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Repoman's IM Lanzarote Report
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:51 pm    Post subject: Repoman's IM Lanzarote Report Reply with quote

After hearing about it over many years in hushed and revered tones, this was the year that I finally had a crack at Ironman Lanzarote…..

In some ways this was a bonus race for me. Last autumn the family had already committed to a blow out holiday to coincide with Ironman Canada in August this year, and I thought that would be my main focus. It certainly is financially, and imagine that the kids will remember Canada for some time as they work their way through college as crack whores because I spent their college fund going to a race.

Anyway, once it became clear that Mrs. Repo wouldn’t be able to come (teacher = no time off during school term) and another family holiday wasn’t on the cards, a plan was hatched and brought to the table which would involve just myself and Ms. Repo (Meg, 14, going on 24) making a stealth visit to Lanza in a light, agile and economical (well, nearly) attack force of just two. With the benefit of many years of managing family dynamics, I took the prudent negotiating position of entering the race and booking the flights before anything was agreed with Mrs. Repo. The ensuing amateur vasectomy was an acceptable trade off.

So it’s now late autumn 2007 and I’m entered for two IM races in 2008, the first of which is in May. January 2008 rolls around and I’m thinking….oh carp…..I better start training. I won’t bore you with the details but as you can imagine, you need to get used to being cold and wet for extended periods of time. If you are thinking about Lanza don’t underestimate the impact of training through the winter. About the only consolation training wise is that, living in the Peak District - and to paraphrase Eric Olthwaite - even the flat bits are hilly. More of this anon.

As usual in January I started to make an elaborate Excel spreadsheet detailing all my weekly sessions but inevitably I couldn’t be arsed filling it in beyond February, so I reverted to the tried and trusted training plan of doing one long bike and one long run a week and chancing the rest to luck. After what seemed like just a few weeks training – but it was actually late April – the race seemed horribly close. The Lanza thread kept that queasy mix of excitement and fear bubbling, and there wasn’t a time when I didn’t think that I hadn’t done enough. Apart from swimming that is, when I was absolutely positive that I hadn’t done enough. Put it like this, by the time I got to the start line I had spent a lot more time in 2008 in the shower than I had in the pool.

While everyone else heading for Lanza seemed to start tapering I was in cramming mode effectively trying to do my training revision on the bus to school. More importantly though, it was time to concentrate on the all important fourth discipline, buying new stuff. A substantial order of fresh ordinance for the assault on Lanza was placed with Wiggle, and the cupboards bulged with gels, Clif bars, tubs, fresh cables, salt tablets, Nuun, new chain, spare power link and all manner of other supplies. After a gruelling retail campaign with a little bit of running and cycling thrown in, I felt I was ready.

We flew out from Manchester on the Thursday before the race (the race is on the Saturday) and after a bit of a delay we landed in Arecife in mid afternoon, picked the hire car up and made our way to Puerto del Carmen. On the advice of the Lanza veterans we had booked for the week in Club Oceano apartments which turned out to be absolutely superb: great facilities and just 5 minutes walk from the sea front where the transition area is located. I cant recommend them enough – bang on and £190 for the week.

I’d guess that at least half of the guests staying were involved in the race and we quickly met up with Rob T, Stengun, Cantcyclefortoffee, P3C, Scorpio, Icicle in d’rain and many more. Some people had already been over to Club La Santa to register but I thought I would leave it until the Friday so that I could give my full attention to obsessing over something, in this instance where to buy CO2 canisters. Last year it was where to buy jelly babies in Holland before Almere. I suspect in August it may be where can I get carbon fibre anti-moose bars for my bike.

Thursday afternoon was spent rebuilding the bike and checking it over and I had a little spin down to the seafront to get the gears fettled by a taciturn german. Stengun got the last 4 12g CO2 cartridges but he let me have one of this stash. More needed

On Friday morning we ambled down to the swim start and I doubled my annual swim mileage to date by swimming about 800m. The water felt great as did the wetsuit and it seemed that the waves experienced earlier in the week had gone. There was a good turnout of Tritalkers and I met 360 and his partner who like me is also doing Canada. After an enthusiastic breakfast Meg and I drove over to Club La Santa to register and to find that Pro Bike in La Santa village had no threaded CO2: indeed the woman looked at me like I was insane asking for it. There was none to be found at the (rather sad) expo either, but in a moment of inspiration I tried the sports shop in La Santa and literally from under the counter they produced a box of fat 16g threaded cartridges. Get in! I bought up six – a good score for me and some to deal on to mates if needed…

With gas sorted and registration duties done we had the rest of Friday free to prepare kit and transition bags, rack the bikes and generally faff about. Being so close to transition meant that none of this was a logistical chore so it was great to be able to stroll about transition looking at the bikes and generally soaking up the atmosphere. I satisfied myself that everything was in the right place and then went back to the apartment for a giant bowl of pasta and bread with Meg. And a quick beer in the bar…
Pasta pic

Despite being so close to transition I still set the alarms for 04.15 to make sure I was up in good time. Alarms as in one portable alarm clock and 2 phones, just to make sure. I’d forgotten to bring porridge oats with me so breakfast was muesli (with choc chips in! tasty!) and tea helped along with a gel and carbo drink. About 05.30 I met up with Rob and we headed down in the dark to transition to pump tyres and load up the bikes with supplies.

With the bike fully prepped I said goodbye to Meg and Rob’s family (who were kindly looking out for Meg during the day) and headed off. Down at the swim start the dawn was starting to break and it was……cloudy - good news. I had a little warm up and finally entered the start compound: you may have seen me in the pics - I was the one in the black wetsuit. In the start pen I met Whisk and G Sport and started jostling my way towards the….back. No point in getting into all that rufty tufty nonsense for the sake of a minute or two. I’m not sure I even remember the gun going off but ….BOOM! One minute you are daydreaming in late autumn in front of a PC in Glossop and the next you are in the water doing Ironman Lanzarote. How did that happen?

My swimming is ahem, relaxed at the best of times and I was in no mood to disappoint on the day so I knuckled down to a committed plod. Thankfully navigation was a cinch with a lane rope down the long side of the course and prominent buoys elsewhere. There seemed to be a bit of an assisting current on the outward leg as the rope to my left seemed to be flying past but it certainly didn’t show as I checked my watch at the beach turnaround - 43 minutes. Oops. I dived back into the now much less congested water and bumbled round for lap two knowing that a swim PB certainly wasn’t on the cards. As I turned back towards the shore at the far end of the course I got a major fright, catching sight of a corpse in the water below me. Well, that’s what I thought at first - it was actually an underwater cameraman although what he was doing still in the water when I went past I don’t know. Perhaps he was lost.

I exited the swim in 1.28, 8 minutes behind schedule and about 15 minutes slower than my best: an inauspicious start but what the heck. There was still plenty of support on the beach though, so I put on my best race face as I peeled off the wettie and ran up to transition. I remember thinking that it was actually a bit cold….for the one and only time that day, that’s for sure. Transition is on the seafront promenade so it is very narrow and consequently about 15 miles long. It’s self service too - you simply grab your T1 bag off a huge rack and head into the tent to change: it was a bit like a tented school gym changing room with less homo-erotic towel flicking. I had a relatively quick transition simply pulling on bike shoes and socks (not in that order) and my Tritalk bike jersey to fly the flag. I already had my 2XU endurance shorts on and these have now proved excellent for two IM races - comfortable for both the bike and run - highly recommended.

I grabbed my bike - it was easy to spot - and headed out. The run out of transition takes you out under the finisher gantry and up to the mount line in front of the grandstand where the support - as it would be all day - was brilliant. I clipped in without any comedy moments and headed off into the…..wind.

Despite having had the bike course map as my desktop wallpaper for the past 6 months I hadn’t ridden any of it, driven round it or otherwise made any specific plan apart from to start at the beginning, go “ow, ow, ow my back” a bit in the middle, and then finish at the end. I did see one bloke with the bike course profile taped to his top tube, but I preferred to refer to the 1:1 scale version in front of me.

Despite some long drags and the relentless wind I found the first 60-70K to be OK and was generally feeling pretty good. Although I’m rubbish at this whole malarkey I’m a stronger cyclist than swimmer, so I always spend at least the first half of a race passing people and this is how it was on the day, trying to keep comfortable and moving through the field. I had put 12 Torq gels and a bit of water into a 500ml bottle on my front cage and this was going well for nutrition (with none of the faff of opening individual gels), and this was supplemented with the odd Clif bar from my back pocket and banana from the aid stations. In the back bottles I had 2 x 1.5l of plain maltodextrin mixed with Nuun and this formula has always worked well for me in training and racing. Despite the heat I still had to keep reminding myself to drink and I guess I probably still only got through about 4.5 litres of liquid on the bike.

Early on the bike I realised that - Doh! - I had forgotten to put my number belt on. Despite having numbers on my helmet and bike I had a short period of extreme paranoia that a bike marshall was going to pull me over and DQ me and I was frantically making up strategies on the hoof. I vaguely looked out for Spanish competitors who could maybe teach me the Spanish for “I’m sorry Mr. Marshall but the wind blew it off. And then the dog ate it” but no-one wanted to help. I had a brief go at constructing a cloak of invisibility out of Clif bar wrappers and CO2 canisters but it made my bum looked big so I just hoped I wouldn’t get nabbed. And I didn’t Wink

About an hour into the ride I passed Rob T who was clearly suffering and as you will have read elsewhere, he did well to crack on as far as he did. I saw a few other TT ers - G-Sport and P3C I think and then fell in with an Irish Garda called Ronan and we cracked on through towards Club La Santa. There’s a long straight descent down to CLS and it seemed like we were pedalling hard just to do 20mph downhill. At the turn the road starts climbing again and I think it was only here that I really noticed anything like a tail wind.
Bike pic

I’d like to say that the rest of the ride passed in a blur but it didn’t. It passed interminably in a grinding, relentless slog. I was feeling positive for most of it though and never really got the blues: the later big climbs of Haria and Mirador are tough but they is a bit of payback. The alpine style hairpin descent from Haria is a cracker and there are some great long sweeping downhills later were you can really let rip. Indeed many times I wished I had a 53 tooth ring at the front rather than a compact but I’m sure I would have paid for it later if I had been tempted to crank it out.

I picked my special needs bag up at the top of Mirador and got off the bike briefly to have a wee (only one of the day: thanks for asking….) load my pockets and have a 30 second stretch. I hadn’t punctured so I left my spare tub and CO2 in the bag and just picked up my extra gels and peanut butter and jam butties which were very tasty but a bit hard going to chew. (unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere to fry them, Elvis-style)

After about 4 or 5 hours into the bike the earlier clouds started to clear a bit and the sun started to bake. Thankfully this reminded me to keep on with my new toy - a Saltstick, a gizmo which attaches to your bike and dispenses salt capsules. This was brilliant - I had about 3 caps on the bike and 2 on the run (I had some more in my run pouch: I didn’t carry my bike with me) and - unlike Almere last year - I didn’t suffer from cramping once. I’ve got no idea of the science but all I can say is it worked a treat for me.

As has been reported elsewhere there is a real sting in the tail on this course which is the road around Nazaret which would be shake your fillings out on a full suspension mountain bike. After 140km or whatever it was it was excruciating, I can’t remember how long it went on for but I remember in my internal monologue it went something like “ooooooohhhhhyooooooouuuuuuucccccooooockkkingwwwwwwwwannnnkkkkersssssshiitttttttheeadddddddeeeeeeeedddddaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrssssssseeeeecccccccccclllllllllammmmpppppingjjjjjjjjjjjjiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzmmmooonkkkeeeyyy….ah that’s better”

After this there was a brilliant descent back into Puerto Del Carmen on a narrow but well surfaced sweeping road across the lava field. Despite coming at the end of the toughest bike leg I’ve ever done, I loved it and was whooping and hollerin‘.

The final run into transition takes you back along the seafront where the run was in full swing with a crowded contra flow of runners, and the pavements packed full of supporters. Back in transition I handed my bike to a helper who was none other than Tritalker Piertown, one of my old mountain bike buddies from nearly 20 years ago! I didn’t clock it until afterwards but my bike split was 7 hours exactly: it seems horribly slow (as the bike is meant to be my best discipline) but it tells you something about the Lanza course that I did 5.40 last year on a flat course in Holland.

I switched into my white 2XU vest and a white cap strapped on my run pouch which contained Ipod nano, emergency gels, ibuprofen, salt and jelly babies and I was off.

The run course in Lanza is simple: 4 x 6.5 mile laps along the seafront which basically take you in front of all the seafront bars and restaurants for about half of it and along a slightly more residential stretch for the second half. I think the aid stations were about every mile and despite gels being apparently in slightly short supply (I stockpiled a couple once I realised) they had everything you needed - water, Power Bar drink (Yeuch - avoid - I learned that on the bike), flat coke, ice cubes, sponges, oranges, Power Bars etc.

Setting out on the run I won’t say I felt good, but I still felt upbeat, lifted by the atmosphere, happy to be off the bike and still chuckling to myself that I was actually doing IM Lanzarote: me, interloping with all those proper athletes.

I settled into my run shuffle and clocked the first two miles on my Garmin at 9 minutes each. My strategy was basically to run until I think I needed to walk rather than run/walk in a planned way, and I was still running steadily at the end of the first lap which I managed in about an hour. My legs seemed to be holding up ok and I let my mind wander to those times when I had got up at 6 in the morning in February to run 15 miles to work in the rain…..payback time…..I’ve done the miles and I want them back….

It was now really hot and the sponges at the aid stations were very welcome: I started to covet a hat with a neck flap for that Beau Geste look. Ipods are allowed in Lanza by special decree of race director Kenneth Gasque so, I took advantage of this on the less supported bits of the course but ran music-free elsewhere. I figure if people are bothered to be cheering you on it’s good to acknowledge that by being able to hear their support. I did really enjoy some tunes for a bit though, and my shuffle mix really lifted me. The Skatalites’ Guns of Navarone kicked in at one point and I’m sure I was doing 6 minute miles. In my head anyway.

I think it was on the third lap that I spotted a pirate top up ahead and fell in with G-Sport for quite a long stretch. Like me he was still running the whole way and it was great to have some company. After a lap or so I was still feeling strong so I headed off with my brain performing fuzzy calculations of lap times, pace, finish times and run splits. I knew that sub 13.30 was on the cards provided I kept it together and I headed toward the turn with a spring in the step (well, it’s all relative….) Apart from literally three or four paces through the aid stations I had still been running the whole way and I was feeling pretty chuffed about this. The salt was working well and there was no sign of the cramp which had crippled me at the end of the Almere run.

The final two miles of the run were amazing, even the slight hills didn’t seem to be a problem and I was even passing a few people. The support was great and the three bands on my wrist meant that I was coming home. I couldn’t stop smiling….I’d done a tough race, run the whole marathon and there was nothing to stop me now. The last hundred metres is gently downhill and I flew down, gurning like a madman and crossed the line feeling just dandy.. Woohoo! Nailed it!

Although I would have been happy just to finish, I secretly hoped for something between 13 and 14 hours so I was very happy with my overall time of 13.15 and a marathon split of 4.25, just 2 minutes off my IM run pb. This was my 8th IM finish and it certainly is a race that has real…..soul. It’s tough, and you need to be happy on the bike but the training before and effort on the day will be repaid in spades with a real sense of satisfaction.

Amazingly I wasn’t the usual beaten up wreck after the race although I did have a drip just so I had an excuse to lie down with some nice Spanish ladies fussing over me. With beer in the finishing area too, the post race environment is very appealing.

After schlepping my kit back to the apartment I shuffled down to the seafront to enjoy a big steak and a couple of beers watching the last finishers come home. After 16 or 17 hours in those conditions, they really earned their medals.

Lanzarote is a fantastic race and if you think you can do it then you can… It’s within the grasp of ordinary old gimmers like me, so if you fancy it, give it a go. You need to give it respect, but don’t be psyched out by it. Since January my training averaged out at 113 miles of cycling, 18 miles of running and 1 mile of swimming(!) a week, pretty modest really, and very doable for most folks.

The great news is that Mrs. Repo may be able to juggle things so that she can come next year so that could be the green light for another go. Bring it on…..

Thanks to everyone on TT and at the race for your support, it was a blast.
Walk like The Clash, sing like The Supremes...

Last edited by repoman on Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:59 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dude - what a race report, that was worth the wait and has reminded me why I filled in that form and said ' It's my turn in 2009' Very Happy
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T-rex of Tri

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Amazingly I wasn't the usual beaten up wreck after the race although I did have a drip just so I had an excuse to lie down with some nice Spanish ladies fussing over me. With beer in the finishing area too, the post race environment is very appealing.

Love it, I hate missing the medical after an Ironman, as long as nothing too serious is going on it's nice to have a chat to someone after all that time!
'Mon the Biff
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice work that man, see you on the beach next year, I'll save you a spot on the sand where i've not pee'd Wink
Good luck with the rest of the season and moose(s)
Tri -it might smart a bit!!
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great report mate, i think we must have been saying the same thing to ourselves across the bumpy road Very Happy Very Happy
i can teven imagine how hard that race must have been when 90% of the roads were like that!!!!!!
cracking write up.
how did the big gig go on monday night??
was fat then thin, then fat again then thin, then huge. on me way back from huge hopefully to normal.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A massive well done and a great report. I usually skim through race reports but yours are always worth taking the time to read properly.

I look forward to the IM Canada report.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great report well done Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Nick, and another great report.

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Cadence Minge

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No comedy roof-rack moments, which is still the best thing I have ever read on TriTalk, but a most enjoyable read nonetheless. Good work fella
Unfathomable multisport potential. Humility and shyness the only limiters
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great read repoman, you must have passed me on the bike (along with most of the other competitors!).
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report and result Nick.

I want to give this race a shot and next year could be the year so I may be joining you Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will you people stop posting such inspiring race reports!!! Rolling Eyes Very Happy
My resolve to be very careful about my IM choice for 2009 is weakening rapidly!

Well done! Clap
It *is* about the bike.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iheartspeedos wrote:
...No comedy roof-rack moments...

Ditto my thoughts.

Repoman wrote:
After a gruelling retail campaign with a little bit of running and cycling thrown in, I felt I was ready.

You've gotta love it Very Happy

Excellent report, good grammar and punctuation. Creative language use displayed. A+...
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“ooooooohhhhhyooooooouuuuuuucccccooooockkkingwwwwwwwwannnnkkkkersssssshiitttttttheeadddddddeeeeeeeedddddaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrssssssseeeeecccccccccclllllllllammmmpppppingjjjjjjjjjjjjiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzmmmooonkkkeeeyyy….ah that’s better”

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

The whole department stopped to look at me giggiling to myself at that one Wink . Very funny and so true!

Fantastic race report and great race. It was good to meet you in those nervous few moments before the big off. I saw you a few times on the run and you looked very strong. I thought I was going to catch up with you on my last lap (your 2nd?), but you were going too well and my legs were shot by that point so it just wasn't going to happen Rolling Eyes .

Good luck in Canada.
2016: Just riding my bike....
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Repoman how big is your monitor?

(great report etc., too much scrolling required!)
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