Colin Lukins completes The Lanzarote Iron Man

24 May 2008

It is not too late to sponsor Colin for his wonderful achievement, safe in the knowledge that he has already completed it!! Please donate through his bmycharity page.

"It's not about the bike" I said to myself chuckling as yet again I passed another £2k plus bike with rider in aero helmet. I was on my £600 Giant OCR1 on the long climb up to the special feed station, nearing the midway point of the 2008 Lanzarote Ironman.

My journey began 30 weeks earlier when I started Don Finks' 'Be Iron Fit' Intermediate programme, at the end of my first season in the addictive sport of triathlon. My season had consisted of 1 duathlon, 3 sprints, 3 Olympics and a middle distance.
The middle distance race (Vitruvian) was where I unscientifically drew my IM hoped for time. I basically doubled my finish time and added a couple of hours, which roughly gave me an estimated finish time of 12:30.

I really enjoyed the training, even getting up early before work to ensure that I managed to fit in the days training, something I'd never done before.
As my weekend rides got longer in duration I found myself getting up earlier and earlier so that I could get the ride in before getting home to take my son Jack to his swimming lesson at 1140hrs.
Juggling training, work and family life was a real struggle and looking back it was my family that suffered the most.

My body fell apart a few times during the training, probably costing me about 4 weeks of lost training. Tendonitis and foot pain were the biggest culprits to this lost time. I even had to pull out at the 11th hour of the Stokesley duathlon.

With a lot of good fortune I arrived with my family in Lanzarote ten days before the race, injury free.
I managed to continue my scheduled taper with minor disruption to the wife and kids.

I hired a car and drove the cycle route; this was the first time that it really dawned on me, the enormity of the task. The rolling hills of Kent really did not compare with the long, hot, windy climbs.
Jez Statham came out a few days later and we were able to swim the swim route together as well as travelling to register at Club La Santa. I used these times to pump Jez for as many race tips as possible, drawing on his IM experience

On race day I left the family asleep as I crept out of the apartment at 0500hrs to walk the half-mile to transition.
I met up with Jez and another Met triathlete Neil Keirs. Even at this late stage I was still sponging up advice!
About 0640hrs we moved down to the beach where I saw Liz and the kids. Good luck kisses all round before a quick dip in the sea (more for a nervous wee than a warm up!!)
With 5 mins to go I formed up towards the rear of the 1200 odd mass start.
The gun went off then it was about a 45 second shuffle along the sand until I managed to get into the water.
Wow this was crazy, arms and legs everywhere. I fought my way through the first lap while managing not to get kicked in the face. At one point my left heel struck something hard and bony, like someone's jaw. What really surprised me was that I was actually using my legs! I didn't get through totally injury free. At one point I got stabbed in the wrist by a fingernail.... such a rough sport this!
I exited the first lap in 35 mins, which I was pleased with. The second of 39' was probably down to my poor sighting.

After a 9 minute T1, it was onto the start of the 112-bike jaunt around the island.
The roads were generally in good condition. I soon got into my feeding plan of a power bar on the hour and a gel on the half, all chased down with water and energy drink.
I stuck to a cadence of 80-90 rpm and stayed as much as possible within my heart rate zone 2
I'd very wisely swapped my cassette to a 12-27 on the advise of an article in the last issue of 220. I remained seated for all but the very steepest sections, slowly spinning past hoards of cyclists standing on their pedals. It amazed me the amount of water bottles that were jettisoned just prior to a steep climb to lighten the load.

One of my funniest moments was being overtaken by Jesus on a bike on the long long climb to Timanfaya. No I wasn't hallucinating in the hot sun, that was his name.

For the last two hours of the ride my feet started hurting from the constant pedalling. It felt like they were both blistered. The marathon was going to be fun!
I continued to overtake people for the remaining quarter of the ride until the final descent into Puerto Del Carmen
I nearly got 'taken out' by a Police car in the last mile that would have been very ironic.
As I handed over my bike to a race volunteer in T2 after 6:37' riding, I knew that I was going to complete the race as even on my hands and knees, I would be able to get in before the 17 hour cut-off.

My feet were blister free and the first mile felt lovely, bouncing along in my cushion-like running shoes after so long in my bike shoes.
I completed the first of 4 laps out and back along the promenade in just under 52'.
The second was done in 57'15" slowing down in the blistering heat.
The third lap found me walking just that little longer through the feed stations. Having ditched my feed strategy of a High5 gel every 20 mins, as well as water at the feed stations, I switched to energy drink only as I was suffering from a bloated stomach and a general loss of energy. This lap took me 1:10'24"
The fourth lap found me walking between feed stations; I had never walked in a marathon before and was really annoyed with myself. I felt a bit better when I caught up with a walking Jez. He looked as bad as I felt. We were both totally 'wasted' and walked together for about half a mile egging each other on until I managed to break into a shuffling slow trot. I made the decision to try the flat cola at the next station. I hadn't tried it in training and didn't know if my body would tolerate it. At this stage my reserves were well spent and had nothing to lose.
Wow, cola is a miracle drink within 2 feed stations, the sugar and caffeine hit me and I broke into a fairly decent paced run for the last 2.5 miles.

Due to my walking I imagined that I had totally undone my work on the bike and were looking at a 13 hour finish, oh well I thought, at least I'd finish in an ok time. My watch was only displaying my current lap time and so had totally lost sense of time.
When I approached the finish chute and looked up to see 12:13. I couldn't believe it and a beaming smile started to the shouts of 'well done met police' and the like.
I wasn't to get my classic finishing photo through the tape as the athlete about 20 metres in front keeled over just before the line. It didn't feel right to run passed him and together with race officials helped him to his feet and across the line. Alas the Photographer was also assisting!

I shook hands with Kenneth the race organiser and received my medal. I then walked alone into transition. As it dawned on me what I'd achieved I started to blubber like a baby, crying to myself as I made my way to pick up my race timings print out.
On seeing that I'd run a 4:02 marathon despite the walking, it set me off again.
Despite all the lovely food for the athletes, I settled for a beer and an ice cream (the latter given to my daughter Daisy to placate her as she had wanted to run in with me)

I waited for Jez to come in before making my way uphill to my apartment. I was sure that the hill had got steeper.
Liz ran me a bath and crunched up in its 3 feet length, set about texting friends and family.

Amazingly the next morning despite feeling drained, I had no muscle soreness, nor the next day. Normally after a marathon I spend two days walking backwards-downstairs...maybe I didn't try hard enough

I was now an Ironman having completed reputedly the toughest one on the circuit.
During my 30 week schedule and including race day, I swam 118 miles, ran 568 and cycled 1853 miles (not including the 26 turbo sessions)
My training hours were 304:35' and I lost 2 stone

So was it all worth it? You bet it was!!