Chapter twenty in my blog “Fatman to Ironman” is a special chapter for me, a real sense of achievement. Something of a “Game changer”…. I also had a bloody fantastic time. If you haven’t done something like this before?… Do it! You will not regret it.
Our camp would be the last week, of a whole month of TriForce being in Mallorca. I was hearing, and seeing all their efforts through Facebook and Instagram. Watching their updates coming through as I was on the Turbo (Indoor trainer/bike). It looked awesome what they were achieving, albeit somewhat daunting. I was not going to be training at that level, those guys are pro/elite. I would find my place amongst other amateurs. Nonetheless the hill climbs and distances looked way beyond me, and that was just the bike. Throughout Ch. 19 I was trying my hardest to get myself fit enough to hold my own when I got there. Would it have been enough?
The week before we were due to leave I went through the ritual of laying out all my running, cycling and swimming stuff before packing it. The helmet, the various shoes, bottles, energy gels and hydration tablets. I had made a short checklist of the essentials (Ultimately forgetting my toothbrush) I began to realise just how much kit I had accumulated recently as the suitcase gradually became filled, realising my life was being dominated by Lycra. Barely even room for some clothes for the evening, and not a great deal of clothes for Sue either. I would have to rethink this and pair it down to the basics. In the end we took a second bag.
A couple of days before we were due to go I sent Billy a message, worried about not being where I wanted to be fitness wise. In fact, I had been pretty much bombarding him with messages recently. Billy had assured me they wouldn’t be asking me to do anything they didn’t think I could achieve. Nonetheless I was apprehensive to say the least.
Ridiculous really! In hindsight I had done pretty well to get where I was and should have been reflecting about that, not where I wanted to be. Billy convinced me that TriCamp will turn my nerves into confidence and that the experience would be a “Game changer” He was right!
We landed in Mallorca midday on Easter Sunday, surviving a flight with the Rif-Raf… Our first ever experience of budget airlines was very good. I could manage that for a couple of hours. The transfer from the airport to the hotel took us about 50 minutes, as we took in the delights of Palma. I was glad to see the back of that, I hadn’t flown all this way to be in the city. Eventually the Spanish island began to appear as per the postcards. The palms and cactus abundant amongst the tiled roofs, as people enjoyed their siestas. In fact….. The people weren’t out, where was everyone? No one could be seen, it was clearly too cold for the Mallorcan’s. It was bloody freezing, especially compared to what we had left behind in the UK.
We had left in temperatures of 23 degrees, an unusually warm spell for April. The forecasters had warned us that the UK would be warmer than Mallorca, we didn’t expect it to be this cold though. Not only was it cold, there was a thick covering of cloud giving the atmosphere of inevitable rain. My summer camp was starting to look like a winter camp and my feet were doubtless going to freeze.
We checked in to our hotel and familiarised our selves with the facilities. Once Sue was settled I headed off to find the Hire shop, where I could collect my bike for the week. It had warmed up a little and the rain was holding off. The beachfront and promenade looked lovely albeit lacking any form of golden glow from the illusive Spanish sun. As I walked back with my bike I took in the surroundings and prepared myself for what lay ahead.
As I looked out to sea, the chopping of the waves disturbed the quiet sands of the beach, I would be swimming in that. It didn’t look like the postcards, in fact it looked more suited to surfing, the sea being churned by the distant storm. I looked to my left at the epic hill climb, swaying from left to right up the mountainside.
I would later know this as “Formentor and Lighthouse”. As I looked to my right, more mountains. It became clear in that moment, I was not on holiday! However, the nerves I experienced before we left were not present. I knew looking at those climbs it would be tough, perhaps the fact of making the effort and actually being on the island was enough to believe I could do it. I hadn’t travelled this far to give up, or refuse a challenge.
The afternoon was spent as a mixture of frequenting the coffee bars and adjusting my bike to fit. Sue was not particularly pleased with the weather, after all she was on holiday. Neither of us had packed any warm clothing, the one rain jacket we had was for me on the bike, even packing it I thought twice about needing it.
We got an invite to join the groups (TriForce Mallorca) Whatsap and asked to dinner that evening. A meet and greet. We already knew some of the athletes, Fenella Langridge who has helped me out in the past, The coaches Billy and Simon to name a few. The rest we would need to get to know. As we sat waiting to be seated I noticed a face I recognised coming towards us… Tracy R Lyne, I didn’t know her face to face but I knew her through the TriForce Facebook page, she recognised me and along with her friend Collette Porter, we instantly struck a lasting friendship. Sue got on very well with them too, I was worried how Sue would fit in and hoped she wouldn’t feel an outsider, quite the opposite, Triathletes are a very friendly bunch and this group is no exception.
It was going to be a great week.
The evening before we had sat down after dinner and listened to the coaches plans for the following day. We knew we would be swimming before breakfast and going for a 50 mile bike at 1000 hrs. The bike would also be a brick session into a 5k run. We had been split into two groups and Simon would be our coach for the day.
Knowing it would be a long day I had sorted out my nutrition and hydration before going to bed. I was excited and apprehensive about getting it done.
I was sat outside the pool waiting, knowing that the session would start without me if I was late. I did not want to be late. We tip toed across to the ladder, the air was cold, steam rising off the outdoor heated pool, the water considerably warmer than the air. Straight into a 2 x 200m warm up and quickly into the drills, we were not hanging around. Tracy and Collette, who I had met the night before, were very polite as I struggled with the hotels paddles. I had only used these once before, the week before with my TriClub, these were a different brand and I was not getting along with them. Simon didn’t know if I was taking them off or putting them on at one point.
My knee held out for the entire swim, a set that included efforts, pace build and open water skills. The latter a particularly amusing set, crawling all over the swimmers around you, cuddling their wake to get a bit of draft. Before I knew it we had completed the 2.5k set and had earned our breakfast.
Sitting at the breakfast table with a standard size meal was not going to get me through the day. Being polite and only having one helping was going to see me crash and burn at some point. Tracy had told me the night before to eat loads, its going to be a busy week. She had learned from her trip the previous year. I was amazed at just how much everyone was eating though, especially the pros. They really must be burning some calories. I eventually opted for a full english, followed by some fruit. I would learn the following day to pile in some more.
Having had a very successful swim I was keen to get on the bike, I needed to get my training started and get over the slight nerves I was feeling. We had agreed at breakfast to meet up and be ready to go for 0930 hrs. I eagerly arranged the various energy gels and hydration wherever I could, I do not own a cycling Jersey so, was happily stuffing flapjacks up my cycling shorts. I didn’t care what people thought, I was not going to “Bonk” especially knowing in advance that we would be out for a long one. There would be no excuses for bad planning, poor hydration and/or nutrition.
It had been raining lightly as I prepared my bike, but now the heavens were beginning to open up. The wise amongst the cycling world were reducing their tyre pressures before leaving, not missing a trick I promptly followed suit, having never considered this in the past. The rest of the camp were already outside in varying colours and degrees of protection. All I had was a lightweight jacket and a long pair of socks. These guys had rubber over boots and all sorts. I was going to be getting wet.
The route took us right out across the sea front of Port Du Pollenca. On any other day it might have looked lovely. Today it was bleak, the sea was being whipped up by the wind, creating very surfable waves. The rain gradually becoming heavier as we dropped in behind each others wheel in turns. Coach Simon took the lead, he knew the route and was probably also trying to give us a bit of protection from the strong headwind. I might as well of been on a road back in the UK as I joked about our “Winter camp”. This was not what we planned for. Nonetheless we were all as determined to get the job done and gain from the experience.
I was surprised at how well I was doing on the bike, a hire bike unfamiliar to me. Instantly settling down with the “Gucci” gears that I didn’t have on my own bike, and enjoying the speed the deeper rims were giving me. within ten minutes I had fallen for it and knew I needed to invest when I got back home.
We headed through the lovely town of Alcudia, a place I knew my brother had visited in the past. A very wet looking version of it quickly sped by as we headed out toward a location called Arta. By now my shoes were completely filled with water, water running down my legs and into my shoes, water constantly replaced by a through flow of rain splashing off of my down tube. I was barely able to see out of my misted and soaked glasses, it was ridiculous but somehow I was enjoying it. We weren’t talking much as a group, and none of us were willing to make the inevitable call to bail. That came as we approached a roundabout, Coach Simon called it, we were about to start making our first ascent as we left Alcudia, 30 minutes or so into the ride. We would be heading back.
Simon advised us that he didn’t want us all going down with colds or injury on our first day, and that we should head back, warm up and dry out our gear. We could attempt the trip to Arta the following day.
Tracy was hilariously vocal at this point, I knew this was someone we would be having a lot of laughs with in the future. Collette and I were quietly disappointed, but fully understood the reasons behind the decision. I didn’t need the flapjacks I had stuffed up my shorts and certainly didn’t need much hydrating! We would go on to smash the ride to Arta as you will read later.
As soon as we got back to the hotel Simon asked us to go and get all our wet gear off and get into our running shoes, ready for a half hour run. So far, I had gotten wet in the pool, soaked on the bike, and was now about to get drenched on the run. Quietly, I was happy it was raining for my first run in Mallorca, I had only just got my run fitness back up to 5k and I knew I would be sweating as my heart rate climbed.
I switched on the towel radiator in the hotel room and somehow perched all my wet gear on to the various rails, hoping that at the very least the chamois in my cycling shorts would be dry the following day. Sue was surprised to see me back so quickly and having no plans to explore Mallorca anytime soon, wondered in amazement as I ventured , yet again out into the cold and rain. Following to take a photo to record the moment.
We assembled in the hotel lobby for a quick brief then headed out onto the beach front and followed the promenade, I was trying to keep a steady 7 min/km pace, not wanting to get carried away with the moment. Tracy and Collette, much more experienced runners than me had chosen to hold a much steadier pace. The rain had us soaked within minutes, fortunately the temperature was warmer than it had been for the ride and added to the intensity of the workout, I felt quite warm. I was concerned that we should be staying as a group and offered to loop back. Simon was keeping tabs on where everyone was and told me to keep going toward a roundabout, it was his job (as coach) to be looping back, not mine. I was here to train. We had been running for twenty minutes and I was loving every minute of it. By the time I got to the roundabout I was starting to slow my pace down a bit. My heart was pounding in my ears, screaming for me to take a break. I wasn’t going to stop until I got to the roundabout.
As we all regrouped Simon gave us some coaching tips on our running form, and asked us to watch as we run past shop windows, the reflection of our bodies. He had given us a ten minute route back to the hotel on which we were to take on these tips, slowing our return and focussing on technique. As we passed the shops all I could see was this fat guy running, I couldn’t see the “form” although I could feel the changes as I listened to the advice. Unbeknown to the others, I needed that break at the roundabout and probably would have started walking if we hadn’t paused to chat.
We got back to the hotel after what I would call my strongest run for some time, the concierge noting the soggy mess squelching past them yet again. I had to find a way of getting more wet gear dry. As I stood next to the towel radiator in the bathroom, rearranging all my gear. I hoped the following day would be dryer. Sue was proud of my achievements, probably amazed that I kept going, despite being so wet.
Day one was a huge success, I had earned my dinner and would not be shy about piling on a second helping.
The evening previous we had all sat down for our briefing and I was left under no doubts that I would be doing the 50 mile ride we had missed, following it up with a swim in the afternoon. I wasn’t worried about the distance but the term “Undulating” had been mentioned. I knew what that meant.
Back on the bike
Tracy, Collette and I had asked Simon if we could leave a bit earlier than the planned time of 1030 hrs. Part of the plan was that the elite/pro guys would be swimming first, getting on the bikes and chasing us down. We wanted a head start.
The ride started at 0930 hrs after a hearty breakfast. I was super stoked to get this done and repeated the ritual of stuffing flapjacks up my shorts. I also had some spare hydration tablets to refill my water bottles with.
Collette had warned me at breakfast about the “Undulations” and not to push too hard on them. “There are many efforts involved and if you push too hard, too soon you won’t make it”. Another factor was the sun had come out as Collette had been promising, and the day was going to be warm. Sue could tell I was a bit anxious, despite me trying to hide my nerves. I made sure I piled on the suncream and pumped my tyres back up ready for a dry day.
Before I knew it we were back at the roundabout we had turned back at yesterday. We had been sitting in each others draft and holding 35 kph, Collette mostly taking the lead. I was impressed with the effort she was putting in and wanted to keep up. Simon had asked if this was my all-day pace, clearly concerned I might be going a bit hard. I felt great, I was quietly amazed with myself. The training and effort I had put in back home clearly had paid off. Added to that I was riding a better bike. Either way I was in a comfort zone and pretty sure I could keep this up all day long.
Tracy wasn’t keen on the pace and was beginning to drop back. I was conflicted with holding back with her, or maintaining an effort. Simon made the call and got Collette and I to work together through a set of effort repeats whilst he rode with Tracey. We were given a turn around point where we would regroup.
The efforts were to ride at a hard tempo pace for ten minutes keeping to the pace set by the lead rider, then change over. We would do this continuously until we reached the turn around some 80 minutes later. The intensity eased by sitting in the draft of the lead rider. What we didn’t know was the the start of our efforts would also be the start of the “Undulation”
Collette and I worked through this set very well together, forming a “Training buddy” friendship. We appeared to be able to push and motivate each other from the get go. I on the other hand would get “Chicked” on the first incline. I had decided to hit it hard and get to the top quick, only to find that not only had I ran out of gears I had also ran out of puff, watching Collette gliding past me holding a rhythm. Ok the novice has just been taught a lesson. I would use my energy much more efficiently for the next climb. Getting up a hill quick is great if you are only trying to get up just one, clearly the better option for dealing with “Undulations” is to go slow and steady, tapping away at your gears all the time. Who knew?
Simon clearly has a different understanding of the term “Undulating”. I would probably of used the term “Unforgiving” or “Relentless” nonetheless the team work with Collette, the newly learnt, better method for a climb, and good use of my gears was getting me through it. We would “undulate” several times.
I was eventually beaten by what would turn out to be the last, and longest ascent before Arta, our destination. It was a long steady climb that just kept on giving. My heart rate, (pounding through my ears) in a vein attempt to cool me down, had risen to the point my sweat was streaming down my face and into my eyes. To this point I had held my own with Collette, proud to have got this far, but nonetheless beaten. I just needed a few minutes stood still to let my heart slow down. As I stood admiring the climb, I looked back down the hill and there was Simon powering his way up the hill. Typical, the moment I chose to rest and there is my coach catching me loafing about. He mentioned something about turning around as he whizzed passed me to catch Collette who was about 500 yards ahead by now.
I was quite pleased not to have to get going up again, and positioned myself to cross the road and head back down. I was amazed at just how far we had climbed, enjoying the free speed as we descended. I was also worried about all the other climbs that lay ahead.
The journey out had offered lots of free speed as we descended, now I was having to climb back up them. I was rejuvenated noting that the Pro’s/elite guys hadn’t caught us yet and began keeping a look out for them. I didn’t want them to see me loafing and began to put an effort in. Before we turned around I had gobbled one of my flapjacks and was clearly buzzing from the sugar. I didn’t get “Chicked” this time, I combined power with commitment, ensuring I tapped through my gears. I felt strong and confident and like I could ride all day long. I had nailed my nutrition and hydration, there was plenty in the tank.
We were riding as a close group of three, I would use my extra weight as we descended only to slow as we ascended. we were going at a fair lick on the flats and before long had returned to the point where we had started our efforts. Realising we had just done one big effort to return, I eased off for a moment to reflect. Absorbing the cheers of encouragement from the Pro/elite guys. They had formed in the exact spot Collette and I had started, they were just getting their brief from Billy but all cheered our effort as we rode past. Fist pumping the air.
We would turn off at this point for a well earned coffee and cake stop. This was something I heard Triathletes did a lot and I was not going to miss out. We were probably 20k away from the hotel and what would end up being an 80k “Undulating” ride. The cake was well earnt.
Before we got back on the bikes I treated myself to a “Full fat” Coke, fuel for the remainder of the ride.
Boom, day three was already awesome….
Now we were back at the hotel it was time for us to do our swim, whilst the pro/elite guys worked their way through the efforts on the bike. Fortunately the coaches had devised the swim to allow for the fact we were knackered. They knew what was in store for us for the rest of the week, and kept us at an aerobic swim pace with some basic drills. A kind of recovery effort to keep us ticking over. before they revealed the next session. The latter part of the set was based on open water swimming.
Getting us to stay in the wake of the swimmer in front, using the free speed as we had on the bike. We changed lead swimmers and drafting positions, hanging off the toes in front or hugging the hips. You quickly notice the increase in effort if you let them get away. We also knew we were all tired and consciously tried to keep at each others pace. I now had a renewed confidence in my knee, clearly after all that time on the bike, the injury must be healed. I reinvented the turn on the wall to a style suited to a newbie, after three or four attempts I began to nail a solid turn, something beyond me for months now. After forty minutes I was pleased to be seeing my days activities come to a rest. Particularly proud of what I had already achieved. As we got out of the pool I noticed Sue admiring our efforts from our balcony. Work quickly turned into play, as we all splashed around like children waving at the camera.
We now had a couple of hours to chill out before dinner. Just enough time to pop down to the beachfront and have a cup of coffee with Sue.
Sue had had a good day exploring the local town and market whilst we were out on our bikes, she wanted to go back to a shop and buy some clothes for our grandchildren. What better way to end a day of solid training.
At dinner we were set our training for the following day. The pros would be climbing Sa Colabra and we would be climbing Formentor and heading out to a lighthouse at the end of the peninsula.
I was excited about the challenge and at the same time nervous. I had seen the hill climb the day we landed and even from afar it looked a daunting challenge. We would also be swimming in the sea after the bike, and finishing the day off with a 45 minute run. I was focussing on the ride for now.
The bike – Formentor
I made sure I had plenty of breakfast and focussed on lots of fruit. Then began the ritual of stuffing my shorts with flapjacks, restocking my top tube bag with energy gels, and filling my water bottle with electrolytes. I was ready to go. Tracy neatly folded some sandwiches into small squares for her back pocket and Collette collected her share of the Bananas on offer.
Billy would be our coach for today. I was keen to show him just how determined I can be and put in a shift. We headed out across the promenade towards the hills, the route clearly signed, and the roads ideal for cyclists. Colette and I worked each others wheel as we had the day before. I was now becoming familiar with the various hand signals cyclists use when cycling as a group. Pot holes, slowing down, moving out etc. On the ride I was particularly deliberate about drinking a swig of water every five minutes or so. Not only was it a warm day, I was about to be climbing the biggest series of hills I had ever done. I would be sweating a lot.
As we passed various landmarks Billy had advised me that it would he his call to abandon the ride if he felt I could not make it. Ride back to here and wait to regroup etc.
I was determined to do this and made it clear that I would rather give up trying, rather than not try at all. Billy was impressed but also had a duty of care for me.
The first part of the accent was brutal, as I looked ahead and saw the road snaking up the mountain, hairpin after hairpin. very soon I would find myself super hot, sweating more than ever before, and with burning quads. The view back down to Port Du Polenta apparently is beautiful, I didn’t see a bit of it. Focussed on keeping my bike from coming to a complete standstill and falling off, trying to keep the legs spinning. Fortunately the climb would soon level out and offered a welcome decent. I enjoyed the free speed and chance to dry out. Little did I know that pretty son we would be climbing again…
Fortunately Collette had mounted a GoPro camera to her bike and kindly shared the memories for all to see. Ride out to Formentor1 video (Click the link) look out for a few more videos later on.
I was now becoming accustomed to the sling-back design of the roads. Every hairpin turn gave a sharp increase to the gradient, Billy had advised me to go wide on the turns and try to slingshot my way out of it. After a few attempts I began to see the benefits, the few seconds of easier riding and the chance to drop a gear or two. The the climb ate into your quads. Simon’s “Undulating” ride yesterday somehow seemed a breeze. This was a proper climb.
Billy was keeping at my rear and giving me encouragement all the way, willing me on. He wasn’t going to allow me to stop. “You’ve come this far”. However, the negative chimp had got in my head and my heart needed a break. I was soaked from head to foot, just like day 2, this time I was drenched in my own sweat.
We had paused in a shaded spot enclosed by a pine forrest, I only needed a few minutes to calm down before I got going again. Billy could see the determination in my face and I could see the concern in his.
Another of the memories for all to see. Ride out to Formentor2 video (Click the link) thanks Collette Porter
After a short rest I was feeling much more confident about nailing this, I hadn’t come here for a rest and I wasn’t going to be giving up on a challenge. The forrest continued to give, and the hairpins kept on coming. Eventually the road opened up into the next stage of the route, offering another welcome descent, cooling me down further. I was now in a rhythm.
Billy had been talking about a tunnel ahead and that if we got to there he was confident I could do this. Colette was now way ahead, I was not going to let her down. We would be meeting for coffee and cake at the lighthouse.
The tunnel was a bizarre experience, about 300m long and with no lighting. A cooling experience that somehow makes you want to cycle hard to the light at the end of it. Fortunately Billy had advised me to lower my specs before entering, otherwise I wouldn’t of been able to see a thing.
Shortly after the tunnel we began to see our goal – The lighthouse, a couple of hundred year old building glistening in the light of the Mallorca sun. We were welcomed by A fast snaking descent into a valley, catching my breath ready for the final stinging ascent. More repeating switchbacks and a relentless climb. All the time knowing I would have to cycle the whole route in reverse. Knowing there were just as many ascents as there were descents.
I made it to the roars and cheers of Collette, she had probably arrived 5 minutes before me, maybe more. Nonetheless I had now made it too, and despite being charged 6 Euros for the slice of cake, I felt I had earned it.
The view of the Island from here is quite spectacular and despite the effort required to get here… It is well worth it.
We didn’t hang around for long, Billy didn’t want us getting cold. We refilled our water bottles and began attacking the various climbs, ascents and hairpins in reverse. Only now I was feeling revitalised and confident. I now felt as strong as I had done in my ride the previous day. I was slower on the ascents, but rapid on the descents. Using my extra weight as a strength. The tunnel was quickly upon us and, as before, I lowered my glasses ready for the blackout. We were descending into it this time and going at a fair lick. The return trip and Tunnel video (6mins in)(Click link)
The ride back was indeed quicker as Billy had promised, the two major climbs quickly despatched. We were now on the last descent back towards Port Du Pollenca.
An awesome, challenging ride and one where a benchmark has been set.
As soon as we got back to the hotel we were to get into our running shoes and Brick a run to the bike. I was eager to get this done but my body was unwilling. All I could muster was a 2k run/ walk… I was exhausted and walked back to the hotel for a rest, passing the shop fronts I had ran past the other day.
I should have been disappointed with myself for not being able to do the run. But because I had just had such an epic two days, I really couldn’t be hard on my self. Sue and I would opt for lunch and coffee by the pool instead.
Typically, as we sat down Billy was also enjoying some time by the pool and clearly saw me loafing. I had now been seen loafing by both coaches on two different days. I apologised that I just couldn’t do it, he also felt I had had an amazing two days and suggested I rest before the Sea swim later on in the day.
The swim – The sea
Those of you that have read earlier chapters in my blog will know the challenges I faced learning to swim. Swimming in the sea was going to be a huge step forward. Oddly I wasn’t nervous about it.
We all headed down to the beach at 1730 hrs, we would all be swimming as a group, the pro/elite guys would swim further.
It was awesome being amongst such a lovely group of people, each helping with the zipping up of the wetsuit, everyone chatting about their ride in the morning. Sue came down with us to witness this monumental occasion, and after a safety brief from the coaches we got in to the water. I allowed water into my wetsuit before really committing, allowing my body to acclimatize before eventually fully submerging into a surprisingly cold and slightly choppy sea.
We first swam out toward the edge of a row of rocks. About a 100m swim, where the goal was to practice sighting and swimming in a straight line. All the time using our breathing techniques to remain calm and relaxed. Tracy paused for a moment and I swam up along side her, inadvertently scaring the proverbial out of her, the loud screech resonating in my ear. I have no idea what she thought I was, but she certainly wasn’t expecting it. We cracked on with the swim and turned toward another focal point, all the while giggling in between breaths.
We had just swam approx 200 metres and despite battling a current, I had kept myself reasonably straight throughout. I wasn’t nervous, in fact I was confidently enjoying the moment and wanted more.
Coach Simon now set us an out and back challenge where he would act as a bouy for us to swim around. The goal here would be to swim in a straight line ending back exactly where we had started, meanwhile swimming around Simon as tightly as we could.
Simon was mega chuffed with our efforts, and remarked on just how good we were.
Collette was enjoying the swim, and like me didn’t want it to end. Simon set us both another challenge. We were to swim a triangle of what was probably 300 m holding a straight line and exiting the sea as quickly as possible, using our hands and feet to crawl up into a running position. I smashed the swim but crashed and burned on the sea exit bit. The sand was so soft and I just couldn’t get a firm grip of anything, frantically sinking into the sand each time i tried to put my hands or feet down. Hilariously, eventually getting out into a wobbly exhausted mess. During this frantic battle with the sand I had also stubbed my toes on small rocks. I didnt care… It was great fun and I would love to do it again sometime soon. There is nothing left to fear as far as swimming is concerned.
The evening before, we had been set our individual training. I was pleased to hear the term “Easy day” thrown into the conversation. The climb up Formentor, as awesome as it was, had taken its toll, I was glad going to bed that all I needed to do was be up for an early morning swim and run later on in the day. I was going to need more rest than I thought…
“Bollocks” I thought to myself as I awoke at 0330 hrs with the all too familiar tightening of the Achilles’ tendon (Tendonitis) Where did that come from? It had been months since I had any trouble, I even felt thankful that, whilst injured with my knee, I knew the rest I was giving it was also helping my Achilles.
What had I done, or not done to aggravate it? I lay in bed determined not to suffer aloud, also knowing we had no pain killers or any form of ice or chilled things to ease the swelling.
I was going to have to make a decision about the swim as the clock turned towards 0700 hrs. With bugger all sleep I sent what I thought was the right message to Billy, I wouldn’t be up for the pre breakfast swim. He was fine with this, and advised I get a bit of rest and then do some gentle stretching and if possible foam roll my calf’s.
Sue and I would wander down for a late breakfast on the Thursday, my limp embarrassingly obvious. The swimmers were now chomping their way through huge breakfasts clearly concerned as I got mine. I tried to shrug it off but these guys were all too clued up with their own experiences, and knew pretty much straight away what was wrong. The advise I got that morning was almost the opposite of what I had diagnosed myself during those early hours.
After breakfast the first thing I did was dip my leg into the main pool (Not the training pool we had been using) more of a family pool. Simon had been right, the water was freezing and the ease to the inflamed tendon was quickly welcomed. I stayed in that position for long enough to go past the cold sensation and near the numb. As I struggled to get back up on my feet I noticed Collette looking down pitifully from her balcony. It must have looked like game over to her at that point. I was not going to give in. After an hour or so I started some very light heel drops and pushed gently through the pain. I felt confident to get in the gym and foam roll my quads.
The most uncomfortable foam rolling experience I have ever had, but necessary. My calf’s had clearly contracted overnight and stressed the tendon. I was ready to take the day off. But after some traditional RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and mobility work I would be accepting the missed morning swim set from Simon and booking a lane in the pool for myself. I would keep my compression socks on for as long as I could.
Unbeknown to me Collette had a bad night too. Hers was stomach related, through what she thought was too many electrolytes/gels. She had also missed the swim and asked if she could share the lane after she had completed her 1hr run. I should have been running myself but that was definitely not on the cards, and probably wouldn’t be for the rest of the camp.
I booked the pool for two hours between 1100 & 1300 hrs, and whilst still gently stretching got my kit ready for the swim. I had agreed to meet Collette for 1130 hrs but decided to get some lengths in first.
Collette was bang on time and despite running for an hour, was keen to crack on with the swim. Slightly confused by why she had been waiting outside the pool for twenty minutes for me. Not knowing that I was actually already in it (Sorry Collette)
Despite my admin cock up, and aggravated Achilles I would go on and swim a 3k set. On what was supposed to be an easy day. I even did the warm up twice. Most of the efforts were done with a pull bouy. But otherwise it was a solid swim by both of us.
The swim was massively helpful to my Achilles, an active recovery as I have been told many times is far better than lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. I should have got up and swam with the others.
Fortunately my Achilles had reduced to a mere scare by 1400 hrs and with residual swelling I took the opportunity to go explore Mallorca with Sue. A lovely twist to what could have been a drastic end to training. The next day, Friday, I would be back up to full speed and ready to go. The coaches had a surprise for us all…. The intensity was likely to be building further.
Our brief for the day was to have breakfast and then be ready to go on the bike for 1000 hrs. The ride would be less “undulating” and efforts would be involved. We would be riding an out and back for coffee in the lovely old town of Campanet.
First we had to get the swim done.
I was very much up for this day, super stoked by having successfully beaten a potential Achilles flare up. I needed to be wise and chose to swim mostly on pull bouy, relying on upper body strength the entire set. Today’s swim was mostly drills and pace build. Racing and outpacing each other. I felt strong throughout, even brave enough to be kicking off the wall gently. There was no issue, wow. This was indeed a first. My Achilles has been known to write me off for a week or more in the past. Maybe I could smash the bike later too.
Whilst we had been swimming through our set the others had been on an epic ride up Sa Colabra and back. Our coaches would be having a “double ride” day and also riding with us, we would be pushing hard. Tracy had chosen to ride solo on another route to LUUC. A place I would be visiting the following day.
For the first few minutes of the ride the coaches rode behind us. Probably checking on my Achilles situation. After a while they were happy it was ok and I wasn’t just saying so. As we pressed on towards Campanet, we passed Orange groves and Vine yards. Sue would of loved it here, very typically Spanish countryside, sadly not on the back of a bike though. Instead Sue would enjoy the other reason people go to Mallorca…. A holiday. We were going at a fair lick, holding each other’s wheel. Collette and I taking the lead in turns. The “undulations” returned but this time they were easier. Nothing was going to be like the hills at Cap Formentor.
Before long we arrived in Campanet and blindly followed the infamous navigational skills of Simon. Weaving back and forth down the narrow streets, again thinking of how Sue would love this place.
Eventually meeting up at a cafe with the elite guys who had also seemingly been riding all day. The cake these guys eat is huge and yet they are so thin and strong. Maybe cake is the way forward after all.
I opted for carrot cake and full fat coke and enjoyed the delights of this old town, people watching away a good half hour of Mallorca sun. Unbeknown to us this was Simons treat to us. Yet another awesome day in Mallorca.
We all got back on the bikes and headed in our set directions, again blindly following Simons lead. Some of the group headed out for “More miles” we headed back, as planned.
I don’t know what it is they put in coke but it was like rocket fuel to me. As soon as I got up in front I would take the initiative to put my foot down and hit a canter. Thankfully a reversing van had slowed the others down allowing me to make my move. I didn’t disappoint myself, or the others as they all clung on to my wheel. Whizzing back through the Orange groves and Vine yards. Too fast to take in the sights. My head was down and I was pushing hard. Slowed only by the road coming to a junction and being unsure of the route. Video of ride back from Campanet(van at 2min)(Click link)
“More of what Lawrence is having!” Was Simon’s passing reply as the coaches retook the lead. I didn’t want to stop, I was in a rhythm and in the zone.
Day 7 – Saturday
The coaches had left the “Efforts” till last and had been keeping this one a secret! What could possibly be more of an effort than I have done so far? What could be so worthy of being kept a secret?
We had our usual brief after dinner the night before and I had taken a photo of the plan.
We would be cycling about 20k to the base of a hill climb at Luuc, that would be our warm up. Until this point I had not seen this hill, so naturally began to assume the worst.
Once at the base of the hill we would regroup and be released in timed intervals to complete our “Efforts”
Things like Lactate threshold and FTP (Functional Threshold) were mentioned, I knew this meant a tough day. Fortunately through discussion I agreed with the coaches not to do the planned 10k brick run after the bike. I would enjoy more Mallorcan sun as the others pressed through what must have been a tough run.
The Bike efforts
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I had been rereleased in wave two, a couple of minutes after Collette. I immediately began to hunt her down. We got to the start point of the two minute hill climb and I quickly saw any gains I had made on her quickly swallowed by the effort I was having to put in to get up that hill. The turnaround point came quicker than I knew it and I was thankful to be in recovery mode as I descended again. Then boom! On the clock for ten minutes at 90% FTP… Hunting down Collette.
I didn’t get to catch Collette until toward the end of the second effort but I was glad that I did. She must have known I was closing in on her as I was blowing hard. I eventually got past her and settled into a rhythm. She wasn’t settling for that and put in a kick, we would be cat and mouse until the end.
The session was set up so all the pros would be riding with us. Their effort was just as hard as ours, doubtless they would be going further than us due to their fitness, clearly able to climb higher in the two minutes. It was a great experience as we all passed each other at various phases, usually whilst they were in recovery mode. Cheering and helping each other to finish the set.
I was thankful to have a rest whilst the others, one by one, transitioned into their run. I was super impressed by the levels of commitment. Everyone, regardless of fitness levels was smashing it.
The ride home after the efforts should have been an easy recovery for me. Due to the fact I hadn’t run, I felt a bit guilty and clearly still full of energy. I decided to get on the wheel of two of the Pros/Elite. Tori Waight (Whom I had seen race in the infamous Weymouth 70.3) and Kent Langridge (Fenella’s brother). Before long they had noticed my intent and Tori invited me in a bit closer. Drafting off their TT Bikes back to the hotel was an awesome experience. Getting my head down and enjoying my last full training day. I held on (They were probably being kind and eased off the gas) and finished off with another 60k to what had been an incredible week.
Day 8 – Sunday and were all leaving
All good things come to an end? Well mine wasn’t going to end yet. I had booked the late flights back to the UK to maximize our “Holiday” I could get in an extra swim and then spend the day chilling out on the island with Sue.
After we had breakfast I booked the pool lane and committed myself to a pyramid swim of 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100. A lovely way to finish my training. After a quick visit to the gym to do some mobility and stretching stuff I finally switched off the training chimp in my head and enjoyed 3/4 of a days holiday.
The weather was warm and none of us really wanted the experience to end. Sadly, one by one, our group became smaller and smaller. Saying goodbye to people I now considered friends and committing to events I had never heard of. Agreeing with Simon to come back next year and attempt Sa Colabra….. I will be back – You heard it here first
Thank you for reading the latest chapter in my blog.
Please take the time to read the previous chapters in my journey. Chapters 1-20 have been a lot of fun to write, and I welcome your comments and opinions.
The next chapter in my blog will be all about the last 5 weeks before my first ever Ironman event…. 70.3 Staffordshire on the 9th July
#IRONMANTRAINING #IM703STAFFS #ANYTHINGISPOSSIBLE
Previous chapters in my Journey “Fatman – Ironman”
- 1 – Introduction
- 2 – Slimming World
- 3 – Joining a running club
- 4 – C25k
- 5 – Salisbury Parkrun
- 6 – My first league race
- 7 – Broken Tibia (My injury story)
- 8 – The courage to swim (Conquering a life long fear)
- 9 – Widths to lengths (The making of a Triathlete??)
- 10 – Training for my first multi-sport event – Avon Aquathlon 2018
- 11 – Durrington Triathlon 2018 (A stepping stone)
- 12 – The Cotswold triathlon ”Raising the bar”
- 13 – Winter training, Achilles Tendonitis and hitting “Enter”
- 14 – The gym, with a purpose
- 15 – Shaping my 2019 training and race season off the back of a “Santa Swim
- 16 – Training, and the build to Tri Camp. Mallorca 2019 – January
- 17 – Training, and the build to Tri Camp. Mallorca 2019 – February
- Ch. 18 – Training, and the build to Tri Camp. Mallorca 2019 – March
- Ch. 19 – April, and the build to Tri-Force Training Camp 2019
2 thoughts on “Ch. 20 – Tri Force Training Camp April 2019 – Mallorca”