I was asked again by Jo and Steven of Everyday Training to assist on their training camp in Lanzarote this year. This is a volume based training camp for long distant triathletes (mostly ironman level 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run-this is a tough event!) Basically the athletes have to do 30 hours of training in 6 days, swim, ride and run each day, including races and time trials, it is not for the unfit and they have paid a lot of money to do it! My job was to hold a stretch and recovery class at the end of each day and offer physio to anyone who needed it-lets face it with that number of hours of training a few aches and pains were going present themselves. I will write another little post about the injuries I treated. It also gave me the chance to get a few kilometres in the bank myself, I just didn't know how many. I was quite anxious about riding with these super athletes but knew it would be great 'Fred' training. This post is in Km as we were in Europe, 10km is 6.2 miles, 40km is 25 miles. The first day consists of 68km with a 10 mile time trial (TT is still in miles just to confuse things!) to assess how fast the athletes are on the bike. Last year I hated it, the athletes were so fast and whooshed off before we even got to the start, I didn't do the practice lap , one was enough! This year I did it all and although I was last, only just and even in rougher conditions did a PB by 3 minutes. This reassured me that I had improved a lot and maybe I would cope riding every other day. Sarah the massage therapist from last year, and now a firm friend, was training for her first Ironman ( coached by Steven), it appeared we were quite similar on the bike and we both found huge support in each other. The first stretch class was great by the pool and helped eased some initial muscle soreness in preparation for day 2.
I was fired up a bit from the TT and wanted to ride again so committed to day 2. 121km ride with a fair bit of climb, just what I need. It was incredibly windy and we had to work together in our little group of 5, riding each others wheels to reduce the wind effect as much as possible. The wind can be quite soul destroying but everybody is feeling the same so you just have to accept it. I found the long flat roads challenging, as my training has obviously not involved a lot of this! I worked hard with a constant burning feeling in my quads. The top of Tabyesco (volcano) was covered in mist but a welcome coke and apple pie break.
Day 3, 87km with a steep hill climb Fermes. Somehow I got into my cycle kit again and off we went. My bottom was sore, my muscles ached and I was tired but everyone else was saying the same and they had been running and swimming too. Steven and Jo were enjoying my participation and were encouraging me to ride ( huge compliment as they are both awesome athletes) Well Fermes was steep but if I'm honest it was a bit of a molehill compared to the lakes climbs but with tired legs once was enough! The stretch class was getting harder for most now as muscles were tightening with the intensity of training.
Day 4, I managed to get myself into a pickle at this point because today was the timed hill climb and I wanted to do this but this meant cycling 4 days in a row, at pace. I've never cycled more that 2 days in a row before, thinking it would kill me! Dragged (encouraged) by a lot of people once again I was riding. 99km today with a 10km timed hill climb. I was intrigued how the body would perform when pushed in an already tired state and asking for a rest! Last year I did the hill climb with the aim of just getting to the top before the end of the afternoon, this year I wanted to to do better. Everyone is set off in 1 minute intervals, I was first. 3, 2, 1 GO! I can't tell how strong the wind was on the switch backs, round the corner and having to get out of the saddle to keep moving forwards-laughable! But a tailwind round the next corner was fabulous recovery and a chance to speed up. As I pedalled I blocked the requests from my legs to stop and just kept going, it was only in the last 1km really that a few people passed me, each one encouraging a bit more effort. Seeing Jo at the top shouting away was uplifting and one last surge got me to the top. I wasn't last! In fact I think I beat a couple of people but most importantly I had beaten myself- I win! So you can push hard with tired legs but your mind has to be powerful to over rule them.
Day 5, I really wanted to do day 6 which was the whole ironman route so chose to have a rest day today. I just lazed around a bit, reading and listening to music with my feet up-bliss. The athletes had a 10km race to do in the afternoon so I helped time that as Jo and Steven competed.
Day 6, quite nervous. Preparation for a 180Km (112 miles) ride normally would be a good few days of not a lot for me so having ridden the previous 4 days, done a TT and a hill climb I was anxious I may not make it! Well if I have to turn back I can. It was a long long ride with awful wind conditions (changing direction half way through so there was a headwind the whole way), muscles screamed most of the time, and I visited interesting places mentally. I had a dodgy moment with 25 miles to go at a garage. At times like this I really question what's it all about? Why am I not happy sunbathing on the beach, that would be so easy! This is so unpleasant, why am I putting myself through this? The answer I come back to always is because I can. I am healthy enough to try and thats where it gets me back on track. I'm doing something and feeling life and the good feelings are much higher after this than if I had been sunbathing! I had to recall the previous time I had felt like this, few deep breaths, eat, drink and get back on the bike, the group were so lovely and it perked me up to keep going. Sarah and I often exchanged grunts knowing that talking was not an option and we were at our limit. The relief of the last 10 miles being downhill was unbelievable, the mood of the group changed instantly, chatting again, laughing, relishing the achievement.
Finishing nearly made me cry with joy! I won. There was no stretching class today, we partied instead!
I was incredibly tired for a week and worried about working as I was very busy but I managed it by sleeping a lot, eating well and stretching! I didn't ride for a week, felt strong for the first 35 mile ride yesterday. I learnt a lot about my body and mind and feel I'm ready to face Hardknott and its 33% gradients next sunday so bring it on!
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