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Jo Carritt: Lanzarote report
Posted by: Jo Carritt
Posted on: Tuesday 25th May 2010


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Tri247 columnist Jo Carritt has had great success over the Ironman distance over the past few years. Indeed, she finished top ten overall at Ironman Lanzarote twice in the past while racing in the age group ranks. Lanzarote 2010 was to be Jo's first race in the pro ranks.

And if you thought pro Ironman was a glamourous activity, well, you do get to use phrases like "raucous flatulence" in your race report, if that counts...?!


Standing on the start line was possibly one of the most exhilaratingly terrifying experiences since I stood on the very same beach on the morning of my first Iromnan three years ago.

The Pros go off the same gun as the rest of the competitors, lining up with our feet in the water, with the hungry mob of 1500+ age groupers 150m or so up the beach ready to storm down into the sea. I'm looking up the sand, knowing that I'm not a faster swimmer than the first hundred or so guys there, and am placed directly in their way! As it turned out, after the initial drumming and thrashing as those faster than I went by (and over), I quite soon found myself being swept along in a space at about my own swim pace and stayed amongst them for the duration - I was able to swim moderately hard with an occasional tow. Looking around and occasionally seeing the yellow and green 'pro' swim caps nearby, I felt reassured that I wasn't doing so bad, and actually really started enjoying the calm, clear ocean swim. I felt pretty good this morning now that the event was under way, and was pleased to glance my watch and see 1:03 as I stared the long run through transition, stripping my suit. (Actual swim time 1:02:30 - a bit better than last year).

Jo Carritt @ Lanza 2010Transitions here are lengthy due to what I'd estimate as over 1km running - lucky for me as a pro most of this is without the bike, which is racked right near the exit, and as usual I find that I run through transitions a lot faster than most people are able to on exiting the water.

Jumping on the 'Roo/Goblin I started the ride out of town a lot calmer than usual - not the rush out of transition and first 30 min of the ride with my heart 10+ above target zone. This time it was low, I felt uncommonly comfortable spinning a high cadence in lower gears and gradually bringing my HR up to the top of AeT and finally pushing it up to full effort on the first ascents away from the coast. I was pleased to pass two pro women quite quickly on the course. A bit of a Bento Box disaster, finding all my halved Powerbars melted together into one lump, which I had to fish out and take messy bites off lost me some time and I was re-passed briefly. That gives me something to push against, and brings my mind back to the riding, and by the start of Fire Mountain I'd re-passed and put enough distance on her not to worry any further.

As usual I find myself riding amongst the same male age-groupers, I always shout-out to the British guys I see, and receive lots of encouragement in all languages as I pass the blokes on the hills! The conditions were perfect - light winds and relatively cool/overcast for most of the morning. I was feeling good on the bike and having no trouble keeping my focus and HR up throughout the ride, high cadence, no chaffing and sunglasses weren't even annoying me as they had been constantly in training! In the foothills approaching Haria - the half way point - I pass Yvette, another British neo-pro who I used to race at Olympic distance. She's a good swimmer and very fast runner over Oly and half distance - so, putting as much space between my rear wheel and her drove me on hard for the next hour or so! I climbed Haria singing The Cure's 'Boys Dont Cry' and passed another pro woman in the process. I think she was Swiss, Alpine trained, so she got me on the pretty scary hairpins down - I wanted to go as fast as possible, but not die! Bike handling is a skill that I do need to work at. Anyway - I got her again on the next, and really nasty climbs between Haria and Del Rio and did not see her again. That stretch of thE course has been a low point of the ride for me in the past - it's a gruelling bit of road, after 3.5hrs of riding - but I'd prepared myself for it both mentally and by riding it in training. Just on the very steepest, nastiest bit of road on the whole course I saw Hilary Biscay ahead, not looking so great and could not believe it when I passed her! That's something strange about now racing in pro - those athletes who've I've read about in magazines, seen win races, listening to their awards speeches and becoming a fan and making role models of are now my competitors. And, as it turns out, on a good day (and maybe a bad one for her), might just find myself passing.

I was already working hard at that point, heart rate above LT and the shock/excitement might have been too much since from that point on, a tight knot of cramp formed in my stomach. The majority of the return is down hill, or flat aero riding so I just could not shift that cramp. Lucky I was able to continue to ride through it - shifting the CD.01 in the terrain that it's made for. It was fortunate, I thought that I'd had so much food the previous day as I really could not eat or drink anything - though that may well have been the cause of this gastric disturbance in the first place. Pushing on with the fear of losing the positions gained, I rode solid all the way back, encouraged by the information that I was fourth and 22 min down (no idea if that was true, but it inspired me!) and that i was looking at beating my target split of 5:50. In fact the ride had gone so well that in the final 10 miles I became totally paranoid about puncturing! I hit T2 in under seven hours race time with a 5:45 bike split - so had 3:30 to run the marathon and still make my target of 10:30hrs. Of course I had not planned that I'd need that long, but things mostly don't go all to plan in Ironman!

I faffed around a lot pulling on compression socks in transition - having made the decision to wear them to preserve my legs for my next races, I'd not put spares in the bag to ensure that I actually did. I thought that this extra sitting time might help ease my stomach cramps, but it did not. I felt pretty awful running out of there, but I was at least running quickly - 4:30 pace, which I eased off to my target of painful 4:40s. Soon after about 4km Cat Morrison came steaming by, asked if I was doing ok. I was quite honest and said "no". She told me she'd lost half an hour with a broken chain, and by the looks of it was running angry. Of course she went on to run through the whole field for the win - a very exciting race. The course consisted of one long lap (19km) and two short (11.5km). After about 40 min of running I'd managed to release the knot of gas from my gut through some raucous flatulence, and started looking for a gel at the next aid station. Nada. I ran on to the next - none again. This started to freak me, and on retrospect when my weakness showed itself. It was hard to stop the negative thoughts at bay, a I became increasingly desperate at each station, and quite angry. A sure sign that I needed some sugars. I was just about hanging on at 4:50's but feeling it slip away from me. Even after I found some gel, and filled my pockets, I couldn't really recover my attitude. When Yvette appeared from behind, I went with her a bit and found she was running my target pace 4:35, and it felt perfectly within me - I've trained at that pace a lot - but I was feeling crappy and just didn't want to run beside her, so let her go, falling back to my easy pace watching her slowly pull away. I guess I was just settling for it. Another woman went by and, again, once she told me she was AG I was relieved and let her go even though her pace really was not much quicker than mine. Had I been racing AG I'd have stayed with her, tried to drop her for sure. But then I was just glad of the brief pick up but I was in a world of pain and just wanted to finisH, and focused on holding 3:30 marathon pace. Given how well my running has been going since the foot injury, I am disappointed not to have run to my potential, but I had a chance to see some real quality racing pan out around and in front of me, and a taste of what I need to strive for in terms of focus and will.

That's what's so endearing about this Ironman lark - there's so many variables to tweak!


Jo Carritt About the Author
Joanna Carritt was the 2008 age-group European Ironman Champion. She has a PB of 9:43:19, achieved at Ironman Germany 2008, in what was her fourth Ironman event. For more information about Joanna go to: www.joannacarritt.co.uk

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