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Ironman tips from the pros

LAKE PLACID -- Among the 2,200 or so competitors for Sunday's Ironman Lake Placid are a smattering of professionals. There are 17 pro women and 24 pro men entered in the 11th IMLP.

Friday, several participated in a panel and press conference discussing their sport, their stories and their game plans.

For example, Petr Vanbrousek races around 14 Ironman events a year and places in the top 10 in many of them.

What's the key to his consistency and longevity?

"I never studied it, it's just a mix of things," he said. "Part of it is mental. When I put my bike away I forget about tri. There's the physical side of good genetics and I was a rower for 11 years and keep up with weightlifting so none of the races break me down. Plus I don't like training."

That garnered some laughs but it's true. When someone in the audience asked about how the pros plan their three-week taper, Vanbrousek responded this way:

"Weekend one, I do an Ironman. The second weekend, a half-Ironman. The third weekend an Ironman."

He was only partially kidding.

What about the weather and nutrition?

For Kim Loeffler the weather will dictate what she consumes.

"When it's colder, you're shivering and burning more calories because of that," Loeffler said. "So when it's colder, I eat more solids. When it's hot, I do more sports drinks and gels. When you're sweating it's hard to absorb solids. I have two plans for race day and pay attention to my body."

And she decided not to listen to the weather forecast anymore but to be prepared for anything with the gear in her special needs bag, which all athletes get at certain points on the bike and run course.

"Last year I made the mistake of listening to the weatherman," she said. "And the weatherman said it was going to be in the upper 70s with the chance of a shower or two. I learned my lesson."

Last year, temperatures for the race were cool and a cold, heavy rain fell the entire day.

"I'll have arm warmers and a vest in my special needs bag," Loeffler said. "Everybody handles cold differently but at least it's there. And you can always toss it away at an aid station if you need. Better to be safe than sorry."

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