Even after approximately 11 months of hard training, coached by the amazing Steven Lord of Everyday Training, I was still nervous!
Lanzarote weather had been peaking at 40 degrees during the week, so packing involved as much ‘cooling’ and compression wear as possible.
We arrived on the Thursday, and despite major delays with baggage and hire car collection, we made it to Club La Santa for the end of the race briefing.Â I hoped I hadn’t missed anything too important!Â Time then to assemble the bike.Â Friday morning I met with fellow Everday Training friends and had a short swim – no jellyfish and lovely and warm! Then 30 min bike (with obligatory coffee stop!) a few issues with slipping gears, but all sorted by the friendly local bike shop.Â A quick 20 minute jog with my boyfriend, then the rest of the day to pack transition bags and sort nutrition.. it took a while! We racked the bikes at 6pm, and despite a couple of pre race wobbles, I felt quite calm and went for a big pre race meal and an early night.
Race day morning, 5am, my support team rolled into action making porridge and coffee, plaiting my hair, administering sun cream, all sorts!Â We walked to transition, me crammed into wetsuit already sweating, them carrying pump, food, drinks, 101 other things.Â It was still dark and the buzz of activity was crazy.Â Transition was so long it took 10 minutes to walk end to end.Â I bumped into half a dozen friends stretching and prepping their bikes, loaded my nutrition onto the bike (I had kept bottles and food in the fridge overnight to hopefully keep it cool during the ride for as long as possible) and headed down to the beach.Â I warmed up briefly but the sea was like a bath, so I made my way to a start position in the 1700 strong crowd.Â I couldn’t find my friend (who is quite little!) but found Simon Jackson and his 6ft+ height about 4 rows from the front.Â I had planned to say hi and good luck, then move back.Â Oops. Claxon went and we were off! Too close to the front for my liking, but despite a ‘free for all’ in the first 400m with people in every spare inch of water, the speedy set moved off leaving loads of clear water for me, and a great ‘wake’ drag to pull me around.Â I was enjoying the swim so much I noticed starfish, divers, circling helicopters, had to struggle to keep focused!
I ran out of the water 1hr 10mins later, stripped off wetsuit at the beach shower, then into the transition tent.Â Quick administer of chamois cream and sun lotion, then a run up to my bike.Â As I set off on the bike it was making a strange noise, so before I’d left Puerto del Carmen I stopped at the mechanics station for them to loosen off a brake pad that had been knocked in transition.Â Then we were under way again.Â I took on as much food as I could early on, and collected whatever I could from the aid stations.Â Foolishly I started on the energy drinks too early, and had a great sugar rush as I reached El Golfo with its crashing waves and gusting wind, then had an incredible sugar crash – dizzy, wobbly, sick – you name it, I felt it.Â Having experienced this in training I knew to ride it out, not take on any more fluid or food, just let my body stabilize itself.Â I came back to life after the Famara slog and was energised as I reached Teguise and saw my support crew cheering!Â Having got the wobbles out of the way and ignoring glute aches and niggles, I reached the mountains and went off like a rocket!Â FINALLY! To be able to put some speed down and climb was amazing, and I ended up overtaking a few on the way.Â Was surprised to hear some people asking “Is there another mountain to come after this one?” REALLY? People hadn’t even looked at the course map it seems… I took advantage of this, the sun was out but not blazing, the wind was there in your face all the time but not gusting or across and kicking you off the road, it was superb.Â I stopped between the mountains at the Special Needs station for flapjack, Canary potatoes (cold, salty potatoes – great carbs!) and a Redbull.Â The rest of the ride flew by! A chance to see my supporters again just before Nazaret, dodged the potholes and was on the home stretch.
As we approached Puerto del Carmen it was good to see everyone shifting in their saddles, all in pain and tired and wanting to get off the darn bike.Â What wasn’t good was the heat.Â The wind died, and someone opened the oven door. Bam. Heat in your face. Uh oh.Â I came in just under 7hrs 30 – half an hour faster than I expected.
Back into transition the volunteer support team racked my bike and I was down to the tent to change shoes and get more factor 50 gloop.Â It was literally like yoghurt.Â We all looked like albino aliens, but it was needed! The first leg of the run felt great.Â SOOOO good to be off the bike! I saw a lot of friends coming in to finish just as I was starting (!) but it was great to be able to cheer them on.Â The first long leg took forever! But regular aid stations kept me going, holding ice cubes, tucking cold sponges into my tri suit – anything I could do to keep cool.Â I saw my support team at the turnaround point and was spurred on, even though my pace was slowing.Â I experienced ‘band envy’ for the first time – as you pass the finish for each lap you collect an armbandÂ and I was desperate to have both blue and yellow and be coming to the finish!
- As the heat sapped my energy I took on coke/water mix, but stomach had had enough and wasn’t happy.Â I plodded on, no chat left for supporters.Â It started to get dusky, the sunglasses went on the head, and I just wanted to get home. My supporters ran along side me every time I came towards the finish, and on the last effort I was downhill and going for it.Â The elation to be in the finish chute was crazy.Â Â A poor chap was having a lovely finishers photo with his proud wife, and I’m ashamed to say I shoved them both aside to cross the line in 14hr 05 mins.Â Then the tears came.Â The medal went on, it was so bloomin heavy it hurt! Then a can of iced tea (?!) and a hug and words of congratulations from the founder of the original Ironman race – inspirational.Â Then what to do?! I stood like a sobbing muppet for a moment until the brain came back to life and I headed off to collect bike and bags.Â
The volunteers were amazing, helped with everything, and then I was reunited with my now exhausted supporters.Â What a day.Â Not quite as fast as I’d hoped but I had made it – no injuries, disasters, mechanical issues, sunburn, and I was an Ironman at last.Â Time for pizza and red wine!
Ironman have just launched a 70.3 in Lanzarote… so guess where I’ll be heading this November….!