Wow…what can I say! Lanzarote never fails to disappoint. Only those of you who have been there can appreciate exactly what I am talking about.
I am not going to lie to you and sugar coat the day saying how great it was.
Yes….honestly I was disappointed in the result and it was nothing special. I know I was prepared for and capable of more. But that is Ironman and it was a step in the right direction based on a few “not so great performances” over the last 12 months.
Lanzarote is in the Canary Islands in Spain and is known as one of, if not the hardest WTC Ironman on the circuit. Yes, there are courses that have the same amount of climbing or possibly more on the bike course (and I know Ironman St George was extremely tough as well) but it is the conditions, the relentless wind of 30km/hr with gusts of 40km/hr that can make that tough day even longer.
Ironman Lanzarote was my first Pro Ironman back in the day and I have returned to the island a few times since then. But I must admit, this year was unlike any other I had experienced.
In the days leading up to the race Guy and I were getting our training in as normal, but when it came to cycling it was more about learning to deal with the elements. Relaxing the body and going with the flow. Watching cyclists in front and you could anticipate when that gust was going to come through.
7am on race day and we were waiting for the gun to go off, but there was silence. Nothing was being said, and the lagre group of Pro’s slowly started to creep forward. A beach start became waist deep water start, then a deep water start, we were wading, wading, wading then we were off! I don’t even remember hearing a cannon or gun go off, as soon as everyone else started swimming, so did I!
It was a mass swim start, the Pro’s at the front and 1800 or so athletes ready to run you do from behind!! Crazy!!!
Throughout the entire 2 lap swim I could not believe how crowded it was. I am so used to being in between groups and swimming on my own, that it was actually fun being in a large pack. Even over 2km into the swim it was still quite rough and I was getting knocked around at the turning buoys. But I have always had a solid swim in Lanzarote and was happy again to exit in 53mins.
Onto the bike and I knew patience and calories were going to be the key. It was going to be long day, stick to my power, my plan, my goal and don’t worry about everything else. Although it is the single mass start, the nature of the course (1 big loop of the island) and conditions, there is no packs forming which means no drafting. It just appears to break up on its own. It is an extremely fair and honest race.
I was dealing with it well. Sticking to the plan. Riding strong on the uphills, but yes, unfortunately my descending skills do suck and the cross winds were not helping! Watching an age group male hit the deck and slide into the railing as he went by me on a descent did not help the situation either.
Generally the roads are in great conditions throughout the course, however there was one section half way through that was only bumpy for probably not even 1km, but somehow I hit the largest bump and lost all my nutrition (gels) luckily I still had my liquid calories but I was going to have to load up again at the aid stations and use what was on course instead.
I continued to stay within myself, confident I had a great run in me and excited about it.
Coming in off the bike into T2 I actually took a little bit more time than usual, redbull, took a deep breath, a much needed toilet stop (at least I was hydrated) then it was on!
Those first few km’s are always interesting. You wonder, will I have the run legs, how will I feel?? But I actually felt great! I was loving being on the run. It was going to be a tough one with the winds affecting the run as well. It was along the coast past the airport and there was a strong head wind to deal with. But I felt confident. 1km at a time….that is all I had to do, take it 1km at a time and keep moving forward. I was staying on top of nutrition, staying hydrated and feeling confident. Around the 15km I started to get a nasty stitch, up high in the middle of my chest. No big deal this happens all the time. Slow down a bit, focus on your breathing it will go away. It would come and go in waves so I felt I could run well for a bit then slow down to deal with it. Run well for a bit, then slow down to deal with it. I made the turn in town to start lap 2 of 3. The crowds were awesome and I loved seeing mum and dad out on course. So encouraging all the time. During the next 5km the stitch was really starting to make me feel sick. Something had to be done about it!
I have never done it before, but at the 28km mark, at the aid station I snuck behind a tree and stuck my fingers down my throat. It was not pretty at all….but oh…I felt so much better for it!! Back to the aid station, throw water over me and keep moving! It had definitely helped. But the issue was now lacking that energy and calories that were inside me that I had just thrown up. I was conscious of taking a little extra more time through the aid stations to get in what I could. Coke, water, electrolyte drink, red bull…It was probably not the greatest mix but if it kept me going I didn’t care!
It wasn’t pretty but I got the job done and those close to me know how important that was no matter how ugly. I thank you all for your kind words and encouragement.
Thank you to all my incredible sponsors…I am excited about this year and what is planned of which none could be achieved without your continued support. Rolf Prima Wheels, Ceepo, Coeur Sports, Challenge Tyres, Profile Design, ISM, Ryders Eyewear, Mizuno, BlueSeventy and SwimSmooth. Churchill Cycles, and Tri Town Boise Computrainer Keeping me fuelled GU and Upbeat Beetroot Juices and recovery by Ruth Chang Physio and Matt Booth Boise Therapeutic Associates. And last but not least Coach Jeff Shilt.
What’s next?? It is time to tick something off the bucket list….I am lucky enough to have been accepted to take part in Ultraman Canada. I have 8 weeks to prepare myself for something that honestly scares me sh*****S!!! But I am excited at the same time! Better get to work!!