Billed as 'the world's toughest ironman' this was my first full distance so i am not qualified comment on any other races but this was not an easy one! For those thinking about racing here i have had a day to reflect on my ironman journey.
It started in 2013 with an entry to Blenheim triathlon and followed with a tri kit shopping spree and my best decision, joining tri force!
Move on 5 years with lots of shorter races and a few middle distance and I turned up at la Santa this week ready for the biggest test. This year has seemed like a relentless programme of training getting progressively longer on the bike and run and it was a great feeling to finally taper and focus on the race.
La Santa is a great place for final preparations. Time to build the bike and recce some of the roads and weather. There is no training for the wind in Lanzarote and I was glad to get a ride out and experience the cross winds for the first time. Time also for a practice swim through shoals of fish in crystal clear waters of Puerto del Carmen. It was great to meet up with fellow tri forcer nick clarke at registration and for the official briefing and to have some relaxing downtime by the pool.
Friday afternoon was bike racking time and the arrival of my support crew. This year the event coincided with half term and we have a family holiday for the rest of the week 😁. Before the holiday a little race so early to bed and a 4am alarm....
With 7am sunrise we did all our final preparations in the dark and got ready to race. A good luck hug and time to go.
Finally it was time to line up. I went in the sub 70min swim section and we all readied ourselves for a mass swim start. There is NO preparation for the lanza swim, complete carnage as 2000 athletes bundle into the water at the same time, so physical to keep in the flow of swimmers. The practice swim helped as I knew the course and the tide and after fixing my goggles several times I got into a fast group that helped pull me round. I was shocked to get the mid point run up the beach in 30min. Back in the water for another furious lap and the swim was done in 61min! A unique swim experience with close swimming and toe tapping for 3.8km.
The volunteers slap on sun cream whilst you transition and send you out into the hills and wind of the Lanzarote volcanoes. Tough start with an uphill first 20km. Strong cyclists climbing harder than me and maybe i pushed a hit more than is should. It is hard to reign it in but there are a lot of miles ahead...and then to the first downhill and total exhilaration trying to hold on at speed well in excess of 50km/hr with wicked cross winds buffeting the bike over the road. There is no sympathetic verge if you crash just black lava to land on!
Then the WIND. The toughest feature of the course. It felt like whichever direction it was a headwind or crosswind, always making you work to hang on or dig deep. The course has 2500m climbing and some spectacular landscape and views. Some of the descents are crazy fast and unsympathetic if you get it wrong. 180 switchbacks and cliffs meet you on the way down. A few cyclists had punctures but my mechanical issue came when my bike juddered down a hill. Not a puncture but my aero box ripped the bolts out the frame and jammed against the wheel. I recovered my repair kit and put in my pockets and the box was destroyed. It made me nervous about any damage to the bike so checked a couple of time before the fastest descent off thw top of mirador del Rio. The course was changed this year and there was a sting in the tail with more BRUTAL cycling into the wind before finally 20km from home got a fast ride back down to Puerto del Carmen. Back to transition and ready to run 😀
A quick change and more sun cream and into my first ever marathon. I like running but this was going into unknown territory. The run was hot 25C in the sun but mercifully quite flat. The first lap was 21km up past the airport and back and then 2 laps of 10km. The support was amazing with all the bars and restaurants cheering the athletes on and plenty of aid stations for necessary sponges, water, coke, oranges, gel...I kept steady with a finish in mind and a plan to keep running. Undeterred when my Garmin gave up I was feeling ok and found another runner to keep my pace steady. It was great to see my family cheering at every turn and I could look forward to the final 10km and the finish line. When it finally arrived it was incredible feeling to cross the line with much fist pumping and even a leap in the air! So good to hear those words..You are an IRONMAN!
Massive congrats to all that raced this weekend. It was truly epic and ridiculously hard especially on the bike. It was only possible with massive support from family, friends and club members. Thanks to all those that offered me support and coaching.
I was not sure what time to target as it was a leap into the unknown bit had hoped for sub 12hr all going well.
On the day 11hr 28min was amazing result.
1hr 1min swim
6hr 27min bike
3hr 48min run