Dear first-time IronMan

I am not going to be in PE on 14 April 2013. I am writing this because I am so excited for you.

I am no motivational speaker. If you are looking for motivation, head on over to this selection of YouTube videos and see if you don’t choke back a few tears. Neither am I a seasoned IronMan vet — if you are looking for wisdom from a battle-hardened campaigner, read Richard Wright’s excellent article here: doingitwright.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/how-to-race-ironman-south-africa/

So, for what it’s worth, here is my advice to you:

  • Plan. Everything. I know you have a plan (and countless back-up plans)  for the race, but plan everything else for the weekends as well. Don’t waste energy rushing around trying to find a restaurants, book ahead now. Book a rub-down, too; I got pretty stressed out last year and a Saturday afternoon massage helped ground me.
  • Join in the official swim sessions on the course on Friday morning and get comfortable with the buoys and landmarks.
  • Check the routes out: cycle a loop of the run course, and drive a loop of the cycle route — I didn’t and I ended up wishing I had.
  • Do not get involved in the pre-race weather talk. If a hurricane and a tsunami are passing through PE during the early hours of the morning, you will still wake up and go down to the beach to see if maybe the race is still on. So don’t stress yourself about how windy / hot / cold the weatherman and 1000 other entrants say it is going to be.
  • Have a warm top / shell in your cycle bag and your run bag in transition. I got caught in 2012’s epic weather on the run when an icy downpour nearly ended my race.
  • Appreciate your fellow IronMan competitors. Each one has a story, too. You are going to see some extraordinary stuff through the day.
  • Encourage your fellow IronMan competitors. On both the bike and run course you will switch back on the route, and be able to see people going in the other direction. If you see someone you know — maybe a training partner or a blogger you follow — scream at them like a crazy person, even if it means you have to suck an extra gel to recover from the effort. They will appreciate it, they may even be going through a dark patch and you may save their day by snapping them out of it.
  • Love and engage the crowds. They are going to line the course all day long and into the night cheering you on. OK a lot of them will say they are there to watch the “crazy people” — but inside they think you are the hero you are.  Your name is on your race number so make sure it is visible as they will call your name: on the run this was what kept me going most of the time!
  • Thank every marshal and volunteer you pass. They make this race possible and will look after you all day.
  • Enjoy the red carpet. Walk down it, sprint down it, dance down it. High five people, throw your hands up in the air like you just won the race. Because you have just done exactly that. Make sure Paul Kaye has time to say those amazing words over the sound-system and high-five him as you pass.

My spirit will be on the beach start-line with you, looking out across the water: in 2012 I left I huge part of myself forever standing on that beach, saying: “You can do this”…

Mass swim start, IronMan South Africa 2012
Mass swim start, IronMan South Africa 2012

David

Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.

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