IM Lanzarote- Alan Bremner

saltire finish

arrived on monday early evening, i thought it would a good idea to get there a few days early and the flights were either monday or thursday, thought thursday was too close. i wanted to check out parts of the bike route prior to saturdays race and get used to the heat and infamous “lanza” wind.

i was so fortunate to have twice lanza vet nicky with me, and lanza destroyer craig who had given me an amazing insight into his incredible race, so between them both we set out our plans to conquer. i hired a scooter, nicky jumped on the back, i pretended i was very motorised vehicle savvy (was quite nervous actually) and we set about checking out certain parts of the bike route, not necessary to do the whole thing, but great to get parts of the course in my mind. the parts we didnt tour, nicky and craig told me all about, so before saturday i had a really good idea of the bike course.

i swam parts of the swim, practiced entry and exit during the week and attempted to get used to the lane rope, but looking at my left hand now, you wouldnt know it. i am always conscious about doing too much the week of the race, but diana always keeps me right, rested totally on the thursday and did my mini tri on friday am. racked the beast on the friday afternoon, dropped my swim and bike bag into transition and felt brilliant, i had sort of been hanging around and now that i had left transition i felt really free of bags and kit and ready to race… wow it was getting close now!

night before a big race i find its always difficult to sleep, but you just have to go with that and try not to get stressed, (easier said than done) i had everything in place, had trained in scotland throughout the winter, head torch for the dark evening runs, for 6 months, cycled with all my buds and felt fit, strong, injury free and ready to smash it. race start was 7am, so i set about my pre race ritual. met up with my ironman bud nicky at transition, pumped my tyres up to race pressure, told the beast i would be back soon and headed off with nicky to the beach. i normally go for a pre race run to warm up, and get the pressure out of my head, but unfortunately forgot to pack my extra pair of trainers, decided not to stress about it, things happen, you just have to deal with them – just tried to keep calm, “tranquillo” as a spanish friend told me before the race – a great word to keep in your head pre ANY race!

nicky wished me all the very best, and then i was off on my own, well me and 2,400 other athletes! got into the water, checked out my goggles n hat and made my way to my position at the swim start. i had discussed this with diana and craig where i was going to start 1hr 5mins off to the right to attempt to miss the majority of the maelstrom! met big maggie just before the start, couldnt miss him, wished him well and took up my place. wow, there is nothing to compare with lining up at the start of an im race with the sun coming up, so many athletes, so many other stories of how they had got to the same starting line, so many positive thoughts of support from my family and brilliant friends – incredible. then the klaxone – and we were off, the tightest funnel of athletes i have been in, the biggest fight/swim i have ever been in, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, never give in, never give in, never give in. the 1st buoy comes really quickly, a stramash ensued, hard work, i had planned to stay close to the lane rope after the 1st buoy and did so, but in doing that was forced into the floats and rope, time after time, smashed my hand off a big yellow float and thought, that gonna hurt later haha, things didnt really calm down until after the 2nd buoy and then round the 3rd, swimming now parallel to the beach, i had been out to swim before and was sighting on a big white building, easier to sight on something big on the horizon rather than searching for the buoys. before i knew it i was coming out of the water having done my 1st lap, checked the clock, 32mins, brilliant thought i might go 1:05 pb for me. 2nd loop was better but i lost time, i think it was because on the 1st lap, you are being pulled along by the train of swimmers, on the second lap it was all about me trying to get onto good fast feet, unfortunately i dont have any and couldnt find any, i was doing all the pushing, i was slightly disappointed to come out of the water and see i had lost time, 1:09, but immediately thats done, nothing to do about it now, time to get onto the beast, he was waiting and i hadnt fed him haha.

mayhem in the tent, got through it as quickly as possible, then on up the ramp and into t1. its a very long transition, but i knew that, and had marked out my bike position opposite a shop sign, couldnt wait to get on my bike and get out on the course, up to the mount line, ran right through the dawdlers and we were off. it is a notoriously tough bike course, taking into consideration the heat, climbing and the wind. i could handle the heat, the climbing but it was the wind that had concerned me. i had chosen a 50mm front and 101 rear because of the crosswinds and was really pleased with that. having been out with nicky before and experiencing the crosswinds, they can be really fierce, a few of the pros had discs on, but the guy who won didnt! nutrition went really well on the bike, i had my watch on and was taking a gel every 30mins, i also had a bottle of electrolyte on for my 1st bottle, and planned to only have 1 bottle on my bike at any time. this is something i have done quite a few time, there are lots of aid stations on route and unless you require a specific drink, you can pick up water or sports/electrolyte drinks at any station. i see so may people on v expensive carbon bikes with sometimes as many as 4 x 750ml bottles on board, doesnt make sense. before i knew it i was heading up through the long straight road in the fire mountains, looking out for the camels, nicky and i had marked that on the route, so i knew exactly where i was at that point. that section is long, a long straight pull which looks spectacular in the mirror of a scooter, but i had no time to look back! headed on down to, and on past la santa, felt good and couldnt wait to see nicky. we had agreed she would be at teguise (the halfway point), so in my mind i knew where on the bike route i was. unfortunately nicky wasn’t allowed to get up to teguise (even on her bike), so i got a shout from her just before, i saw a flash in the corner of my eye and got a brilliant shout, really gave me a boost and kept my positivity going, getting ready for the big climbs of haria and then mirador. race weight for me is around 60 kilos, so i was spot on for lanza and to be honest i didnt find the climbs really difficult, sorry, don’t mean to be cocky, but craig, nicky and sandra had told me, yes, they were hard, but more pulls, not scottish redrigg hard, and i had all my chums at home, pushing me up when i needed it. at the top of mirador the cloud/mist was blowing and for the 1st time i felt slightly cold, but i knew i would be down on the back soon and couldnt wait. riding the switch backs was amazing and the speed with the tailwind on the long straights was absolutely amazing, its such a pity i didnt have my garmin on, as i would have loved to know what speed i was travelling at, definitely the fastest i have ever been on the beast, actually, maybe it was a good idea not to know my speed at that point. i had a slight wobble going into a corner really fast, only just gripping the tarmac, cold sweat running down my back 30secs later. that long section was over before i knew it, and then i was on the goat path! craig had told me all about that, a horrible section of uneven road surface, just what you don’t need when you are getting tired. i have never seen so many co2 canisters and pieces of carbon, bottle cages etc. i was so pleased to get that section over and done with, looking for the palm tree nicky and i had marked out, a single palm tree that signified i only had a short distance to go. its funny when you are getting fatigued and looking at lots of palm trees saying, is that it, is that it… where is that blumming tree haha. then there it was, again i knew exactly where i was and how much more biking i had to do, its funny i was sooooo keen to get on my bike and then after almost 180km i couldnt wait to get off it 🙂 the bike into puerto del carmen is brilliant, the support is fantastic, i was smashing it. i have done quite a few running dismounts over the years and have got it pretty much sorted, however i did forget how bike shaped i had become and hitting the ground running and standing up straight i did do the old man groan 🙂

into t2, guy took my beloved beast from me and i was off into the tent, not so much mayhem this time, took my gel, drink, hat on and i was off, didnt feel like 5mins!!! it was really hot on the run, but hey, same for us all, i settled into a pace and tried not to focus on the distance. met nicky and she told me i was in 1st position and had 6 mins on 2nd placed guy, i remember saying only 6 mins, its a marathon, would like it to have been longer!!! really felt pretty good on the run at the start, bit of a boring out past the airport and back, funny how running past the ocean makes you want to jump in! everything had gone to plan run-wise until i hit about 28km, i took a gel from a station and i dont know what was in it, but it was disgusting, i spat it out and thought, i’ll miss this out and pick one up at the next station. unfortunately when i hit the next station, there were no gels available, now a bit of a problem, i had missed 2 gels, whether it was mental or not, i began to fade and i definitely slowed. negative thoughts begin to creep in and i thought 2nd place at lanzarote was a good result! at the next station i crammed 2 gels in, drank an energy drink (never done before, water always), but i thought if i puke, i puke. i immediately felt horrendous, stomach cramps the lot… just keep going, just keep going! after about another kilometre i began to feel better and after another km i began to feel normal again. i picked up the pace and got back to running properly. i had a weird moment on the short loop, i began to think i had more loops to run?  i was checking out all the runners going in the opposite direction to see if they had more than 2 bands on, the race band is red and some people had their bands on the same wrist so it looked like they had 3 bands on. funny how your mind plays tricks on you when you are racing ironman. i was running well now and i knew nicky was coming up soon, it was fantastic to see her and she told me i was still in 1st place, i had only 1km to go… she shouted, 1km to go… 5mins of your life, i exploded, i ran that last kilometre in around 3.40, there was a slight incline and then all downhill to the finish, i was flying, supported by the crowd, my family and ALL my buds at home, i smashed thro the finish line. what a day, what a race… what a result. after my disappointment in im zurich 2011 (still got my kona slot, so disappointment wasnt too extreme), being told i was 1st, believing it and then finding out 30mins later i was 2nd, was at the front of my mind, i got a race printout telling me i was 1st, but was then told it wasnt a final result! diana told me i was 1st, nicky told me i was 1st, but i needed someone at the event to tell me! unfortunately they couldnt confirm and told me to check online, i had a terrible internet connection but was told on the phone by jackie and diana i was definitely 1st!!! wow, really difficult to take in, lanzarote, i feel is the hardest im i have ever done, ive done france, switzerland and kona, but this i felt was tougher… and i had only gone and blummin won it… woo hoo, totally amazing, incredible … so happy. i found out later, that the 2nd place athlete in my age group was only 1 minute behind me… wow!

nicky and i went out afterwards for something to eat and then both agreed we wanted to go back down to the finish to watch the other athletes come in. it was amazing, people who have given their all to get over the finish line within the cut-off time, watching them and their friends and family is magical and even the mens winner romain guillaume was there at the end, congratulating the final finishers – incredible.

i have competed in many triathlons over the years, but this was something special. ironman lanzarote ag winner, still sounds pretty good even after 2 weeks. not the fastest im i have done, but 1st in cat, 208rd overall out of 2,400, beating 28 pros or so i was told! thanks for all your support buds, i called on all of you to help me when things got tough. special thanks to craig, sandra, nicky, evan (and nickys family), my mum and of course jackie for putting up with all my training hours and all my negativity when i felt training was getting too much. one last massive, massive, massive thank you to diana and neil at dinamic for preparing me YET AGAIN, perfectly, for one of the greatest race results of my life. better sign off now before i get any more gwyneth haha

one last thing, at the awards on the following evening (which was a special night with nicky, evan and her wonderful family) i met olaf (who i shared the podium with) and his wife, i knew by then i wasn’t going to kona, he asked my why i didn’t take the slot, i told him what i had planned to say… i had been there in 2011… and it was his turn now. he was so happy and his wife too, it was the right decision and they’re reaction made it even more magical.

still buzzin chums 🙂

Im Lanzarote finish