'll share a few tips in an effort to get your mind ready for the upcoming event.
Prior to packing, I like to have an itinerary. I find it super helpful to have a plan of what I need to do every day. Ask any triathlete and they will tell you that the days go by very fast in the week before a long distance race. While at one point in your training the race couldn't get here any faster, but now you only wish time would slow down so you could take a few deep breaths.
On my itinerary I do the following:
1) Workouts - on the week before an Ironman, each day revolves around my workouts. Although I won't be doing much volume, I want to be sharp for my workouts and feel at ease before the day gets ahead of me. Since I am use to working out early in the morning, I plan on doing my training in the morning. I emailed Karel (coach/hubby) my plans for Wed, Thurs and Fri so that he knew my obligations as far as registration, underpants run (can't miss that!), packing my transition bags, athlete dinner and bike/gear check in. I also told him when I would like him to "workout" with me as well as when I would like a little down time. Because it is very easy to be busy ALL day in the days leading up to an Ironman, I want to give myself at least an hour or two to just relax. My parents will be volunteering on Wed and Fri as well as doing body marking on race day morning, so this allows time for Karel and myself to drive the course.
2) Schedule - I am a flexible planner. There is a lot to do to prepare for an Ironman in terms of checking in, packing bags, re-packing bags, checking in bike, etc. and I like to have a schedule so that I keep myself on track and to minimize stress. After 12+ hrs of flying, I have 3 days to get myself Ironman ready in terms of gear but I also have 3 days to enjoy the island. I don't plan on spending every hour working out and then resting in my room so my schedule allows for chunks of time when my family, Karel and myself can explore the island. Taking my mind away from the race itself (although, it is hard when the island is filled with athletes, either racing or spectating) is important to me. So, after Karel sends me my training/workouts for the week (Mon swim, Tues off/travel, Wed (Bike + run + easy float), Thurs (swim + underpants run), Fri (pre-race swim+bike+run), Sat 140.6 miles, Sun - celebrate!) I then put it my "tasks" from my itinerary (ex. registration, athlete dinner, bike/gear check-in, meals/snacks, etc.) and plan for "free" time.
3) Don't stress!! - Once I have my itinerary, I find that my mind is at ease. Also, you can pick up most forgotten items at/near your race venue or the race expo so don't get overworked if you think you forgot something.
I don't want to overwhelm myself with a huge to-do list as it is important that my body stays relaxed a I continue to taper and manage the rest of life/work. Perhaps other athletes don't like to have a schedule, but I find it helpful so that I keep myself stress-free and enjoying every moment on the days leading up to a race. I find myself smiling and laughing A LOT on the days before an Ironman and I credit my family, Karel and friends for being extremely understanding, supportive and enthusiastic in the days leading to an Ironman. I enjoy surrounding myself with people who give me energy and confidence and I think that helps me stay calm (and fun to be around) before a major event.
In addition to several massages this week (for both mind and body) and my taper training schedule, I also avoid ordering new things in the 2 weeks prior to the race. I believe in testing things out and not listening to the hype of what others are doing. Certainly, it is good to get advice from others if you are a newbie or are doing a new race, but it can become very overwhelming to try to do what everyone else is doing, especially when you have already prepared your body to the best of its ability, for this 140.6 mile event.
I recommend getting your bike serviced around 4 weeks before your race. This will likely be your last service prior to having a "tune-up" around a week or 2 before your race. 4-weeks out, this will likely be your last "big" weekend of training so if you are wanting new race wheels, cassette, brake levers or cables (to name a few) this is a good time to test them out, as well as new clothing. As for new shoes for bike/run and goggles, these should be purchased at least 2 months out to ensure that you are comfortable training with/in them, prior to swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. As for extras like compression, fuel belts, etc, these are often "last minute" decisions by athletes and it is important to recognize what has worked in training and in the past and to try out things prior to using them on race day. In most cases, clothing and accessories are more of a "comfort" issue than anything else so it is good to continue to use them throughout your entire training if you are considering using these products on race day.
And lastly, as for nutrition, my suggestion is to use what has worked in training. On race day you will likely use a bit more calories than normal for pre race nutrition and during the race. I recommend prioritizing LIQUID calories as to ensure that you are meeting fluid, calorie and electrolyte recommendations and to view anything else as "stomach satisfiers". You will get your "energy" from sport nutrition products (gels and sport drinks) will help you stay hydrated, fueled and chemically balanced. As for gummies, chews and solid food, I would not suggest using these items as your "primary" fuel source but rather 40-60 "extra" calories as needed throughout the race (if you choose). Take advantage of aid stations if you can tolerate what is on the course and prepare your own nutrition plan for the race based on what has worked best in training. Nutrition is VERY individual when it comes to the Ironman and it often changes for people year after year. I only use liquids and stay around 220 calories per hour on the bike, but in years past I would use a lot of different products (gels, food, drinks, gummies, etc.) because I wasn't as efficient with my training. Because I use Hammer as my primary nutrition source, I find myself very metabolically efficient due to proper periodized training, nutrient timing and a wholesome and balanced diet. Again, use what has worked best with you with your training and be consistent with your nutrition throughout the entire 140.6 mile event.
Here's my simple packing list:
Pre-race/after race gear:
Sweatshirt/long sleeve shirt/t-shirt
Sports nutrition (Hammer)
Cap (given at registration)
TYR Speed suit
Safety pin (for timing chip)
Sports nutrition (bike and run)
Bike shorts (bring extra for race week workout)
Bike jersey (bring extra for race week workout)
Sports bra (for under race day outfit)
Baggies (for sports nutrition)
Oakley Women Sunglasses (2)
Power meter (new batteries, don't forget wire to download to WKO+)
Socks/compression (bring extra for race week workout and extra for T1 and T2 bag)
Race belt (2)
Garmin (don't forget charger!)
CO2 (buy when get there)
Fuel belt w/ flasks (bring extra)
Water bottles (3 for race day, bring extras)
Running shoes w/ lace locks
A few things. I have never used or packed (except IMFL, IM #1, but didn't use the special need bag that I packed) a special needs bag so please take that into consideration if you are planning on using/preparing one for the bike and run. This list is not finalized, I find it important to walk yourself through the event while packing and to do one sport at a time. Think about pre-race as well as race day and start with the swim, the move onto the bike and then run.
Once you have your priorities packed (all things Ironman-related), then you can pack/think about the fun stuff for exploring the island, things to keep you entertained while traveling and LOTS of snacks/food to keep your body happy.
Of course, shipping your bike will require a little extra time (and attention to detail) so plan ahead and discuss with a shipping company or with your local bike shop on helping you get your bike packed and ready. Karel will be packing our bikes on Monday and my last bike ride in Jacksonville will be on Sunday.
Here is an article that I did which you may find helpful:
Traveling with your bike