The strategy conversation you can only have here

race 4 literacy


It's ten past eight on the 12th April 2008. I'm sitting in a hotel in Port Elizabeth and tomorrow is the Ironman. My first Ironman so I'm a little nervous. Actually make that a lot nervous. My wife Dee flew up today to support me which is great. I've had a good day getting everything ready for tomorrow. Lots of checks and re-checks of equipment.

The thing about Ironman is that besides the fitness and the racing there is a whole lot of other logistics that need to be in place. Things like bags for running and cycling gear which we pick up during the transitions from each stage so that we can get changed. The bike, making sure it all works and that I don't have a last minute puncture. And so on...

I've also spent the day responding to mails about the race 4 literacy which is an initiative we launched to link our Ironman effort with building a classroom for kids. The classroom is an Edutainer which is a converted shipping contained - so maybe the reference to Iron is appropriate. I've included a picture below and if you read how significant this classroom is to these young lives and how positively affects them, then you will probably feel like the many many people who have provided sponsorship for our Ironman event so that we can build a classroom. You can read about this at . We've had a fantastic response and have already raised a lot of money from all over the world. It's great to have linked our efforts to something so meaningful.

Children inside Edutainer Eldorado

Children inside Edutainer Eldorado Park

So the months of training are now at an end and tomorrow morning at 7am we dive in the sea and start what will be anything from a 12 - 14 hour effort. I started thinking about what would be success tomorrow and quickly realised that by putting just a time to it, I would put myself in such a hard place to succeed or fail. So while the time I do is important, there are many more and better things that I can build into my plan which are in fact much more strategic as well.

So I came up with a race strategy which consists of Four 'F's which include what I believe are the key aspects for me to have a successful race. This is my first one so I'm sure by this time tomorrow I'll know if I was on the right track or not. Part of doing an Ironman is to learn (more on that in another post) so irrespective of what happens tomorrow, if I come away wiser I will be satisfied.

My Four 'F' strategy for Ironman consists of:

  1. Food - the nutrition and drinks that I need leading up to, during and after the race to perform at my best and recover.

  2. Fun - enjoy myself and don't take things too seriously. I'll have a chance of interacting with many fantastic people during the day.

  3. Finish - while this might sound obvious, going out too fast, not looking after myself or trying to perform outside of what I have trained for, and am capable of, will put this in jeopardy. An hour spent irresponsibly at the beginning of the race will have dire consequences later on. So maybe obvious but very important for me, as I have a tendency of going too fast too soon.

  4. Follow the plan. I created a basic plan which has plans for what nutrition I will take, what heart rate I will stick with based on my training programme with Mark Allen and the pace that I should work towards. The pace does of course give me times to work towards which should be the worst case. The pace/time is also secondary to this strategy and I won't push beyond my heart rate to achieve the time. My heart rate is the most important indicator of what is going on in my body. Too high and I'm pushing too hard or not taking in enough fluid, too low and I'm possibly in need of food.

So I have a strategy which I think is sound. I'm excited about the day and looking forward to getting started now. So I'm going to sleep and will post a follow up when done.

Don't forget to support those kids at

You'll make a real difference in their lives.