So it's now 5 days since IM Mallorca and I've had a little bit of time to reflect on the race so here are my thoughts...
Back in 2014 I decided after spending some 6 months going out with and living amongst experienced Iron'men' and 'women' that I couldn't be the odd one out so decided to enter IM Mallorca. A place close to my heart after meeting Tom there on training camp in March and spending multiple holidays with my family over the years- this had to be the one.
Arriving in Alcudia last Wednesday to pouring rain and grey skies was not the glorious weather I was expecting but true to form the sun came out and the sea glistened.
As race day approached I could feel my body 'preparing' itself in a way I've not noticed before. Wanting extra sleeps, needing extra food and then going to the loo more times than I could count on 1 hand (sorry!). Whether this was to do with the horrid antibiotics I had been taking for a recent tooth infection or just my body ridding itself and getting me to race weight who knows but I was feeling ready.
I went out with a friend from my previous Tri club in Nottingham to reccy the bike course and was feeling good. I also swam a bit of the swim course and it felt like a warm bath so we thought it'd almost definitely be non wetsuit. To our surprise at race briefing they announced it was borderline so you could choose! After consulting Dr James Gill (master of swimming and recent Kona qualifier) he said I should definitely wear my wetsuit. So that I did.
Race morning arrived. I was nervous. Really nervous. It felt so daunting that I would cover more distance and be exercising for more time than I had ever done before. Seeing the thousands of silhouettes/athletes descend upon the beach as the sun started to rise was pretty special. With the new rolling swim start I put myself in the 1.15-1.29 pen. The swim consisted of a 2.4k loop Australian exit then a 1.4k loop. The swim went perfectly and I amazed myself when I exited in 1.11. A long transition and I was out onto the bike course.
Again after words of advice from the 'pros of IM' I took the first 90k steady and It felt really easy and time passed so quickly. I came in under 3hrs so was more than happy with that. Knowing the 2nd half of the course involved the Lluc climb and a headwind I knew things would get tougher. At 110km my guts weren't feeling too good after a million gels and other caffeinated products so I backed off a little, took on water made the climb nice and easy and then got myself together for the final stretch back home and came in just over 6hrs so again pretty pleased with that!
Now I new that despite the run being my strongest discipline it would be the toughest on the day. I wasn't wrong. A 4.5 lap course makes for some real psychological battles. I made the most of walking through each aid station soaking myself with sponges, ice cubes, cups of water and taking on some sort of fluid/gel/fresh orange. I didn't set myself too much of a target for the run other than try not to walk anywhere other than the aid stations. I had no idea what my accumulative time was on my Garmin I just kept looking at my 1k pace and felt happy that I was relatively comfortable. Besides a couple of trips to the god forsaken soiled porter loos I didn't walk and ran the entire marathon in 4.26 and crossed the finish line in 11.57.
As I met Tom in the athlete garden I burst into tears with overwhelming emotion and felt so proud that I came here and achieved more than we'd both hoped. On the walk back to collect my bike I swore I wouldn't do another but sitting here writing this on the beach 2 days later I've already decided which one I'm doing next!
For anyone reading this that hasn't done an Ironman, contemplating doing one, feels it's beyond them then I challenge you to accomplish something that I still can't quite believe. The Ironman mantra is 'anything is possible'. It really is if you put your heart and sole in it.
Thanks for all the messages of support and to Tom for being there all day and helping me to keep going. It means the world.
Lauren Bradshaw MCSP BSc
Specialist Sports Physiotherapist
Progress Centre for Health & Performance Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital