I’m on the flight home from what has been an epic 2 weeks. I never thought anything would top my first Kona experience but I think the 25th Ironman Lanzarote might have just pipped the top spot. If you read my previous blog I spoke a little about my personal expectations for the race and what I thought was a realistic goal. It’s fair to say my finish result far surpassed those expectations.
In the 10-12 days leading into the race I wanted to replicate the build-up I had in Kona as that worked well enough. Staying at Club la Santa made this all the more easy as you’ve got access to every training facility you could possibly need. It was a surreal experience being there for a race as I’ve only ever been there previously for training camps. It was almost difficult to tell myself to rest/taper as I’m always so eager to get stuck in with everything that’s going on. However once I found the Wellness Centre I was able to utilise my down time perfectly.
A week out from the Ironman race I took part in the Sailfish Lanzarote open water swim in Puerto del Carmen. A 3.8km race on the same course as the Ironman. This copied exactly what I had done in Kona a week out from race day, however this time I knew the field was full of professional swimmers rather than triathletes. I had a great swim finishing 2nd Lady behind elite Spanish open water swimmer Esther Nunez, we used to race each other back when I competed internationally in swimming. (Apparently her daily swim mileage is around 19km, nowadays I’m pretty content with doing that in a week!) I completed the swim in 48 minutes, in which my Garmin calculated as 4.2km in fairly choppy sea conditions, this was a great confidence boost for the Ironman.
The week leading into the event I had attracted a lot of media attention, particularly after my swim performance in the Sailfish open water race. This was possibly because I had said I planned on beating current Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno out of the water and strangely enough quite a few people believed that may be possible. For me this was all good fun, apologies Jan if this added pressure to your race preparations, I know any male athletes worst nightmare is getting ‘chicked’.
The calm before the storm, waiting on the beach before the swim start. Being lined up in the front row surrounded by the pro men was a new experience; cameras flashing in our faces awaiting the heavily anticipated starter’s horn. The pro men were wearing yellow caps with the exception of Jan in a white cap, the pro women were in green caps with the exception of myself in a red cap.
Swimming up in the front pack of pro men for the duration of the swim was a whole different ball game to what I’ve been used to in triathlon. Those men don’t go easy on you, I might be a lady but everyone is treated the same out in the open water. Luckily my experience in open water swimming meant a few elbows in the ribs and kicks in the face won’t put me off but instead will fire me up, bring it on guys! I exited the swim in a time of 47.11 around 18secs behind Jan. He might have beat me out the water but I was out of T1 1st ;-). My swim had given me a comfortable lead onto the bike of almost 8 minutes on the next pro woman.
Going out onto the bike with the lead time car and motorcycle film crews was absolutely brilliant, it took a while for the goose bumps to pass. By the time I had completed the El Golfo loop I thought to myself if I get overtaken now that was bloody cool whilst it lasted. However at almost 70km in when I reached Club la Santa I was still leading and feeling in control, this I had not expected. The same thoughts passed through my head at Teguise village and the top of Mirador del Rio, ‘Am I really still leading this?’ Arriving back in the lead to the most incredible reception at T2 in Puerto del Carmen was a huge buzz. I was instantly followed into T2 by the eventual race winner Tine Holst, this didn’t dishearten me at all as I hadn’t expected to lead up to that point anyway.
I started the run at my race pace, the pace I had held for my past 2 Ironman marathons. Tine quickly passed me but I stuck to my race plan. At the 10km turn around point I was overtaken by last year’s champion Diana Riesler, again I stayed calm and maintain my pace. At around 20km into the run I started to feel good. At 21km I had closed the gap on Riesler and moved back into 2nd place. A fast approaching Alexandra Tondeur then passed and I moved back into 3rd place. A fading Riesler gave me confidence I could hold my position, at the last 5km turn I knew I had a podium place in sight. Eventually crossing the line to take 3rd place in my professional debut, this has got to be the highlight of my sporting career so far.
Post-race take away points:
I would not be able to achieve the level of success I have so far in triathlon without the support of so many wonderful people. Most notable my fiancé, coach and business partner Reece Barclay. He really is the brains of the operation, putting his degree in Sport & Exercise Science into good use as well as being a phenomenal athlete himself, he achievements quite often go unrecognised. Every Ironman that Reece and I have raced has always resulted in the same 30 minute difference between our times. It’s great to see that both of us are continuing to improve and that our training programme has been working.
Reece and I run a successful personal training business which we balance with our training, this is thanks to our very understanding and supportive client base. We also specialise in triathlon training programmes. If you are looking for coaching, or more specifically a swim focused plan then please don’t hesitate to get in touch;
To take away from the race I have learnt a huge amount. The main thing is that I have a strong head on my broad shoulders and I have an absolute blast doing what I do.
Looking forward to the next one, thanks for reading & huge thanks again to James Mitchell for so many ace photos!
Once again a huge thank you to my team managers (Martin & Mark) and sponsors:
HUUB, Compressport, Boardman, Skechers, Moonlight Design, Lazer, Pedal Cover, Active Training World, Iprint Stuff, Hatfield Cycles, Tannus Tyres, Bedfordshire University Sports Science Department, Baker Pringle, Your Town, KAYMAC, GLL Sport foundation.