Pink elephants and lemonade, dear Jessie Hear the laughter running through the love parade Candy kisses and a sunny day, dear Jessie See the roses raining on the love parade ("Dear Jessie", Madonna 1989)
Dear Jess(i)e / hey crazy ass aviator man!
I’ve been a fan for many years now. First I really liked the special kind of humor you mix into your Triathlife essays in Triathlete magazine (seeing as many dorks around the sport as you do), then I found you were racing Pro and won Wildflower so many times in a row. Seeing you move on to Ironman racing and winning Lanzarote last year played into my game plan for this years race – more on that later, let’s start in chronological order.
Why doing Lanza again after 2014? Last time was to explore, this year was to actually race it.
The plan was to keep things straight and simple, period. I mean this is Lan-za-rote and not a walk in the park. Simple goal: 6 personal bests in Lanzarote thru swim, transition 1, bike, transition 2, run and overall.
Travel was classically with Hannes Hawaii Tours and having Hannes himself around again was nice since I could talk Swimrun with him and discuss my beloved Allgäu Triathlon (with him as the race organizer. There will now be a change in Bib distribution 2017 🙂 ).
Editors note, #braggingrights edition: I still am and will always be the youngest finisher ever of this very oldest Triathlon in Germany with my 1991 race at age 18. Can't wait to bore my grandchilds with that bragging in my walking frame years to come!
Same time, same hotel, same preparations the days leading into the race. Only gnarly thing was my right shoulder where the muscles seemed kind of shredded – I got up every morning with pain and had daily physiotherapy to get it working again. It bettered not much though so I was curious for the race itself… skip forward to the race.
At the swim start – this year we had some 1600 participants compared to 2200 in 2014 – it was again letting the crowd through a 20 meter corridor and take a sharp left after 180 meters of swimming.
So I positioned myself in the 90 min swimtime block all to the back/right to avoid as much trouble as possible. I expected to first have some hectic 300 meters out and then cruise peacefully along the 3.86 km course. Good thing: my shoulder seemed better than expected so after walking really slow into the water I started to swim.
After 500 meters the situation was unchanged – bodies left, right, in front and back of and sometimes below or above you. I didn’t yet come to enjoy swimming in this beautiful waters right into the rising sun but wanted to so I chose to take a wider lane right (course is counterclockwise) to get calmer and go fish watching.
This worked nicely but didn’t prevent me from having to take the second buoy after 1 km so I went right back into the pack and the pogo situation was unchanged.
The loop back to the start after 1500 meters people were still going nuts and I again chose a lane closer to the beach to keep my calm (and the „Find Nemo“ part). This combined with navigating the wrong yellow buoy made for actually swimming backwards (see GPS track) at the end to catch the 4th buoy – thanks to the kayaks who guided me back on course.
Next was an Australian exit to start loop 2. Getting up from the water I looked around and saw far too many swimmers around me. Checking the race clock I had my first surprise with 41 minutes including the walk-into-water-start. I knew I might expect better than 90 minutes but this was a strong first loop – all that Swimrun training eventually paid off!
Swimrun also taught me to „read“ the water and for loop 2 I pretty much knew what to do. Countercurrent out after first buoy (work with stamina!), side current after the second (be a „sailor“!), current in your back after 3rd (push push push!) then turn right and head home.
Finally the traffic situation did relax a bit (still too much though) and I tried a mix between swimming right next to the buoy lane (bad idea: that’s what everyone wants to) and 5 meters beside it. There I was looking for good feet to get some good drafting into the current. Did find some but feet owner chose to hit back to the buoy lane again and again. So I took it alone and waited for my chance after buoy 2 (side current). I was luckier there and found my ticket to ride. For the stretch home I even jumped a bit more forward on the train and exited the water after 78 minutes. Yes! And the reason for all the hectic swim traffic: I was simply too fast by some 15 minutes and made my way all through the 80/70 minute groups – wow, a premiere for me! Doing the math after race I must have passed some 500 athletes in the water… 1004th out of water.
An even bigger yes came with evaluating my Garmin data – the morning-cruise-into-the-sunrise was not only beautiful, it also summed up to 4.3 kilometers. Double-Yes!
Swim 2017: 01:18:19 h Swim 2014: 01:28:49 h Mic 2017:2014 = 1:0!
So there I was carrying a 10 minutes bonus into Transition 1. Yes, it could be worse. I went through there casually deliberate and partly fast (sunscreen!) to just spend less time there than 2014 („race mode“, you know) which worked out well.
T1 2017: 00:08:38 h T1 2014: 00:09:54 h Mic 2017:2014 = 2:0!
My watt data was all fine during preparation. 2000+ km on the Bkool turbo trainer payed off well. The goal was to go sub-7 hours for the ride – the lower, the better.
- 1. Do not fall off the bike. The Lanza bike course typically alters to feel riding like between 80 km/h and … erm… five (5) km/h.
- 2. Do not fall off the bike and take good care of the speed bumps between Yaiza and La Santa, watch the catching winds that may gust around 7 Beaufort in the valley of 1000 palms.
- Keep it conservative all the way to Famara (around 80 km), enjoy the rollercoaster around El Golfo and kill-them-all on the downhill to La Santa, especially behave up the awesome Fire Mountains and hit an average heart rate just below 130.
- Then roll comfortably up Teguise, fire-at-will up to Mirador del Haria and Rio and breathe trough there and enjoy the fantastic view down to Graciosa island.
- Downhill after Mirador del Rio let it roll, enjoy my bike skills, set up a new race speed record for me.
- At Arrieta get my cheeseburger in when starting the tailwind false flat up to the last climax, curse on that fucking road to Nazaret for 3,5 km, then use the tailwind and simply sail home. Save your run legs.
- Take real good care of the Brits on the twisting last 15 km since they tend to ride the wrong side of the road once toasted after some meters of climbing and added winds.
something new! The weather was real hot which is nothing new but usually you calculate with a 30 – 50 km/h headwind coming from north-east and sudden gusts all the time.
This year the gusts where there but the wind strangely came from north-west which made it a totally different course. It was lower though at maybe 20-30 km/h but that didn’t help making it better.
Long story short: I had my nutrition on spot, hit Famara with exactly 129 heart rate average, had real fun up the Miradors, cleverly saved my run legs after 130 km and scored a new race speed record of 82.1 km/h. And I really really enjoyed the scenic ride, especially never being in the panic zone all along. I did though have more and more sorrows for my shoulder since the Roubaix-style roads didn’t help relaxing and tension was building up more and more. Fun fact: heading to Nazaret my soles started hurting and after loosening shoes did not help I rode barefoot for the remaining 30 km to the finish. Dialogue with a Spanish guy: „You feet hurt?“ – „Yep, need some relaxing“ – „I have afraid for your marathon!“ – „erm…“ well that’s motivational skills, right?!
Bike 2017: 07:14:19 h (despite rather harsh conditions) Bike 2014: 07:14:47 h (a whopping 28 seconds slower over 180 km!) Mic 2017:2014 = 3:0!
Same plan as for transition 1 with a twist: I calculated – at least hoped – to start the marathon after 8:30 hours.
That said, I wanted to see the Pros racing one time and cheer them into the finish. Especially „Mr. Aviator“ alias Jesse Thomas but things turned out differently for both of us.
First, I was late! I jumped into my run shoes round 8:45 h, heard second place coming in and was a bit disappointed. Until…
Well, I guess you can’t make this story up: heading to the timing mat the speaker was „and here we welcome our last years’s winner JESSE THOMAS to round up the podium!“ and at the very moment he finished I started my run. I mean, in the very same second. Goosebumps. Got him finally! Whooh-hooh!!
T2 2017: 00:07:46 h T2 2014: 00:13:42 h Mic 2017:2014 = 4:0! Finishing time Jesse Thomas (3rd Pro): 08:49:02 h Run start time Mic: 08:49:02 h (!)
Blasted and with a big grin I started running and didn’t care much about my shoulder. Yet.
I was in severe hyperthermia right before a sunstroke and so much thanked for the first aid station at 800 meters where I literally showered all over, grabbed 3 cups full of ice cubes and started placing these strategically over my body. My core temperature though seemed unimpressed but finally by km 2 the boat was saved.
I could now go „hello legs, how are you?“ and see whether or not I would do a sub-4 hours for the run (= plan A). My shoulder hurt a bit though. I tried to run through the pain (= plan B) but the pain kept growing…
Well: „If you can’t run, then walk-run“. Tried to evenly spread 1/2 of running with 1/2 of walking (= plan C). Shoulder pain rises on.
Then it came to me: „This is not your A-Race.“ (funny to say that to yourself in the middle of the Lanzarote Ironman, eh?). There’s a long season ahead of you, 3 weeks to Borås Swimrun. 7 weeks to Roth. Ironman Hamburg later, then „my“ Allgäu Triathlon. Maybe another Swimrun after that.
„If you cant’t walk-run, then walk“ (= plan D). Checked my race time, calculated, a marathon walked would just throw me out of the 17 hours finishing cut-off. Might have to throw some jogging in between, why not, seems feasible, let’s walk. Shoulder? Kept killing me more and more. The impact on it by just walking was already too much. I started to realize: I might be in a bit of trouble here.
Next: „If you cant’ walk, then crawl“ (= plan E). Not really. Not with this shoulder. Not with that time left to the finish. Here I realized:
I’m not in real trouble here. I’m stuck to my throat in a huge pile of shit!
Next aid station: 500 meters. I thought I could at least make that. Might have a sip there, then think on. Met a girl from our travel group, had a chat, was advised to fix my arm, did not work with my new and well-performing race suit (darn thing not built for corrupt shoulders!) and then played „Fear of the walking Dead“ until aid station at km 3.
Did not yell „Ice!“, did not yell „Water!“, not „Coke!“ or anything. I first mumbled „I need a doctor“, they didn’t get it, then „Paramedico!“ which they did understand. What they did not understand was I needed it here. Right. Now. At least I learned to find them at the roundabout at km 5. I have absolutely no idea how I got there. Got my fixation finally. Case closed.
The rest of the marathon was just boring. The fixed arm was fine, I was good in my pacing, thought of at least going sub-16 hours, then I was pacing for Sub-15 hours, then I was pacing for a sub-6 hrs marathon (I mean, the time-saving jogs in between I did around 4:45-5:00 min/km since I was so underchallenged) and then Benny pulled up.
A real nice guy from our travel group who ran into the wrong bet to also do IM Lanzarote again. Chatted along, discussed finishing with him until he was „You only have one body.“. So I walked the rest, was pretty much cheered on along the whole course. Think I made „warrior of the day“ with my one-arm performance. Had plenty of time to think and used it to make peace with the island: Be grateful. Be humble. Be happy. Still loving you, Lanzarote.
Run 2017: 06:42:46 h Run 2014: 05:06:28 h Mic 2017:2014 = 4:1!
Spectularly unspectacular. Speaker made up a big show around „This is the true Ironman spirit!“, „Anything is possible!“, „Look at this guy from Croatia!“, „Walking a marathon!“ and yes the crowd kind of did freak out. Happy to get the medal from Kenneth Gasque he’s not getting younger anyway. At least I made it into the official Ironman Race Video (check out 00:23:06 – 00:23:11, my five seconds of fame bought with 15.5 hours of… well, experience 🙂 )
Finish time 2017: 15:31:48 h Finish time 2014: 14:13:42 h Mic 2017:2014 = 4:2!
Checked out my bike, grabbed my bags, skipped massage and… ran into „Dear Jess(i)e“ – THE CRAZY ASS AVIATOR MAN!
I. Was. Prepared.
„Coolest Guy on the Circuit!!!“ I just said to him. I actually wanted to yell that on him on the marathon but see above.
Asked him about what was wrong with the bike course conditions, he was with me on „IM Lanza is the toughest, this day was tougher“, had a laugh on his IM-win-ratio dropped to 50% („Yeah I should have stopped after last year“), mentioned how my marathon took a bit longer – his also, told him to try the SOS Triathlon one of these days and thanked for the nice chat. Man this guy really is cool! And he is CEO of his own Picky Bars business as well! Love this section of his race report:
So finally the galaxy is at peace for me. Just have to check my Doc back home and sort that shoulder muscle drama out. Latest rumor is about a lumbago in my cervical spine. Next stop: Orthopedist.
Read more of Jesse Thomas here: http://leapdaysports.com
Get Madonnas version of „Dear Jessie“ down below. Check this one line: „hang on, you’re already there.“. Also consider this track was never released in the USA. Read more here and keep loving music.
Epilogue 2 – coming home
Coming home is always best. I come to meet the two best females in the world. It was late around 2:00 h in the morning and one option left: go to bed. Next daytime meeting my chicks we were all happy to be together again and it was kind of as usual: „How were your days“ and „tanned up a bit, eh?“ but not much talk about doing some sport on the weekend. Mentioning „I do think I had one of the best races since“ they were just „Yeah, clear. Anything else special?“. Only thing mentioned by my wife when seeing the race pics: „You look not as fat as usual“ 🙂 .
Love my girls for that – never had a need to impress myself, never have a chance to impress these two!