Ironman Barcelona

Two Iron distance races within 3 weeks… You must be bonkers, yet our Eleanor’s form was so strong, she was up for the challenge! Well we salute you IronE and a 9hr 30 after two huge races is certainly something to be proud of. Watch this girl for 2015…


After being on such a high from my win at Challenge Weymouth, it might have seemed like the ideal time to end the season on a high.  However, with the idea of trying to chase some 2015 Kona points, I entered Ironman Barcelona at the eleventh hour. If you had asked me at the start of the year if I would have envisaged giving this a go only three weeks after another ironman, I would have laughed, but I felt strong after Weymouth, so I was prepared to try it.  I usually like to do one ‘crazy’ race a year. Last year it was Wasdale Middle Distance; this year why not two ironmans in three weeks!

The logistics are pretty easy for Calella and I had been to that venue last year for the Half Distance European Champs race in May.  I find that familiarity of the course is always beneficial to my racing.

After hearing about Mallorca being a non-wetsuited affair the week earlier, and sea temperatures staying high, I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would get to use the swimskin that Huub very kindly provided at short notice.  However, on race day, we were greeted with torrential rain and a thunder and lightning storm. I was just glad they didn’t cancel the swim.

Only a half hour delay – phew!  With a small group of about 20 pro women, I found myself in a group of six, with no mans land ahead. Despite feeling I could have upped the pace a bit, it seemed more sensible to stick in behind some feet and conserve energy for the rest of the day.  I came out to hear the leader, Camilla Pedersen, was nine minutes ahead. Crikey! Turns out she even swam through half the pro men with their two minutes headstart!

The first hour on the bike was pretty lonely, as I dialed into my pace and pulled away from the women I had come out the water with.  However, after the first turn, my jaw dropped at the size of the bike packs coming and knew they would soon be upon me. Of course there were pro women included and I had soon lost my early advantage.  I think everyone experienced the packs and it was very unpleasant trying to manage the situation.  In the end my best strategy was to sit up and pop out the back as they came by, then try to stay legally in contact before letting them go and riding solo until the next pack came by.  Coming back into the turn, I made ground ahead of the group, to get clear road over a few rollers and on the roundabouts with better bike handling than others, but it was short-lived.  I even tried dropping a group by missing an aid station and making a break, but it didn’t last long before they swamped me again, and all I had gained was some dehydration for my trouble.  After racing Weymouth entirely at my own steady pace, this was a whole different experience with alternating high and low power.  I just tried not to waste energy getting upset about it and control my race the best I could.  


Aside from missing some water, my nutrition was going the same as at Weymouth, so I felt positive starting the run.  However, after lap one, all was not well and I had a couple of loo stops on lap two.  After my positive & easy experience at Weymouth (where everything went perfectly), I was mentally prepared to find things harder here. However, it was frustrating to feel like jelly and see my heart rate dropping and dropping when my legs and feet didn’t feel all that bad. I took what courage I could from the spectators – it was great to see so many familiar faces, and I remained determined to ‘Just-Keep-Running’, even if I felt like I had noodle legs. I just couldn’t seem to find the deeper mental strength to override feeling rubbish.

At the start of the last lap, I saw Jo Carritt within a minute of me, when I had convinced myself she must have dropped further back.  Luckily, she never saw me at the turns, otherwise I would have been toast. Instead, I spent the last ten km trying to get my low heart rate back to something ‘steady’ then, in the last 4-5km, I finally found the mental strength to up the effort and came over the line not a moment too soon having run the last few kms at half ironman intensity. Jo was only 15 seconds behind.

Except for the last hour or two, the sun had seemed pretty hot, but I had had the occasional shiver during the run.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but soon after finishing, I spent a few hours hyperventilating in the med tent, and being treated for hypothermia (possibly my body trying to cool the sunburnt shoulders)? As I have Reynauds, my thermoregulation isn’t great at the best of times. Anyway, the doctor looked very pleased when I came round and showed me I was back to 36.8 degrees. Relieved, I lay under my heated blanket until some dry clothes arrived.

So, in the end, 14th place and 9hr31. A great PB to end the year.  I would have been happy with a sub10 finish and 3h30 marathon at the start of the year, so to run that time when not feeling brilliant gives me confidence for next year.  Of course, you learn a lot more when things don’t go perfectly, so I am really pleased I made the decision to race, as I now have plenty of fuel for the fire.  I only earned 40 Kona points, which does not go a long way towards qualifying, so now I need to have an end of season break, and start plotting the next season to find the best way forwards.

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