Wow, what an experience! I was pleased to win a free entry to the Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote via a High 5 competition. I quickly accepted my prize and then decided to research the race. As I looked on the official Ironman website, the enormity of the challenge became real and a little scary. The website reads: ‘Located on the northern edge of the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, the Club La Santa IRONMAN 70.3 Lanzarote is considered by many to be one of the toughest events in the world.’ Arghh!! There was only one thing to do and that was to invite my fellow IronWoman Charlotte to share the journey with me; also I had won a free apartment at Club La Santa so it seemed a waste if others couldn’t enjoy my fortune too. Charlotte had the same mindset as me: turn up off the back of our Ironman training and wing it!
Charlotte and I took separate flights out with my flight taking off 1 hour later as I had to go to work in the morning. It was strange to think that we were in the air at the same time on different flights. We arrived in Lanza and collected the hire car (Fiat Panda) and drove in the dark to Club La Santa. We rested Thursday evening (mainly in the bar).
Friday was a really busy day with registration, collecting our hire bikes from Pro Bike, bike test ride, brick run, visit to Jonnie Bakes for lunch, Olympic pool swim, race briefing, placing bike and bags in transition and the fabulous pasta party. It was at the pasta party where I saw my friend Leroy who joined us for dinner along with an American guy who heard our English voices. I’ve known Leroy though triathlon for some time and this was his third year in a row of doing Ironman 70.3 Lanza. After dinner Charlotte and I tried to get an early night but we were so excited that we stayed up a little too late chatting and having fun!
Race start was 8:05am for us age groupers meaning I had to get up at 5am to eat. We then rested until it was time to go to transition (400m from our apartment) to double check the bike. We were very last minute with going to transition but again we were there to have fun and not take it too seriously.
The swim course takes place in the lagoon in front of Club La Santa. It was a busy and brutal one loop course. I held my own and gave as good as I got. I was kicked in the goggles, bashed over the head but this didn’t phase me. However 300 m from the end I accidentally kicked a guy, I heard him shout Ouch and unfortunately he took this personally and decided to stand up and launch himself onto me, pushing down on both my hips to submerge me in the water. Luckily it didn’t panic me (probably due to the lifesaving drills I do each Tuesday where I feel like I’m going to drown anyway!) After I resurfaced, this spurred me on to finish ahead of him and clock his athlete number!! I remained focussed on my run up to transition.
The bike course was really challenging with the strong island winds and went all around the north part of the island with the stunning 10km climb of 550m up Tabayesco. The views were amazing. Ian Dicken’s had gone through the route with me and gave lots of advice, in particular ‘Don’t fight the wind!’ His advice was spot on except the long 15 ish miles of downhill dual carriageway (LZ-1) into an headwind – it was hell! This bike course was the toughest ever. The 10k ish climb up the mountain felt easy compared to the downhill windy sections. I certainly learnt how to lean into the wind and to ride smart especially when being blown around by the wind. I also made sure that I followed the Ironman 70.3 Lanza first 5 rules of racing which was ‘No accidents!, No accidents! Etc’ The descent from Tabayesco was awesome yet scary at times in the wind.
I’ve certainly learnt that it’s not smart to race on a hired bike. The gearing was Shimano 105 which is different to my SRAM Rival 22, the cassette was different
but the worst thing of all was the saddle: the excruciating saddle soreness started at 25km into the 90km ride – lesson learnt!! I certainly couldn’t wait to get back to transition and to get off THAT bike. My bike time was slow, but so were everyone’s as the wind was horrendous. My friend Leroy said it was really fierce compared to the previous 2 years he had raced the 70.3.
The run course started and finished in the Club La Santa stadium and consisted of three 7km laps. The run course went through the fishing village of La Santa, and certainly gave breathtaking views of the ocean and volcanoes. There was good support at each end of the run which was encouraging. It was great to see Charlotte and high 5 each other on each lap.
After we had finished Charlotte and I had a long massage and decided to collect our bikes and bags. We had planned to cycle the 1.5 miles to drop our hire bikes back to Pro Bike but decided that we were not in any fit condition to do this. So we proved that you could fit 2 road bikes in the back of an old Fiat Panda! Phew. We dropped the bikes off and refuelled with a cheeseburger!
I’m so glad I finished and 9th in my age category – mega chuffed! It was a really tough race and I feel like I’ve matured as a triathlete. I think I need some time to recover before I book another extreme foreign triathlon. I’m back out in Lanza in February for a family holiday so hopefully I would have recovered by then and I might give that bike course another go; hopefully it will be less windy!!!