Stepping up to racing professional Ironman racing is no mean feat. To complete an Ironman takes a serious amount of effort – to race one is a completely different ball game. Eleanor embraced her first Ironman and cracked the top 10 in the female professional field, a fantastic result with plenty to look forward to in the future…
Last weekend was my first visit to Lanzarote in over a year, but on this occasion, instead of a training camp, it was time to delve into the world of ironman racing for myself. Lanzarote ironman is known for being one of the toughest ones on the circuit, so people looked at me like I was a bit crazy when I said it would be my first one. However, my familiarity with the island, both in terms of getting there as well as knowing the course and being familiar with the hot, windy conditions was a big draw for me, as it removed some of the unknowns. It lived up to my expectations! Plenty of challenges combined with satisfying rewards, both in preparation and on the day. Here are some of my reflections:
Swim – 59mins: I had entered as a Pro, mainly for the opportunity to test myself against some of the best in the world, but partly as it was cheaper and meant that, should by some miracle I make it into the top six (yes, I know, what was I thinking?!), there was prize money up for grabs. At many ironmans, being a ‘pro’ also means you get a separate swim start against said top athletes. At Lanzarote, this just means standing knee deep in water with no chance to gain momentum before belly flopping into the sea, then have 2200 age group (mostly) men run down the beach and maul over the top of you. Carnage! At first I seemed to be getting sucked along like being in a shoal of fish. Still, being dunked and boshed on lap 2 was getting a bit tiresome. I decided not to get too stressed, seeing as it was going to be a long day out. So, not the fastest time I think I can swim, but an acceptable start to the day.
T1 04:26: “No no, I don’t need extra suncream thanks”. Failed to do the maths and work out that applying 8-hour sunscreen at 4am was not going to get me to T2 at 2pm in one piece. When offered water, take it anyway, and pour it somewhere. Your sandy feet are a good choice.
Bike – 05:54:06: I thought six hours of sand exfoliation in my shoes with no socks would be nice. It wasn’t as hard to complete 180km as I thought. In training, my maximum distance was about 160km, also in 6 hours, and I couldn’t comprehend how I was going to go 20km more in the same time. Race day, race wheels, race head, smooth roads – that’s how it’s done. Admittedly, at the first marker, ’5km’, I did think to myself sarcastically “ha ha, only 175 to go then!” I was so terrified about going too hard too early that I definitely biked stronger in the second half. That felt good, especially when I overtook two girls who had passed me earlier on. However, having trained with power (plus HR and feel), but racing only on HR and feel, despite my aversion to too much gadgetry, I did think afterwards that I would like to race with power in future. I still don’t know if I could have perhaps biked a bit quicker, but on my first ironman, it was better to play it safe.
T2 – 04:57: “You didn’t take extra sunscreen at T1 – I remember you. You’re having some now”. Bless, she was a star. Sadly, too little too late. I am an eejit. Felt sufficiently chipper after the bike that I didn’t apply the emergency deep freeze to the base of my feet, or treat my face to a wetwipe. I know how to live dangerously, huh?!
Run – 03:39:36: I was pretty pleased when I set off. “All I need to do now is run a 3h30 marathon – how hard can it be?!” Famous last words.
I had been really worried before the race about getting sore like hot coals under the balls of my feet. Apparently, I have little in the way of fatty pads on my feet?! It has been unbearable sometimes in a half ironman and the thought of double the distance made me terribly worried. In the event, they got sore, but not horrendous. My gammy ankle behaved remarkably well, too. This might have been because I wasn’t running as hard as I might have done. Nonetheless, I am thankful that I am not now dealing with an injury after the race. It just needs a little strengthening work whilst I am taking it easy.
Finish: Overall, I have a lot to be pleased with. It was a respectable first performance in a world class field. Of course, it just makes me want to do another race already. Fuel for the fire! Ironman races take a lot of preparation, of that there is no doubt. Some huge thanks are due. I couldn’t have gotten to the start line without the support of my team TORQ, and all our fantastic kit sponsors. Til the next one!
PS finger is hovering over the ‘Enter’ button for Challenge Weymouth on September 14th…!
www.wilier.it – Triathlon Frames
www.ffwdwheels.com – Race Wheels
www.huubdesign.com – Wetsuits
www.zyro.co.uk/altura – Triathlon and Cycle Apparel
www.ismseat.com – Saddles
www.invisciddesign.com – Speedfil Hydration Systems
www.schwalbe.com – Cycle Tyres
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.amphibia-sport.com – Transition Bags
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
www.fenwicks.info – Lubrication
www.kapz.co.uk – Custom Headset Caps
www.racewaredirect.co.uk – Custom Garmin Mounts
www.shimano.com – Groupsets
www.camelbak.com – Bottles
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.joolzedymond.com – Photography