Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ironman Lanzarote 2013

The race day started a bit later than at other Ironman races due to the race starting at 7am which meant a 4am breakfast!! Decided not to try anything nutritionally new on race day for breakfast and had porridge and cup of tea.

This gave me about an hour to try and relax before going to the race start area.

I then headed out in the still dark, cold and brezzy conditions, not sure if was early or dark clouds. I had a nice 1km walk to the start area including a steep descent.

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I then put the drinks bottles on my bike along with GPS and another cycle computer. I then pumped up my tyres (deflated them while spending a day in the heat) and then handed pump to my support crew.

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I then handed my my street clothes (post race) in along with my cycle special needs bag and drinks for the run.

It then RAINED!!

At least it cleared the queues for the toilets, some of the people I spoke to said they weren't expecting that here at this warm weather race. I then put on my wetsuit with still 15 minutes to go, it was so much warmer.

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I then had my normal pre-race drink of torro rosso (Red Bull) to fuel up for the next about 90 minutes of swimming.

The start was a lot narrower than normal as you passed through an inflatable arch, rather than the normal wide beach start. So hopefully will be less of a scrum start and swim.

The start of the race by the princess of Greece mentioned the announcer, they must have been on holiday on the island.

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The race started at 7am in the light rain and Chariots of Fire playing on the PA system.

A video of the start from YouTube.


It took me about a minute to cross the start from the position I took on the holding area.
took about a minute to cross start. It was a less congested start to an Ironman swim than the others I have done but still got hit and kicked.


The swim was a two lap swim (1.2 miles / 1.9km each lap) with a bit run along beach in between.

I took the start a bit wide to the ride to avoid the worst of the kicking and punches but still got hit a few times particularly near the first turning point.

It was clear blue water and you could see the bottom of the sea until halfway round the lap when it was a bit deeper. Still was a nice dark blue/green rather although did have tinted goggles on.

After the first turn point there was a longer section  which I was getting in to a nice swim rhythm but still getting a lot of hits with most at the far turning point.

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We then turned back towards the beach and started to see some fish!! Did they not realise there was an Ironman swim :-)

We the turned left back along the coastline. This was a nice swim section as getting hit less often. To help with navigation I was following  the small sand dunes on bottom of sea with more strokes between sighting for the buoy and big arch at the swim exit.

I completed the first lap feeling ok. I walked the small section on the beach clearing my goggles and then dived back in the sea to start the final lap. I don't think I got lapped by the leaders either :-)

It was starting to space out now, so less people to hit or draft (following the bubbles). By the time I got to the far end of the swim there was a few shoals of fish (small fish and slightly larger) so I got a bit of a move on at that point.

It was still looking like dark clouds and raining (although had tinted goggles on). As I was also preparing for the next phase I had two ideas of what to wear for the cycle as the first part of the cycle was were the dark clouds were.

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At the last turn towards the beach I started to kick a bit to get my legs ready for the walk/run to transition.

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Luckily I was not that disoriented from the swim.

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I finished the swim in 1:25:53.

I did not push too hard as had the tough cycle and marathon still to do and try to minimise the use of my legs in the swim. However I did enjoy the swim.


I then took the top part of the wetsuit off and walked through the cold showers to get rid of some of the salt from my skin.

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I then got my bike bag and headed to transition zone 1 (TZ1) which was the big tent on the beach.

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I decided to go with more layers due to rain and was a bit cold, plus the always windy conditions.
The options I choose were light weight and tops had zips so I could adjust to any changes in the weather. I was glad I put the arm warmers and long sleeve cycle top in the bag, its better to put it in and not need it than need it when its in your hotel room or back home!!

The buff scarf  I put on my head on head to minmise the wind and rain cooling me down too much after the cold sea swim. I also put on compression socks as I thought I needed all the help I could get for the bike.

For the few bits left exposed to weather I got suncream applied by the marshals. I had a sore neck due to friction burn in swim, I winced a bit when they applied the cold suncream lotion.

I dropped the bag at the exit to the tent and headed up the slope from the beach to the bikes on the road above. I remembered the location due to the landmarks I had picked out and ran with my bike the mount line  which was just after the finish line.

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The transition took me 16:33.

This is only slightly longer for me than normal due to the long run from the sea to the transition and then to the bikes. I'd rather spend a few minutes ensuring I have everything for the long bike than forget something.

The bike was wet, which the parts that concerned me was the handlebars, tri bar support pads and the cycle shoes that I had left already clipped in to the pedals, hopefully it would dry out later.

I pushed the bike past the mount line with about 5 others around me. So I decided to just put me feet on top of the shoes and pedal to get moving for about 50-100m so I had a bit of space to get my feet in to the shoes. Luckily these were my tri cycle shoes which only had one velcro strip to tighten but also had more breathable which as a side affect had let all the rain in, doh!!

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There was still some light rain but the roads looked slippery particularly the painted lines.

The route was out along the main road next the sea which was well supported for a mile or so. There was a few roundabouts then we turned back past the town and the wind hit for the rest of the day, what a shock!!

There was already some people turning back.

I was not going to stop even in the wind and rain, the race organisers would have to pull me out of the race either not getting to the timing point (likely) or injured by falling of bike or lack of training (equally likely).

There was plenty of marshals at the junctions for directions (was also signs) and traffic control. The police was also there at busy junctions and on motorbikes all around the course. You then cycled along the north edge of  Puerto del Carmen up some gentle slopes which already felt tough in the wet and wind. I was starting to struggle a few miles in to the cycle, it was going to be a long day particularly on the cycle.

We then went through the El Golfo loop which had lava fields and coast with the crest of the waves going high in the air, plus also a strong north wind for about 15 miles. The first time I had been to this area of the islands was nice scenery (although similar all the way round this section).

The aid stations where about every 15 miles a bit over 1 hour of cycling for me. So I had a bottle of concentrated energy drink mix, which should last half way round taking sips as needed. The other bottle had water plus a salt (and other minerals) tablet in, this bottle I would change when needed at the aid stations.
The aid stations also alternated between having half a banana or half an energy bar, which ever was available I had.

They also had a red bull and water mix which I had for about 200m from the aid station before dropping in (near) the provided bins. I was trying this new nutrition during the race, surely this would not have side effects. My thoughts were I needed the caffeine to stay focus on controlling my bike in the weather conditions and staying on the road as most places there was either cliffs, lava fields or cactus to land on!!

After this lava fields section there was a long and fairly steep incline, in to wind as well. I was in a low gear doing a max of 8mph!!

We then got to the camels in Timanfaya National Park which was a good point to reach for me as I have done the next 30-40 miles a a few times on the training camps I had been to on this side of the island.

After the long steady climb there was a long steep downhill section with a bend half way down all in a side wind. I was managing over 30mph not check my speed that often as was concentrating staying on the road with tilting my bike in to the wind. The traffic was restricted in this area in to the national park area I could go a bit faster and not brake as much as I dared to.

The next bit is my usual favourite cycle route as a smooth (like most of the roads) and relatively flat after the big downhill which you normally get a good speed going. However it was a lot harder than normal due to the side wind.

At this point we were heading past blanco moutain (white mountain), yet more lava fields and cactus with a few more agricultural land (sheltered areas with volcanic ash soil).

Most villages had support as we went through them and we headed past the football stadium which I think they are called el volcanoes.

There was then the long fairly steep descent in to La Santa village. There was normally a fast section doing 30+ mph with brakes on, however due to the headwind I was in top gear pedaling hard to reach 15 mph.

There were a few speed bumps in the village at the bottom of hill (blue) which luckily I remembered and got over them ok. I then went past the la santa pro bike shop which was closed and then past the edge of Club La Santa which there was some support at the roundabout where there was a sharp right turn.

There was then a short steep incline to Soo, which I always struggle with but was a bit easier with a tailwind. There was also some more speed bumps through this village but these were the last on course.

When leaving the village was a fast and long descent to Famara. I was on the aerobars for bit until the side wind picked up and then hold on tight at a tilted angle. This was the only section of course with a soft landing (apart from cactus) although the sand was likely baked hard.

Then headed through Famara and the sand drift on the road on the exit of the village. Which you then saw the flags on beach out full in the wind and plenty of suffers out in the waves.

The next section was a long incline of about 5km heading inland, luckily it was tailwind not headwind. As this was exposed to the elements apart from the big ridge to the left which had an observatory on top of it. To the right side was a large goat field (sand) that no barriers and was a large area, I think they must have been herded in to the goat farm in land.

We then headed through the old capital Teguise with some short but steep sections through the town narrow roads but did have some support.

It was then out to the BIG Hills / Mountains!!

I had split the cycle course in to 3 sections, a 50 miles warm up, 30 miles of  BIG inclines followed by a 30 mile recovery section.

The next section had some long inclines at a steady incline which was just a warm up to the big incline at Los Nieves. It had a nice couple of hair pin bends first so you could not get a good run up the main incline. There was lots of bottles dropped at the bottom of the incline instead of carrying the extra weight up to the top.

I was in good pedal rhythm at the time, I had also done this section a few times before in training. However I was nearly out of drink but I know the special needs aid station was at the top (more motivation to get up)!!

Only a couple of people overtook me up the incline but I overtook more :-)
I was in a low gear doing about 8mph but paying attention for the side wind, as it was a big drop down the cliff edge of a good few 100m.

I got to the top :-)

This was the highest point on the course and biggest total climb as was effectively from sea level, so the rest are easier so I thought. I stopped at the aid station to get my special needs bag (ocho dos nueve = 829). It's amazing how 6 small lemon filled biscuits (mmm) and coke (regular not diet or zero) 500ml tasted at this point. I also had a replacement energy drink (high concentration) there which I was just about out of the previous one.

There was an awesome view from top of towards the south of island while I was having my mini picnic.

It was starting to get warm at 30c, so I was taking my arm warmers off :-) Only to put them back on when the temperature dropped or exposed to wind section.

I was now on uncharted course for me on the island.

The next thing was hair pin descents down the other side of the mountain with wither big drops to the side or 4m high solid rock. There was some longer straights of about 100m inbetween the bends so had plenty of time to get speed and position right for the next hairpin. Luckily the wind was not an issue as mountain side protected us from this.

We then went through the village Haria and some other small villages which there was some support.

Then there was a short sharp hill some people were already starting to walk up, I just made to top without stopping but was out of my saddle plus some zig zagging, I could feel my heart rate was on the really high side and puffing for air. The top was just at the entrance to the tropical gardens, not sure what the difference was to the rest of the island.

Then on to Mirador del Rio which was the second biggest incline (total height) and also the furthest east on course. So we were on the way back then :-)

It was starting to get steep and I was overtaking some more people and putting and big effort in. I then turned a corner and the mountain was three times as long and even steeper than the section I put a big effort in, DOH!!

Using all my remain power at that point as it was the last major incline and got to use some 3d trigonometry (zig zagging to cut the angle of attack) being careful of wind at turning points plus the other traffic (police bikes and doctors cars). There was a steep 500m drop down the cliff if got it wrong or cactus field on the other so no margin of error!!

BIB0829 Ironman Lanzarote 2013 Mirador del Rio BIB 829 BIB829 by Fotoscanon in flickr.

Finally I got to the top wooh and as a bonus there was aid station as well.

It was a great view across to the Isla la Graciosa, looked tropical blue sea.

However was just about moving at this point on top of Mirador del Rio then there was a right turn and start the descent. I had to drop the extra red bull bottle as the road was a bit bumpy and starting to lose control, plus I could see there was a doctor and ambulance up ahead so decided safety first. I had enough fluids with me I thought to the next one about 15 miles away.

The descent from here was long down towards the south coast but the wind was affecting me more than else were on the course so I needed to stay focused on my bike handling which was not helped by now getting fatigued. I managed to get down to a flatter section and could get a bit of a rest from gripping on the handlebars to the aerobars along a long section of main road. After about 15 minutes of not seeing any race signs or others I was thinking I missed a turn. But luckily I then saw another cyclist with an Ironman race number so I was on the right road (or they also missed the turn).

Then turned off this road to Nazaret and was starting to get de-hydrated here as this section seemed longer between aid stations and warmer. In the end was then only 1km away from aid station so stocked up here and took a brief brake from cycling to stretch my legs before the worst road on the course (and island) it was called the donkey road. I was hoping Jesus (there was 9 taking part) would pass me on this section on the donkey road out of Nazaret.

It was a couple of km of bone shaking cycling, I got to the end of this road and my bike was still together. Then the road took us through the middle of the island towards San Bartolome which we passed some vine yards and yet more inclines and even more wind. It was starting to feel close to the end now and I still had about 2 hours to the cycle cut off time :-)

At the last aid station top up supplies and threw my empty bottle in the net and scored (ola) volunteers witnessed and ola'd, I was in a good mood I WAS going to finish the bike in time :-)

Then we turned back towards the coast along a fast but narrow (only a car width) winding road but really enjoyed it. Before we turned back along a main road in head wind towards the town. With the last few km along the seafront with plenty of support, as by now there were people on run with winner already finished.
I just had to be careful that people did not cross in front of me a knock me of the bike but I got through that area.

Not far to the bike dismount line I got me feet out of shoes and on top of them for a quicker transition. I crossed the line well ahead of the cut off time by over 1 hour :-)) I was well happy just a nice marathon left to do, simples!!

I then handed my bike to the volunteer and ran off to the run bags at the far end of transition without any shoes on!!

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The cycle took me 8:26:07.

Included below is a video from Youtube that has some more of the cycle course.


I then found the transition 2 more easily than thought in the morning as they previously had some bikes there in the morning.

I changed trisuit and socks with remembering to put on my timing chip again (I have forgot before in other triathlon). I put my hat on but kept the arm warmers in my back pocket as was still hot and sunny. I got lots of sunny lotion applied before I left the transition area and dropped my bag on the exit to the tent and started my Garmin. It was 1/4 mile before got to the finish line from there and that was not the full length of transition.

This transition took me 14:48, it was a long transition area and I made a pit stop.

Now just the marathon to do and my favourite part.

The run course was an out and back laps, with the first being just over 10km each way then two shorter 5 and a bit km each way. The laps were on the same route and aid stations every mile and bit.

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There was lots of support along there run start and finish area and even spotted my family in the crowds.

I took my special needs bottle on the first aid station at 1km which was water with salt tablet. I thought being along the seafront it would be flat but there was some short inclines.

The plan was to run as long as I could manage with walking 100m either side of the aid stations to get fluids and nutrition.

However I got to about 3 miles in to the run and I had to start run walking from there :-(
The about  two liters of water and red bull (slightly fizzy) on the cycle had given me a dodgy stomach, who'd have thought trying something new on race day was not a good idea.

Plus the bike took out of me and the out section of the run was in to headwind!!
As a bonus as you went past the airport some planes below more air and sand (stuck to sun lotion) on to you.

There was some nice small villages along past the airport past Playa Honda towards Arrecife (capital), plus plenty of beaches with people sunbathing and taking it easy. Not forgetting the numerous pubs/restaurants you went past on each lap but some of the people did cheer you on as went past.

I was so glad when got to furthest point of the run it seemed to be never ending in the distance. At least there was some tailwind to help on the way back. I was starting to take more frequent walk brakes although the run sections was at a faster than marathon pace though.

I got back to near the finish line and was given wrist band and starting the 2nd loop (only a bit over a 5k parkrun each way). I saw my family here and was starting to struggle but not letting them know how bad, as they would have tried to talk me out of continuing. No chance of that apart from in an ambulance.

The walks were starting to get more frequent and longer with a lot of people overtaking me. The sun was starting to set and was getting a bit colder. So I decided to put the arm warmers on over the top of the sun lotion, salt and sand mix that was on my arms at this point.

There was still plenty of people out walking or at bar or restaurants supporting and was even some music at the shorter loop turn around point which you could hear when you got close.

It was starting to become war of attrition, stopwatch gone to clock and how long to midnight and can I make it.

One of the hotels was even starting to give out soup in cups (was not tomato so could not have it).

I got back to the finish area which had a downhill before the more crowded area so I looked better before the slight incline. Then got the final wrist band  so only just over two parkruns left which gave me a boost but still had a dodgy stomach.

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Once out of the main area I stopped running was was doing more walks now in the dark with street lights marking the route.

You know its near the end or you look in bad state when they were giving me chocolate and salami baguette at one of the aid stations (what they were given) as they all had plenty of food and drink left.

The other triathletes were starting to spread out now as people had been finishing and done their laps and the rest were also suffering.

Finally I got to the far point for the last timed thanked marshals (gracias). Then as I crossed the timing mats, the beep of the timing mats sounded great, ON MY WAY BACK just a parkrun!!!

I started to push myself and take less walk breaks as it will all be over in about 30 minutes and they had a first aid tent at the end.

I walked up the last few inclines and I think I ran the last 1 or 2km non stop, not sure if was adrenaline or thankful it would all be over soon.

There was still lots of crowd left as they had been watching some of the event on the giant tv screen and dancing to the music. I was able to see my brother in the last km and he was just able to run ahead of me to other family.

I think I raised my hands as I crossed the finish line (not exactly sure as I was a bit gone at this point) still managed to stop my Garmin. I got my finishers medal and photo, then the race director congratulated me for finishing.

I COMPLETED IT :-)))

I completed the marathon in 5:28:06

With a total time of 15:51:25

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Included below is a video that my brother made of the day.



Included is a long (40 minutes) video of the event found on YouTube, I even on it.


My performance analysis to follow....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pre Ironman Lanzarote 2013

There is only one way to start the trip for the epic Ironman Lanzarote, a spot of Champagne in the airport executive lounge, the cherry cake was good as well.

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The following day after landing I then had to put my bike back together, some how it all fits back together!!

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Not sure what happened to all three of support crew that came over with me at this point, I think they must have been sunbathing.

I even got my hands dirty!!!

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Just to acclimatise I was doing 4 a day pool swim sets followed by a spot of sunbathing to get use to the sun, warm and windy conditions.

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The next day we had to go to Club la Santa for race number collection and the expo.

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Starting to feel REAL now, NO turning back!!
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While waiting for race briefing I did a nice run around lagoon at CLS pacing my brother, it was faster than he was used to and in strong wind (as usual). He had nothing left for the 400m sprint finish on the track :-)

I was then representing Team United Kingdom at parade of nations.

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It started on the athletics track, through the expo, than the pool bar area, lagoon pool, pasta party before heading in to the stage area in the centre of the complex.

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Included below is a video found on Youtube of the parade of nations including the drummers that lead the parade around nearly all of Club La Santa.



In the end I did not win the free bike that you got entered in a draw for taking part in the parade.

On the coach trip back to the other side of the island (where the start is) we saw some of the cycle course, it looked so much easier in an air conditioned coach than cycling.

I then had to pack the race bags with enough kit options for really hot to cold plus combinations in between. I then took these bags to transition area (TZ) along with my bike.

After security and safety checks I got to rack my bags and bike.

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The bag locations were clearly located and numbered plus with my pacing strategy I should find mine easier.

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I then made a note of the bike location, as can be a bit confused after a long swim. There was only one really tall street light in the area and it was close to my rack to identify it.

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The transition 1 area had a long run up beach to the bikes area, the incline was steep without doing a swim first.

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Was not exactly sure where transition 2 for the run is as was along the road apparently, however I should easily find it about 10 hours in to the race.

After this all the race logistics had been done, so just had to chillax but starting to get a bit nervous.

For pre-race diner the team chief cooked pasta with some vegetables!! It was nice relaxed eating out on the patio, however still thinking about the busy next day.

Setting the alarms for 4am to get pre race breakfast, I then went to bed early. This was a lie in compared to other Ironman races as was a late 7am race start (normally 6am) but had up to midnight to finish (with varous cutoff times).

I managed a few hours sleep before the alarms went off. After some breakfast and drinks I then headed off in to the early and dark cold morning to the race area to start the sightseeing tour of the island.

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Now the Race..