In April 2018, the members of HTC went on a training camp at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. Club member Flogreatrix shares with us her account of this experience.
This week was my fifth visit to Lanzarote and my second time with HTC. After a busy and slightly stressful start to 2018 I had been looking forward to this trip for some time. I usually train for 10-12 hours per week, but it always has to be fitted around work and day-to-day life, so a training camp allows me to just focus on my training and also reflect on what I have achieved up to now, what I need to work on and what I want to achieve in the upcoming season.
Day 1: An easy introduction
As soon as we arrived I couldn’t wait to jump in the 50m pool and get swimming. Once settled into our room, Sarah, Eva and I had agreed our theme for the week would be #positivevibesonly (no moaning allowed) and took our first of many photos before jumping in.
Day 2: it’s a marathon, not a sprint
While overexcited about cycling somewhere with less likelihood of getting hit by a car, puncturing from a pothole, or requiring five layers than in London, our coaches reminded us to pace ourselves for a big week and not to go too hard on day 1. I am notoriously bad at pacing myself both in races and training (which I put down to being young and inexperienced) but I tried my best!
The first ride was a little nerve racking, because I hadn’t cycled with some of the people before and it feels like a bit of a test for how well the winter of training had gone. I’ve not been out on the road much this year because of the weather, but I did do an 100km sportive over Easter. I joined team Richard this year and everyone in my group got on well and supported each other throughout which was great. They are really strong cyclists and I just wanted to stick with them! I felt pretty good and was relieved that our first ride was a loop to El Golfo, a route I loved last year which avoids some of the biggest climbs. It was windier than I remembered it being before, but I felt more confident and less of a wimp!
Day 3: Tabayesco – the rematch
On Saturday it was time to tackle Tabayesco (or Tabasco if you’re Eva). Last year this climb really challenged me and I remember it took me about 45 minutes and I was destroyed at the top. This time, knowing I am stronger and more experienced I felt ready to go for it again. Luckily, the wind had died down and it wasn’t *too* hot. Keeping an eye on my HR, I tried to take it steady and used the new technique Charles taught me the previous day, ‘tapping’ , which is climbing in your easiest gear. I have previously been scared to use my easy gears but I’m getting better at it now (thanks Charles!)
After a leisurely lunch I did a solo run around the lagoon just because, followed by a technique swim. The end of today was when the fatigue started to creep in, but it was nothing a few plates of buffet dinner couldn’t fix 😉 We finished each day with a stretch under the sunset which was just the perfect way to end the day of training.
Day 4: Swim-bike-run and repeat
Sunday was a ‘rest day’ which essentially meant no bike ride in the morning and a relaxed day in preparation for the transition session in the afternoon.
We started the day with a swim in the lagoon: I usually feel a pang of nerves when getting in the open water after a few months, but this time I wasn’t phased – perhaps because it is so familiar to me now. I vaguely remembered the 1900m loop and it felt very comfortable. However, I noticed several new tears in my wetsuit and I think it’s time for a new one (recommendations welcome!)
Our ‘transition session’ was less like transition practice and more like just doing a triathlon! We had the option of doing 1, 2 or 3 sets of a 300m swim, 14km bike and 4km run. I decided during the day that 2 sets would suit me as I thought each one would take around an hour. I wanted to see if I could sustain the effort for 2 sets, but I knew that a third set could wipe me out (and I would definitely miss dinner which would be a disaster…)
I wasn’t sure how hard to go (and didn’t wear my heart rate monitor) but I think it was a largely top zone 3/zone 4 effort. We set off in 10 second intervals and I was one of the first to go, but soon got passed on the bike (as usual ;)). The guys ahead of me were too fast for me to attempt to stick with them so I just took it at my own pace. The bike route was out and back and essentially a climb out and cruise back. The run was largely flat and I took it at my usual brick run pace, wondering how I was going to do it all again!
The hardest part was definitely jumping back in the pool for the second swim as my body didn’t know what was going on. My second lap was slower but not by too much, and I was expecting that to happen, so i’m not too disappointed. The best part was the camaraderie between the team as we passed each other on the course, and cheering others on when we had finished. Thanks to the coaches for timing us and of course the photo taking!
My times (from my Garmin) are below but don’t check Strava because my file corrupted, no PRs for Flo!
Lap 1: 4:36 (1:32/100m)
Lap 2: 4:58 (1:39/ 100m)
Lap 1: 29:14 (28.3 km/hr)
Lap 2: 32:10 (25.7 km/hr)
Lap 1: 19:12 (4:40/km)
Lap 2: 19:59 (4:51/km)
Lap 1: 54.37
Lap 2: 57:53
Everyone was pretty tired on Monday so we did a shorter ride – 50km featuring a new road to me with some vineyards. It was an enjoyable and more relaxing ride than the previous day and we had plenty of time to eat before a short track session in the afternoon.
I haven’t done much track this year and it felt great, although my legs were far from fresh. Our set was 800,400,300,800,400,300 off 90 secs rest. I completed the set at my 5k pace which felt a little tougher in the heat, but fun.
The day was of course finished with a swim, which today was mostly arm work with paddles which I find really helps me to concentrate on my stroke. Most of my swim strength comes from a strong kick which is not ideal for racing when you want to save your legs, so any improvements I can make with my stroke are excellent. When I first started using paddles I was useless and they always fell off, but now I love them and often train with them.
Day 6: The big ride and some bumps in the road
Tuesday was the big day on the bike! We were heading to the top of the island to Mirador del Rio – a ride my group didn’t do last year but I had heard was a good one. We started by heading to Haria which is a climb I have done twice before and remembered as a challenge. While shorter than Tabayesco, it has some steep bits and it was a warm day. I was pleased to get a PR on the hill. It went on for longer than I remembered but luckily I had my new pal Dan sitting on my wheel, as well as Markus who took some pictures of us suffering, and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves until our coach Richard came cruising past us looking like he was on a jolly!
After a coffee we were ready to tackle Mirador del Rio. There were a few ascents on the way there but the actual climb was hugely enjoyable. The coast on the left is so beautiful to look at that I didn’t really notice the climb. The views from the top were amazing and, living up to our reputation as the photo taking group, we had a leisurely break for some snaps.
The route back was exhilarating – the initial descent down to Orzola and the coastal road that followed was one of my highlights of the whole week. The rest of the ride was tough at times: it was hot and we didn’t have much fluid left. There was a long stretch of busy road and the bumpiest road ever which wasn’t pleasant. After a supermarket stop (and a little bit of moaning, sorry..) we got back we had time for a sit down and some food before another swim.
Day 7: PR chasing and party time
All too soon it was time for the last ride. There were two groups today and I ended up catching on to the fast guys for the nice road along to ‘fire mountain’ / Timanfaya. I decided to go for a PR on the climb that I’ve done a few times now, so went for it with the help of Matt and Dan. I had sweat dripping off my chin, while they were just cruising, but I got the PR! On the descent the wind had eased off so I pedaled hard for a big PR down the other side which was great. I picked up a coffee in Yaiza and met my group again to continue the loop. The way back was hillier than i remembered but so beautiful.
Eva and I jumped off the bike into a brick run around the track then took our bikes back. We had chance to hit the spa in the afternoon before the last swim and then I stuffed my face at dinner for the last time before the traditional HTC ‘wigs and glasses party.’ The disco at La Santa isn’t usually too busy, presumably because the serious athletes go to bed, but we livened it up and I got a PR for my latest night out of 2018….
Some number crunching to finish off!
2 ‘ironman smoothies’
6 pre ride parties
7 large bowls of chocolate mousse
10 renditions of Robbie Williams
20 new hashtag ideas for the gram (thanks Andy..)
5000 plates of food (we needed it, right?)
I got exactly what I wanted to from this week. Loads of time in the saddle and in the pool. But equally as important is the motivation I’ve come back with to do my best this season and to keep working hard. My teammates are inspirational, and while everyone has their own journey and goals we are helping each other to get there.
I haven’t done as much running as usual, but my coach will adapt my schedule for that next week. I usually strength train twice a week which I have also missed. This is a big part of preventing injury for me so I will be back on track with that now I’m home. For this weekend, I need to take it easy and let my body absorb the training. My first triathlon of the year is exactly a month from today so hopefully I’ll be feeling ready to go by then.
Finally, a big thank you to the HTC coaches, my room mates Eva and Sarah for the pre ride hype and the laughs, my cycle group and everyone on the camp for being inspirational, supportive and great company. Bring on tri season!