But it will be worth it ! To cross the finish line at Ironman Austria in June 2015 is going to tough, emotional and exhausting but today I start the training plan………
Actually thinking about it, crossing the start line is going to be tough, emotional and exhausting too – staying healthy and fit throughout the next 10 or so months will be key to ensure consistency in training.
I’ve taken the time to map a few things in the diary between now and then so we will see how things progress. This will be my first time building my own plan, so I’ll be reading lots of blogs for ideas and all suggestions gratefully received !
Lanzarote 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 🙂
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 !)
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.
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.
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 !
And then lap 2 !!
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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
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.
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