The Ironman athlete visits the shire!
Huge Congratulations to CL Athlete Tara! Tara set over an hour PR in the IM distance this past weekend at IM New Zealand. As Tara normally resides in the Seattle area, she had some great tips on how to handle preparing for a goal race when that race is a destination race.
Many IronMan events can be considered a destination race as most people don’t have an IM distance race or big city marathon in their back yard. Tara took it to the next level with planning and executing a fantastic race and vacation to an international destination.
Tara reports that IM NZ is a great race with a very supportive local population who cheer for every athlete by name. In fact, the whole town is out partying as you run. yes, it’s far away but one of the benefits of doing a destination race of this type is that you can just focus on the race without the multiple distractions from everyday life.
How did you plan travel to give yourself the best chance to go to race day rested?
“For this race I decided to take the longest vacation I’ve ever taken in my life. However, all I really needed was 1 week for getting race ready. I lost a day in there just flying but we went most of the way and spent about 48 hours doing full-on tourist stuff with lots of walking – this helped me unwind from all the work and home stresses. Once I hit Tuesday though it was all comfort and down time from there.”
Tara also made sure to get her bike up and ready to go and got both an easy ride and swim in to check out the course. She kept relaxation as a priority in the couple of days before the race and kept the kept the bulk of the touristy fun until after the race.
For many athletes, this can be the biggest challenge of destination races. It is very easy to get caught up in seeing the sites and be on your feet too much. Tara made sure she stayed off her feet in the two to three days prior to the event as recommended. And she got in and out of the Expo quickly as well.
How did your goals for the IM change based on such a far flung destination?
“My race goals didn’t seem to change but I had other priorities because of the traveling. I have had the worst luck with bicycles and races. I really wanted to make sure my bike got there in one piece and race ready. I also made the goal to go into the race without any jet leg on board. With this particular race, training was more difficult because it was done over the winter and so I knew I would need to acclimate quickly.”
Everyone handles jet leg differently. Giving yourself time to adjust to the time zone and recover from travel can help assure a successful race.
How did you manage food and drinks for pre-race meal and during the event?
“For race day and even the evening before race day I brought food from home. I had no idea what the grocery stores held, with the exception of Apricot WheetBix cereal that we had fallen in love with during our time in Fiji many years ago. I had everything measured and separated in baggies for race day before leaving home and then just hauled it with me in my tri bag.”
Especially if you are traveling internationally, you cannot count on the same foods at the grocery store. Plan ahead if you know you have a sensitive stomach for pre-race meals. Of course, we know you’ve worked out your nutrition needs on those Nutrition Training sessions.
When traveling for destination events, it’s expected that you will have family to share in both the race and the vacation. It can be challenging to balance this and it can help to make expectations clear before, during and after the event. How best can your family help you before and during the event? What fun things can you plan for after your race when you’ll be free to focus on vacation? Both you and your family have invested significant time and money into race fees, training, travel and vacation and acknowledging the difficulties balancing all these issues will lead to a smoother experience for all.
“On race day (my husband) did great with pictures, videos and seeing me. He was pushing me hard on that last lap hoping I could get in under 14. He got me loaded in the car and got me home, which ended up being such a big help. I still had to get him to the airport the next day to send him off but am very happy with his help when I needed it the most.”
Congrats again Tara and enjoy that vacation recovery!