Ironman Lanzarote 2007
There are a couple of reasons for doing this race, its tough and it’s a pre cursor to finding out what Hawaii can be like etc but none of them were in my mindset. Mine were, this was the only European one I hadn’t done and it also gave me a good reason to have a 2 week holiday in a warm resort and thus for Kelly not to be using her holidays again following me around to do another IM.
What then made it a better race to do was a number of people I knew were also contemplating the same foolhardy race, pirates, Chester Tri members and training friends as well. And then to make it better, the support teams starting mounting up, more pirates, my parents, Chester members just wanting to come and watch and use it as a good reason to get a high volume of training in. I was really starting to look forward to the race.
My aims for an IM are never hidden, lots of people are coy about what they want for their times and their expectations based on the training they have done or are doing. I like to set the target and then train to achieve or better it, this is done in the most part by following a training plan that is set by my coach, the rest is up to me. This started to go a little pear-shaped in December when I missed 6 weeks of training but as it turns out not really something that made a lot of difference on the day.
So the aims this year, build on last years sub 10 and aim for Hawaii, after checking the results of the previous years and taking into account the possible conditions it was decided to aim at sub 10:30. Or better ….
Travelling out on the Monday, Gary, Malc, Jason and myself went to acclimatise to the weather and sample the famous wind. We weren’t disappointed; the wind for the first 4 days of us being in PdelC was around 25-30mph and the temperatures around 25 degs. Par for the course, however, we were constantly being told that this was to change for the weekend and that we could expect anything from 3mph to 20mph winds and temps from 17 degs to 30 degs. I slowly started to ignore all forecasts as on the day it wouldn’t matter, however, a quick phone call home to remind Kelly to bring out my low profile front wheel was made on the Wednesday as the gusts of wind on the training rides that week were getting a little hairy on the tri bars.
Thursday saw the arrival of my mum and Roger (the cabin boy), Kelly, Chester support, training mates doing the race and the pirate caravan rolling into town. It was now getting close and the resting hours getting shorter.
I have to say at this point that the organisation of the race was first class, the bike/run check in was painless, the transition areas are well set out, the helpers were all very attentive, answered questions regarding all IM related stuff and if they didn’t know they found out.
I was initially disappointed with the La Santa experience of having to trapse over to the other side of the island to register and the poor selection of IM goodies to buy. The less said about an expo the better, one bloody stall selling IM branded goods, not a first class experience IMHO but the volunteers made up for this hands down.
Sorry, to the race …..
Pre race night is always the same, make sure I have breakfast in, chill out with a few mates the night before, watching a DVD, reading the same cycling mag over and over and then going to bed early. Set alarm for 4am.
Get up, eat brekkie, bread and jam, ham and cheese sandwich, 2 strong coffees and a bottle of Powerbar drink, then settle in for the toilet fuel to work its way through. Apply the P20 in plenty of time for it to soak in and then chill reading for 30 mins or so.
By 5.30 we were ready to walk to transition to finish the set up of the bikes, in a race like this I still had to load up the drinks bottles, fill the bento box with Gels, deflate and inflate the tubs, fill the aero bottle and then get wet suit on and queue for toilet again.
At around 6.30am which is a record for me (too early) I was ready and on the way to the beach, passing through the roped off walkway from swim finish to T1 was great to soak up the atmosphere, not much music in the air but the supporters were already lining the walkway, I said hi to the pirates, parents etc, gave my shoes to Kelly (which I forgot I had on !!) and lined up 3 rows back from the fast swimmers start, I was joined by Chris/Gary/Jason and we casually chatted for around 10 mins while we all secretly peed ourselves in a pretty surreal setting in amongst rubber clad, lycra wearing triathletes wearing goggles and smiling at each other for what seemed an age.
Then for some reason as you do, I remembered what I had handily forgot 5 mins after finishing the last IM….
Why am I here ? I was never doing this again !!
Then the gun went off !!!!!!
I started on the right hand side of the swim start, and as we broke through the inflatable overhead banner I moved about 5 yards further right, along with half the others with me, it was sort of a run but I was looking down and with one arm out in front of me pushing the person in front in a kind of hopping movement to make sure the person behind didn’t stand on my heel.
I ran in up to thigh depth and dived forward, then righted myself and pushed again from the bottom of the shallows to get another few yards on the people behind me still charging into the swell. It was still chocca out this far right but I didn’t want to be too far out and waste the drafting on offer. I got my head down and started the swim with my entry hand always going in palm forward and fingers up so they don’t get broken and I can fend people off with a firm push, it also prevents grabbing people by accident as you swim over them ;-). I also limited my kick to start with so I didn’t take someone out by the chin or mask. I constantly battled for around 500 metres to stay just outside the main channel but not too far right to lose the draft I wanted, I found this a little tiring at first so I just moved back towards the left and stayed there, protecting my clear water if I needed to. The clear sea makes it easy to see feet and bubbles and my own hand entry so I could concentrate on long calm strokes after the far turnaround buoy to eventually get my HR down. It took this long for me to see any wildlife as well or for that matter any buoys !!
I remember thinking ‘where the hell is the first buoy’, but totally missed that following others and saw the far end one first.
The way back to the start was slightly harder and it felt into the current so I concentrated on the bottom of the sea bed and picked up on the each person who came past me to draft until I couldn’t stay with them again. I got out the first lap in 30.18. I heard the supporters including pirates and family but kept head down and waved to concentrate on not standing on anything or anyone ;-)
Back in with a thump and this lap was easier to sight as less people but harder to keep concentration as I start to think of my times and what I had to do in my head in transition and why I hadn’t swum more, I ignored future thoughts and got back to swimming.
I think over the period of my training swimming was the hardest for me as I can’t get out of bed in the morning and then I have to do 2 sessions when I finish work so I find excuses not to swim, most people I train with know I use the excuse that I ‘hate’ swimming, I don’t hate it, I just never seem to get any better and the main reason for this is because I don’t do enough, it’s a vicious circle and one which you will find out later will have to be broken as 3 minutes would have made a real difference and all I could hope to improve in swimming is maybe 2 or 3 mins, well this as they say is the difference between the did and did nots !!!!
Anyway, the swim exit never seemed to get any closer but eventually I rounded the last buoy and could hear the cheering as people were exiting the water, got to a point where I could stand and immediately checked the watch, 1:01 superb, still on target. The run up the beach is only slightly longer than the Nice IM but across covered sand, plenty of time to recover out of the water but tiring, the supporters were making up for the drudge to the road level.
OK, as most will know I like technology and this year was no different, I was going to use a Garmin 305 for the run, cue trying to work out how I was going to get it set up in T2 so it picked up the satellites quick enough to give me my pacing splits straight from the T2 bag, wasn’t going to happen as once you are moving it takes age to settle down, only thing for it, has to be on the bike first, right, that means I can use it as a speedo, cool, downside, it only has a 10 hour battery life and I am heading for 10:30. Bugger, that means I can’t switch it on until I get out of the water, which means waiting for it to pick up the satellites again, arrghhhhhhh !!!!
Anyway, I decided on the following and stuck to it.
I raced into T1, had a path from entry to tent worked out, that was fine, got into tent, took a few more seconds to get off the wetsuit than I planned, the helpers then started to put sun tan cream all over my neck and shoulders while I put my helmet on and the 4 gels in my tri suit, stuffed the wetsuit in the bag and exit the tent. Run to bike, switch on Garmin and then remove the shoes from the pedals and while the computer searches for the location put them on and exit. By the time I get to the mount point the computer is working and I am off. 5 mins in transition by my standards though take a bit to swallow so forget it and carry on.
I use the same strategy again this year as last, I have used a power meter all year kindly lent to me by Ken Davenport, cheers mate, but decide the race needs to be done on HR due to the possible heat and climbing affecting my efforts so I remove the power cranks and rebuilt bike with standard cranks.
The aim is to break the race into 3 x 60km chunks and do heart rate ranges of 140-145, 145-150 and 150-155 for the 3 chunks but on the climbs use perceived effort but never go over 170 which is my threshold limit. It works for me and keeps the pace even as the race goes on my heart rate rises for the same sort of speeds. Feeding wise, take a gel every 30 minutes and take a water and energy bottle at each feed station and mix them to taste in my aero bottle, easy !
I pass Gary within a mile, find out later that he was haemorrhaging bike spares on the beach road and had to stop to pick them up, he was out before me by 2 mins as well but I made a minute on him in T1. I wasn’t to see TC again in the race as I found out he was forced off the road by an opened car door after the Timanfaya climb into the lave field which damaged his bike. He was still only 2 mins behind me at that point so I am sure would have gone on to have a good race. He has a place for next year though, good man !
The bonus for race day was the change in weather, the winds had dropped to around 10-15mph and they were SouthWesterly (I think) so the complete course changed because of it, the climb out of Puerto Calero wasn’t too bad, and waiting at the top for us was the Chester boys who were to pop up all over the place while out on their bikes supporting, the run to the El Golfo peninsula was very fast even into the wind as it was downhill which meant the climb to Timanfaya came round very quickly.
Normally this climb would have had wind against but today we had it in our favour and slightly across, what wasn’t helping however was the stream of coaches thundering up the left hand side of the road punctuating the cyclists and slowing others up, nearing the top though my thoughts were interrupted by rain !!! RAIN !!! in Lanzarote !!!
Forget the cold I told myself, concentrate on not getting blown off the road and get your head down, this part from the back of Fire Mountain to the new section at Tiagua was superb, I had to push as I knew I had to take advantage of the wind behind but also keep the HR down
Up to Tiagua I saw Debbo and Bryan which was a shock as I forgot they were on the island for some reason, then the new part of the course which after riding the old part was actually a good change, superb roads, few climbs and one part of shite road but in all kept the interest high. I went through the first 60km in 1:50 which was surprising at first glance but when you think we had had the wind behind for the majority of the way and had only done 1 major climb it was about right. The middle part of the course along the LZ-30 road when the wind is blowing the other direction can be a right b*stard but today I was trying to keep the speeds in check with the HR and pushing out 30-35 mph on the flats, I knew it wasn’t going to last so I pushed a little harder than I should right up the rise into Teguise. The Chester guys were here at the monumento de Campesino which was good to see and I remember JB and Dave around this point as well.
This was about the halfway point, I have no idea what time this was but I went thru 60 miles in 2.52 so I know the second half was slower. The second 60km is the climbing third, the climb up to Los Valles is the hardest I found and was a slow drag, this was where the heat was felt the most, wind on your back but travelling slowly meant that heat build up pushed the HR up but I know I needed to save more for the last 3rd and the Mirador was looming up next. After the LV climb comes the ‘dreaded’ switchbacks of Haria, so instead of doing my usual of descending like a loon I had a pee, all the way down, that kept the lunatic at bay and meant that the bit I could really push on after the switchbacks to Haria town I managed to top out at 49mph, racing a police bike for the best line. I managed to keep him behind me for about a mile and a half ;-).
Haria is a lovely town only spoiled by a left/right chicane at the bottom of the descent meaning I couldn’t carry the speed through to the next climb, this was a bit of a bugger as well, and not long afterwards was a little bit of pave as well to shake the fillings out of you.
All this was doing was prolonging the inevitable climb up to Mirador, to be honest, if the wind was the other way this would have been a lot harder but today it was just a climb with a kick at the end and spectacular scenery, to look over the wall on the left as you crest the last main bit of climb and see the top for the first time is breathtaking and worth the trip on its own. The support here is very good though and a pleasant reward for toughing it out.
Just after here is the 120km point which I got to in 3.42, still on track for a decent time but I could sense it wouldn’t last, couldn’t put my finger on it but it was there in the background, and then it hit me, the wind, what we hadn’t really experienced up to this point was now in my face and at around 15mph it wasn’t as bad as it could have been but I seem to remember us studying the race profile and thought the first 20km of the last 40km was uphill, how wrong can you be ………. It was further than that !
The descent down to Arrieta is the last time on the bike I actually felt comfortable, apart from some Slovakian tw*t trying to draft me all the way down the Mirador descent (cue T de F styley road swerving to lose him on the way down !) it was very pleasant, once we got across the roundabout though at the bottom it became a very different course, from here to Tahiche was all up hill and into the wind, I was concentrating on pushing a solid gear while trying to maintain around 17mph but my HR wouldn’t climb as my quads were hurting so I wasn’t able to raise the power levels enough to balance the both out. So I just went on perceived effort for my legs and tried to keep the speed constant. One other thing now bothering me, which it shouldn’t as I have raced for many years was a pack of guys about 200m in front of me blatantly drafting like a damn chain gang, and I know at least 2 of them were in my age group who by now I was starting to think about for qualifying. I needed to keep them in sight but I just couldn’t get near them and I was pushing too hard to try, so I just went back to slogging it out, getting out of the saddle and then resting the quads in the saddle and slowly they all disappeared.
Tahiche was good place for a welcome cheer as my support crew had met up with the pirates and a few others and were busy discussing when I would be through when I breezed past them all and blew Kel a kiss, was good to see all and get a boost.
This was just at the right time as the next bit of road was the worst, Tahiche to Nazaret and up to the main road again was uphill and the road surface was terrible, the bike was shaking so much I thought the carbon wheels would snap and I was doing well to keep both bottles in the cages. This part took forever but led out on to the main road to be greeted by JB and Dave again, cue more climbing up the monumento de campesino against the wind, more support here again as the Chester guys had camped here all day to make sure they saw all of the Chester entrants and cheers everyone else on too.
I really hadn’t seen the extent of climbing we still had to do, I had 20km in my head but it just went on forever and ever and by the time I had worked out when it would end I could already see the point of the hill rise that we had to get to and it was about 23 miles covered. I was aching all across my quads but I was going to reward myself with a good pee at the top of the hill just you wait lol !!
Well all good plans etc, I just couldn’t pee and wasted about a minute or so pedalling and then slowing to try and then again and again so I just gave up and enjoyed the ride home. The descent onto the beach road was great and we had done it a few times that week. I managed the last 3rd of the bike in 1.59 and felt I had worked harder than at any point so far to get that so getting off the bike would be interesting.
I had to fumble around to get the Garmin upclipped, change watches and then undo shoes and stand on them as I came into T2. Time was 5.41 for bike split. Still on target.
As I approached the transition I could hear a few shouts of support from the Chester girls which was a good lift, I stepped off the pedals and shoes and handed my bike over, I ran for my bag, into the tent and dumped everything on the floor, this is a technique I gained from many years of IM lol !!! Just dump it and sort it out around you. I always put talc in my run socks and then flick them to coat the insides with powder so they go on easier, this also happens to cover everything and everyone within 5 foot of me but they didn’t mind. Put more gels in back and hat on, glasses on, shoes on, more sun tan cream and then off. T2 took about 3 mins which was a bit better but can be improved.
I knew what I had to do to break 10 ½ hours as I was coming out of T2 at 6:50 on the clock, I need to get under 3:40. However, this year I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as last year and just go for what I needed, I was going to get the best time I could as I knew every minute would count.
Last year I had got to 2 laps on the run at Germany and with 7:58 on the clock I knew all I needed to do to break 10 hours was to do 2 x 59 minute laps, which is what I did, however I missed out on a slot by 2 minutes and 2 places as I went for time and not to do the best I could. Not this time.
The Garmin was set to give me a readout of pace/distance/HR and time. I needed to average around 8 minute pace for the run to get a chance of the split I needed, so as last year I set off how I felt and the pace settled about 7:30’s.
Feeding again was gel overy 30 mins and then take what I wanted or could stomach from the feedstations, they were by the way SUPERB !!! well organized, only one or two drinks were warm, the people on them were friendly, always had a smile and a load of them were Scots and English which was good to hear on the day.
My strategy was to run non stop for at least 2 laps and then if I felt OK to keep running through all aid stations until I felt I need a walk, so at the first toilet stop I decided to have a pee !!! Well I actually turned in where the portaloos were and instead of using one, didn’t quite make it and used a bush. Immediately there was a marshall next to me giving it large in Spanish about what a tit I was and how could I have missed the 5 portaloos standing 4 yards away from me and if I didn’t move along there was a yellow card in it for me, so I just kept peeing and saying ‘Lo Sciento’ (sp) and expecting him to go away, which he didn’t until I stopped peeing and carried on my merry way. This kept me entertained for at least ooooohh, 3 mins when the pain settled in again ;-)
I was maintaining a reasonable pace for the most part but the rises in the road were starting to slow me down so I used the pace guide on the watch every time I slowed to get me back to speed which made me concentrate on running upright and falling forward to let gravity do its job.
The turnaround, which we hadn’t been to in warm up was MILES away it seemed but in reality just the longest 5.25km ever !! I now had a time for the first turnaround and the idea was to try to keep it consistent, I knew this would hurt but just kept thinking, put one foot in front of the other and don’t look at peoples armbands.
On the way back I started to see familiar faces coming towards me, Cman/Cmans friend/Malcolm and then the supporters, the pirate suit is a great eye catching garment but after a while I couldn’t respond to everyone vocally so had to resort to waving a pathetic kind of ‘I’m free’ sort of hello sailor effort just without the conviction !!
The turnaround near the finisher chute was electric, I wanted so much to be finishing but 3 more to go, more cheering from the crowds, first lap in 51 mins, happy with that.
The second and third laps are the hardest but this is where the supporters come into their own, even if you don’t get a response the lift it gives you to hear your team or name called out is beyond description, any ‘pirate’ shout or ‘Rosey’ ‘go Nick’ from friends or strangers is superb. I reached the halfway point in about 1.46 which I knew was slowing but within the limits I set in my head.
It was at the end of the second lap that the now infamous telling my supporters to ‘f’ off incident happened. I was on my way to the turnaround, about 300 metres out when I heard ‘hi honey, Jeff says to keep your nutrition up’ so I stuck up the V’s. It was the first thing that came into my head, what does he mean keep my nutrition up, what do they think I am doing here ..!!!!!
However, by the time I had got the turnaround and then back to the place where they were waiting again on the 3rd lap I had recovered my sense of humour and apologized by blowing kisses, only to then have the response ‘Is this your last lap honey ??? How many more to go ??!! Bloody hell, what race were they watching, I later found out that they didn’t know if it was a 3 lap or 4 lap run. So they set off for the stands to make sure they got me at the finish. A sherpas lot is never an easy one, shout encouragement and helpful hints only to be given short shrift back, sorry, I really am, and not enough can be said for them on the day and leading up to the event that the family and supporters give, so thanks.
I also think the issue here is nothing more than what I call ‘externalising’ This basically means that someone (ME) will do absolutely anything to remove pain from my mind by blaming everyone else for what I am going through, I was in a lot of pain in my quads and I was hot and bothered but to remain calm I was removing the thoughts of anything that could get in my way by putting them onto others, either that or I am a miserable git during the race !!!! ;-) which I know I am not.
Lap 3 was also when I started seeing all of the others, Lewis, Alyn, Sarah, Nick (although to be fair he was lying on his back in the middle of the road !!!), and Alan. I also realized that age groupers around me where competing for my slots and I had to stay focused, the cheering never abated which was superb and I completed the lap in 55 mins, at the turnaround I got a huge cheers from my supporters and others who couldn’t make their mind up whether I was finishing or not but had pretty much worked it out from the time. Then they sat there trying to work out what I needed to get back before 10:30.
The last lap is where I think racing previous events helps and also managing to push harder and think of anything to help you mentally, ‘its only 6 miles, that’s a walk in the park’, ‘ come on, you do this for fun and you know the distance !’, my aim was to pick the person in front of me and chase them down, I was getting faster (so I thought) and I knew that once at the turnaround I had a 3 mile jog to the finish, I also started looking at race numbers and Age Groups, I picked off one more at the turnaround and set off to find anyone with 3 bands.
The last leg was the hardest, I knew it wouldn’t last long and I could stop in about 20 mins or so, I ran through the aid stations grabbing coke, last sugar rush to get to the end.
I was seeing all my mates on the last lap, all giving me encouragement as I was finishing, at this point I was passed by Simon coming in to finish on the bike, who hurled abuse at me ‘Come on Rosey, I thought you would have been finished by now’ classic line and great timing but he didn’t get too much of a response either because at that point I saw my next target.
I was about 1km out and there was someone in front of me in my age group with 3 bands, his number had turned in the wind so I knew he was a Hawaii target, so I turned mine to the front so he couldn’t see it and moved my bands down my arm to my hand so he couldn’t see me as a threat.
As we went through the last aid station I decided that was it, head down, I ignored the last aid station completely and set off as if it was the first lap again, I passed the Chester supporters who later said I looked in a little pain, I didn’t look back until I was halfway down the chute, I could see the time was 10.27 something, I was going to make the sub 10:30 and I had seen off another 35-39’er, superb …..
My supporters starting yelling at me as I was milking the finish, someone was racing me, I panicked as I thought he was my age group and set off in a sprint with him, we covered the whole finisher chute together with him just having the momentum to get there a split second sooner. It turns out he was a different age group but I was spent, I didn’t care now, nothing I could do. Run time was 3:36, ecstatic, I couldn’t have done more on the day.
Bryan was there at the finish to pick me up, I wasn’t feeling too cool but mixed emotions about the time and how I felt along with thinking did I do enough to mmmmm, I fancy a drip, never had one, yep, gonna have one of them ;-)
Got into the tent and actually had 2 drips. Meanwhile Bryan had got me the provisional results in my age group which put me in 12th with 10 slots and one of the people had said no.
The next 16 hours or so was a roller coaster of will I/won’t I, people texting and ringing to see if I had done it, they were checking the results and my placing kept changing from 11th to 13th and the slots were 11 etc etc.
It all comes down to this, if you want to qualify you have to finish in the slots, there were 10, I was 13th in my AG. Its not enough, the next stage is a lottery to see if others claim the slots.
Anyway, I missed it, by one slot, it rolled down one place as well but in the end it was 3 minutes, 2 in the swim and 1 in T1. Or anywhere else you want to add it or take it away. I recovered pretty well though and am already planning the race for next year to try again.
Just a quick thanks to all of the supporters from Chester, pirates, family, on the course and at home here in the UK that either knew us or didn’t, it made a hell of a difference. Thanks. Rosey