It took me a while to be able to write something down about last Saturday: My Own Ironman, but I’ve got to give it a try now as I want to tell you about this very special day and thank you for your support.
I’ve experienced the day in two different ways, as a triathlete and as normal human being (triathletes are human being though). Together with my coach we’ve prepared this Ironman as it was a real race. With a solid summer of training, I started my taper week with some doubts, but day by day I started to feel more and more ready to give it all on the 10th of October, Kona-Hawaii World champs race date.
We started at 7:30 from Playa Grande, the official start location of Ironman Lanzarote, 300 meters away from the transition zone at Centro Deportivo Fariones. It all felt like a real race, there were competitors, there were supporters and there was legend Kenneth Gasque to wish me luck: “Last year I was on Hawaii for the Hall of Fame, but the Hall of Fame is now on Lanzarote where people today do their own Ironman and Tessa is in the lead, thanks to her for putting this sport back on the island.”
I had my swim coach for leading me through the 3800m swim, which felt great and comfortable. Exactly as planned we finished just under 58’, a personal best. Always good to start with good feelings on the 180km bike course. Also that felt smooth from the beginning and I had a great team with me: a multitasking James Mitchell for photo’s, video’s and live report, the van of Tribike Lanzarote with my coach and a mecanic and Segura (Segura Sports Lanzarote) on the motor to keep an eye on the traffic. The first 3 hours I was flying and controlling the watts to be sure I could run a strong marathon. But then I started to feel a bit low in energy, while I was taking more nutrition than usually. I tried to keep my head cool, literally and figuratively, and managed to finish the 5h55 bike ride quite well, still with the confidence to be able to run well. But soon I got throwed back to reality…
I entered Centro Deportivo Fariones to change my bike shoes for the HOKA Carbon X SPE. There were the 4 different abled kids, Fernando, George, Flynn y Ubay doing their bike part, with a bunch of supporters around them. I had to swallow my tears and was glad to see them being so motivated and impressed. It reminded me of what I was doing this for, I’m their hero. With a huge applause I set of to 42km running: one big out and back of 31km, followed by another 5,5km out and back, after which the kids and our supporters would join me for the last kilometer.
I had my coach, two other friends and James by my side on the bikes, to provide me with anything I needed. But soon, very soon, I felt that what I needed wasn’t water, gel or electrolytes.. It was a shoulder to cry on. Not even 5 kilometer I was able to run in the planned pace of 4:40-4:45/km, I had to stop and broke mentally. Never ever it came up in my mind to quit, I only told myself: this is going to be a long long way to the finishline, but I need to do this. Supported by my crew I continued jogging and got cheered on every now and then when we passed a restaurant. I just didn’t understood what was happening, I had sticked to the plan, taken my nutrition, but I felt empty, powerless and with a blocked stomach. I had to walk more and more so Swimlab had to decide to start the walk with the kids. Together we should finish my loop of 31km, but I was convinced to finish my 42km.
What happened on the boulevard was truly amazing, they were all walking towards me, further than they ever thought would possible. Hand in hand, with tears in my eyes, we continued our way back to the sportcenter. They had to convince me on the way: “The mission is accomplished, everybody is more than thankfull for what you’ve done, no word scan describe this. It’s enough now, you’ve suffered enough, we don’t want you to suffer, you don’t have to. We did this together, the kids together have done your last 11km, you need to accept that it’s oke now!” The finishline was emotional, but made me very proud. Me, the kids and the rest of the participants got our medal from Kenneth Gasque, and I was grateful to get the ‘Ironman Lanzarote Special Achievement medal’ around my neck.
It has been an impressive and unforgettable day in which I’ve never before felt so many emotions. I’ve had a fight within myself, as triathlete and as human being. There is has been an error in my nutrition plan. Analyses of the race, the 70.3 races I did as training, current training sessions and races and sessions from the past, shows that the only reason of this bad performance can be related to my nutrition plan. Saturday’s result made me disappointed as a triathlete, but I also see the positive things: I couldn’t had a better test and we’ve got time to test and improve again.
Tons of messages, comments, video’s and photo’s has made me realize I had to be absolutely proud of what I have achieved with this project. When I came up with the idea, I would never have thought it should have such a big impact. And the amount of money we’ve raised is only a confirmation of that:
A day to never forget, a day that gave 2020 the energy and positivity we all needed. It has made me able to do my work with pleasure and motivation. It has been quality training for the future, on a level I wouldn’t be able to if I shouldn’t have this goal. Now it’s time for some rest and a mental reset, the impact has been hugh and I need time to realize what has happened and relive in my mind the special moments we had. These memories will last forever. Memories who will help me in the future when things get tough, because more then ever I’ve learned: NEVER GIVE UP AND TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!
I can’t wait to see the pool hoist in action with Swimlab International at Centro Deportivo Fariones!
📸 by James Mitchell Photography