Tag Archives: Lanzarote

We managed a little swimming too

100s challengeLanzarote wasn’t all about biking ! Or watching an Ironman ! Or sitting in the sunshine ! Or enjoying happy hour ! We did a little swimming too……….

There was a swimming session planned into our schedule each day: pool, lagoon or sea !

The pools above are brand new, open for about a month and they are lovely. Club La Santa has 3 olympic sized pools in total and while they look daunting and LONG, after a few days the length doesn’t seem strange from what you do everyday. A little bit of a challenge is the wind that blows hard at times and it feels more like 75m on the way back, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right ?

The focus of these sessions was technique, and drills (boo hiss). We were across about 5 lanes based on ability and worked through some tried and tested drills, with a few new ones thrown in just to keep us on our toes.

This pool is also the venue for the Up & Active training camp’s ‘Mine’s a pint’ challenge Aquathon (or Aquathlon or that race where we swim first and then run!)……. oh its a long story, but basically it brings out the competitive streak amongst selected members of the group ! Fun times 🙂

They seem to go forever !
They seem to go forever !

 

Club La Santa's sea water, enclosed lagoon
Club La Santa’s sea water, enclosed lagoon

The lagoon remains a little gem in the resort. It is used for water sports during the day so at 5pm you’ll find many triathletes and open water swimmers diving in to cool off at the end of the day and preparing themselves for the 6pm happy hour. At this point there will be some people getting a little hot under the collar around the ‘Triathlete vs Open Water swimmer’ debate – really ? They would claim that the triathletes will be those in wetsuits while the open water ‘real’ swimmers would be the hardcore ones without ! Personally it really doesn’t interest me…….. as long as those in the water are wearing SOMETHING, I’m fine (some of you will know exactly the time, place and person I’m referring to – I am still scarred by the image !) – we wouldn’t want to scare the legendary monster Tuna fish would we ??

The Up & Active training camp mini-triathlon takes place here on the last day of the schedule ! A quick 400m loop, up the stairs and off on the bike (yes UP a hill AGAIN !)

The sea, IM course
The sea, IM course

My personal favourite remains the sea ! During the training camp, we rode over to Puerto Del Carmen and took a dip around the IM Lanzarote course. As with my previous comments, lots of ‘triathletes’ out there but not many ‘open water swimmers’ to be seen. From the photo above you can see the calmness……… remember my photos from the IM ? Definitely the calm before the storm ! We also took a couple of dips during the IM weekend. A wetsuit ? No !

It’s well documented that swimming remains my biggest mental block but the week re-engaged me. My biggest challenge remains keeping a focus on my drills in the pool when the open water beckons during the summer but I have learnt my lesson from last year and am going to keep the balance this year.

And just in case you want to check out what you are, here’s a quick test ! What type of swimmer are you ? https://catherinedanndann.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/check-out-your-swim-personality/

Life live loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ironman ? WOW !

When we finished our tri Camp in Club La Santa last week, we were lucky enough to hang out to watch Ironman Lanzarote live, in the flesh ! WOW, that’s all I can say………. !
After completing two 70.3 races in 2013 (well January 2014 for the 2nd), my ‘life plan’  was to complete a 140.6 in my 40th year (November 2013 – November 2014) but circumstances have led this to move to 2016. I was fascinated to finally be a spectator and even find a little time for a volunteering stint at bag drop the day before. One of our tri-campers and neighbour was a participant too, so we were prepared to be the loudest set of groupies ever heard.

Crew, ready to take those bags
Crew, ready to take those bags

I don’t think anything had really prepared me for what was going to unfold that day – at the swim start at 7am I said “hell yes, let’s do this next year” to “oh my, what am I thinking” at 7pm as I watched people run / shuffle / walk through the marathon……. 2016 is a long way off !! Ok so perhaps not.

7am we were at the beach ready to go !

I can’t quite describe what happened next, it was like a huge flock of birds landed on the water. Instead 2300 people in black wetsuits, swim caps and goggles took to the water all at the same time and they just kept coming, streaming into the water, and they kept coming and coming !

A flock of seagulls ?
A flock of seagulls ?

 

And they still keep coming
And they still keep coming

And then lap 2 !!

And off they go again.....
And off they go again…..

After watching alot of the swim we walked to bike transition. At this time we hadn’t seen ‘soon-to-be Ironman’ Paul, so we waited very close to his bike, groupies through the chain link fence.

The buzz was incredible ! Everyone was so focused after changing into their bike kits and getting ready for the 112 miles around the Lanzarote (see my recent blog about cycling in Lanzarote for a little taster of what was in front of them, https://catherinedanndann.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/lanzarote-just-a-few-rolling-hills-in-the-sunshine/).

Before we knew it Paul was there, smiling widely, ready to rock the next 7 hours or so in the saddle…….. and then he was gone ! And we decided it was time for breakfast 🙂

While we were taking our little brunch sabbatical the IM circus continued – the transition emptied (well almost – another story there !), the commentators kept the crowds informed, the big screens showed the beasts out on their bikes and the motivating heart-pumping music blared.

After our own little sea swim, the groupie group re-grouped (!!) to watch the bike finishers stream into the transition shoot. By now the temperature was up in the high 20s and the sun was burning……… we tried very hard not to complain, cos what did we really have to complain about ?

Again, ‘1 step closer to being an Ironman’ Paul flew past us in a bit of a blur ! We had an advance party watching out for him and yes, we were loud and proud as he blew past us.

BLURRRRRR
BLURRRRRR

So 2 stages down, just the little matter of the run to go !

Now this was a spectacle to behold. The course consisted of 2×10 mile laps and 1×6.2 mile lap, each one bringing the field back to, but not quite touching, the finish line. The course was exposed, there was very little shade and early on, no wind at all. The spectacle was heightened by runners being at different stages of the race but alongside each other – you had those just starting the run with those that were starting their final 10k and amongst all of these were the elite leaders, being escorted by mountain bikes.

It was at this point that my “hell yes I can do one of these” euphoria started to wane a little – this was tough, really really tough. No like really really really really tough !

If possible, it started to get even tougher when the wind started to blow up, the sun started to set and the temperature started to drop quickly.

You could also see energy levels, physically, emotionally and mentally, seep out of those on the course too. They were doing whatever they needed to get across the finish line !

Our buddy, ‘I’m very nearly an Ironman’ Paul was pushing on – for the first time we lost the smile for a while which was worrying, but at about mile 18 he found a rhythm and some energy from somewhere (lemon Fanta apparently worked for him!) and he could taste that medal.

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And then he was done ! A sprint finish, a GB flag and the medal around his neck……… and the smile that says ‘I am an Ironman’……. yes you are !

For some though, the evening hadn’t finished. With the 17 hour (midnight) cut off looming, we jumped on our bikes to ride back to our apartment. I’ve never felt like I did riding past people still out there cheering them on. Some were nearly at the line, some were still heading away from the line, some were with family, some were alone, others had found supportive volunteers to keep them company. Did I feel pity ? No it was admiration. Some knew they wouldn’t be crowned an IM and would not get that medal, but they weren’t giving up.

One of the last sights of that day was from our hotel balcony – a IM car with the timing clock at 16.41 on a count down, driving along the road about 3km from the finish. That was brutal…………

2016 for me ? Hmmm I’ve started to tell people now, so I guess I’m committed – but its going to be a hard road to get to the start line, let alone the finish line. Have I got what it takes ? Only time will tell. If what it takes is focus, determination, guts and a big degree of stubbornness, then evidence suggests I can. But I’ll keep you posted over the next few years.

Another motivating factor ? Those smiles !! At the start line, at the finish line and at the airport the next day…….. I want one of those !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

 

Lanzarote : just a few rolling hills in the sunshine

Anyone who knows Lanzarote should be shaking their head right now saying NO IT ISN’T, ITS HILLY & WINDY ! And honestly, it has more ups than downs, is more windy than it is calm !! Not for the faint hearted….. but I love it 🙂

Ride hard & earn the downhill
Ride hard & earn the downhill

Although I guess it’s what you want to do. Hire a couple of bikes to cruise along the promenades in the towns, no problem that’s flat(ish)…… but if you want to get some serious bike miles in, its off up the hills.

My first experience was May 2013. Here’s me thinking, yeah I’m fairly fit, a new cyclist but doing ok ! Yep, what did I know…..

Club La Santa, while it’s an oasis, it’s also at the bottom of a ridge, and that means ? The only way out is up !!!!

Route 1, Off to Soo

Route 2, Off to Tinajo and beyond (this time longer but less steep).

“Is there another route out ?” I ask naively. “Nope it’s either one of these !”.

Once you’ve made it to the top of the ridge at Soo, it’s a wonderful sweeping downhill to the surfing town of Famara. Sounds great huh ? It is ! But the big challenge is the wind at this point. It tends to be coming across from about 10 or 11 o’clock… Love it !!

The first time I rode this area (May 2013) it was the first time I had really appreciated riding as a group, spreading the workload amongst us all. I’d been on group rides before but without this discipline and while I knew it made life easier, I’d been very nervous to ride so close to the bikes around me. It was more about my bike handling skills and confidence than anyone else – what if I wobbled and took someone down ?

What a difference to work with others, pull each other along, take your turn out the front, all needing high communication !

The most recent trip was my first time riding through Teguise, up to the café at the top of the climb, the descending and coming back up the switchbacks. The views are amazing, but honestly I was concentrating so much on the descent that I didn’t really see much – this photo gives you an idea of what I should have been seeing !

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Fire Mountain and the ride through to Yaiza remains a big favourite of mine, especially waving to the camels on the way.

Someone once said to me that I’d be cycling strong after a week in Lanzarote – well they were right ! You learn that there isn’t something you can’t climb, you just have to hunker down and keep on pedalling 🙂

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Every view is worth the climb……… remember ride hard and enjoy the downhill !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

 

 

3 weeks a year in Lanzarote ? Really ?

If you had told me a year ago that I would have spent 3 weeks in 2013 on the island of Lanzarote I’d have laughed and told you no way ! But I did and given that I’ve just got back from my first trip there in 2014, it got my thinking why ? Firstly why would I have said no way in the first place ? Then why did I spend 3 weeks here last year and why am I doing more this year ?

The first why is easy – honestly because I can be a little bit of a travel snob ! There you go, I’ve said it, phew glad that’s off my chest ! And my evidence that it wasn’t a great place to visit ? The image of Brits on a drunken, partying holiday was on my mind – I’m sorry we’ve all been there, seen it and wish we hadn’t.

So I built a bridge, got over it and May 2013 was my first time visiting any of the Canary Islands.

The second question was why did I spend 3 weeks here last year ? That’s fairly straight forward too – I found that it’s a great place to do the things you love, if what you love is swimming, biking and running. I’m not saying that it is an easy place to do those things, but it is a great place – now that’s a another blog topic all to itself.

One of the places that help this is the Club La Santa resort (www.clublasanta.com), which is a small (or not so small) oasis on the north-west of the island that caters for many many forms of exercise and sport. I had seen resorts like this advertised before but had considered them out of my price range and only for elite athletes, not age group warriors like me and my buddies. Little did I know that this wasn’t the case ! A week there and you feel like you are in a bubble……. A bubble of swimming, biking, running and many other activities and equipment that are available for residents.

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Fancy trying SUP’ing ? You can, grab a board and head to the salt water lagoon

How about a little paddle tennis ? You’ve got it, lots of courts available

Scuba diving ? They have a scuba center that will get you sorted

Golf ? Yes indeed !

Etc, etc, etc

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I think you get the picture………

But there is more to the island that I have discovered, mostly from the seat of a bike and it certainly does have some charm ! I have always found volcanic islands fascinating and they remain high on my list of places to visit…… fantastic scenery. Rugged coastlines, long sandy beaches, interesting weather conditions, camels, whitewashed buildings, black land and Timafaya National Park.

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I guess I still haven’t actually answered the 2nd question, why 3 weeks last year ? First week was my very first Up and Active (www.upandactive.com) tri camp with Tanja Slater. The second week was the International Running Challenge (https://catherinedanndann.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/international-running-challenge-2013/ ) and the third week was swim camp (https://catherinedanndann.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/its-swim-camp-time-with-tanja-stephan/ ). All of theses were based out of Club La Santa, surprise surprise.

So now to 2014 – more than 3 weeks ? Well only  by a couple of days ! Tri camp is over for another year (more blogs to follow) and we stayed longer to support a friend and fellow tri-camper in his quest to be an Ironman (now that seriously is another blog – in short wow, what a day ! Then a return to the Running challenge (there are times to beat right ?) and then the swim camp (it will always be my personal battle !)

So I’m back, inspired and full of new blog material and ready to write ! Back soon

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Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

International Running Challenge 2013

Hello bloggers, I’ve returned from my little hiatus and am sat on my couch, feeling slightly sorry for myself with a cold. So I’ve decided that writing my blog about the International Running challenge I recently took part in will make me feel much better 🙂

The International Running challenge (http://www.clublasanta.com/sports-activities/event,-races-training-camps/2013/11/international-running-challenge) is an annual event that takes place each November in Club La Santa, Lanzarote (http://www.clublasanta.com/). The challenge comprises of 4 running events in 4 days – you can take part in individual races or face the ‘challenge’ of all 4 ! A medal and bragging rights are on offer for the challenge conquerors, so that was my goal.

My running club, Garden City Runners, has a long traditional of sending small teams to the event and I joined up for the 25th annual challenge to focus my run training for my new year 70.3 and it certainly did that : and gentle ‘breakfast’ jog and then 4 races in 4 days ? Lets go !

Race #1 : 10k Vince Regan memorial road race

A great way to start the event with 2 loops of a straight forward road course, with some typical volcanic scenery – leaving from the resort running track, past the sea water lagoon, up the short hill, along to the ‘ghost town’ and back to the track. My goal was to take this nice and steady as I had 3 more days to go. I met a great new running buddy along the way and we paced each other to a finish of 55 mins. This was spot on with my prediction so I was happy after race #1.

Lots of smiles........ I think I have nearly finished
10k. Lots of smiles…….. I think I have nearly finished

Race #2 : 13km Ridge run

When I first visited the Club La Santa resort, I was told all about the Ridge run and I have to admit his description sold me the event. This had to be the best race of the week, with a gradual 6km incline up to the top of a volcano rim, then down the other side. I say ‘down’, but that seemed to be all into a head wind and being all off-road there wasn’t any free speed to be had – it was tough running all the way. The finish line was crossed after 1 hr 12 mins, with a big blister on the sole of my foot and another big smile on my face !

The Ridge run
The Ridge run

Race #3 : 5k Beach run

Ever run on soft sand ? Yep, its mean ! This was a tough 5k……….. the course was made up of both soft and packed sand, but why can I only remember the soft stuff ? Full concentration was needed throughout and I admit to being relieved to cross the finish line after a 32 minute slog. A dip the clear blue, wonderfully warm ocean was our reward 🙂

The concentration - that pesky soft sand was waiting to trip me up !
The concentration – that pesky soft sand was waiting to trip me up !

Race #4 : 21k (1/2 marathon) La vuelta de Tinajo

The last race of the challenge had been my major focus all along. Having just missed my goal by 55 secs couple of weeks before, I was determined to go off to New Zealand with my first sub 2hr 1/2 marathon. Travelling to and standing on the start line I was a bit knackered though, and started to doubt whether I could really do it.. Yes the course is a net downhill, but the first 200m were up a slope into a headwind, then it was once round a volcano, with a shockingly sharp 100m incline on the way, some swirling winds (specially blown in from the Sahara apparently for the event !) and 70% off-road ! What was I thinking ? Many things…… ‘I’m not running tomorrow’ was on top of my list.

Off went the gun, and so did we. All was going ok until that pesky blister decided to wake up round mile 6, ouch, ouch, ouch ! All I kept thinking was ; ‘keep on running’, ‘one foot in front of the other’, ‘there’s a medal at the end’ and ‘sub 2 hr isn’t that important’. Funny how your mind gets in the way, isn’t it ? I was convinced I was going really slowly, shuffling almost, and had no real way of checking this as I don’t wear a gps watch, just a stopwatch, and had missed the km markers between 10 and 16 (think they were blown away !!)

Conditions did deteriorate as we started the descent back to Club La Santa and I decided at this point that I would never ever be doing the Running challenge ever, ever again !

Then a couple of things happened : I was handed a jelly baby by a spectator (they give you wings it seems), I saw 2 of the club’s support team cheering us on (they had battled on bikes to the top of a hill) and I passed the 16k marker at 1hr 25 mins (huh, 5 km in sub 35 mins ? Yes I can !!)

In the midst of battle !
In the midst of battle !

The rest is history as they say : the wind was mean, my body hurt, my blister burst and someone ran past me towards the end having used me as shelter, but I didn’t care ! Crossing the finish line in 1 hr 55 secs was a great moment, so was being handed my well-earned medal and I started thinking about what I would do differently next year………. funny that !

#136, you did good !
#136, you did good !
Team GCR
Team Garden City Runners, the conquering heros

We recovered, we ate and we drank a little too……… some of the team went home the next day, while some of us were lucky enough to stay another week – but that’s a story for another blog !

Is that the kettle I hear ? Yes please, fluids are the cure for a cold right ?

Bye for now

Catherine, Age Group girl