Mark races his first ever triathlon earlier this month in Lanzerote, after starting consistent training in January. Here is Marks race report! Looking good now for Ironman Wales at the end of the season!
Having only decided to get into triathlon late last year I challenged myself to do an Ironman race, so subsequently booked myself on IM Wales in September 2014. I bought my first road bike in October and joined a few friends on some short rides out in the Purbecks. Then in December I decided that Wales in September 2014 was way too far away and I that I should book myself on Ironman Lanzarote in May as well. I broke the bad to news to Fran in January that her nine month plan to take me from never having completed a triathlon and getting me to IM Wales in nine months, was now to getting me to IM Lanzarote in four months training!!! Sorry Fran!
Training in January went well and I was getting used to long Sunday rides in the cold and rain! Having only just bought a bike I had little experience riding so knew no different and thought riding without the feeling of your hand and feet were normal! Swimming was progressing nicely with I guess the swim being my strongest discipline at this point. Running was ok but I was harbouring an injury that I picked up at a S&C class a few months earlier. Having started work with Fran in the December my new year’s resolution was actually stick to her training program as much as possible, as this I knew was the only way to get to Lanzarote.
The following months progressed nicely with longer rides, swims and runs when disaster struck in April five weeks before my race. Away on a business trip I fell on a run and rode over my ankle straining the tendons in my left foot badly. Having only ran twelve miles once before in race preparation I was gutted that I was on crutches for three weeks with no running! With two weeks left before my taper I started running again only to have a re-occurrence of my knee issue, probably from pushing too hard after the injury! Typical! So I managed only a few runs in the last five weeks lead up to the race and now I was tapering! Not the race prep I was hoping for. Anyway Fran assured me that I had enough training in the bag to get over the finishing line so I relaxed and listened to her for once.
Arriving in Lanzarote four days before the race with the wife and kids gave me an opportunity to relax and to check out the start and swim course. I didn’t think that I would gain much from trying to remember the bike course so I didn’t bother. I knew the run course was flat and was going to hurt me so I left that also. Fran recommended that I swim one lap of the two lap swim course as a confidence boost and to practice my start. So early one morning I popped down and did a lap on my own, swimming it in 31mins. My target for the swim was sub 1hr so hoped that on the day I would push harder and get under the hour.
Registration was the day before in Club La Santa (http://www.clublasanta.co.uk) in the north of the island. I holiday in Club La Santa each year so know it well and it was nice to have the pre-race brief in an environment I was comfortable in. Bike check-in that evening was down at the race start and was nearly a disaster as I forgot my helmet and had to drive back to my resort nearly missing the cut-off time! Won’t do that again. (lesson No1 learnt)
The morning of the race day started at 4.45am! Lesson No2 here – Stay close to your race location and then you don’t have to get up so early and can have an extra half/full hour in bed! I arrived at the start at about 6am and went to my bike and placed my water bottles on my bike. I then went to each transition bag and put my race food into the each bag.. Then I queued for the toilets.. lesson No3.. try and go before you get to the race as I had to queue for over 20mins and was very close to the start time!
I had done a fair bit of swimming in my four months preps and done a few video sessions with Fran to correct my stroke as much as possible. So I guess I was most confident with the swim.. apart from the mass start. My idea was to get myself towards the front and inside the “Under 1hr” section, get a good start and sit on someone that was fast for as long as possible. As I was late to the start they were filtering people to the back of the swim group which meant that potentially I was going to have to swim from the back!! But luckily I managed to jump a barrier and squeeze in near the front. I think I was about 10 meters back from the front people so not too bad. It was liked packed sardines in there and people were getting very annoyed with all the shoving and pushing that was going on! I didn’t get nervous as I couldn’t see anything… only the back of the head of the person in front of me!
Then the hooter sounded and we were off! It was crazy running down to the beach, pushing and shoving each other. I dived into the water and proceeded to swim getting about 5 meters before I had to stop. Then someone swam over me dunking me under. So that’s how its gona be I thought… I don’t remember much of the first 200 meters as it was just frantic. I ended up swimming doggie paddle with my head out of the water to the first buoy as it was just too violent! I have a 2 inch toenail scratch on my foot where someone kicked me, finger nail scratches on my right ankle where someone grabbed my ankle to pull me under and fingernail holes in my Huub wetsuit where again someone decided to grab me and pull me back under the water!!! I thought this triathlon game was a friendly one! I soon learnt to kick anyone that swam up my back or was hitting my feet too much!
Am not sure that I got into a rhythm until halfway through the first lap and made the mistake of trying to use the rope between the first and second buoy as a navigation guidance, as I think most had that plan and is why I ended up in heavy traffic for most of it. With more experience I hope to just use the corner markers as navigation and stay away from congested places. I got out of my first lap in 29mins ish which I was ok with, id hoped for a little better on the race day but I guess the start had lost me some time so I thought about pushing a little harder for the second. As it was I didn’t have a great second lap, the field had spread out a lot now and I had to rely on my own non-existent navigation skills which meant that I had a slower lap the second lap than the first and did a 31mins lap taking my time to just over 1hr!
Time: 1hr 1min
Speed 1:33min/100 meters
Getting out of the water I struggled with jelly legs and wobbled into transition to get changed. It was nice as there was not many people in there at this time so managed to get a good slot and a helper! I didn’t wear my cycling short underneath my wetsuit so had to completely change which lost me a few mins. Being my first transition I wanted to take my time and get it right, but am not sure Fran had the 8mins it took me in mind! One thing I learnt is to put my own suntan cream on! If you see any pictures of me coming out onto the bike I look like a white polar bear..
Apart from nearly falling off my bike as soon as I got onto it, I got out an onto the course and tried to settle in, but couldn’t. My heart was racing and I had dehydrated somewhat on the swim, something I hadn’t taken into consideration. It wasn’t until over 20km and a full bottle of water from an aid station did I manage to calm down and get some food into me. I’d come out of the swim in about 163rd position and 21 in my age group but as soon as I got on the bike it felt that I was going backwards. Person after person all day long passed me on the bike. So much so that I started to question if I was having a bad day or there was something wrong with my bike. I ride with Vector power petals and train on a turbo that measures power so I know what my FTP is (274) and could see that I was averaging about 250 Watts! So I was not having a bad day, simply they were all better cyclists than me! All 526 of them that passed my overall on the bike! Id rode 120miles two weeks before the race and knew that I had the distance in my legs, so this gave me some confidence that id be ok on the 180Km course. Throughout the day I stuck to my nutrition plan and by the end of the bike I was still feeling great!. Legs were obviously tired but inside myself I was ready for the run.
Time: 6hr 37 min
Average Speed: 27km/hr
Ascent: 2515 meters
MAX Speed: 73.5km/hr
Average Watts: 254
Max Watts: 540
Average Cadence: 79 rpm
Coming off the bike in T2 was a long transition to our run bags. I walked the distance in my bike shoes which I came to regret on the run as walking on cleats hurt the tendons on my left foot where I had twisted my ankle! Another lesson learnt! I decided that for my run I was going to have a complete change of clothes so that I could be comfortable for the run. I ate, drank and prepared myself mentally for what was about to come! My time of 12mins in T2 reflected this and I think that I need to half this next time for sure.
As soon as I came out of T2 I found my wife and kids so decided to stop for a few minutes to say hello. This gave me a much needed boost and get me back on the run out to the turnaround point. The course was three laps in total, two 10 mile laps and one 6 mile lap with each lap going back to the finish line. Having only ran a few times in the last 5 weeks and my longest run being 12 miles, i knew that the run was going to hurt me at some point. I was just not sure when the wheels were going to fall off of me! My first lap went well and I found myself running with another English guy. I was running at about 9min mile pace when bundled in with me walking the aid stations I averaged out to 10min miles. My plan was to run for as long as I could and then run/walk the rest. To my surprise I managed to run to about the 19/20mile mark before I felt that I had had enough and wanted to put a few walks in! The last 6 miles were easy as it was a 3 mile out and 3 mile back and as soon as I was heading back I was over the moon that I was just about to finish! My Garmin showed me that I was keeping up my running pace of about 9min miles but adding in my walking now averaged me to 10min miles overall.
Crossing the finish line I was a little disappointed that they didn’t call out the words “Mark Julier… you… are… an… Ironman!!” as I had obviously watched too many Ironman races on YouTube where they do this and had assumed that they did this in Lanzarote! Also my finish line photo has my head cut off so it’s not much use L
Time: 4 hr. 33mins
Average Speed: 10.2 min/mile
Average steps/min: 84
Overall the experience was amazing and especially having my family there was extra special! My overall time of 12hr 30mins I was happy with especially as I had been injured up to the race. My initial target was 11hrs but am not sure that I would have been about to hit that even if I was running fit. But I think that I could of knocked an hour off my run had I of been, especially my Garmin shows that I was not moving for nearly 30 mins of my run (Stretching, aid stations, 3 toilet stops and blister checks! etc.) and I did spend 20mins in transitions. I don’t think that I could have been faster on the swim/bike at the moment and performed to the level at which I am at.
The Pro’s completed the swim in an average 54mins (First out of water in 47mins) and on the bike the Pro’s averaged about 5hrs 15mins, 1hr 15mins faster than me! So this shows that I still have lots of improvement that could be made but beating 11 Pro’s out of the swim was nice J shame most of them passed me on the bike L
Next is Ironman Wales in September so I have a 4 month block of training to try and get closer to my 11hr target!