Monday, 25 May 2009
ironman lanzarote report
finish 10hr45. 7th female (1st age group)
Although there’s no physical restriction once in the water, Ironman Lanzarote’s famous beach start forces 1300 competitors beneath a 6m arch before they hit the ocean, making for one of the most chaotic and violent swims that I’ve experienced. This year the start area was sectioned in to two zones, with swimmers expecting to swim under 65 min positioned up front, a few meters behind the pros, and the inevitable optimistic self-seeding surely contributed to the swathe of swerving, kicking and grabbing swimmers in front and around me. Perhaps I was a little modest with my own swim prediction, having placed myself at the rear of this corral with expectations of swimming around 65 min. In any case there were moments of total panic in the fist 10 minutes where I seriously considered taking a canoe ride out of there, which recurred periodically during the entire first lap. Thankfully the land-buoy at the en of lap one provided an opportunity to make up a number of places and a clearer swim in the second lap. Given this difficult experience, I was pleased to exit the water with 1:03 and some seconds showing on the clock.
The torment of the swim done it was a relief to be heading out on the bike. Off for a ride around the island! We were lucky with the weather as it was a cool and overcast morning with light winds. For the first time I would be watching my heart rate during the bike leg – not as a strict limiter, but using a range a guide to gauge effort based on data from various interval sessions that I’ve been doing whilst training out here. I was not too surprised to see that I was 10+ beats above the top end of this range immediately out of transition, and or about the first 15 minutes. With adrenaline pumping and keen to set off as I meant to go on I rode hard but efficiently until the first descent, about 10km in, where my heart settled to a level that would enable me to start taking in food. My feeding plan was to take on 100 kCal approx every 40 min and following the advice of club-mate Gabriel I would time it with tops of climbing efforts so that the food would be going down during the descent when my heart rate was lower. The wind was relatively kind to us, being light and generally southerly to begin with and though it did pick up during the day, seemed to change direction offering a northerly tail wind on the final stretch of the ride! So, today the wind was not eh most notable aspect of the ride and we were able to focus on riding this great course. Aside from a couple of the pro ladies, who I made strong efforts to stick with, and left couple behind, I saw no other girls out of the course. Non at all after Tara (who’d punctured early in the ride and came from behind) left me for dust after Fire Mountain. I did have a go at staying with her a bit up the climb, but it dawned on me that playing brave with the woman who rode the fastest bike split last year might not be in my best interest! By around half way I was loosing my mojo a bit; found my mind wandering and struggling to keep the effort and heart rate up. I was not enjoying the homemade date nut and ginger bars that I’d packed as my main food and had been expecting gels to be available at the aid stations to supplement these– which they weren’t – so I was low on sugar. Resorting to the ‘white line’ game (the white lines are my tri bars and the road edge marking; its not a very exciting game but it keeps my head down and brings my focus back to the present, moment) to maintain effort along the windy stretch from La Santa to Teguise. The Mother of all Mothers had brought me a chocolate covered marzipan treat, which saved the day and that little boost got me up Haria and del Rio though this was not really my best riding. I made a good snack grab power bar coffee caramel protein crisp bars) at the top of Del Rio, the long descent allowing me to digest the food and with few riders around I had a great, fast descent. From that point on I was passing riders a constant rate, working hard on the flats whist others relaxed and cruised at 28mph with the tail wind. Passing the bottom of Tabyasco, I realized that I had a very good chance of making it back within my target 6 hours. And I very nearly did.
Back in Puerto del Carmen the day and the crowd support was hotting up. The last section of bike route brought us down the main beachfront strip, where we could see the few runners that were already making their way through the four out and back laps. During the afternoon this 5km section of road gets progressively busier, but the first lap is always nice, populated by fit and inspiring athletes getting about their business. Aid stations are well stocked and not crowded like they will become in a couple of hour’s time. My legs felt reasonable as I set off on the run and the crowd support was great. You certainly don’t get lonely during this marathon! I left transition with Gabriel and promptly ran by. Realizing that there were no km markers out on the course threw me somewhat – I had a planned km split pace, and not much talent for judging this without feedback. My first lap was about right- but as the concrete underfoot and sun overhead gathered forces against my tiring legs, I could feel my pace slowing. I judged it to be just over 5 min/km and tried to focus on keeping it there. Having so many friends, club mates, family and generally friendly people out supporting and in the race helped a lot. I wanted to look good and impress them! If you look good running..you are generally running ok, I reckon. But it hurt, and didn’t flow. I was fairly sure of my position in the race by the half way and didn’t feel any pressure from behind to keep me pushing, or that there was any chance of closing the 15 min that Hilary Biscay had on me by then. I really just wanted it to be over, and walked a couple of aid stations to get some extra calories in. the rules of Lanzarote Ironman allow the use of mp3 players on the run course – something that I really am not in favour of and feel it removes you from the experience of the race, let alone making it hard to monitor your own breathing rhythm and foot slapping. But after 2 and a half reps of that course, I really wanted to be removed from the race. Noticing that Hilary was using one too made me feel legitimate and I asked my sister to pass me mine the next time I saw her at the special need station (where support assistance is allowed for 50m). The idea of getting this extra boost saw me through the next 5km and by the time I retrieved it my hour of need had passed. So, aided by techno, the knowledge that my placing was secure and I was only having to see the Hotel Beatrix once more and I’d be eating icecreams, I ran the last lap like the runner that I believe I really am.
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