At the beginning of May, 4 members of Havering Tri raced at the 5th IM 70.3 Mallorca - the largest 70.3 in the World with some 3700 athletes in total, and this year, possibly the wettest... these are their collective thoughts.
What was the atmosphere like on the morning of the race? How did you feel?
Nikki: It was wet ! So wet in fact that we looked like we'd showered and we're still standing in the cubicle!! But it was so so exciting!!!! I'd woken up way too early but wasn't tired even one little bit. Laying there listening to everyone's alarms start was wicked! Wakey up timmmmme.
Eat x I had taken porridge pots with me so nice and easy. Toast toast and more toast and a cuppa. The taxi met us all at the end of the road! Thank goodness Lee could speak some Spanish lol.
I wasn't nervous x bit weird really as only did this distance for the first time last year. I was super calm :).
Laura: I woke up to hear the pounding of the rain on the villa, I got up to check that I was not hearing things and opening the door to the dark outside world – it was pouring with rain, absolutely chucking it down, Cats and dogs… I have never raced or really ridden in rain that was quite as persistent as that, if I had been home it would have been a turbo day. It put a different sense of foreboding on the morning. I was going into this race knowing that I was fit enough to get round but a long way off my peak fitness, this was a training event for me and up until 5am that morning I had been fairly relaxed about the whole thing but rain – I was in Mallorca!!
I travelled down in my wetsuit as this was the only thing that was going to keep me dry. We were staying about 2miles away from the start and called taxi’s to collect us arriving with plenty of time to do last minute checks, in fact we got there too early really and find shelter waiting until it was time to go down to the swim start passing time trying to stay warm (weeing in our wetsuits), Facebooking and watching the rain.
Graham: I always wake on race day with a huge sense of foreboding – a combination of race day nerves and a ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline rush… but that’s what feeds my addiction to the challenge of long course racing.
If I’d been on my own, the rain and the cold would have literally dampened my spirits completely (we were in Mallorca for Christ’s sake), but having my team mates with me gave me something else to think about and keep my mind occupied. Just making pocho’s for everyone out of bin bags kept my mind from wandering, and helping to check that everyone had everything they needed. We anticipated closed roads and trouble with transport but as it happened, the cab service was spot on and we got to Transition early to put computers on bikes and bottles in cages. How was the atmosphere? Well, one word can describe it – subdued. The rain was simply torrential and everything, and everyone, was soaked through.
We wandered to the swim start on the beach, but it was deserted, and the paths were flooded so we sought shelter under an awning behind the seafront, out of the wind and rain – passing the time by weeing in our wetsuits for warmth which was childishly amusing.
It was only later we realised that we’d taken shelter next to Sex Shop…
Lee: ¡Hola! Buenos Días
Well that's about as far as my Spanish gets me...
Waking up at 4:30am & hearing the rain outside was laughable...if I didn't laugh I would've cried! And I think I would've done if I was on my own & crawled back under the duvet. I'd signed up for Mallorca planning to do my 1st 70.3 in the sunshine!
But the 4 of us together & our Super Supporter Kay made light of the situation & put on our game faces (and our bin liners) ....what else could we do, we couldn't change it!
With c. 4000 competitors, transition & the swim start was busy, all you could hear was rustling of plastic bags, waterproofs & anything else people were using to keep dry. We were there nice & early so once we checked our bikes & kit we sought solace from the rain outside a local business....we later realised the safe haven that the 'rainmaker' had led us to was an erotic shop.
Wetsuit & hat on, bag dropped...the stomach churning nerves escalated. I'm always nervous with the adrenalin & anticipation of any race but with a triathlon my weakest discipline & what I feel most apprehensive about is first up... & this was my first 70.3... & a sea swim... i knew I could swim the distance but the buoys seemed so far away. Luckily it was a rolling swim start so less carnage of a mass start...I just wanted to get in & get it over with so I could go & have fun on the bike & run!
What part of the course did you find the toughest?
NikkI: Which part did you most enjoy?The toughest bit was the bike. I was worried about this bit from the moment I actually looked at the profile ( after I had signed up !!! Wally) 10km then start climbing ...then keep on climbing till you get to the top! The top was a long way up 15km of hill climbing x which wouldn't be a problem except I climb hills at 4mph. Even little ones :) I needed to be at the top by 12.30 pm. I didn't get into the sea till 8.55 am as it was a rolling start. Gotta love a challenge lol the bit I most enjoyed was the finishing funnel ;) that would be a lie. I loved it all x I just can't believe it, every time I get to do this. It's the most incredible thing! Hence the constant grinning lol.
Laura: I found each part tough for different reasons, Swim was tough as although it was a rolling start and there was not the ‘washing machine’ effect, I did continue to catch up groups of people and got very frustrated trying to find a path through people, I have found that Sea swims seem to be much more full on… pushing shoving and people swimming in the wrong direction! I was glad to get out the of the sea and jogging into transition to be grabbed by helpers to check if I was ok as I was covered in blood was a little scary but I just wanted to get on with it.
The bike was maybe the part I enjoyed the most as it was the part that I thought was going to be the toughest. The ride up to the mountain at 12miles was fairly flat and it was easy to get into a good pace. Then hitting the bottom of the mountain at 12miles I knew that it was just a matter of grinding out until mile 21… those 9miles went from about 4% to 10% thorough out the ride, although at 15miles you suddenly go down and initially I thought yeah – I got it wrong its over but then back up again!! At the top of the mountain – everyone was cheering – now I knew that I was at the top. Coming down the mountain was my least favourite part of the bike and I was praying for sea level so I could start to work again, it was just so cold and seemed to take forever.
The run for me was really tough my lack of fitness showed here and I really had to push/pull myself around those 13.1miles, I was frustrated with myself for not being about to keep 10min miles but you learn and I need to train harder on my run I know that now.
The part of the race I enjoyed the most was sharing the whole experience with the team... Achieving something amazing and getting to share that with friends is something you cannot buy.
Graham: 2 parts were tough for me – I am a fast descender on the bike and coming off the mountain should have been a very quick affair for me. I lost my nerve in the wet though and my inbuilt sense of self-preservation took over. I have seen too many crashes in bike races to want to take risks and the thought that all that was stopping me hitting a wall and going over the edge was 4 little brake blocks on wet carbon rims made me very cautious. I know I lost time as others were flying past me but I just kept saying to myself, it’s not worth the risk.
The 2nd tough part was the first 10K on the run – I’d only worn my tri suit and calf guards and bike shoes for the ride, and after being hosed with cold water for 3 hours, the blood supply to my feet and hands was restricted. I couldn’t feel my feet for those first few K’s and I hate that when I am running. I warmed up though, so it wore off…..
What did I enjoy – well, whilst the conditions were not the best, I loved every single second of that race – as I have said before, it’s the challenge that has me addicted to long course. What did I most enjoy – sharing that experience with my wonderful team mates – I have raced with these guys a lot and we have shared our experiences together. That is priceless and for me, that has created an unbreakable bond. I am proud and privileged to call them my friends. Knowing that Kay was there to provide guidance and cheer us all on, and knowing that all of Havering Tri would be watching on social media was a massive boost.
…dancing ‘til 3am at the after party was pretty cool too :).
Lee: The swim was tough for me because of the trepidation it conjures up! Simple as that!
The bike was tough because of the climbing... it's when everything is silent except for the clunk of gears & heavy breathing that you realise that you're on a tough part of the course. Then hurtling down the 180 switchbacks on wet roads with only a 2ft stone wall to stop you from beating the top speed on your garmin you really did have to be cautious... what the hell! How hard could cycling downhill be! This is where I was planning on bringing my average pace back up!... Famous last words... I had to keep my usual kamikaze attitude under control. It was a technical descent... watching what you were doing, where to make the turn & at what speed, working out what the people in front were going to do & whether the squealing carbon brakes you could hear on the TT bike behind you were going to kick in or just wipe you out. Cautious LD did pretty well on those technical bits then almost wiped out on a completely innocuous corner 9 miles from the end!
The run was pan flat & the support was amazing in Alcudia... Hearing strangers shouting your name & encouraging you really kept me going! The atmosphere around Alcudia town & the beachfront, despite the atrocious weather, was fantastic ...gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Running is my forte so in my head I thought I would be able to comfortably run 8min/miles... unfortunately my head hadn't consulted with my legs... getting off the bike my feet were cold & numb & my left Achilles was throbbing (an old injury)& they were already to shut up shop & head to the bar! Once I started running I realised that 8min/miles were now a pipe dream & it just became about finishing... I was putting too much pressure on myself.
The whole IM experience was amazing... it was physically, mentally & emotionally tough but I'd do it all over again at the drop of a hat. It would've been a very different experience without the awesome 4 people that were there with me - so for me that was the best part (yeah I know, I'll pass the bucket)
How often did you train in preparation for Ironman Mallorca 70.3? Did you focus on improving a specific area?
Nikki: I train loads. Honest. Well quite a lot ;) I have trained right through the winter which I would say was the best thing and has had the biggest impact. Bits stop hurting when you just keep going ;) my biggest focus was the bike. The chances of me practicing a sea swim beforehand were minimal ( this was my first ever sea swim! Very salty!) I did the Kentish killer ( in the rain!! Surprise surprise lol) back in Feb which was perfect training for this. I would say enter as many events as possible to practice everything before your main races.
Laura: As I mentioned before Mallorca was a training event for me and I know that I was far from fit for this race, what the race highlighted to me was my weakness and what needs focus… my running has been neglected and that showed – I need to look at my training schedule and maybe make some tweaks to ensure that come July – all of those elements have come together.
Graham: This was a pre Lanzarote Ironman training event for me – but I wanted to hit it hard to see where my form was at. I have trained all winter in all disciplines and have included a lot of strength and core work. You cannot be in peak condition all season, let alone all year, so I have phased my training very carefully.
A shoulder injury prevented me from swimming for a month in mid Jan so I’ve worked hard on that since I recovered. I know I can improve my run, but I am very wary of a recurrence of an overuse leg injury that stopped me running for 3 months in 2014/15. I cannot to over-do it and I listen to my body – I have too at 48 lol!
Lee: I tend to train in one way, shape or form 5 times a week... sometimes this is just a 40-45 min HIIT or core workout in the gym before work. In the lead in to Mallorca I was trying to do 2 sessions of each discipline where I could & devised a training plan to keep me on track.
The bike was where I knew I could make the most gains so I was using the Watt bike at the gym, my turbo at home & doing leg strength work. The training camp in Lanza also gave me such a strong base to work from... my swimming & biking benefitted so much from the coaching I received there.
How did the club training sessions help you to train towards this race?
Nikki: Swimming drills are always important. Still can't believe I couldn't swim a length of the pool when I started this adventure ! The most important bit about attending any of the club sessions is the people x you are all awesome x.
Laura: Club session help to keep me motivated and have helped to maintain a base level over the winter. I was pleased with my race because although it was slow – what it showed me is what I can achieve on my base/build level and what I need to work on over the coming weeks.
Graham: The club sessions have helped me massively – both as a coach and a participant. I will never underestimate the benefit of training within a club environment. There will always be someone more experienced than you, someone quicker than you and the knowledge you can gain from that is invaluable.
I’ve almost got a new motto – train hard, race easy… (racing is never supposed to be easy, but you know what I mean)
Lee: The club training sessions were great - they provide a structure & focus for your training. If I was to swim on my own I'd just swim as many lengths I could in the time I had... which isn't always the best use of time & I certainly don't push as hard. The best thing about the club sessions is the opportunity it gives you to talk to your team mates; to listen to their experience & advice, to share any problems or worries you may have about an upcoming event
How do you feel the race went? Are you happy with the result?
Nikki: Hell yes ! I crossed the finish line before the cut off.
Laura: Taking everything into account, I gave everything that I could that day and considering the conditions (both weather and me) I was really pleased. It is my slowest 70.3 to date but maybe the toughest one that I have done to date too.
Graham: The swim was good – I love being in the sea and the conditions never phase me. I felt like I was motoring on the bike, I was passing dozens of riders – and yet my time wasn’t where I wanted it to be at. I think my caution in the wet added minutes to my time as did the climb, which was longer than I expected…
Lee: I'm over the moon that I finished my first 70.3 & so chuffed with my IM medal. It was such a fantastic experience & I was lucky enough to share it with 4 amazing team mates. Seeing everyone on various parts of the course gave you such a buzz & a lift... seeing Laura on the bike 9 miles from home, High-5ing Pops on lap 1 of the run, hearing Kay shout my name as I started my run & seeing Nikki as she came in from the bike leg. Add all that to the feeling of sprinting down that carpet... amazing! We had such a great time... Who needs sunshine!
Me being who I am means that just finishing is not enough for me... 6:14 was slower than I'd aimed for & I will do better.... I'm determined!
How have you been recovering post-race? Do you plan to race any more middle distance triathlons in the near future?
Nikki: Recovery included ham and cheese toasties and alcohol x and dancing till quite late ! I think this really helped with any lactic build up! You think I'm joking? I had the most fun. Doing this with awesome people made the event itself. I am so grateful for all you mental people lol. Next 70.3 is on 12th June in Denmark with dave Sherman. It finishes in legoland! How cool is that ???!!!
Laura: I have had a more relaxed week but the plan was never to recover from this race, I like to have platform to bounce into the next phase Training camp was one and Mallorca will be one, I have about 8 weeks until my A race, with 2 more 70.3’s before then at Outlaw and Staffs so onwards and upwards. I have a time goal that I would like to achieve this year for 70.3 and I am hoping that will still happen I have 3 more booked for this year to hopefully get closer.
Graham: My recovery has been good and I rearing to go again… I have a couple more 70.3’s and a couple of full distance races to complete before the season comes to a close so bring it on!
Lee: Well we started our recovery with some dancing & shots @ the Banana Club... Active recovery I think they call it. Replenished our carb stores.. .in Burger King. On Sunday we made the most of the nice weather & did a spot of cloud-bathing with Elmo at the villa & had a chilled day packing, eating & drinking some more... Oh & playing charades & hide & seek in the Villa at 1am.
We headed back to reality on Monday & my legs felt good so I decided to flash the bling & attend the run session that evening... & then just continued where I'd left off! I have Outlaw Half at the end of May & then Ironman 70.3 in Staffs two weeks after that. I'm trying to be sensible at the moment as my Achilles is creaking under the pressure... One thing I have learnt... rest is just as important as anything else!
For anyone thinking about doing a 70.3 & wondering if they can do it... Pick an event, sign up & yes you can! The support & camaraderie you'll get from your team mates at Havering Tri is second to none.