What was the atmosphere like on the morning of the race? How did you feel?
JAMES: Ironman Lanzarote is by far the biggest race I have raced in and the transition area was huge, almost like a small village. The atmosphere seemed fairly relaxed as racking and bag drops had all been done the day before. After my usual pre-race breakfast of porridge, coffee and toast I strolled down to transition which was less than a five minute walk, in my wetsuit undone to the waist! There were so many people that I didn’t manage to see Marton, Mark, Graham or Les, but was nice to stop and have a quick chat with friends of Havering Tri – Gary, Reece and Lucy, doing this certainly helped calm my nerves. There was a small area next to the race start which we were allowed to go out and swim in and this was the best thing for me as once I had done that I felt settled and ready.
MARTON: Get up early to prepare my bike and nutrition in the transition when it’s still dark, and see hundreds and thousands of athletes are doing the same, then pull on the wetsuit, walk to the start line and drop off all the nervousness from the previous weeks just few seconds before the start goes off, is something special, what you can understand only if you did it before. When finally it all begins, 1800 athletes run into the ocean together and even more people are cheering from the shore – it is just like a legal high !
GRAHAM: My roommate Les was up first and when he woke me, he confirmed my worst fear. The wind was howling outside, and having watched the guys race in very windy conditions in 2015, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
Les and I walked down to the start together – we usually chat all the time, but we both knew what was coming, so not a lot was said between us but having a team mate by your side is worth it’s weight in gold.
The atmosphere at the start area was one of nervous excitement, but like many races I have attended, it was subdued and calm – until the gun went that it is, then it was like storming the beaches – but in reverse lol…
LES: Race morning is always a nervous time for me as doubts always enter my head. Going to bed the night before and the palm trees were calm (well as calm as Lanza can be) but waking up at 4am and it seemed like a hurricane had come across the sea. Eating toast that early is always a struggle but walking down with Graham meant the nerves are kept to a minimum. Getting to bike racking and hoping no blow outs with the tyres is unnerving but going through T2 and seeing all that bike porn (and other bikes where you think "are you seriously doing an ironman on that?) takes your mind off things a bit. Graham and I were lucky enough to chat to Lucy Charles on the beach 15 mins before the start but getting into the swim penn always ensures my bladder is working properly.
MARK: I find the nervous tension always in the air beforean Ironman is always multiplied before Lanzarote. This was my 5th start and 4th finish. I no longer fear the course as I did after my bike crash and only long distance DNF in 2012 but completely respect it.Still.... everyone goes that moment before the race when you think why do I do this... this is going to be one tough day! If anything this feeling is only exemplified the more I've done it, but also accompanied by greater feelings of calm.
What part of the course did you find the toughest? Which part did you most enjoy?
JAMES: Without a doubt the toughest part of the race was the bike. Lucky for me the bike is my strongest discipline. The wind is relentless and you really need to have biked on the island to know what it is actually like. The training camp in the March before the race was such a valuable thing to have done and would highly recommend anyone thinking of doing this race for the first time to attend it. The mountain climbs of Haria and Mirador Del Rio were the hardest as well as the 5KM or so of unbelievable bad road surface at Nazaret. There was a bike mechanics van permanently parked on this stretch. I also had to learn to pee while riding on the bike, there were no portaloos to be seen and knowing getting caught urinating meant an instant DQ meant there was only one thing to do!
On reflection the most enjoyable part of the race was at the end of the swim and also coming out of the first swim lap and starting the second. The crowds on the beach were awesome and having Lisa, Kay and Laura standing knee deep in the sea cheering was amazing.
Also seeing Marton once and Graham and Les a few times on the run with high fives and hugs, gave a massive boost!
MARTON: The hardest part was definitely the 22 km long climbing after Famara (80-102 km of the bike) where we climbed up to over 550 m high from the sea level. It’s hard to say one part what I most enjoyed, because I loved to swim in the sea, the view on the bike was amazing – every part of Lanzarote is simply beautiful – but I would say I most enjoyed the marathon, because after 70 km of cramping and feeling powerless on the bike, somehow I managed to walk just a few meters at the AID stations, but I ran the rest.
GRAHAM: I’ll be honest, I hated the bike ride. Usually my strongest element, it turned into an utter grind. At points I kept checking to see if my brakes were rubbing as I just couldn’t get going – my legs felt empty and I resigned myself to getting through it, rather than racing it.
The wind was the major factor and having chosen to ride deep-section rims, I was worried about cross winds but luckily, only had one or two dodgy moments. Having said that though, at points I hit nearly 50mph with a tail wind, which was interesting.
The swim for me was spot on apart from some hand-bags with a bloke who swum across my legs then turned and hit me in the face. He didn’t appreciate me pulling him up and getting in his face…adrenaline can make you do some strange things...
Surprisingly, the best bit for me was the run – I knew Les was going to chase me down, and if it had been a few of miles longer, he would have got me. Seeing him on the course and knowing he was after me provided me with the motivation I needed to get going and finish – plus, I was off of that damn bike.
Seeing the other guys and our fantastic supporters, Laura, Kay and Lisa was cool too – never underestimate the boost you get from seeing friendly faces.
LES: The first 500 meters was the worst start to a swim I can remember. I just couldn't get my breath and had to stop and do Brest stroke. Swimming single sided kept me going for the next 500 meters until I could relax and swim properly. After the Aussie exit I then had the best swim ever. I smashed it for the next 1900m even swimming straight through packs of swimmers. I had a massive swim PB of 8 mins so overall I should be happy.
The run of an ironman is always my favourite leg and I got my pacing bang on straight away. Lanza is my favourite run course and the temperature was perfect for me. Sunshine, heat and 114 miles in my legs and I'm a very happy boy. Running past people who had passed me on the bike is very satisfying and you just know they won't get anywhere near you again. I saw the world class (and hon member) Lucy Charles coming into finish and she blew me a kiss.
Running towards the first turn point (7miles) I was keeping an eye out for my club mates and just before it I saw graham. I had to resist the urge to smash it for the next couple of miles. I passed James coming in the opposite direction by the airport and knew we would all make it home.
The first 14 miles was completed in 1.57hrs but it got harder as I got more tired.
Chasing Graham (again) we passed each other and I thought he had moved away from me but I couldn't be sure. Stopping at a restaurant to find out the FA cup latest should not be encouraged but after finally having a wee whilst running and I was feeling ok.
The last lap was about getting the job done. I ran passed James as he went to the toilet and was happy knowing he would finish. Down to the finish and the amazing support team of Laura, Kay, Lisa and James's daughter were going mad. Laura past me the union flag to fly across the line.
MARK: The bike course sticks you through the grinder no matter how much preparation you've done but having not done as much outdoor biking preparation this year I was particularly pleased to post my fastest time and best paced bike. I love getting off the Lanzarote bike, but also the swim australian exit and heading into transition 1. I also enjoyed the run for once!
How often did you train in preparation for Ironman Lanzarote ? Did you focus on improving a specific area?
JAMES: I trained five days a week and all through the winter. My main focus was on improving my swimming and up until five weeks from the race was doing 3 swim sessions a week.
MARTON: I did 6 training days and had 1 rest day (Tuesday or Thursday) every week. I didn’t target one specific area to improve this year, but the bike is a key part of the Ironman Lanzarote, so I spent a little bit more time on the bike this winter.
GRAHAM: 6 days a week of training – main focusses were swimming and running. I cycle a lot anyway, but I did a lot of hill work on the bike in the run up to the event.
LES: I train most days whether it is commuting by bike or running home from central London. To me it is vital to have core sessions so training with our club is vital in having consistent training sessions. The Lanzarote training camp really showed how my winter training had benefited my fitness. Setting a big PB at the Brighton marathon and being injury free throughout winter meant I was so much fitter than this time last year.
I tried to focus on my swim technique and used mental images to feel the water a lot more. I can swim further and easier than ever before.
MARK: My training wasn't as triathlon specific as last year but my strength and conditioning was much improved and I felt it on my run!