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The Ironman — What to Expect Ironman Week

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It’s really here. It’s race-week and the countdown to your first Ironman.

Hopefully, you have accomodations booked. I used to find that booking for six days was about perfect. I would arrive Wednesday and check in and leave the following Tuesday morning. I’m not kidding when I say to book 5 or 6 months in advance. Ironman venues run out of prime accomodation very fast. Its way too late to be looking for a room during race-week.

Often I would book the same motel for the following year if I planned to come back. Then I would confirm with them after the Xmas holiday for a race that is in the Summer months. Of course this will be your first year so this is how I would suggest going about finding very affordable accomodation close to all the action.

I wouldn’t use the web if you want bargain basement prices. It is usually the 4 and 5 star hotels that you find on the internet. If that’s what you want and money is no object, then I would say “go for it”. I wanted very inexpensive so what I would do is write to that town’s chamber of commerce and request they send names and phone #s of inexpensive accomodation for the Ironman. You may just be pleasantly surprised. The chamber of commerce knows where everything is located in their area and where the transition/race-start area is and will find you something cheap and close.

Normally things really start to get rolling on the Wednesday before a Sunday Ironman. People from all over the world start to arrive. It’s pretty exciting.

This is a typical Ironman schedule:

Wed.-Merchandise tent normally opens

Thur.-This is normally the day the “Iron fair” or expo opens. Sometimes there are seminars you can attend.

Fri.-This is your registration day and bike check day. Also its when carbo load dinner will be if its a Sunday race.(as far as I know, pretty well every Ironman race is a Sunday).

Sat.-For special cases this is a late registration day. Usually there is a mandatory meeting. This is important. Go to it. Sometime in the afternoon you will do your check-in. Say goodbye to your bike. Also, bring t-shirts to exchange. Find the Japanese. They bring tons of brand new t-shirts and are great traders.

Sun.- OMG!


Do your last fairly hard work-out on Tuesday.

Wednesday is a VERY EASY day. I usually arrived on wednesday so after I checked into my motel, I would go for a very easy 30 minute run to wind down after travelling.

Thursday is a good swim day. DON’T go out and swim the whole course. DON’T bike 60 miles. DON’T even run at all.

Friday is a complete rest day. Walk around the town. The store-owners and people you see on the street may well be your race-day volunteers.

Sat.- Many use this for a complete rest day, but shouldn’t. Do a bit of a run and a bit of a swim….25-30 minutes. Your bike will most likely be checked in unless you are doing a late check-in. I was usually driving so I would take two bikes to the Ironman. Just so I could ride 30 minutes on Saturday. By doing this on Saturday you’re increasing your circulation and keeping your muscles loose for Sunday. The run and swim will do nicely for this if you can’t bike. Doing a short workout on Saturday is a very important part of your race-week preparation.

I got in the habit of having my last meal on Saturday FINISHED by 4 p.m. I ALWAYS had a kitchenette and had salad and pasta using a pasta sauce from home that I made myself. DON’T eat anything new! Not now!

When you checked in your bike you should not have left your water bottles with your bike. No need to. Take them race morning. Get all your mixtures(drink supplements)done on Saturday night and put them in the refrigerator. Get all your swim gear laid out. You take that WITH YOU on race morning. Wear some old sweats whatever over your trisuit or swimsuit. Wear a loose top. YOU WILL HAVE TO REMOVE THESE TO GET ALL YOUR RACE NUMBERS PUT ON! If you have a packpack you can fold up and make quite small, it will be a great help to you after the race. You will have all your gear to carry out and your bike when you leave transition for the last time. A backpack will free up your hands a bit. Don’t bother hauling a bike pump down to transition. There will be lots there. The bike support people will be in transition race morning to help you out with air or last minute problems.

When you leave your accomodation for the last time Sunday a.m. to go to transiton, you should have….all your water bottles—for your bike to start the race and also the ones for your special needs if you are using special needs. Your fuel belt that I would prepare Sat. evening with the rest of your mixes. You can go back to your gear bags on race morning. Put the fuel belt in the bike to run transition bag.

All the food you plan to take for race day. Put it on your bike or in the appropriate transition bag.

Your wetsuit and your goggles and your swim cap and your timing tag. Usually you are given your cap, timing tag and Id bracelet at registration. Your ID tag gets you into the carbo-load and the awards dinners and stays on until you leave for home or maybe for weeks after until you finally cut it off.

Put your swim stuff in your dry-strip bag that they will give you with the rest of your bags during registration. When you finally decide to put your wetsuit on, put your old sweats and old runners and lucky bear or picture of your loved one or lucky trinket into the that same bag and toss it in the pile with the other 2000 bags. Somehow it will magically appear with your other transition bags after the race. If you are really smart and paying attention to what this old ironman guy is saying you will also be folding up an empty backpack as small as you can and sticking it in that same bag as well before it goes on the pile. You will be glad you did. You will also be really glad you’re not hauling around an unnecessary bike pump after the race.


Those are two very good questions and important ones to round out your race-week preparations.


Get up at 3:30 A.M.

You’re tossing and turning anyway. You’re also worried about sleeping in. Ask the motel or hotel for a wake-up call at 4 a.m. just to be on the safe side.

Eat first thing and then don’t eat again until you’re on your bike! I learned this from lots of experimenting and over 14 Ironman race-weeks.

You should have spent Thursday to Saturday hydrating. When your urine is clear and copious you are properly hydrated. That will most likely be sometime Saturday.

Trust me on this. Eating too much too close to the race can only result in digestive problems you don’t really need.

Don’t drink lots on race morning. Sip on one water bottle if it makes you feel better. Don’t forget…you are already hydrated. You don’t want a bunch of food or/and water sloshing around during the swim. It serves no good purpose.

This is what I ate and also what Dave Scott usually ate.

2 pieces of whole wheat toast, and one or two bananas. That’s it. I usually had a cup of tea with it. No milk and a couple of sweetners. Lightly buttered toast.

I had a long shower.

Transition opens at 5 a.m. Be there at 5 a.m. or 5 or 10 min. after. No later. Be one of the first to get number-marked. No line-ups at the porta potties. Time to reflect. Don’t have to rush to do anything. Get a great parking spot. Park as close as possible to the transition area. You will be so glad you did. Be there when the music starts. Be there when the announcer starts. Trust me–again–this is the BEST system. This is one of the greatest times of your life. Take it all in.

Now the time has come. The question the spirit of the Ironman asked you. The moment you were IRONSTRUCK! “COME, COME SHOW ME WHAT YOU ARE MADE OF”.

That time is here. GOOD LUCK AND GODSPEED!

Ny name is Ray and after going through preparation for more than a dozen Ironman races, I feel that my article covered pretty well most of what you can expect to take place in the final week.
I also have a website that is full of training and racing tips that might be helpful to anyone trying to reach the Ironman finish line.

My site is called “Ironstruck”, the address is

You can also contact me with any comments or questions. My contact page can be found at:


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  • Posted On September 26, 2006
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