Headsweats Athlete Penny Comins didn’t let IM Lanzarote beat her – but it sounds like a tough as nails race:
Avoiding the hardest Ironman on the M-dot circuit has always been easy, but there comes a time when you have to face your demons and just tick it off. I entered. I then had the white sweaty feeling of fear. I had a long winter of hard training ahead to get to the level of fitness I needed to conquer the notorious hilly, hot, windy course on the Canary Island. What I hadn’t planned for was four punctures.
Snow, sleet and rain for four months wasn’t conducive to the training I had laid out to get to the level of strength I needed. Many Mazifuel vitamins were taken to ward off the constant lurgy that people had. Long rides and runs, often in the snow, my head was kept warm in my Headsweats beanies. I was determined to get the training in at all costs.
Luckily my determination was a key part of my training as come race day that skill paid off. Lanzarote is known for high sunshine hours so getting into my wetsuit, cap and goggles in a café at the start while the rain lashed down outside wasn’t how I had visualized my race start.
Taking it in my stride, or stroke as in this case, the swim went to plan. Getting out in the cold didn’t make for an easy transition with the loss of dexterity. Riding out in the pouring rain my lips were blue; I was thankful for packing my gillet in my T1 bag just in case.
I have never seen the island shrouded in such mist and rain. Water gushed out onto the road, bringing with it small shards of volcanic rock. One of which decided to shred into my tire giving me a puncture and holey tire. Luckily the mechanics were there in a flash and helped me change it. I continued on with a spare section of tube in my tire where the hole was. This didn’t last long and after two more tubes, my gas canister exploding and an extra tube and pump from number 536 Matty I was annoyed.
Patience tested, I could still see my tire going down as I rode on. I felt every bump in the road and had a fleeting thought to thank the inventors of tires with air verses the old fashioned hard tires. We have it easy now.
Resigned to the fact that I would just have to keep pedaling until I got to the finish as I had no more tubes or air left I pushed on as hard as I could. Then, like a calling from above, the mechanics wagon flew past as we were climbing the gorgeous Mirador. I chased after them, a five minute interval on the turbo. Seeing my distress they helped with a new tire. I was so excited to have air in my tire I floated to T2, having the sun come out helped too. I love the scenery of the island, its barren rawness makes me feel invincible and I absorbed it all.
I didn’t lose focus of the mini goals and set out to run a good marathon, even though I had been out on the bike over eight hours. I put my favorite pink and white Headsweats visor on, downed a Viper Active gel and was off. I love running and enjoyed the sun going down over the ocean. The wind was still immense holding me at six minute kilometre pace on the way out and allowing me to clip along at four minute 30’s on the way back.
Finishing is always a special moment, the finish line feeling. Yet this time I felt like I had won a war. I will be ever proud of this medal. The hardest Ironman, on the hardest conditions day they have had with four punctures.