Plan the race, race the plan!
In my way of thinking, the race begins a week or two before the actual race. People say that they "forget" to taper, "forget" to sleep, "forget" to fuel right - which are simply acute symptoms of lack of pre-planning. It's like forgetting to train and forgetting to put air in your tires. Kinda mucks up the race, doesn't it?
Part of my plan is to use the day, especially the bike leg, as a dress rehearsal for Ironman Florida. With that in mind, I'll be taking on board a lot more calories during the bike leg than I would if I were riding like my race were actually over at the end of the bike (which it will be on September 30th - I guess I won't need much supper!). I'm also using a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in mostly "real" foods - I know from experience that works well for me on the bike as long as I'm not too overheated. Having only gels and sports drinks for 5 or 6 hours leaves me feeling shaky and irritable and with a nasty burn in my stomach, as if I had been eating candy for that entire period of time.
Here are my thoughts about the next 3 days:
Thursday: Finish packing my race bags so I don't fret about them and lose time and sleep at the last minute. I'll have four bags: 1) Swim start, 2) Bike start gear, 3) Bike special needs (mile 70), and 4) post-race. (Which will be reviewed with my packing list in hand, of course). I'll be certain to plan and get an extra-extra long night's sleep, because I usually sleep poorly the night before a race, and I don't want any accumulated sleep deprivation affecting me. Eat well and ignore the scale for a few days.
Friday: Rack the bike, attend the pre-race meeting, fuel extraordinarily well all day, and get in bed by 9PM.
Race day Saturday, pre-race nutrition: Breakfast on the 45-minute drive to the race site, probably to include a bagel, a hard-boiled egg, some V8 juice, and lots of coffee with whole milk and Gatorade. (OK, OK, I meant coffee and Gatorade separately!)
Swim: Go out at a comfortable pace, settle in for the duration, and stay relaxed. If you have extra zip, crank it up a notch after the bridge (halfway). If you get too bored, try alternating 25 strokes hard, 25 strokes moderate. Plan a few long songs for mental amusement in your mind in advance. If you hit sea nettles, pretend they're other swimmers at Ironman Florida. Enjoy the practice and the beautiful day.
Transition: Calm but brisk. Don't waste time, but don't hurry and forget anything. Smile and thank the volunteers. If you have sea nettle stings, take the extra time to treat them.
Bike, first out-and-back (to Mile 21): Settle in and maintain 145-150 bpm heart rate. Rehydrate. Start watch beeper and begin feeding plan at the 10 mile turnaround: Every 10 minutes drink and stretch and nibble some trail mix (craisins, apricots, cashews). Every 30 minutes take some gel or eat a portion of real food (half a Powerbar, half an Uncrustable PB&J, or half a Nature Valley Sweet 'n' Salty nut bar; or a piece of string cheese). This sounds like a lot, but I'm sure I'll choose to skip eating several times during the ride, too. Every 60 minutes or full water bottle (whichever comes first - it's probably going to be under 70*F and low humidity most of the ride) take 1 Succeed salt capsule. Stay on bike throughout without dismounting unless it's a dire emergency.
Bike, first loop (Mile 21 to Mile 67): Continue hydration, stretching, and feeding plan. Alternate water and Gatorade. Bring effort up slightly to 150-155 bpm heart rate. Pick up special needs bag and replenish as needed. Note downwind stretches where you might profit from going harder on the 2nd loop.
Bike, second loop (Mile 67 to Mile 112): Anticipate having a low point on this loop. Continue hydration, stretching, and feeding plan. Bring effort up very slightly to maintain 155-160 bpm heart rate through mile 95 (Maple Dam Road turn), then turn off HRM and go for broke for miles 95 through mile 112. (Note: based on weather reports, I expect that we may be picking up a tailwind at the 95-mile turn and riding it all the way to the finish. I hope.)
Finish: With nothing left. No run after the bike leg - try not to think about that long run you're doing tomorrow! Thank the volunteers and cheer on the other finishers.
Any thoughts on my plan? Recommendations?