Gill’s IronMan 70.3 Mallorca 2015
Lake View’s sponsored triathlete has gone and bagged another win! Well done Gill Fullen! Her write up below is a great read!
“I needed an early 70.3 this year, as I was aiming to qualify for the IM 70.3 World Champs in Austria and since I was intending to go to Mallorca training anyway it sort of made sense to do the race while I was there.
It was a bit of a shock to go from chilly UK weather to baking hot Spanish climes and hope to be competitive, but I had a week to acclimatise at least. I was with a group of 9 other Harriers and managed some great rides with them at the start of the week, including the infamous Sa Calobra at the crack of dawn. Then the tedious taper began and I had to watch them zooming off all over the island while I wound down for the race. Boring.
I swam every morning to try and overcome my habit of being sick every time I swim in the sea and to get used to the wetsuit again – fail ! Very generously Dave PH lent me his lovely Zone 3 suit in the end and I found that I could actually breathe, which was a huge improvement on being strangled by my own wetsuit.
Running was slow and on very heavy legs, but in good company and beautiful surroundings and gradually improved as I got used to the heat.
On race day Richard P was a gent and drove me into Alcudia for the race start. I had racked the previous day with everything prepared, but arrived at my bike to find the rear tyre completely flat – not in the race plan. Luckily I had plenty of time to change the tub for my spare and persuade the bike mechanics to inflate it through my dodgy spare valve extender. Otherwise all was set and I checked again where my fairly empty transition bags were placed on the racks so I could find them easily.
The beach start went off in 15 waves, with about 3500 competitors to get through, starting with the male pros, then the lady pros. Great to see them start and realise that the front runners would be finishing the swim in 15 to 16 minutes – less than half the time it would take me! It’s fairly shallow at the start of the swim, so I kept wading through the water to the last minute rather than swimming any further than absolutely necessary, which seemed to work, as I found myself near the front of my wave, with some good feet ahead of me. The swim wasn’t too crowded and I felt pretty comfortable throughout, but as always very pleased to get back onto the beach for the long run to T1. Most of the other women were jogging up the beach, so I put some effort in and ran, passing most of the ladies who had swum better than me and arriving at transition well up the field.
Both tyres still up, I ran out with the bike, threw myself over the saddle in a semi-professional manner and promptly took the wrong exit from the roundabout, having to turn around to get back on the route and losing a few places in the confusion. Drat.
Bike course instructions were to push the first 10k hard (usually a recovery stage after the swim), so I hit the gas and was soon passing ladies from the previous wave. At 10k the course starts to incline subtly uphill, but speed was still good and I kept pushing to the start of the 14k climb, where instructions were not to kill myself so I was too tired for the second half of the course. Duly span fairly easily up and up and up, with no-one passing me, until the top of the course finally arrived and my favourite part, the steep, technical descent with 16 hairpin bends thrown in for good measure. Less than 12 mins of persuading my hands to stay away from the brakes leaning into the turns and keeping the speed as high as possible. Closed roads here, made all the difference in terms of finding the right line and I even overtook the race referee’s motorbike!
So onto the long, twisty in places, but fast and rolling second half of the course, where power is the key and being aero into the onshore headwind. I felt strong and, apart from the odd hill and having in mind that i forgot one of the i have ome, kept the speed at over 20mph for the whole of the return leg of the loop.
Just the run to do. I had tried to take some gels on the bike, but only succeeded in getting through about half of what I had with me, so knew I was a little under-fuelled. There was a long run from transition to the first aid station, which didn’t help and I only managed to take on water there, so my legs weren’t feeling like they wanted to do a half marathon with me. Tough. Next aid station was time for my secret weapon – Coke. Caffeine works for me much better than sports drinks, so Coke & water at each aid station from then on and keeping hold of any ice blocks I was lucky enough to be given.
I knew my pace wasn’t great, but on the dead turns I hadn’t seen any other women in my age group, either in front or close behind, so figured I could probably get away with an average run. Now I was chasing an overall ladies’ placing and gradually overhauling any pink numbers in front of me. The general pace of the run on the second loop was far slower, as most of the pros had finished by then and the slower cyclists were joining the run, which was very narrow in places, so it became harder to keep a good speed up. I was more motivated on the last lap and started to pick the pace up and managed to keep it going, even when they seemed to be pushing the finish arch further away every time I looked!
Finish funnel – best feeling ever! A whole bunch of Harriers waving and shouting madly! What a great sight. Over the line, medal, congrats from the officials. 1st out of 60 in age group, 4th non-pro woman. Qualification for World Champs in the bag, (presented by Paula Newby-Frazer, very famous, mega, multi-IM-Kona winner). Job done. Bubbly and paella for tea.”