Monday, 1 June 2015

The lead up to Ironman Lanzarote 2015

 So yet again I have seemingly forgotten I have a blog. A fair bit has happened since I wrote my last entry however the biggest event has to be Ironman Lanzarote which shockingly was over a week ago. How time flies! Due to my ability to babble I have put it into two parts. This is the lead up to the race and then the next will be my race report.

The pink decorated hall before the event
 Five weeks before my biggest race of the year, thus far, I returned back to England to see my family. This was to celebrate my youngest nephew and godson being christened and help organise and attend a charity ball for what would have been Rosie's 21st birthday. With my bike in tow meaning I could still get some vital training in I headed back to the UK. I can admit in the 2 weeks I was back my training was hit and miss. I ended up doing so much organising for the charity ball it was impossible to cram much in. This said I did get some worthwhile sessions in when I could and Bella amazingly understood completely. In perspective all I do within triathlon is for Rosie and ensuring the ball was a success by raising as much money as possible was so important to me and my family. We ended up raising £16,000 for SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) Action which is truly amazing.

My sister and I at the ball

 It was easy to fit back into the UK way of life and be minutes away from my family particularly my sister who yearns for me to move back. Nathan and I found it tough to leave.

 However, once arriving back on Lanzarote soil it was time to focus again. Whilst in the UK I turned my attention to an ongoing issue that I thought had resurfaced since being in Lanzarote; my asthma. I had previously had this taken off my medical records as I tried hard to beat it and wanted to go into the Army (it has to be off your records for a period of time to get in). With this not being a desire anymore I had to do what was best for me and get an inhaler. I hated the fact I had to do this as begrudged having to rely on them as I used to but I was really starting to suffer. In fact one of the first things my mum said to me was "you sound wheezy" (mum's really do know best). This alone was enough to get my arse down to the doctors. I went back to the rock with the security blanket of my inhaler - no more sleepless nights being unable to breathe! However, I was scared of over using it.
 Two days after landing I had an Olympic triathlon, The Volcano, based at Club La Santa. This was a perfect time to test the waters for 3 weeks time where I would be doing the Ironman. The morning of the race I felt shocking. I had used my inhaler all night and come the morning couldn't even chew a piece of granola without having to stop to breathe. I cried on the balcony to myself. Nathan seeing me struggling mentally and physically told me I just needed to accept that I something was triggering my asthma and I had to get over that and myself. The words were tough and needed and accompanied by a sympathetic hug which made it a little better. Since then the inhaler has not left my side and it's something I am just going to have to get used to.
 The Volcano triathlon was nothing to write home about. I managed a sub 3 hours in 2h49 which I was pleased about but in hindsight was disappointed in my bike split of 1h24. The route although tough (it is Lanzarote!) took in roads I know so well and I felt like I was pushing strong especially by the amount of people I overtook but I knew I could have done better. When I saw that Nathan was 7 minutes quicker than me on that split I was even more disappointed as although he is a strong cyclist I shouldn't have let him have that much. I did have to put things into perspective though as I knew I wasn't on top form before the race but I am not one to make excuses. I put it behind me and continued training to Bella's tough plan which I trusted.

At the finish of The Volcano triathlon with Nathan and friend Barry
 On the 12th May I traveled to Barcelona to work with RaceForce at the 70.3. These are a triathlon bike transport and accommodation organisers. My role as 'race host' meant I was to be the fountain of knowledge to all customers. I would be doing airport transfers, swim and bike recces as well as be on hand for any questions. It was a completely new and exciting experience for me to be that side of an event and the start of me gaining knowledge for my future. The week was busy and great fun even if training, again, was hard to fit in. I loved meeting new people within triathlon and I actually enjoyed being on the other side even if my emotions were on high alert! When spectating the swim I was an emotional wreck imagining what I would be doing in a weeks time.

Watching the sunrise in Barcelona as the triathletes got ready to race
 I was however ready to come home after being away probably because I knew I had something big to conquer. I flew back Monday 18th and was thrown into the excitement of race week - it was a mere 6 days till race day! From this moment on I didn't stop. Nathan and I moved to Puerto Del Carmen as soon as I arrived back. I unpacked my bike which I took to Barcelona and the week just flew by.

 My parents arrived on the Tuesday to support me. On the Wednesday I went over to La Santa with Nathan and Welshman friend Aled to register and get a massage. It was during this hour that I found out I had compartment syndrome in my calves. This basically means there was building of pressure within my muscles which was causing me some pretty horrible pain which I had tried, and failed, to ignore. Dave, an epic cyclist and brutal masseuse, was not surprised when I told him I was in agony when trying to run over the last week. He did the best he could by massaging them and said the only thing I could do to help was not to run until race day and then strap my leg with Kinesio tape and wear compression sleeves (something I have never done but thankfully they came in pink!). Whilst hearing this bad news ProBike were checking my bike over and putting the latest toys put on my bike. These were my 60mm ceramic bearing Fast Forward wheels (a huge thank you to FFWD for your support on my way to Kona). Not only did they look damn sexy (particularly so as my dad spend hours making them pink for me) but they were sure to help me during the race.

My sexy wheels
 I also managed to get some much needed pampering in on Wednesday by having my nails glammed up and as tradition states had my hair dyed pink in memory of Rose.

On Thursday we took some more friends over to La Santa to register and met with some triathlon friends for some much needed banter to chill us out. (Today was finally the day I met Pete who I had been chatting to on Twitter for nearly 2 years).
Some of my great triathlon friends :)
My niece, Amber, and nephew, Tom, also arrived that evening to support me. Before I knew it it was Friday, the day before the race. My nerves weren't as bad as they had been before and I felt pretty calm on the lead up. However, the day before opens completely new emotions. The reason as to why I was racing became all to clear and I spent the whole day fighting tears.
 Amber and Tom were staying with Nathan and I and Friday morning I took them swimming in Puerto Del Carmen in preparation for their IronKids in the afternoon. This was their first time in open water let alone sea and it was a choppy day thanks to the relentless wind which hadn't let up after the scorching 46 degree heat the week before. I was also secretly trying to reassure myself it'll die down by tomorrow.

 The kids seemed to love their time sea swimming, even if it was a bit chilly without a wetsuit! I know they particularly enjoyed how clear the water was and we spent some time looking at the fish which then shocked them as we saw a huge ray casually swimming a mere 2 metres away. An awesome experience for them.
 After some breakfast it was time to sort my kit and as normal this is where my triathlon OCD kicks in as I lay all my kit out on the bed and then triple check I have everything before packing it away. I was amazed how much my kit had developed to having a hint of pink on everything! I also have to make note to how special and significant my race number was. The number 60 was the same number I was when I competed in my first Ironman in Wales in 2013 - the day we lost Rosie. I could only hope this was a good omen.
Triathlon OCD
Ready to go
Time didn't seem to be a luxury we had so once I had checked over everything it was time to head down to transition to rack our stuff. Upon walking into transition Nathan and I were bumping into so many people and doing what we do best...chatting! I just love the pre race excitement/nerves racking brings. The atmosphere was electric! I also loved how much attention my bike was getting!

Walking into transition (no-one was surprised I was one of the first)
Transition pose with Nathan and my great friend Aled
 There was one thing on everyone's minds however and it was the wind. It was truly awful even by Lanzarote standards. People were putting their bikes on the racks as per normal by the saddle and they were being blown around. When I tried to do mine it nearly took flight. I stood there holding it for a while unsure what to do until Nathan got me some zip ties and a truly awful looking professional haha (number 49) fixed my bike to the racking. This massively put my mind at rest. I spoke to one of the girls in my age group who took great delight when I told her I had already qualified for Kona meaning even if she came second Kona was hers for the taking. I still wanted that number one spot though!
 Once we eventually made it back out of transition it was time to watch Amber and Tom do the Ironkids. I had a huge amount of pride watching them compete especially as they also raised £636 for SUDEP Action. Both smashed their runs (the swim was taken out as the sea was just too choppy, the right decision in my eyes). Tom said after he wouldn't do an Ironman but Amber said one day she would like to.
My little champions
I'm a lucky girl with these as my family
 The night before the big day we went for the obligatory Italian carb load with my family and some friends. Then it was off to bed...

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