Friday, September 24, 2010

Chris Lieto diary: Preparing for the Ironman World Championship

By Chris Lieto, special for USA TODAY

Editor's note: Triathlete Chris Lieto is documenting his preparations for the Oct. 9 Ford Ironman World Championship in an exclusive online diary for USA TODAY. This is his first entry:

Thursday, Sept. 23: Well, the Ford Ironman World Championship is here again. A couple weeks away and I am relaxing with the ocean breeze cooling me down after a hard ride. I love the Big Island of Hawaii. I have really grown to love this place. I have raced here over 10 times and have spent many more trips over here to train on the course. I have found that the best place for me to stay and get the job done is at the Hilton Waikoloa. I like being a little removed from downtown Kona (about 20 miles), it's more peaceful and relaxing. I can ride anywhere from here and cover the farthest half of the bike course or head to town and ride the first and last part. There's also great ocean swimming right here and running trails very close. Perfect place!

Coming here every year I have learned what I need to bring and how to approach this journey. I have added some things the last couple years as I get more serious in trying to win this race. Last year I was second and would like to move up a slot, so I have decided to add something I have not in the past to prepare the best I can. This year I am bringing a good friend of mine, Steve Gerace, who has helped in my preparation in training in Mammoth and at home. He came with me to Kona in February and is a huge asset. I am also bringing my personal massage therapist, acupuncturist and nutritional consultant the last 2 weeks before the race as well. This will help me stay loose and my preparation for this years' race should be right on.

We packed up the Trek Speed Concept and shipped it over a couple days early so we would not have to hassle with it on the plane. Airlines are charging sometimes over $200 to bring your bike each way. We also sent over a couple boxes with daily essentials: core workout equipment to keep the core workouts going with TRX, med ball, balance platforms, also massage tools like TP Therapy equipment so I can keep my muscles loose without always having to go to a massage therapist. We also brought extra pairs of my K-Swiss training running shoes and a couple pairs of race shoes … always good to have a backup pair. Being in this hot and humid environment makes it important to get the right nutrition and supplements into your body. Electrolytes are a must, along with training and race day nutrition. My sponsors PowerBar and Base Performance send over a supply to last me the whole trip, so it makes it easy. I do a lot training in these conditions to make sure I'm ready come race day. The easy stuff to pack is the clothes. You really only need a couple pairs of shorts, flip flops and a couple T's, all that fits in my carry-on! It's the rest of stuff that is difficult … huge bags, boxes, massage table, bikes, etc.

Flying before a race can be exhausting and take more out of you than you would think. That is one reason why I come over to the island three weeks before the race. When flying to a race I will try and upgrade to first class or at least move up to the section with more leg room. I have spent a lot of time and energy on training for this race so it is important to be comfortable, especially if I have to fly for five hours. I will drink lots of water and try and get up at least every hour and go for a little walk up and down the aisle. I will stretch a little in the seat as well as when getting up and walking around. My TP Therapy massage ball is key while sitting in the plane as I can massage areas that may get tight and keep my body loose. I will also travel wearing compression clothing to keep the circulation in my legs moving really well. By doing these simple things I get off the plane in Hawaii and always feel good and ready to go. When I settle in my room I will head out for an easy ride and/or swim just for the purpose to get my body moving and the blood flowing again. This really helps me get back on track and ready to attack the training that is needed the next morning.

I am looking forward to this years' Ironman World Championship and have only been here for a couple days! I'm feeling great, loving the weather and relaxing by the pool on my down time.


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