Keeping your coolJuly 12, 2012
It’s Musselman weekend. My Favorite weekend of the year! Here is a “Glory Days” fact. I won the first Musselman back in 2004! One of the luckiest things that ever happened to me! I have competed in the Musselman in some format since then. I have done Mussel, Mini and even the Aquabike.I have gotten to introduce Karen Smyers and even do a kids tri clinic with her. I love it. Jeff Henderson came here almost ten years ago with the intention of bringing a half Ironman event to the area and this sells out every single time.
Musselman weekend is always hot. And weeks before the race I begin to hear “OMG! Musselman is going to be so hot, I am so not going to make it.”
Nonsense, I assure them. This is the perfect example of writing the end of the story before it ever happens. Athletes who engage in this kind of talk….. well they have predetermined their result. I had a bad race, it was too hot. There are elements of heat that are within our control, and elements that are not.
I have used the heat excuse myself. It’s led me to educate myself and become smart about the heat, and how to handle the heat. Here are my tips for keeping your cool when the going gets hot:
1. Pre Race Hydration: No one in their right mind comes into a half Ironman dehydrated. All week you have been taking in enough fluids so that your urine is nice and clear or a beautiful shade of pale yellow. This is something within your control.
2. Proper nutrition and fueling plan: If you are coming up to the starting line of a half ironman, you have some sort of fueling plan. You know by this point your sweat rate and now many ounces you personally need to consume per hour. You know how many carbohydrate grams you need to consume per hour. You know what type of sweater you are… heavy versus light. You know how many electrolytes you need. If you walk away from this race feeling like you missed the boat, then give us a shout over at The Core Diet. Our Registered dietitians have written over 600 race fueling plans. They cured me from race day vomits. If you have raced in a Score-This event (Musselman is timed by Score-This, not a Score-This event) then you get a discount on Core Diet services. (Hit the contact page to find out how to get the discount code). You have put in the training, don’t be reduced to a walk because you bonked. Bonking is within your control. And I am the queen of bonking, so don’t tell me otherwise!
A proper fueling plan will ensure that you are taking in enough fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. This right here is the key to a successful race in any weather.
3. Utilize your resources to stay cool: The Wizard refers to the last 10 or so miles of the bike as “The pocket”. Think of it this way…. when you go from bike to run you go from an environment on the bike that consists of a breeze and lower impact to an environment (running) that has no breeze, and has significantly higher impact. That right there is body temperature rising. In “the pocket” (last ten miles of the bike) begin thinking about keeping your core temp down as best as possible. When you hit that last aid station grab a bottle of water and douse yourself. If you have vents in your helmet hit it there. Water on your back, down your shirt. As you get off the bike that aid station you hit out of transition…. use the water and the sponges.
Remember how we talked about working the aid stations like they are your job? That’s what we mean. Click here for those reminders. As an athlete you have the ability to cool yourself down every mile on the run. Never skip this opportunity.
4. Adjust pacing as needed: At QT2 we primarily pace by HR (we use power and pace as well). We adjust our zones up or down depending on the temperature, humidity and heat index. You’ve seen our athletes, when the going gets hot they seem to run faster. It’s because of our ability to teach them how to pace. It’s because of their ability to execute a pacing plan. It doesn’t mean you automatically have to go slower when it’s hot, you have to race smarter when it’s hot. Consult our website for more info if you are interested in learning how to race! If I sound like a QT2 walking advertisement …. I am!
The bottom line is this…… race day has challenges no matter what. We as athletes love that aspect of this sport or else we wouldn’t be here. Don’t allow something that is our of your control dictate how your day goes, especially three days before the gun goes off. A large part of what happens this weekend has to do with the space between your ears. So if you are already issuing statements like “Well… there goes my PR because it will be hot.” then you have guaranteed you will not PR.
As you create the race plan for the weekend, heat management is part of it. Love the heat, we are Upstate New Yorkers…. a hundred billion degrees is a gift. Yes, even on race day. But only if you choose not to allow it to become a barrier.
See you this weekend! On Sunday will be cruising the run course on my mountain bike. I will have on a black or white QT2 shirt and be with some of the Qt2 girls!