I will be doing my first HIM at the end of September and am using a training schedule that seems pretty good for me. I've read a bunch of stuff, but there's nothing better than other people's experiences to learn from.
For veterans of the HIM distance, is there anything that you learned about training or the race itself that kinda surprised you or that looking back, you wish you'd known?
On the bike: eat more than you think you need, even if you are not hungry. For me, the last half of the bike course is where I get the nutrition I'll need for the run. I can't really get many calories in while on the run.
1. x2, 3, 4, 5 on the nutrition on the bike thing that Alejandro stated. It's not just calories, but electrolytes and hydration.
2. During training, bike lots and then bike some more.
3. On the run during the race, resist the temptation to hit your pace or faster from mile 0. Give yourself a mile or 2 of easing into your desired run pace or the last 3-4 miles won't be pleasant. Unless of course, you are one of those super fast studs. Most of us mortals won't be able to get away with it.
4. See #2.
I second what Alejandro and Tuan said.
Do not think you can get by without following your nutrition plan. You made the plan for a reason when you weren't fatigued and you were in a solid state of mind to determine how many calories you should take in, so follow it!
Biking makes you a better runner. Harden your legs on the bike so that after 56 miles they are still strong and ready to run.
Be prepared for moving water bottle hand-offs on the bike course. They are not difficult but can be a surprise if you've never attempted one before. Know not to take a bottle from somebody that is about to stiff arm you. The hand-offer should be balancing the bottle on their hand so you can ride through and grab it. They should not be grasping the body of the bottle.
Oh, good point Holli about the water bottle exchange. And look for rolling water bottles at the exchanges and people doing all sorts of crazy s*it. I would say in some cases you are better off slowing almost to a stop than risking a crash. Those 2 seconds won't cost you much.
So I just did my first HIM and the things that I can add to what was said (which I totally agree - especially with biking more then you need to during training) is have a back up nutrition plan or tape back up nutrition on your bike. I lost some of my stuff due to a bump on the road. All the cursing in the world did not bring my food back.
Also yell out what you want at the water stops on the bike. It really helps the volunteers prep what you want in advance. (Holli gave me this gem beforehand and it really helped me).
Dry feet are super important! I've heard putting Aquafor or Vasoline in your socks or shoes will keep the blisters at bay. And putting baby powder or Gold Bond in your cycling shoes is a good idea. But I have not tested these ideas yet.
That those last 4-5 miles on the run are killer...
I'm still trying to figure out how to make them suck less.
If you choose to pee while on your bike (this is fine and normal for a 4+, 5+, 6+, 7+ hour race), wash your bike shoes immediately after the race. Just trust me on this one.