pühapäev, 13. oktoober 2013

70.3 Ironman Lanzarote 2013 [ENG]

So this post is for all my friends and supporters from outside of Estonia, who do not speak Estonian. This is also for all my old mates back from when I was a young rower in Germany and my old classmates, who might be interested in what I have been up to the last couple of years. As I will be writing about the 70.3 Ironman Lanzarote you can also read it as review of the race.

It was my second time racing the 70.3 Ironman Lanzarote. I was here last year and I would do it again next year if I could (will be coming back to that later). As you probably know, 70.3 races are tough - swimming 1.9km, biking 90k and running a half-marathon afterwards is not easy. Those of you, who are familiar with the triathlon scene know that racing on Lanzarote makes it even harder! The bike course is incredibly hard with a lot of climbing to be mastered, hard wind conditions and a meltingly hot run with no shadows anywhere. So you might think: "Why is he doing this - AGAIN?". The reason I came here the first time was because I knew a hard route would suite me. I knew that when I suffer in hot race-conditions, others suffer even more and at the end it will be the one, who can handle it physically and mentally who will take the win. The second time I came for the same reasons but also because this time I knew, that I will be having some of the best time of my season at Club La Santa. 

The people at Club La Santa are doing such a wonderful job organising this event. Starting with the registration you will be guided through 4 days of well organised events, great pasta, a hell of a race and a kick-ass after-party. Thank you so much guys!

Start at 8:00 AM in the morning
Let's start with the race. Since the first edition of the race last year most of the things have remained the same. Very few things have changed, most noticeably they redesigned the swim from a 2-loop course into a single-loop course, which was the right decision for sure. Bike and run remained the same with some of the aid stations slightly relocated. 

The swim start was et 8:00 AM -  first PRO men and women and 5 minutes later the rest of the world. My aim for the race was to get a qualification slot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2014 and in order to get that I knew I would have to be first in my age group M18-24 (or extremely lucky). The swim was fairly easy - the first couple of hundred meters were a wide straight before the first buoy so there was enough time for the really fast swimmers to find their place in the group and there wouldn't be much fighting over who is gonna be the first one at the first buoy. The swim took place in a Laguna, which made it much easier than swimming in the sea because there were no waves at all. In fact - at some places the water was only 1,5m deep or less. I even saw some guys walking during the swim.

Tabayesco pain
I got on the bike second in the age group, which was a great start for me since I'm not a fast swimmer. Cheered on by many volunteers, the awesome guys from the Green Team and the race-commentator Till Schenk I hopped on my bike with a good feeling. I knew what was coming. It was going to be a long day, a hot day, a hard day. It was all about pacing myself and keeping the strength for the second part of the race. At the same time I had to keep an eye on the leader of my age group who was about 30 seconds in front of me. So I had to keep pushing from the beginning not to lose grip with the competition because I knew that a second place was not going to do it for me this time. As we headed to the beginning of the 10km long Tabayesco climb of torture I slowly gained time with my AG's leader and I planned to hit the climb really hard to try to break him. But it didn't go according to plan. After the first 2km of the climb a gel fell of my frame and I had to go back about 5m to pick it up again. I lost about 20sec, which was not a big deal, but I also lost my rhythm and the connection to my AG's leader, which made it really hard for me. As you can image the rest of the climb hit me quite hard. The moment you think it's over, you still have 3km to climb. Oh, this time you really got me Tabayesco… 
The rest of the ride was like a bad payback by Tabayesco. You may think the worst is over but you still have to stand against some strong winds on the way back down to Club La Santa. I still enjoyed going 80km\h and more on the downhill after the peak but as I turned in direction of Caleta de famara I started to strugle.

Running in the heat
After the bike you probably think the worst part is over. You come into transition, hear all the shouts of the energised volunteers and think to yourself: "This run is going to be just fine." It is… for the first couple of hundred meters, maybe a km until you realise how wrong you were! You run 3 loops from Club La Santa to the small and nice village of La Santa and the same way back. You have 3 aid stations on the track coming from both sides of the track. You have wind blowing from your back on the way to the village and directly into your face on the way back to the finish. The sun is burning down creating a, as I was told, Kona-like experience. So if you come off the bike, make sure you have enough energy in the tank! Otherwise you will be like me - suffering and fighting from the beginning of the run to the very end.
The first loop I felt ok. The gap between me and first place was about 4 minutes after the bike and I gained just 30sec after the first 7km. I knew he was fighting as well. In fact I thought maybe he will cramp or run out of energy and I will still have a chance. So I had to keep on somehow to win first place (With the first place I refer to the leader of my age group, not  Victor Del Corral Morales, who did an amazing 1:13:21 half-marathon after he already hammered down bike splits, which were just out of this world!). I did not catch my first place. On the second half of the run my splits went down again and at the end I finished 2nd in my age group, 8min behind first place. But I was not disappointed - I had given it all I had on this day and there was no energy left in my tank - I was completely empty!

At this place I'd like to thank Sander, who travelled with me to Club La Santa and told me some splits during the race and Till, who did not miss any of my appearances on the Stadium and kept me running. And a big thanks to the Green Team and all the volunteers, who not only smiled and cheered from the very beginning to the very end of the race, but also came to the awesome after-party later the same evening. Unfortunately there is an unwritten rule, that what happens at the Lanzarote Ironman after-party, stays at the Lanzarote Ironman after-party, so I am not gonna write more about it. And of corse I want to thank my family and friends, who had supported me over the last 2 years and were following me online.

Oh, but that's not all! Later that day I went to the slot allocation and you might call me lucky, but at the end I did get a slot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. It took me 2 years dedicated training and more hours of training than I would have ever done as a rower. At the end it payed off and I'm once again one step closer to becoming a PRO.

Signed up for 70.3 Ironman Mont Tremblant

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