Close call for James at Ironman Lanzarote

August 1, 2010 | Author:  

Having spent the last couple of years doing fast courses such as IM Austria, IM Arizona and Roth I thought it was time I did a ‘proper’ ironman. I’d heard stories about how epic IM Lanzarote is but apart from a package holiday with the family when I was about 8 years old, I’d not been out there. But, I got my entry for Ironman No. 6 in and booked a place on a training camp based in La Santa for the following february.

It turned out to be the coldest winter in the UK in a LONG time so a week sunning myself and being able to do nothing but eat train and sleep was just the ticket. I was also blown away by how cool (I nearly said ‘awesome’ then ;) ) the ironman bike course was. As a stronger biker (relative to my swim and run of course ;) ), it seemed to suit me well and the variety of terrain and views were spectacular. I’d also met Richard Hobson who was organising the camp and as I was thinking of going down the coached route decided to see if his mystical coaching powers could get me back to the Big Island of Hawaii in October.

I flew out to the volcanic rock a week before the race with Kasia my fiance and we were lucky to be able to save some money staying with Tom Newman (who was also racing) for the first few days before both our respective families arrived later in the week. The idea being to get acclimatised to the heat which of course, as luck would have it wasn’t there til about a day before the race.

It was great spending time off work though. Lazing around eating Tapas and having someone to get out for rides on the bike with and swim some laps of the swim course prior to race day. Unfortunately for Tom, a knee injury he’d developed in training had got so bad that he was pretty sure he’d be walking the entire marathon on race day.

Day 0 – May 22nd 2010
The morning began at 4.30am. A breakfast of porridge, banana, toast and coffee was followed by the drive down to transition to get ready to race. I pumped my tires, caught up with Pete, Tom and Thomas a friend from Germany then generally faffed around still half asleep.
First mistake of the day was fannying around far too much prior to the swim start. I didn’t realise the start funnel was so narrow so got down there to find myself stuck behind 800 or so other athletes. I had planned to start near the front to tag onto the feet of the quicker swimmers but after managing to wriggle forward past 2 or 3 folk I was stopped in my tracks by the sheer density of people so I gave up and settled in the huddle.
A few minutes later the horn went and we were off…. though it took like what seemed like an hour of shuffling towards the water (in reality probably only a minute or so). From the beginning it was a struggle making my way through the neoprene masses. Elbows and feet flying around, goggles leaking, the usual fun.. with the nice addition of salty water this time. I tried taking the direct line next to the buoys but it was a nightmare getting any clear water so ended up going wide for some space which meant I could relax more, get a rhythm and avoid swallowing too much sodium chloride. I hit the end of the first lap and my watch read 34 mins which was a real disappointment, however by the time I got out for the second time, the official clock read 1h01 which is a one minute PB (overall: 263; Age group: 55) so I was pretty chuffed. I’d obviously forgotten that I started my stopwatch way before the start..
Through the showers, wetsuit off, into the change tent, a lathering of factor 50, up the ramp and the long run up to my bike. It was great to see my fiance and uncle shouting support and I was feeling confident, ready for the section of the race I was looking forward to most.
I took the first 10-15km pretty easy and although I was reeling many other quicker swimmers in, I was also getting past by a few others. One of which, a very amusing moustachio’d german guy riding with a disc on the back and zipp 808 deep section front wheel came past me with his head tucked down and was breathing out his backside like he was in a 10 mile TT. Unfortunately for him he failed to see the huge pot hole in front of him, hit it square on and flew off into the scrub screaming like banshee as he went.
Stu Anderson who has done race a number of times had recommended using some big gearing to take advantage of the long downhills and the 55-11 top gear I was using as a result made cranking along at over 30mph very easy indeed and by the time I’d hit Timanfaya (fire mountain), the number of riders in front of me was beginning to thin out hugely.. I’d also overtaken a couple of guys I know who I know were gunning for kona so I was in good company and on schedule.
I had been hoping for the gale force winds we’d experienced earlier in the week as I thought this might slow down the quicker runners, but it was oddly calm. In fact the calmest day I’d experienced on the island and I knew it would be a quick bike though with the sun now blazing I was concious the run later in the day would be nowhere near so pleasant. …read more