There are reasons to feel sad and disappointed, but somehow it was a very special edition which makes me massively motivated to working on what needs 200% attention now!
Ironman Lanzarote was never on the plan. After racing here for 3 years (4 including My Own Ironman) I know why it earns the title of the toughest in the world. You won’t get anything for free here, well yes: wind and heat. But no excuses, that’s Lanzarote, that’s what we choose for. And for me, that wouldn’t really fit in a year in which I want to have my fully focus on the World Championships on Hawaii (October 9th). So I picked the Spanish Championships long distance in May as my pre-race for Hawaii, where I ended up with a DNF because of stomach problems on the run. Problems I also had at Challenge Gran Canaria. I just wanted one thing: sort out my nutrition problems and another race to test it out. Lucky as I was I could start working with Alan Muchison alias The Performance Chef, to improve my daily food intake and my train and race nutrition. And so Ironman Lanzarote came on the plan, on my doorstep and no hassle with travel. I only saw one challenge: the pressure I put on myself when I race on home soil. That’s why it started to get quiet on social media from my side. Getting to the finishline without stomach problems was the only goal I had. I didn’t mind about who should come to race, I actually didn’t even want to see the startlist. Why? Because I wasn’t ready to race and to fight. It was going to be my 6th race in four months, some good results but not always satisfied. I love to race and I’m happy things are getting back to normal after an empty 2020, but yes, maybe this was too much. So not many people knew I should be on the startline and I was even a bit incognito with my new kit from ReneRosa/CustomizeME 😉
During race week I felt relaxed, no nerves, no pressure, I felt the confidence of being able to set a good performance, but also afraid that things still could go wrong. I’ve made jokes with my coach on whatssapp the evening before: “Tomorrow we start at 7?” “Yes I will be there a bit before to prepare everything so we can go straight on the bike after the swim.” “Perfect, maybe there will be some more joining us.” The usual chat we have if we train together, as that’s how I saw this race: a proper training day. And on race morning I messaged to a friend: “Looks like there’s an event going on, many people with bikes and wetsuits..” It’s quite cool to be able to see the start of an Ironman from your balcony. You can literally and figuratively leave all your ‘shit’ at home and walk in your wetsuit to the start. That’s where I noticed I wasn’t so super relaxed. I arrived to the beach and I just couldn’t hold my tears. I setted myself over it and focused on what I had to do.
At 7:05 the gun went off for us pro females. The swim course has change this year to one big loop instead of 2 smaller loops, which means dealing with a lot of current at some parts. I could nearly say I can dream the bottom of this sea, if it’s deep or shallow I know how far I’m out from the beach, I know the rocks, I feel in which direction (I have to) swim. So I had a good start and sticked on some feet but after the first buoy I thought: hé, this is not going in the right direction. I changed direction and so did someone with me, but I saw someone else going too far out. We found each other again, but I couldn’t hold the pace of the group and a small gab appeared. Again I saw them swimming in the wrong direction and I thought: well that’s quite nice, if you do some more meters I will catch you later. We arrived to the first turning point and yes we were reunited again. Unfortunately not for long because they dropped me again. The current had changed which made it a very slow swim, it was annoying me and because I was out there alone I lost a bit of motivation to keep pushing hard, which then made me get angry with myself. Untill I said to myself: Tess remember why you’re here now, f*ck the pace, f*ck the other competitors, enjoy and just do what you have to do, your part will come! 1:06:30 which usually should be down one hour a small consolation: everybody was ‘slow’.
The amount of animation during my 4 minutes transition and a long run to my bike was insane. It made me happy and forgetting my bad feelings of the swim, I’m not alone here, all these people will cheer me to the finish! I felt quite well on the bike but the real good feelings come about halfway. Towards a turning point at 30km I knew I could see my position and the time I was behind, but it didn’t bother me, I kept my head down and focused on myself. Actually I noticed I was riding like in training, decently at the very right side of the road, looking over my shoulders where I used to do that at some points, it just went automaticly.
Passing the little climb through Teguise was such an onforgettable moment, the wave of cheer started by friends at the very beginning and then more and more people followed untill I passed another friend and it was like the people went all out. I got goosebumb and thought: I’ve got to get out of here before I start to cry again. Speechless! This gave me wings and I really started to feel like flying onto the most hilly part of the course. I was really well sticking to the plan, both on power and on fueling and the legs felt good all the way. Into the last hour I started to feel my stomach a bit strange but I just wanted to believe that it was more in my mind, maybe too much focused on feeling something. With confidence for a good marathon I came from the bike in 5th position. Apparently I left as 7th from the water, one has pulled out and I passed one on the bike. The gab with the top 4 was quite big and number 6 was right behind me. But this is where the race starts, where Lanzarote shows its circomstances, where people get in trouble and where it all comes to the strong mind.
The planned 4:30/km felt like a walk in the park for my legs but straight away my stomach started to cramp up, nooo not again, please! I sticked to my fuel plan and just tried to keep running comfortable. Also soon my feet started to burn (which I already felt on the bike), it was like I was running on fire, but I had to survive 5km before I could pour them over with 10 cups of water. I struggled on for another few km’s untill I really had to walk a bit after about 12km, wanting to scream, shout, cry. I tried to kept on running but it was a torture. Any idea how hard it is to literally pass your house at that moment..? To not think: ah f*ck it, I’m off! Friends and friends of friends were the ones that kept me going. Untill I arrived to km 19, I was more walking than running, where I saw my coach. I didn’t saw a way to continue for another 23km, I wanted to give up… We sat down on a bench and I let my tears running, I don’t want anymore, I can’t anymore. He gave me a pep talk, eveybody was suffering, 3 or 4 girls had pulled out, I could still finish 6th if I would be able to continue without destroying my body. Go and try to train your stomach and your mind, at least try before you regret your decision to quit. On which I replied: Oké let’s go, I’ve got some money to earn! and I grabbed my number belt which I already had ripped off and started jogging again.
My mood changed and went from grumpy and sad to relaxed and gratefull. The crowd, the amount of people that were cheering me on during the run was unbelievable, they carried me to the finishline. I was still suffering and not able to run fast anymore, but the stomach cramps were getting less. Despite of this I enjoyed the rest of this ‘never-ending-marathon’ and could make some jokes on the way. The body started to feel really empty in the last 4km but I could smell my medal. A somewhat quiet finish but I was still hearing Lanzarote in my mind.
So many mixed feelings, of course I’m not satisfied but I’m so glad I didn’t throw in the towel. I would never have missed this crap piece of a marathon, it was a torture, but it was special. Days after the race I’m still feeling the benefits of continuing and finishing. I used to be grumpy after races like this, hiding myself, not wanting to speak with anyone. But I’m not, I’m ‘happy’, went out for lunch, dinner, cakes and icecreams with friends. I know there must be something wrong in my system and this problem must get solved, what happened feels like it’s not in my hands right now. This doesn’t mean I’m not worried, I’m am, a lot, and I’m motivated to get this shit sorted!
My blood and shit are currently in the lab to get checked on bacterias and intolerances. While waiting for the results I’m off to Holland to see my family, to relax and recharge, before we go full gas again untill the world champs in October!
Thanks everybody, for everything!❤️