On the 18th of May 2013, exactly two weeks away, more than 1800 athletes will line the startline in Puerto Del Carmen to complete a 3.8km sea swim, a 180km bike ride around the Island before finishing up with a 42.2km run. This month, I spoke to professional British ironman athlete and Lanzarote Ironman winner in 2011, Rachel Joyce, to get some tips and advice on this notoriously challenging course.
1. What makes Lanzarote such a unique Ironman course to race on?
I think it's really the bike course that makes Ironman Lanzarote a stand out course. It is one loop which takes in almost the entire island. It is beautiful, unique scenery and a challenging course with the combination of hills and wind. The run is also great fun with all the support you get running up and down the sea front in Puerto del Carmen from knowledgeable spectators and holiday makers who are witnessing an Ironman by chance and for the first time. The race organiser, Kenneth Gasque and his entire team also make sure it is a special experience for each and every competitor.
2. What was your race-winning breakfast before Ironman Lanzarote?
I had simple pre-soaked oats, a slice of toast with jam and a coffee.
3. How do you remember where your bike is in such a large transition area?
When I rack my bike the day before I do a mental walk through the transition area and make a note of where my bike is. I.e. Is it near a tree, flag, post. This means on race day the transition area feels familiar and I know what I'm looking for.
4. What point during Ironman Lanzarote was the hardest part mentally for you on your way to victory in 2011 and what did you do to push through?
An Ironman day is full of highs and lows and it's how you deal with those which determines to a huge degree how your day will go. I remember feeling pleased to reach the top of Mirador del Rio as by the time you have reached that most of the climbing is behind you. I always remind people going there for the first part that there's still quite a long way to go after that. the first time I raced there I remember that final 60km seemed to take forever! When I hit a hard patch I always have a positive mantra stored up to say to myself, or I just reassure myself that my legs will come round in a bit. In Lanzarote this was, in some ways easier. It almost felt like a home race: so each part of the race felt familiar and I drew strength from that.
5. What do you think about during 180km on the bike?
Not too much. Mostly about keeping focused on what I'm doing, taking in nutrition and hydration frequently, my cadence and then I talk to myself to remain positive during tough patches…which you will always have during an Ironman. Sometimes I get a song in my head and that helps to keep me upbeat.
6.The notorious cycle climb on the course is Tabayesco, what advice would you give for tackling this climb?
Pace yourself. It's a fun climb and a bit steeper at the bottom before the gradient gets a bit easier. I'd just say enjoy the climb, find your rhythm and don't forget to look back and take in the views once you reach the top.
7. What do you do immediately after the race?
I find family or friends so I can share the moment with them: good or bad. Sometimes I have to go straight to dope control. Later on I always have a hankering for fries: nice and salty!
8. Finally, what three hints and tips would you give to newcomers on the Ironman Lanzarote course?
1. If you can try and familiarise yourself with the course beforehand. If possible do this with a pre-race rec of the course: swim the course, ride or drive the bike route (I wouldn't recommend biking the course the week before though!), and check out the run loop.
2. If you don't have that luxury of going on a training week to Lanzarote you can prepare very well at home for the course. Do lots of hilly rides to build up your strength and go out on windy days so you get comfortable to handling the conditions you are likely to face on race day.
3. Break the course down into segments so that on race day you don't think of the entire 180km, but just think "Okay. First I have to complete the El Golfo loop" Once you've done that you think about the next stage and so on.
A massive thank you to Rachel for sharing her experiences of this race and best of luck to Rachel for Ironamn Texas where she will be competing this month.
You can visit Rachel's website here or follow follow her on twitter @RJoyce09 to keep up to date.
I will be out in Lanzarote from next week working with Sands Beach in Costa Teguise which will involve covering Ironman Lanzarote. You can follow my journey out there through my twitter feed @KatieJSynge. See you there!