Here we are again. For Iain, a good two years of fine running & cycling form & fitness only to be scuppered this year with news that at some point he will need a hip replacement. For myself, 23 months of no competition, almost zero training except for a concerted 20 weeks of ‘Tri training’. So that’s two 40 somethings in their twilight years? Well, not on your Nellie Father time! Not just yet: Bienvenido! IM Mallorca 70.3: officially the world’s largest Half Ironman, here in Alcudia. The full distances sibling. 3600 individual entrants (and team relays) ready to Swim 1.9km. Bike 90km. Run 21.1km. Let the tale begin: Wednesday 10th May: Goodbye Newcastle – Hello Mike McLeod! – Elswick’s Club president & Olympic Silver medallist on the same flight with his two brothers – on a week’s cycling trip in Pollenca. We say hello in Palma airport – get stuck with biometric passport malarkey – and don’t see the chaps again until the following Wednesday. The weather is glorious – Apartment most salubrious. We meet up with Barry Critchlow, Ian’s newest ‘recruit’ to the world of Triathlon. We go along to registration and once again money is haemorrhaged yet again. An almost dare I say, an entirely relaxing 1st day. Below: Our accommodation for the week (not the yacht!). I apologise for overly large high res photos in advance. Ta.
Thursday 11th May: Another fine day. Early doors. We all head down to Alcudia beach to try out wetsuits and the sea swim. We find Katy Robson and Team Woody on the beach 🙂 we say hello & banter follows: all good stuff! The wetsuits look surprisingly good given they have not seen daylight for 2 years 🙂 . Once settled into the warm Mediterranean water, we settle down and practice the sea swim course and end up completing the full distance. Everyone is happy (I think) that we have done it. Nerves squashed (well, a little bit anyway!). Below Katy, Iain & Graham.
At lunchtime, Iain and I, take to the hills on the bikes. Let’s get a feel for this cat 2 climb from sea level to 2,300 feet above sea level, around 12km, between 3 & 5%. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s a fair old climb to the top ( we didn’t do down the other side where the pesky 180 degree hairpin bends await – that’s for a car trip we think!) Pleased it is done. There and back takes 2hrs.
Friday 12th May. Lunchtime. Free food. Free drinks. Welcome to beach side, Alcudia for the race briefing. We take in the update rules & regs for 2017. Bikes are placed into transition along with your transition bags. Remember where everything is. There are a lot of bikes and many aisles to negotiate – but were okay – we have memorised our location. Afterwards, we decide to head ‘up North’ in the car to reccy most of the bike course, stopping for cake & coffee (as you do!) Again I think we are collectively glad that we have. It is true what they say about the descent: WOW! Or YEE HAAAAH spring to mind! A last supper and stack some zzzzz’s before the alarm goes……………..
SATURDAY 13TH MAY. RACE DAY. An early rise for everyone. We are at beachside for 6am. That smell of anticipation, neoprene, fogged up goggles, pre-race nerves, the beat of funky music, it is all here again. A dip in water to get acclimatised. Iain is reticent but we howk him in! Below: Foreground, A solitary Iain & a penny for his thoughts….
It steadies pre-race nerves. We see the start of the pro men & womens race. We are in the water with many others making a human ‘avenue’ for them to swim out of as their races begin. We say are good lucks to one another. For 2017, a new rolling start. Into a designated time slot pen and then we are brought forward into individual pens and then you are set free in 5 second intervals. It works a treat. We are away. IM Mallorca is a GO!
GB: I’m off 1st. Easy in: The sand sinks beneath my feet and soon I’m up to chest high. I try to purchase the soft sand. I sink again and my toes grip for traction.Ouch. Pain in toes (& what feels like an instantaneous cramp in my calf). No panic. An easy one legged swim of breaststroke (a sight to behold indeed!) but I move forward after a few minutes it all subsides and I make my way. No idea of the time but I feel as if I pass ‘many fellow swimmers’. I’m apparently out of the med in 29 mins and into T1.
IH: Here goes. Keep myself steady. Don’t panic. Well I’m in the sea, a few deep breaths follow and eventually settle down into my swim. And I pick my way through the swimmers around me. All systems go. I feel Okay here. The seawater is not particularly pleasant mind! I might have set my Sunnto watch up wrong? Hmmmm. Good news for me. I’m out of the water and into T1 in 32 mins. Officially it was 34 mins. Still happy though! GB & IH. Both transitions are ‘wet, sandy’ affairs! The whole set-up is on the beach. There is carpet, but it aint where it really needs to be. So changing has to be thorough! No sand anywhere. I hope you know what we mean. Ahem.
To the bike course. GB. First time on the TT Bike since June 2015, and it feels comfy enough. I settle down and there are groups around. I think it’s because of the climb that lies ahead so soon after the swim. Soon enough we climb. The TT bikes slows down to around 9 to 10mph for the duration. Until I head over the top. The temperature is officially 31 degrees by 10.30am. The descent, if not careful, can best be described as potentially life-threatening. It was last year in 2016 when it rained. Easy does it all the way down. Then it’s into the rhythm that is the TT position. Tuck in. Keep it going. As I cycle back into Alcudia. All the nutrition is gone, but feel a tad bloated: no matter, the time is 2hrs 48 mins for the bike. I’m more than pleased with that.
To the bike course. IH. The first flat section passes by so quickly I forget just how picturesque the landscape and the hill climb is. Truly spectacular. And I loved that climb. I REALLY did. They could have made the whole course uphill of 90km for all I care. I could have just kept on going! Alas all great cycling uphill adventures do come to an end….Over the top, the hairpins were not that bad on the day…..back down to flat sections for the remaining part of the bike course. I hold my tuck position of the drops of the handlebars for as long as I can. I cycle 2hrs 58mins. I’m very happy with that time. Those ultra-smooth roads were just perfect for cycling. Gracias. Below Just steady away………..
GB & IH Transition. Again we both agree that T2 is quicker, but the need to remove sand from toes is paramount! Sun cream sloshed on, out of T2 and out for 21.1km in the midday sun. Marvellous.
IH: Potions & lotions, some welcome sunshine, a change to my training plan, seeking advice & support, all put together made for a pain free run. No trouble for my hip today. Thank God for that! It never materialised (time to move abroad for my arthritic hip!) The kilometres tick by, I keep it conservative on the run, just easy and steady away. It was hot out there, no doubt about that at all. Three laps of 7kms to do. The coloured bands go on, the feeding stations supply the fuel that takes me towards the finish line. It’s a great feeling again. For the 3rd and last time I hang a left onto the IM magic carpet. The crowds have been fantastic around the run course and they swept me across the line, only to be nigh on Photo-Bombed out of my personal glory on the finish line by some ‘fully clothed’ fellow triathlete lady! What a cheek I thought! I’m so tired, but elated, even more so as my time was 5hrs 34 mins. I’ll take that today, thank very much IM 70.3 Mallorca! Below on his way to the finish line (Thanks for the photo Alex 🙂 ).
GB: The snail. Out of T2 and immediately I feel slow. I’m shuffling already. The legs just won’t respond. I tried to lift them into a bit of a ‘run’. But no. Other than feeling a ‘small stitch’ that irritatingly would just not go away until the last lap, I just slowly plodded on, the lack of consistent training was clearly self-evident….But one step leads to another and you make your way round, I took on board nutrition every 2km and absorbed the support that lined the course, hoping that I would turn the corner and start to feel better.
I did eventually get going albeit in the last lap, but it was 14km too late. I stopped & thanked a supporter just as I collected my last lap band. With that done, I just took it all in – the final 400m towards Paul Kay, the voice of Ironman on the magic carpet. I’m on the carpet. The goose bumps were there (A thank you to Kev :)) and a high 5 from the man himself, leads me across the line bowing my head, I was completely spent. I would not have had it any other way. My time finishing time was 5hrs 20 mins.
Meet & Greet: In the athletes village I’m on a sun lounger when Iain walks straight on by! A shout in broad Newcastle dialect makes him turn round. A big hug to one another. Congratulations follow. I’m very proud of what Iain achieved here, at IM Mallorca. Truly Iam. For Iain, after the disappointment and stress of IM Austria 2015 and recent health concerns, I think he’s had a great time in Mallorca and a great Triathlon race. My congratulations publicly to you, Iain. Below, Me & Iain just beyond the finish line and the hard earned finishers medals & t-shirts (and Our Kev there too 🙂 ).
As the scorching sun faded on Saturday 13th May 2017, Barry crossed the IM finish line in 6hrs 45 mins. Katy got through IM Mallorca safely and well within the time limit of 8 hours. Our congratulations to you both. Fine, dedicated people to their chosen sport. Barry, Iain and I re-convened with a catch up of race day on Sunday. A drive to old Alcudia town in the afternoon for drinks and a superb evening meal at Bradley Wiggins old haunt at Tolos restaurant in Pollenca (pictured below) :
More cerveza in Alcudia until 2.30am on Monday morning 😉 rounded off a fantastic weekend (pictured below early hours still going very canny on the cerveza!)
Monday we said our goodbyes to Barry (pictured below with Iain and Alex Critchlow) and we finished off the trip with a few days of rest and recovery in sunny climes. A huge thank you to those who have supported us over the winter and more recently over IM week. It cannot be done without family and friends. Where next? Well that, as they say, is another story…………