Ironman Lanzarote: 23 May 2009
Non scoring runners
Well I may as well be the first to tell some stories from the battlefield that was Ironman Lanzarote.
The main thing I think with Ironman is getting to the start line in one piece. I was lucky in my training for this one and actually felt ready for it, even cocky.
Race morning started at 4am with breakfast number 1 which was a double portion of porridge. I then basically lazed around drinking coffee and watching BBC news while getting ready. Things did not feel real at this point, I guess because I was still waking up.
I then started my walk down to the start line where there were quite a few people coming back from the previous nights revelry slightly worse for wear. I did laugh when one girl wished me luck then promptly stumbled and fell over.
The start area was awash with nerves. People were everywhere,including quite a few strangely happy looking Serpies, either we are so tough as a group that we were not phased by this race at all or we are such loonies that we cannot grasp what is to come. I vote the latter....for me anyway.
I made my way to the swim with Paul Jenkinson and we were just chatting really, then we met with Richard Jones and the conversation continued. Suddenly we were off.
The swim was chaos as 1500 loonies swung their arms and legs around, I am certain that the only thing on their minds was to sink Gordon Hutton. Anyway I remember having fun in the swim and seeing lots of bright and strange looking fish, to be honest the swim never felt hard to me, though obviously I was not at the front going for the win. The swim took 1 hour and 22 minutes.
Transition 1 was manic. It was such a long way from the water to your change bag then the change tent and further to your bike. In total this took me over 11 minutes an no I did not stop for a coffee and a chat, though I did have the photographer from 220 triathlon (Stuart Holt) tracking me throughout the day so there was a friendly face to chat to.
Now came the bike course. My trusty steed, my Weapon as it has become known. Well it took only 11 seconds for my computer to crash leaving me effectively riding blind with no power or timing data, thanks Ergomo, actually if ever I meet Mr Ergomo I will hand him back his paperweight and politely demonstrate where I think it should be mounted, bend over Mr Ergomo. I digress. Anyway they do not call this the toughest Ironman in the world for nothing, I was quite literally blown away at how tough I found the conditions. The weather gods were never on our side. Ahh you think...the wind is blowing South, I can be helped by this in a minute when I turn South....Wrong. How this is possible I don't know but the wind basically followed the bike course in your face. I only managed to relax at the kilometer marker 175K. Well that was a lie as well. It took another 35 minutes to do the last 5K, even at my pace thats too slow. I can't describe the relief of riding into town ready for T2 and the run 7 hours and 46 odd minutes after I got on my bike. At that point I would have gladly thrown my bike in the sea rather than racking it.
So now the run, I had no chance, my legs were shot and I had blisters that were actually bigger than my feet, again not sure how that is possible but it felt that way. Tip....wear socks on the bike. The run was pure survival, I just had to walk and jog a bit whenever I could. I was so upset at this point because I have worked so hard on my running over the months building up to this. If I wasn't so macho I would have cried when my legs would absolutely refuse to do as they had been trained to do. I did actually enjoy the run though spending time with other people who were suffering as much as me. I can now say this is sh*t in 6 different languages as well as I think I am crazy, how about you? The run was a 4 lap course out and back along the sea front. The highlight for me was getting my bum pinched at some point, I believe it was by a woman though at that point I was in a bad way and found it hard to tell the difference. Also seeing so many people drinking beer and the ever stronger smells of steaks coming from the bars I was walking past made life seem quite surreal. Edi ran past me on my final lap and I was filled with awe, respect and a good dose of envy. She was all smiles and bounced off into the darkness in front of me. I just had to dig in and follow slowly. I knew the next time I saw her I would also have a big smile on my face. The run took me over 27 hours.....maybe longer, well this is how it felt anyway in actual fact it was 6 hours and 15ish minutes but after being on my feet for that long I couldn't actually care.
The finish line in an Ironman is something to behold, even for someone who managed to drag his sorry ass round the thing in just under 16 hours. I felt like a superstar running/hobbling down the chute giving high fives and loving the sight of the finish tape in front of me. In my mind I just won the race, for a second anyway. I hugged Edi spoke to the race director for a while who is such a nice chap. He asked me what went wrong and in the great humorous way he has, he told me how he expected me to be finished hours ago and asked how I felt about being beaten by Edi? I couldn't think of anything funny to say so I laughed, shook his hand again, thanking him for an amazing experience then headed to the massage tent, through the medical tent and all the people on drips and into the worlds smelliest massage tent where I met Richard Jones. Never in the history of the world has a man looked so comfortable and happy as Richard looked on the massage table. I couldn't wait for mine. I had 3 people work on me for over half an hour rubbing away my ambition of ever doing Ironman again.
I salute all of you crazy folks and look forward to seeing you on the 70.3 circuit........now back to eating.
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