So its not long until Ironman Canada now. I've just finished my last big weekend and it was a good learning experience. I rode the bike course a couple of days ago and found one thing I wasn't quite prepared for was the heat and really started to fade in the second half of the bike course.
For anyone who is doing Ironman Canada and won't have the luxury of riding the bike course before hand, I've come up with a few quick pointers based on my experience and the advice of others.
- If at any time during the ride you feel like you are going hard, you're going too hard
- Be sure to hydrate, I usually take in about 750ml of fluid per hour and I stuck to that plan this weekend. It wasn't enough, both times I reached my girlfriend Shirley who was supporting my ride I found myself chugging almost a litre of water even though I didn't feel thirsty. Remember, by the time you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated
- The ride down to Osoyoos is fast and a slight downhill, if you find yourself cruising along at 40kph and your HR is relatively low, consider taking advantage of that time to hydrate and relax. The work starts at Richter, and you can start to build there
- Take your time up Richter, its not as bad as people make it out to be if you have a plan. Be mentally strong here and be very patient. I'm a strong climber/cyclist but I made a point of sticking to my 200watt target race power even up Richter. For me this meant I was climbing at about 9-10kph. For my friend Keith, an average cyclist/triathlete who was trying to stick to 160 watts, this meant climbing at 6-7kph. If you're making the ascent any faster than either of these two respective ranges, you're going too hard
- Learn to descend comfortably, it may be a little late for this less than 3 weeks out, but a couple rides with some long descents will do good to prepare you for the IMC course. Even if you just do the climbs and descents of the IMC course in the weeks before the race, you could save a couple minutes on the ride
- On the rollers after Richter you may be tempted to try and take the momentum from the last descent and power over the crest of the hill to the next descent. Don't, these rollers are a little too long and too many to do this without burning up your legs
- Not long after the out and back, which is where you get your special needs, you'll approach the Seven Sisters. They start so gradually you may not even notice you're starting to climb. Here and all over the course you should always be mindful of your power/HR/perceived exertion. There are a lot of false flats and a lot of sections where the terrain will deceive you into thinking you aren't climbing when you actually are. Remember, if at any time you feel like you're going a little hard, you're going way too hard
- Save your energy for the run. At the end of the day, incremental power on the bike isn't as valuable as incremental power on the run simply because you're trying to overcome far more wind resistance riding at 35kph, than running at 10kph. Going 5% harder for 6 hours on the bike might mean you get off 10 minutes sooner, but end up shuffling for an extra hour on the run. Its not worth it, people rarely say "I wish I'd gone out harder on the bike", but often say "I had a great ride, but things fell apart on the run", its all legs, its all related, and on a course like IMC, your patience on the bike will be rewarded on the run.