A few weeks ago over a post run coffee at Bushy parkrun Sharon was chatting to regular race director Ray and his lovely wife Ann. It turned out that they were going to Club La Santa in Lanzarote in mid-November for a week. A few minutes later Sharon, Ray and Ann had decided that it would be a good idea if I tagged along as well to get some good swim/bike/run training in! Sharon mentioned it to me whilst at the cafe and the seed was sown…
Within a week I had flights booked and I was going to stay as the third person in their apartment. My work is much more flexible than Sharon’s so I was heading away without her. The other trusty love of my life who enjoys a good ri…, er… What I mean to say is I also booked my road bike on the fight as well so I can train on that (although there’s well over a hundred bikes at the resort it’s always good to train on what you’ll race on). 40 quid return for the bike on the plane. Good work Thomas Cook Airlines. Just sort out the legroom and I’ll be happy (I ended up paying extra for decent legroom seats - although lets not mention that ‘large’ lass sat next to me on the way home who needed a seat belt extension!).
Club La Santa…. If you’re after a beach holiday with endless cocktails by the pool then I’d strongly suggest going somewhere else. If you want to stay in an environment where you can train to your hearts content and know that there are others doing the same then you’re in the right place.
The days mostly had a general routine to them - a morning warm up (known as ‘morning gymnastics’ in the programme) with about 75 other guests and then a 3, 4 or 5km run. Followed by a bike ride and maybe a swim somewhere in there as well.
The overall aim of this week away was to get some good bike mileage in and also some more swimming. I’m not a fan of swimming and just see it as something that needs to be done in order to get me onto the bike and run! I’m a middle of the pack swimmer off of limited training so would just be happy to get a few regular sessions in this week.
My running is in a strange place right now as I have recently got a pain close to my right shin. Running doesn’t seem to make it worse, or better and prior to going away I had 10 days of zero running and it wasn’t feeling any much better. I decided to play it by ear (or feel) with regard to my running this week.
So this is what I got up to - partly to show that it wasn’t really a holiday in the lazing-by-the-pool-all-day look of things.
A 4k easy run followed by my first ride on the island. Just getting out on my own bike felt fantastic. So much happier than using one of the club bikes here. I know my bike, I know how to ride it and I am responsible for the brakes, gears, whatever. It’s also got my lovely power meter on it so I can train better and get some great data out of it at the end when I load my cycle computer data onto a computer.
I had downloaded some bike routes in advance of going away as well as getting a detailed map of the island onto my GPS. This was a great help if ever I decided to go off of a planned route.
Actually it’s pretty difficult not to come across parts of the Ironman course as there aren’t that many main roads on the island. The climb on the way to Haria was pretty much never ending. I’d say that it started at Famara beach and just goes on and on (there’s one very small downhill but generally its all up up up). Looking at my GPS logs the climb took me about an hour and was over 14.5 miles long! The view at the top is great, but even better than that is the ride down complete with multiple switch-backs on the road (which unfortunately do force you to slow down). The nearest you get to switchbacks back home is Box Hill in Surrey and this climb eats Box Hill for breakfast!
3km in the pool and I was done! That’s probably the furthest that I have swum in a long time and although I could go further if I had to, I didn’t and was knackered. I’ll just do little and often with the swimming this week.
- Totals: 2.5m run, 64.5m bike, 3k swim
Saturday started with a parkrun - well, not a real parkrun but a 5km run. I then took myself back out on the bike for 51 miles which took me down to the south of the island (lovely view and very steep downhill section from Femes), a lovely coastal road through lava fields and then and then back up through the volcanic Timanfaya National Park. Lovely scenery all round. As soon as I got back to the apartment Ray and Ann were heading out for a little bike ride on their own so I decided to join them.
Race time… I had no plans to really race as I’m just being cautious about my leg at the moment so the plan was to run 5k and if all felt ok then run the second lap and make it 10k. The course is set that you run a 5k lap (including going across the finish line) and if you want to run the 10k race you just keep going and run a second lap. I set off and before long found myself comfortably in third place. Positions don’t mean much here as the standard from week to week varies widely but either way I was running well and pretty comfortably. It was very windy and as I came onto the running track for the end of the 5k I saw the two chaps who were ahead of me cross the line and stop. This meant that I had a choice… I could take third place in the 5k or hopefully take first in the 10k. I think that was an easy decision to make. The first 5k took 19:22 and I felt very comfortable running this pace. I then just carried on running with me now in the lead.
Another steady lap and there was no sign of anyone close behind me. I came back into the stadium with plenty of support from other runners and spectators and crossed the line in a time of 38:50 (just looking back in my records from when I came here in 2007 - we called it a holiday and not a training camp back then - I finished in 39:28).
- Totals: 3.1m run, 66m bike, 6.2m run (10k race)
I skipped the morning run and went straight to the pool and did 2k. My shoulders aren’t used to swimming more than once a month!!!
Sunday is market day in Lanzarote so I upped on the bike and rode to the old capital of Teguise to walk round the market and then rode back to La Santa via Famara.
Later in the day I went out for a little mountain bike ride with Ray and Ann and covered about 7 miles.
- Totals: 2k swim, 34m bike
After the morning warm-up by the pool I decided to join the organised 5k running group. The group leader lady said to us “I shall run at 5 minutes per kilometre pace. If you all run faster then I shall run faster.”
We set off and after about 2k I had drifted off of the front together with another chap. We pushed on and had a good little bit of back and forth between us. An easy run turned into a bit of a speed session! Oops.
I wanted to get a long ride in today so after breakfast (Alpen rules!) I headed out. Once again it was very windy but that didn’t matter as I was trying to ride to a fairly constant power output whether into or being followed by the wind. Back up to the north of the island and then down into the wine growing region of La Geria and back through the volcanic national park to La Santa.
On the way back I managed to come across Ray and Ann who were on a group bike ride so I tagged along for the last 6 or 7 miles (which was at a much gentler pace than the pace that I’d been riding all day). As we came into the final descent from Tinajo to La Santa the headwind was fierce. You really had to push hard to get any sort of speed (and it’s all downhill) and the group of riders with me at the front were pushing hard.
I immediately noticed that one of the riders wasn’t keeping a clear gap between himself and the rider in front - his front wheel was overlapping the ride leaders rear wheel. This is a big no-no in group riding. I planned to tell the ride leader about this once we’d finished the ride (it was too windy and dangerous to start making hand gestures at this point) so I just pulled right away from the other riders and kept my distance. I found out later that the riders had been told not to overlap wheels at the pre-ride briefing.
Within less than a minute there was an almighty crash as the man who’d been causing the overlap went tumbling to the ground. We all stopped as quickly as we could and ran up to him. He was lying on his back and there was blood all over his head. He didn’t look good at all. It turned out that one of the riders in the group was a paramedic (I think) and she took control of the situation whilst calls were made to the emergency services and a few cars pulled up. Ray and Ann appeared a few moments later and then one of the ride leaders rode back to La Santa with about half of the ride group.
This was one hell of a frightening thing to be so close to (I was probably about 10-15m away from it when it happened) and it reminded me for the most part I am much happier riding solo rather than in groups. Two days later I heard that the man had been flown to Gran Canaria with spinal injuries and was in intensive care in an induced coma. Poor sod. Really not good news.
- Totals: 3.1m run, 86.5m bike
For the power geeks out there my NP for the ride was 235 watts with over 8,100 feet of climbing. TSS was 382 (VI 1.1).
Tuesday is half marathon race at Club La Santa do I thought I could use it as a hilly long-ish run (I’m meant to be running 19 miles in training right now but this will have to do). I set off at a steady pace at the early start time of 7:45am and had a good solid and comfortable run. Once again it was blowing a gale on the top of the hills but this make a good workout. I finished in 1:37:24 (much slower than in 2007) but then I was racing hard then and hadn’t ridden nearly 90 miles the day before. I came third. The winner did a great time of just over 73 minutes which considering the windy conditions was pretty damn good indeed.
Another visit to the pool for a 2k swim and after a steady 27 miles on the bike the most important sport of all - a game of ‘compact golf.’
- Totals: 13.1m run (race), 27m bike, 2k swim
I nearly went for a swim later in day but didn’t quite make it. I’ll count that as a ‘half session’ as I did have my swimming shorts on, but just didn’t make it to the pool. I almost went windsurfing in the afternoon but instead just watched and supported the windsurf race. Much drier on land.
Early evening it was time to pack the bike for the journey home tomorrow.
- Totals: 3.1m run, 43.5m bike, intent-to-swim-but-not-quite
I went for a bit of a hilly off road run - headed in the direction of Famara close to the coast. I got to Caletta de Caballo and then headed inland and uphill to Soo, then back on the road home making it 5 lumpy miles.
I followed this with a breakfast and a 2k swim and then it was time to head back to the airport for the flight home.
- Totals: 5m run, 2k swim
- 321’ish miles on the bike over 6 days. That’s an average of just over 53.5 miles each day. Nice.
- 36 miles running (not bad when I would have been happy with just 3!)
- 9k swimming. No comment.
The cycling is fantastic in Lanzarote. The roads are for the most part lovely and smooth (ignoring 100m in Famara and the part of the Ironman course after Arrecife when you turn left just before Nazaret). I really liked having maps of Lanzarote on my bike GPS so I could see exactly where I was at any moment. It’s windy, warm, hilly and there’s often other cyclists out there who nod hello to you. Cars give you tons of distance and there’s actually not very many of them. A bit of a bikers paradise. I just wanted a few more cafes and bakeries to get supplies from but I had plenty of food and water on my rides to be completely self sufficient anyway.
Running is great with off road tracks if you want them. Be prepared for hills though.
As for swimming, the 50m heated outdoor pool at Club La Santa is superb. I just wished that I actually enjoyed swimming. The first couple of lengths of each session is good but then I just want it over with. I see swimming as a means to getting on the bike. Maybe that’ll change one day but right now that’s how it is.
Two months out from my third Ironman distance triathlon and think the timing was ideal. I’ve never cycled so much in my life and I really enjoyed it. I think the weather back home will take some getting used to in late November and December but I just need to man-up for these rides.
Running is still a concern with my leg but if I can keep ticking over and get some good physio in over the coming weeks I’ll be happy.
As for swimming - lets just not go there. I’ll go to the pool and get plenty more swims in but that’s all I have to say on the matter.
At the outset I said this would be a training camp and not a holiday. Over the week I have probably read about 10 pages of a book and came home with more magazines (there was a copy of Triathlon Plus in the room on arrival) that I came out with - all of them unread!
Finally I must mention the evenings as it wasn’t all training. The entertainment laid on by Club La Santa was very good, although we never made it up past 10pm. Food wise we ate on site every night and I was happy with what was available. A couple of beers with dinner together with the lovely company of Ray and Ann made it a lovely little break.
I just need to recover now!