Science In Sport’s Pete Slater is a good friend of us here at 220. So we thought we’d let him regale all with his Ironman comeback last weekend. It went pretty well…
I first raced Ironman back in 1990 so my motivation for racing once again was down to a combination of my 20th year anniversary and the challenge of proving to myself that I could still post a good time and push myself to the limit.
Although I qualified and competed in Hawaii in both 1990 and 1991, my goal this time was to quite simply have a race that I would always remember and to be able to say, ‘Yes, I gave it my all in both training and the race itself, I could not have done anymore.’
Lanzarote is renowned as the toughest Ironman race there is – hot, hilly and windy conditions that affect everyone in one way or another.
I knew I would have to get as fit as I possibly could do to be in with any chance of having a good race and not suffer too much.
As race day approached there is no doubting the fact that I was a little nervous, yet also excited. I think the nerves hit me most on Thursday; I felt quite calm and good on race morning and was more than happy stood on the start line with 5mins to go.
Bang and we’re off – everyone charges the short distance down the beach into the ocean. One, two, three… 10 strokes and then I’m kicked in the eye, then the jaw and then the chest, which takes my breath away.
We hit the first buoy and turn at 160m. Iit’s pretty chaotic but I get round okay and finally find some space and settle into my rhythm.
I have always been a reasonable swimmer but having had my shoulder reconstructed 18 months ago (Lars Ligament surgery), I had some doubts as to how fit and fast I was in the water these days. I exited the swim in 55mins. T1 was smooth and my first target achieved.
Onto the bike… If you know triathlon and know Lanzarote you will appreciate how hard the bike course can be. More or less a complete lap of the island the course takes in the long climbs of Fire Mountain, Haria and Mirador del Rio with a few drags in between.
Notoriously windy most of the year I think everyone had a surprise on Saturday morning when there was no wind at all.
At first this seemed to be a blessing but later on in the bike I realized that it made the ride just as tough. You had to work for 180km. No ‘free’ kms that you normally get with a strong tail wind.
I kept a high cadence, backed off slightly on the hills and worked the downhill’s, flats and drags. I hit a maximum speed of 90.2km/hr descending from Mirador del Rio and posted a bike split of 5:38hrs, average speed of 32Km/h. Box number two ticked.
My run target was 3:30 or less’ in my previous 5 Ironmans I have always run between 3:27 and 3:37 and was confident I could do the same again.
I set off and within 3Km felt as though I was in my stride and hitting a pace I was comfortable with. One quick toilet stop reassured me that I was hydrated and as long as I kept drinking and taking gels I would get there.
Despite being on the sea front the run in Puerto del Carmen is quite undulating. As always there were a lot of spectators and supporters out by now, personally there were a lot of familiar faces and voices which was absolutely fantastic.
The run was hard, no doubt about that, I quite simply concentrated on getting to each turn point on each lap.
When I hit the final turn my thoughts changed to staying ahead of those chasing me down and getting to the finish line as fast as I could in one piece.
Crossing that finish line was very special, race director Kenneth Gasque was there to greet me. I’ve known Kenneth for 20 years through triathlon, when I turned and saw the clock showing 10:20 I was pretty pleased and also surprised. My run split was 3:34 so all in all I had to be happy with that.
Medal round my neck, Tanja [Slater, Pete’s wife and triathlon coach] in toe, we headed gingerly to the information desk as my legs were finally starting to give up.
I handed my timing chip back and collected my un-official results print out – 99th overall and sixth in my age group meant I was Kona bound once again 20 years on.
I still can’t quite believe it, but I will be there on 10 October in Hawaii.