• Rachel Rutherford

IRONMAN Lanzarote

So where to start. Ironman Lanzarote 2019.

We flew out the Wednesday before race day, which quite uniquely for this event was on a Saturday. Never uneventful, we ended up going to the wrong airport parking, luckily we left early enough that it wasn’t too much of a problem. Then at the correct parking the guy tried to tell me I couldn’t take my bike on the bus, which didn’t provide much amusement as I was already worried we were going to miss the flight. However, once we got to the airport it was a smooth flight out with a large thud as the plane landed in Lanzarote.

If I’m honest the fact that the registration was at Club la Santa was quite a big inconvenience. While there were shuttle buses put on they weren’t frequent enough and I am very glad I came early enough so as not to have the stress on the day before race day.

On collection of the race rucksack pack, we actually got a free (🤔) water bottle, buff (probably not to be used on race day) and some red bull. Being around so many other competitors really added to the experience, the days before race day seeming to fly by even. My family also flew out on the Thursday.

The day before race day you typically want to try and keep off of your feet but I didn’t do too well at that this time. Racking up a solid 25k steps before finally going to bed. We met my family and strolled through the expo and popped for a smoothie. The one thing that did surprise me about IRONMAN Lanzarote, there was no official IRONMAN merchandise store, which was quite disappointing from a competitor point of view.

After going home to pack the bags it was time to rack the bikes. I had been having slight gear issues but didn’t want to fork out 40 euros for a full service. Luckily Shimano had a tent and last minute the gears were properly sorted out which provided a lot of stress relief. Big thanks to the guys at Shimano for that!

At this point I was also starting to worry I hadn’t done enough as there was a crazy number of people people cycling running and swimming all over the place. Whereas I on the other hand, had been for a very short swim in the sea after a few very light days.

After a quick jump in the hotel pool that the rest of my family were staying at (enter very rare bikini entrance) it was time for dinner and an early night.

After my race morning shower, porridge and coffee it was time to walk to the start. I know I was nervously jabbering the whole way stuck half way between being excited and absolutely terrified. Much unlike Wales the start was a bit of a free for all only really taking any structure about 5 minutes before the race start. The positive in this being there is less time stood on your own so less time to get worked up into a bundle of nerves. I also met the other girl in my age group at the swim start, and she did my wetsuit up for me.

I don’t have much to say about the swim. I knew the other girl in my age group (Renee) was a better swimmer than me and my only plan was to get round in one piece. The sea was very choppy, and I swallowed a lot of the salty water. The swim seemed to go on forever and I was out of the water in around 70 minutes which was about 7 minutes slower than my counter part. Entering into transition her bike was already gone so I just had to hope I would catch up on the bike.

I was lucky on my entrance into transition as I changed right by the bucket of water for washing your feet, no sandy shoe rubbing for me. Big thanks to the volunteers in transition that lathered you with suncream which went a lot way to limiting the sun burn at the end of the day.

Now 112 miles with your own thoughts is a very long time and Lanzarote, well known for the mental winds, heat and hills did not disappoint. We were however very lucky to have a slightly overcast morning. The views were spectacular and I thoroughly enjoyed being on the TT bike, and somewhat glad that I had swapped to the roval wheels from my road bike for some slightly shallower rims. There were a few minutes where I was nervous about coming off so didn’t stay in position but as the race went on I became more confident in the bars.

It was slightly frustrating at the feeds as the water was supplied in Buxton bottles, which became much of a challenge when trying to put them in the bottle cage. A few times I opted for the bright blue liquid that seemed to taste of watermelon, just hoping that my belly wouldn’t have any adverse reactions.

I finally caught Renee on the climb up to Haria which was a great moment. I knew if I could keep my lead on the bike it would be well within my ability to win the race. Later that evening after looking over the splits it was evident that Renee put her foot down after I overtook and she actually only finished about 3 minutes behind me. I was over the moon with a 6:53 bike split, a lot of work to be done but also a lot of progress made.

As I rolled back into Puerto del Carmen my mind switched to the impending marathon. We were now moving into the heat of the day and god did I know it. Annoyingly I had been unable to actually wee on the bike today, but was way too competitive to stop mid ride, so going into T2 I was very desperate..

More suncream was lathered on my face and neck by volunteers and I readied myself for the next 4 hours. I had 2 goals for this marathon: to run the whole thing and to complete it in under 4 hours. The course was a pleasant one, 6 miles out, 6 miles back, 3 miles out, 3 miles back and then 3 miles out and 3 back to the finish line. Easy to break up in the head.

The run was pretty much gel, water from feed over head and sponges down the trisuit. This only changed as the race went on to any fluid that I could get from anywhere over the head and in the mouth. I saw Renee on every single stretch but my family informed me she was losing time in every lap.

If I’m honest this was one of the main things that kept me running. The Kona spot was well in my grasp and my motto for the race became; girls who walk don’t get Kona slots.

My pace did slow as the marathon went on, and considering the lack of run training I have been able to do this year due to injury I was hardly surprised. I was cheered on by so many people during the race which really helped my keep pushing on.

Top tip: if you want more support during a race become a girl, then every guy will shout at you in disbelief you are so far ahead.

Reaching the final turn was the best feeling in the world. Just over 3 miles to go and I could run down the red carpet and claim my spot. I did my best for a sprint finish to the line arms in the air.

When you stop after finishing an event this long its such a bizarre feeling, its like the world suddenly stands very still, as what you have achieved slowly starts to sink in.

My family bought me a post race mojito, but I only managed to drink a few sips as my stomach couldn’t cope. Quite a rare occurrence for me, not being able to finish a cocktail..

After a restless nights sleep we met my family for breakfast and headed to La Santa for the Kona roll down.

I can honestly say this has been one of the most amazing experiences and I cannot wait to race at Kona later this year. Big thanks to my mum, step dad, sister and Toby for coming along to watch the race, all the guys from Off That Couch Fitness for their support and cheers during the race, my coach Steve Clark, Ceri (my landlady) for her constant encouragement when training wasn’t quite going to plan (and the prosecco on my return), my dad and step mum for everything, and all the volunteers at the event which made it possible!

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