Blew it last year, didn't you?

Spent a whole year scheming and dreaming about The Big One, qualified on your third try, breathed several thousand miles of road dust and exhaust fumes, swallowed enough chlorine to disinfect Lake Superior and spent less time with your family than a Mir astronaut, then came to Kona and, just as you planned, left nothing out on the course but a stomach-full of Power Bars.

Except it was the swim course, because you never made it far enough up Pay 'n' Save Hill to make your first gear change before toppling over like Saddam's statue after the invasion. And now you have no idea why it happened.

Let's face it, folks: Athletes at the top of their games are all in basically the same shape. What sets them apart, what really allows one to triumph over the others (assuming they're all taking the same drugs), is the mental aspect.

And as elite athletes from Eddie the Eagle to Vinko "Agony of Defeat" Bogataj will tell you, the key is visualization, that uncanny ability to mentally place one's self smack in the middle of the event and feel as though it was happening right now.

It's no different for Ironman, so for you amateurs — and especially you first-timers — here's a sure-fire, virtual reality guide to visualizing your race that is guaranteed to fully prepare you for what you'll encounter on race day. If you practice these exercises diligently, you'll happily discover that race day will hold few surprises for you.

Please note that many of these exercises require the assistance of two dedicated friends.



Equipment Requirements:

* Two twin-engine powerboats

* Four Merc-150 outboard engines

1- Tie the boats fast to a dock so that they are back-to-back and about three feet apart.

2- Rev all four engines up to top speed.

3- Jump in the water and have one buddy punch you in the mouth while the other rips your goggles off.

4- Remain positioned between the two sets of outboard engines and try not to touch any of the props. (For added realism, occasionally stick your arm in one.)

5- After your planned swim time has elapsed, continue for another half hour.



Equipment Requirements:

* Boeing 747

* Stair-Master


  • Position the Stair-Master in the backwash of the #2 engine of the 747.
  • Have your buddy crank the engine up to full power.
  • Commence climbing. Feel the burn.
  • After an hour, have your other buddy turn the Stair-Master sideways to the left.
  • After two hours, have him turn the Stair-Master sideways to the right.
  • When your planned bike time has elapsed, turn the Stair-Master directly into the exhaust once again and continue for another hour. (First-timers please note: Unless you plan to finish the race in under 8 hours, tailwind simulations will be an irrelevant component of your training regimen.)



Equipment Requirements:

* Treadmill

* Sauna

* Steambath

* 3000-watt searchlight

* MK3A2 concussion grenade

* Timex Indiglo watch (optional)

* Surplus WWII blackout curtains


  • Set up the treadmill in the sauna with the searchlight shining in your eyes.
  • Commence running. Feel the burn.
  • After an appropriate interval, have your buddies move the treadmill into the steambath which has been rendered completely lightless using the blackout curtains. Illumination from the (optional) single Indiglo watch is permitted.
  • Continue running for what seems like a week, then add an extra day. Whenever death seems imminent, instruct your buddies to yell, "Looking strong!" and "Good job!" at the top of their lungs while averting their eyes in utter dismay.
  • At Mile 24, strap the grenade to your chest.
  • At Mile 25, pull the pin. Continue running following detonation.
  • For advanced training, have your buddies simulate your competitors thusly: As you continue running, have them shower, change clothes, have a) dinner, b) sex, and c) a nap, and then be fresh and alert to greet you at Step 4, below, to tell you how terrific ("No, really!") you look.



Equipment Requirements:

* Marine boot camp

* Finish line banner

* Large tent

* Garish lighting

* #2 pencil


  • Have your buddies set up that Marine training exercise where you crawl on your belly under barbed wire.
  • Commence exercise.
  • Have your buddies hold the banner up five miles away to simulate what it will look like when you're halfway down Ali'i Drive.
  • Once under the banner, have your buddies lift you and carry you to the garishly lit tent approximately 200 yards away. Time of trip: 40 minutes
  • Once inside the tent, have one buddy jam the #2 pencil about three inches into your arm and mumble, "Damn…missed it." The other buddy should then reply, "I showed you once. You should have it down by now."
  • Repeat Step 5. Twice.
  • Once the pencil has been firmly implanted, buddies should mutter things like "fixed and dilated" and "flatlining" just above the threshold of your hearing.

*  *  *

Further simulations are unnecessary; humans are genetically programmed for the ability to lie deathly still for prolonged periods following the complete shutdown of all metabolic activity. Nature will see you through.

Good luck this year!

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