If you’ve qualified for the Hawaii Ironman, you’re likely pretty damn good at triathlon. The five following race tips can be the icing on a M-Dot shaped cake.
1. Be freakishly systematic and redundant in all your last-minute preparations.
About 10 years ago I was watching the pros set up their transition areas the morning of the Hawaii Ironman when a B-level elite, frantic, on the verge of tears, came scrambling up to me asking, “Have you seen my helmet?! I can’t find my helmet. What do I do?!”
With minutes to go before the cannon fired, there wasn’t much she could do—and as I recall an age-group triathlete who was spectating for the day lent her his. The moral of the story concerns the matter of paying attention to detail and acknowledging the fact that clear, calm thinking is nearly impossible the morning of such a highly charged race (pre-Ironman stress compounded by the skeleton-shaking thump created by the rotor blades of hovering helicopters).
Script out your morning routine on paper and proceed to carefully check off every box (wake-up call, shower, breakfast, race kit, equip prep, transit, bathroom breaks, the insanity of checking in and setting up, swim warm-up, etc). Like a good engineer, build in checkpoints and redundancies to make sure you’re nailing each and every step, regardless of the priority. Pretend like you’re a one-man Apollo space mission and the more you can make the entire pre-race routine a robotic experience the less likely you’ll be to screw up. And the less nervous energy you’ll burn worrying about all the details that haunt you as the sun begins to climb up from behind Mauna Loa.