I wanted to get sick. I was driving up the hill I would soon be descending on my bike; steep sharp blinding turns, giving complete confirmation there will be no reward at the top of this climb. Instead of the need for speed which I have been hoping for, became thoughts of a new strategy; watching my lines carefully so I can live to tell the story of When I Survived Ironman Lanzarote. Until now, my biggest decision I thought I had to make was if I bring a full length or sleeveless wetsuit, and now I see I have bigger fish to fry; all I am thinking about now are my wheels, the weight me on my bike with the wind and the grade of the descent…oh my. There is nothing comforting to me right now other than the sweet thoughts of a marathon I get to do afterwards, but only if I survive. I know this is only one of the many hills I get to climb, but this is the one I will loose sleep over. This is what Computrainer cannot prepare you for.
1350 athletes, 137 women and 17 are in my age group. None of that matters to me anymore, not even the rough swim start of 1200 men beating you down. If asked what my goal was at 7:00 this morning, I would have told you something completely different from what I am going to tell you now. The weather has changed, the wind speed is up and all I am looking for is to be done before the sun goes down. My race number is 64, my gear bags are all in the front row, bike in the front; I couldn’t have a better transition layout, and being the master of transition…too bad this isn’t a short course race, those extra thirty seconds over everyone is nothing here.
What I will get to see along this torturous route is something amazing. As shown a few days ago the hardened lava desert in the south, terrain, rocks and sand changes so much in such little amount of land. I lived by my motto of “I’m Lost” to the fullest today. Leaving without a map didn’t help and I didn’t pick-up one until I hit Haria (aka – panic point on the bike course). This is when I needed to stop to let the tension out of my shoulders, more so than indulge in the spectacular view that lay before me. I pulled off at a vineyard, yes…a vineyard. As I pulled in I was looking around looking for grapevines, but never saw a thing. Asking the man who ran it how long it had been here, I was shocked when he said 150 years. With my curiosity and confusion taking over, I asked where the grapes where and where the wine was made. He told me right here. We were standing about 400 meters from the opening where the top of the volcano blown off 200 years ago. Personally, I thought it was just a communication error. I bought a bottle of wine and he gave me a detailed map. It wasn’t until I was heading down the hillside and noticed hundreds of pits dug in the ground with plants in them…grapes! I didn’t know!
I got to see amazing wind sculptures from the late and very famous Lanzarote artist Cesar Manrique. So many intersections all over the island with his pieces of work; they are everywhere; I wish I could have gotten pictures of all of them, but I had to manage my driving. There is a cactus garden, Mirador del Rio and so many little stops along the way. I came across a beautiful town called Punta Muijeres where the lava rock spilled into the ocean creating these pools. These pools are now at the door steps of many locals’ houses. A man walking his dog stopped next to me to share admiration for his little village. I took a few pictures and he smiled and said with a sigh, “muey bonito”. “Si, muey bonito, muey,” I said to him. Fishing boats lined up beyond, with shades a blue that range from dark azul all the way to brilliant turquoise.
As you reach Orzola everything begins to change. Memories of my trip to Ironman South Africa came to mind as the beaches mixed with rocky shores and the waves crashed ten meters into the air. Lava rock mixed with sandy white beaches blends into the backdrop of high cliffs that drop straight into the water. When I say straight in the water, I mean there is no room for road, so you must backtrack through the hills to get to the other side.
As you make your way down past Teguise, a beautiful town in the center of the island, but still magnificent view, you start to find a green moss-looking plant growing onto the rocks. There is a castle there and a few churches that are stopping sites, but I was more interested in getting to La Santa, but not before I make a stop at Famara. Famara is a surf town where you will find the best wind sports and surfing on island. The surfers look just like the ones you will find in California, and I am sure they have a similar code, like The Nod, we triathletes use throughout the world. When I stopped in the town, I was clearly an outsider. Not knowing the code of social acceptance, I took a few pictures and moved onto La Santa.
The packet pick-up is always and interesting thing. You never know what you are going to get. Ironman packets outside the US are always so much better. Kick-ass back pack is what we got pre-race. (IM South Africa – they gave us jerseys). The location is far from the race start and this is your host hotel. The idea of being bused to the start of the race and waiting to be bused back after the race does not do it for me. There is nothing to do at La Santa other than be at the resort. However, the resort is pretty impressive. It is an endurance athletes’ dream! Since there is no sand beach and you cannot swim off the coast there; the resort build an inlet. So there are able to get the tide, swim an ocean course in the protective area of the resort! There is a track with field events, VO2 Max testing, lap pools, weight room and so much more.
I have officially made my round of the island. Tomorrow is tune-up and drop off. Take a deep breath in and go for it. There is nothing more I can do now, but listen to my words I tell everyone who does there first race; enjoy every moment, good and bad for there will never be another one like it.
And there won’t!