- Scary confrontations and IRONMAN Certifications December 22,2016
I’m sitting thousands of meters above the ground watching the sky on the right is still dark and empty nothingness, while the left is turning into layers of blues, pinks, oranges, and everything in between fade into each other as the sun greets us. I wonder what time it is, but then I ask myself, well, the time where? I am everywhere and nowhere and my definition of home is ever changing. The past few weeks I’ve been ‘home’ in Abu Dhabi (for a few different reasons). This morning I was still ‘home’ in Holland for a few hours. Now I am on my way back ‘home’ to Lanzarote for the winter. And I also can’t wait to go back ‘home’ to Tri-topia in France for the spring and summer season. Each one means ‘home’ for a different reason. Whether that’s ‘where the heart is’, ‘where I was born and raised’, or ‘where my bike is!’. Some call me indecisive and unsettled, some spoilt, others say I’m maybe just never contented. My dad calls me a gypsy and my mum a globe-trotter. Me? I’m just grateful to have so many places I can consider home.
My few weeks at home (in Abu Dhabi) were great, but I was also ready to go back home to Lanzarote. I am ready to commit 110% to my training again, and will be working towards IM70.3 Dubai. Being in the shape and condition I’m in at the moment makes me slightly nervous. I haven’t been this unfit and ‘fat’ for a long time and I have to say, it’s a bit of an uncomfortable feeling! As athletes, we love seeing positive numbers, progression, lean bodies and defined muscles. We love the adrenaline rush from those killer sessions and the satisfaction of the after math of intense training. What we (or at least, I..) don’t love so much, are the slogging miles, slow paces, weak and unconditioned muscles, and extra pounds in places I haven’t seen them in a long time. The “chubby cheeks” and the extra padding. The confrontation of having had a long off-season.
Yes, I am nervous about getting back to the fitness level I was at and I will need to be patient because it will not – and should not – happen overnight. Let’s have a little reality check. Let’s see… we are in December now. That means I have about nine months until I need to reach that peak. 36 weeks. About 252 days.
Then, there’s a relativity check. Because really, as a person, I am clearly not fat and unfit. Someone who doesn’t think twice about riding 160km as the day’s morning session, or running 22km before breakfast the following day, can’t really be unfit. It’s only the wanna-be superhuman in me who is overweight, slow, weak, and incapable.
Next, there’s a positivity check. Because coming down from peak fitness during the off season is necessary for the body and mind. And I’ve had a very enjoyable and productive one. Besides our travel adventure from last month’s blog, I managed to spend my time usefully doing something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I started the IRONMAN University Coaching Course a little while back. After sending in the written part of the exam, I was stoked to receive a congratulatory email from IRONMAN, and being certified as an official IRONMAN Coach! I’ve been able to learn from the boss himself, sir Lee Thomas, for years now and I a excite to begin working along side him as a 3Peaks Coach. I hope to take on a few athletes for this upcoming season and do my very best to help them reach their individual goals! If you so happen to be interested in working with me to help you fulfill your triathlon dreams, please get in touch! You can email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
THAT REMINDS ME! I am so excited about running a camp in Lanzarote this winter. And there are still a few spaces left! Join us in the week of February 5-12 for some amazing training in the sunshine. I promise you won’t regret a training holiday on this Canarian Paradise.
So although it’s scary to be confronted with my level of fitness at the moment, the off-season has been a good one and there are so many things to look forward to and keep me motivated. I can’t wait to be back home in Lanzarote and start (or should I say – resume..) my journey of obsessive training and unlimited dedication towards becoming fitter-faster-stronger than ever before.
- Loads of experiences richer and a few pounds heavier November 4,2016
Loads of experiences richer and a few pounds heavier – my off season
Ironman Mallorca was followed by a week of rest, recovery, sickness, and laziness. I was excited to go back to Tri-topia and then head towards Lanzarote for the winter.
Day 1 – Ingrandes to Bordeaux to Arreau
We started our journey early in the morning, leaving Tri-topia behind before the sun came up. It was a strange feeling to shut the doors behind us, and hard to say goodbye to our good friend Tiger Cat.
Our first destination was Bordeaux, where we had some paperwork to do. After a bit of stress, we made it there in time for the appointment and we were able to check off that box. We continued driving until late in the afternoon until we arrived in a lovely town in the Pyrenees called Arreau. It was a bit wet and cold, but nothing to stop us from going out for a quick run after having sat still all day. Arreau is situated at the bottom of a well-known col, namely the Col d’Aspin, which we planned to ride the next day, followed by the Col du Tourmalet.
Day 2 – Arreau to forgot
After taking down the tent and packing the campervan, Lee and I set off for the day’s mission – to conquer the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet. Although I am in LOVE with my new flashy Dassi TT bike, I was glad to leave it on the van for the day and use Sam’s super light Dassi road bike. Climbing on a road bike is just so much nicer…! I haven’t really done many climbs before nor had I ever been in the Pyrenees, so I was in absolute cycle heaven riding up Col d’Aspin. Lee and I set off together, but after a couple of kilometers he said “See you at the top” and I was let free. The views were spectacular, the air crisp and fresh and the Dassi and I ascended upwards meter by meter. The 12km climb took us up to just over 1800m, where we were greeted by Sam, Meadow, Sol, and Sennen, who provided us with some snacks and warmer clothes for the decent. Wet roads and cold hands made for a slow and cautious decent, but before we knew it we started the second stage of the day which was the Tourmalet. The climb started steady, but was noticeably longer than the Col d’Aspin, with some steeper bits as well. The kilometers weren’t ticking off so quickly anymore, and it started to feel like a long day. I wondered how Lee was getting on, not having done much training the last few months and also not feeling 100%. As it got colder and wetter, I became more and more determined to get to the top. Cars passed with people clapping and cheering, and I appreciated the encouragement from complete strangers. It was such a nice feeling to reach the top at 2215m of altitude. I waited for a bit until I saw the van – with Lee behind the wheel! Whimp! 😉
I hopped in the van and started munching on some left over pasta. Before I knew it the bowl was empty and I had demolished it all without sharing. Whoops!
With a few hours left of day light, we drove onwards and stopped in a town of which the name I cannot recall. Maybe it’s better to block out that evening. The rain that poured down on us as we set up my little tent continued all through the night and into the next morning. Camping at its best!
Total distance – 44km
Total ascend – 2063m
Max altitude – 2115m
Bike used – Dassi road bike
Day 3 – forgot to Albaracin
The next day we continued to Albaracin, a supposedly amazing place which Sam and Lee had been telling me about. We arrived in a medieval looking place, and the campsite was beautifully situated on a hill with a view of the village. Although I felt lazy and tired from lack of sleep, Lee managed to convince me to go for a run before it got dark. “Just go for 30min or so, keep it short. Once you get going you probably won’t be able to resist anyway, you’ll love it.” So off I went to explore this new place. I found a trail to follow and immediately lost myself in the stunning views of Albaracin as I ascended up and up and up. The sun was setting which made for a beautiful golden filter of the mountains, trees, rocks, but also meant I needed to turn around at some point before it got dark. I came back in a much better mood and thanked Lee for making me go for a run.
Day 4 – Albaracin
The next morning I retraced my footsteps of the day before, this time as the sun was rising. I had brought my phone along to attempt to capture these views, but the battery ran out and once more I just soaked them up in my own head. When I came back the others had woken too and a lovely coffee awaited me. After some breakfast, we drove about 5km down the road where we were going to do some rock climbing. It was lovely to see Sennen, Sol, and Meadow enjoy this massive ‘playground’. All three attacked some climbs, and after watching them how it’s done I had a go as well.
We then walked around the reserve and followed the signs to the cave paintings, and Meadow and Sol taught me some things about Neolithic and Paleolithic times. After some lunch, Lee and I ran back through the woods and the valley, which was one of the nicest runs I’ve done. In the distance we could see the castle and the peak of one of the mountains. “We’ve got to get to the top.”
After a bit of a search for the tracks to get to where we wanted to, we finally made it to the top to enjoy some spectacular panoramic views. It was great to have such a nice run without any gadgets telling us how far, how long, and fast or slow we’d run. Perfect off-season fun!
Day 5 – Albaracin to Cuenca
The next day Lee and I set off on our bikes to ride from Albaracin to Cuenca, about 110km. It was the first time to try out my amazing new Dassi TT bike! I absolutely loved riding the new machine, even though my legs and fitness are not doing it justice at the moment. Although it was quite hilly, there were some nice stretches to drop down on the aerobars and get a feel of the bike. No doubt – this bike and I are going to be a good team.
The perfectly surfaced and quiet roads meandered through some amazing places, which was a good distraction to my tired legs. But Lee and I started to crave a good cup of coffee, and some food besides sickly sweet energy bars. This proved to be a challenge as we came through very few towns, none of which seemed to have much life in them. We became more and more desperate for our support van to catch up with us, and we were gutted when we learned that they had not been able to find any food for us either! Much to our relief, the next down had a café with some ‘bocadillos’ that filled our hungry tummies. Lee wasn’t feeling too well so hopped in the van after a pit stop, while I continued on towards Cuenca. After a lovely decent, I realized my Di2 had run out of battery (props to me for not charging it since it had arrived…) so the sweeper van had to pick me up after 98km. Slightly disappointing but I had already had an amazing day!
We drove the last bit towards Cuenca and found a nice campsite outside of the big city. We were craving pizza – the perfect guilty pleasure after a long day out on the bike. But the restaurant at the campsite didn’t want any more customers, and we didn’t really want to look around Cuenca for too long. We settled on a burger instead.
Day 6 – Cuenca to Segura de la Sierra
After a long day of driving we settled at another campsite where the Thomases had been before. A beautiful little place, at the bottom of the El Yelmo peak. Again I set up my little tent, we cooked some dinner and were off to bed.
Day 7 – El Yelmo, Segura de la Sierra to Jimena
Sam and I were going to conquer the El Yelmo climb today. Sam started at the camp sight and I rolled down to the very bottom (although I was a bit unsure how far that would be). I started the cycle to the top on my new machine and a not so climbing friendly disc wheel. I must’ve looked like the ultimate triathlon geek. Oh well, it’s got two wheels and is still lighter than most bikes. With a couple of kilometers to go I came past Sam who was still smiling as well. The last bit was surprisingly steep, but I could see the top and the view was breathtaking.
On my way down I suddenly saw Lee and Sol coming towards me. I was sure Lee had parked the van close to the top, but nope, they had started from the campsite and had already gotten this far! I knew how steep the last bit was and hoped that they would make it up. A little while later Sol cam back with the biggest grin, blood dripping from his arms and legs. “I fell off momma, haha!” After reaching the very peak of El Yelmo (over jjjj meters high), he got a bit distracted on the decent and found himself on the ground in one of the corners. He is now a few scars, experiences, lessons, and bragging-rights richer. Go Solly!
After our successful day of climbing we realized time had flown by. We quickly packed up our stuff and started driving as we each told our stories of our individual climbs of the day. We headed towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains where our next challenge awaited us – Pico de Veleta, the highest paved road in all of Europe. We drove knew we wouldn’t reach our intended destination that day as the sun started to disappear behind the mountains. It was getting dark and we had no campsite to stay. After getting slightly lost and driving where what seemed like the middle of nowhere, we ended up at a campsite in Jimena, in between endless fields of olive trees. After a team effort of cooking, we finished the day with a rewarding dinner.
Day 8 – Jimena to Monachil
We woke up to find ourselves at a lovely little campsite. I went for an early run while the others were still asleep. I ran through the olive fields and past trees filled with figs and almonds. It was a good excuse to stop a few times and have breakfast on the go. The figs were lovely, very different from the fresh ones off the tree at Tri-topia. They had the consistency of dried figs, sweet and sticky! When I came back Meadow joined me for another couple of kilometers, surprising me with her quick pace! After some breakfast and another success of fitting the tent back into its bag, we headed towards Monachil. We found a campsite at 1500m altitude which was on the way to the top of the next day’s climb.
Day 9 – Monachil to Guejar Sierra
Pico de Veleta
The next morning I decended to the bottom towards Huegar Vega to start the Veleta challenge. The cycle back up towards the campsite was great, although quite challenging at points! The gradient went up to 17-18%, which got me out of the saddle and pushing in the lightest gear. Once at the campsite I refilled my bottles and had a few snacks before continuing on. The first 10k had been a pretty good warm up, and everything else after that seemed ‘easy’. I was lucky with perfect cycling weather. My support van met me at 2500m altitude, after which they could no longer proceed. It was cold and we could see the snow on the peak of the mountain. Onwards I went, not sure what to expect of this next bit of road. It was another 800m of vertical ascent from there, and I started to realize that I might not be able to go all the way to the highest point. It would be too cold for the decent and I had my support crew at the bottom waiting and worrying. The road also became less and less cycle-able and I had to avoid more and more snow on the road the higher I went.
I decided I would ascend to at least 3000m, which made my total ascending for the day 2400m. That’ll do for some off-season play time! Descending with numb fingers wasn’t the most pleasant thing in the world, and I didn’t really regret not having gone higher. I’ll have to come back one day when it’s a bit warmer!
We drove to our next campsite in Guejar Sierra, where we finally found pizzas to order. Unfortunately they came out of the freezer…
Total distance – 45km
Total ascend – 2405m
Max altitude – 3108m
Bike used – Dassi road bike
Day 10 – Guejar Sierra to Torre del Mar
Another long day in the car, arriving at a busy campsite full of Brits and Dutch. We found ourselves right on the coast, which was a nice change of scenery. There was a nice hardened path on the beach lasting for about 3.5km. I overcame my laziness and went for a run as the sun sank into the calm Mediterranean Sea and the sky turned a golden orange color. When I came back the kids were playing and Sam and Lee had sat down for an evening drink. When I came back from my shower the kitchen of the bar had already closed and we had to go find another place to eat. We came across a place with pizzas, and finally managed to satisfy our cravings. Tired and full, we climbed into our beds for another night of camping quality sleep.
Day 11 – Torre del Mar
As usual I woke up before everyone else, so went for my morning run along the beach. Our Meadster joined me for another couple of kilometers and outsprinted me back into the campsite. Most of the day was spent at the beach. The kids found a nice park to play in while Sam, Lee, and I enjoyed some very tasty grilled sardines and tortillas. After jumping into the water and skipping stones, Lee and I went for another run. As I was chatting away I realized Lee was replying less and less. Eventually he gave out a loud sigh as he motioned me that we were stopping. Breathing heavy and sweating buckets, I’d killed coach for the day. Whoops! The family had come down with a bug which was a good excuse for Lee’s struggle to keep up with me 😉
Day 12 – Torre del Mar to Tarifa
Another morning run before packing up and heading further south. The fatigue as a result of not sleeping very well was catching up on me. I was Miss Grumpy for the day, although I must argue that we were all a bit quiet and boring by this time!
On the way to Tarifa we came past Gibraltar, which was quite fascinating to see. The Little England in Spain. We drove past it as we had other places to get to and see, but the rock stood bold and proud as we drove past. We arrived at our next place with grey skies that luckily held onto their rain until after I was done setting up the tent. I went for an easy run along the beach, coming back as no-longer-Miss-Grumpy, as most runs can do to you.
Day 13 – Tarifa
Hey! It’s my birthday! As usual I went for a run as the others were sleeping, and returned to a warm cup of coffee. I received three lovely birthday cards from my ‘brothers and sister from another mother and father’. Luckily the rainy skies from the early morning blew past and we were greeted by the sun as we had or picnic lunch on the beach. Followed by some obligatory coffee and cake of course. Evening came and we sat down for a drink by the bar, watching the waves roll onto the beach and the sun set for another nights sleep. Before we knew it, it was 21:30 and we still hadn’t cooked dinner. Cheffing team Lee and Leanne to the rescue for a tasty chicken satay birthday dinner. Topped off by a few too many chocolate truffles, because, you know, it was my birthday after all.
Day 14 – Tarifa to Cadiz
I went for another exploration run. I ended up on the beach again, this time on the other side of where we were staying. I felt eager to run this morning so went a bit longer than the past few times (also keeping in mind I would be stuck on a ferry for 30 hours later on). I ran on and on, until it was just me, the sand and the sea. No one around to make a sound, just waves rolling onto beach and my feet thumping on the soft surface. I thought about the amazing places I had seen within such a short period of time, and the numerous experiences richer I had become. It was the best way for me to spend a few weeks off structured training, while keeping me busy enough to prevent me from going mad. Thanks Lee, Sam, Meadow, Sol, Sennen for letting me join you. The hours of sleep deprivation were definitely worth it, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on this trip!
Now back in Lanzarote, I am excited to start training again. Many experiences richer and a few pounds heavier, I am ready to get fit again. We’re still a long way off the next A-race, but here’s to the 2016/2017 season!
Much love xx
- Lanzarote Camp 2015/2016 October 8,2016
Lanzarote Camp 2015/2016
While most other athletes were getting their winter miles done in the cold and miserable weather back home, four Tri-Topians plus Team Lee+Leanne+Sam enjoyed a week of swim-bike-run in perfect training conditions. Fueled by our daily dose of Lanzarote’s sunshine, we swum, cycled, and ran to shred some of those festive holiday pounds and get in some solid early season training. (Un)fortunately the Spanish tapas and wine were too good to resist and besides all the training our guests also enjoyed some relaxing evenings out.
Our training on the bike included a few ‘easy’ long rides, as well as a day stacked with the island’s toughest hills, and a road FTP test to finish off the week. We ran up Montana Roja to enjoy a stunning view of Playa Blanca, and swam in the crystal clear waters with our private support dinghy.
All in all a successful week with plenty of triathlon training, eating, and drinking! We can’t wait to welcome more Tri-Topians to our favorite training island next season. Keep an eye on our website for more info about the 2016/2017 winter camps!
- [getting personal] When nature calls, just let it flow…! September 3,2016
Leading up to Vichy 70.3 I knew I was fitter than I’d ever been. In a way this added extra pressure to performing to my abilities, but it also kept me quite calm and extremely excited to see what would happen on race day. On the day before the race we drove most of the course and cycled kilometer 60-80. It was hard to contain myself, the legs were ready to fire and my mind was buzzing with excitement. We also managed to get in a quick swim early in the morning, after hearing the disappointing announcement of a non-wetsuit swim. In all fairness, the water was a lovely temperature and extremely calm, so no real reason to complain besides personal preference and wanting to race in my brand new SNUGG wetsuit.
Race morning included the typical last-minute race prep stress and before I knew it I was jumping over a fence to get into the sub 30min swim start box. Without a warm up of any sort, Kathryn, Lucy and I managed to line up next to each other in our smart looking matching kits. The rolling start allowed three athletes to start every 5 seconds. A last little group hug and off we were.
Although I had been hitting some good times in the open water this summer, come race day I didn’t execute and came out of the water with a disappointing time. Oh well, this race isn’t won on the swim!
Transition went well and off I was. Riding out of town was a bit slow and I couldn’t quite get into my rhythm. My legs seemed to be going before my lungs and I had a hard time getting my heart rate up. Why am I struggling now while it came so easily yesterday? Questions questions no answers. I came through the first aid station and heard Lee’s words, “Don’t forget to take fluid at the aid stations. You MUST stay hydrated.” So I rode through the station and grabbed a bottle from one of the volunteers, chugged down as much as possible and chucked the bottle away at the end of the aid station, inside of the ‘Eco-zone’. A volunteer or marshal immediately pointed and shouted words at me, and my heart just dropped. No. Please don’t say that this counts as littering. PLEASE don’t DQ me! From behind I could hear a motorbike approaching and for a moment I thought my race was over. They turned and looked at me as they went past and I was waiting for them to pull out the red card. They seemed to take no notice of me nor my race number, and I allowed myself to breathe again. I made sure to check every penalty box for my number and felt a massive sense of relief when my number wasn’t there.
After about 90 minutes my back started aching quite badly, something I don’t usually experience. It took me off guard a little and may have caused me to lose a bit of focus. I saw my average pace and wasn’t pleased with it. Then again, no women had come past so I couldn’t have been doing too badly. I continued on and was happy to finally stretch my back after 90km on the bike.
T2 didn’t go as planned. I got out of my shoes, jumped off the bike, racked my bike, found my bag right away, helmet off, into the tent. With a very friendly volunteer by my side I put on my socks and shoes and ran out of the tent. On my way out I chucked a couple of empty gels in the direction of the bins but missed by a meter or so. I didn’t think much of it and ran on, but then got sent back so pick them up and place them inside the bins! Okay, don’t argue and keep smiling. I finally made my way out of transition and onto the run course. Okay, this is good. My legs are good. Let’s run!
I passed Lee and gave him a thumbs up. “You’ve got three women ahead of you! You’ll pass the first one in no time.” He was right, and after two 1k splits at a 3:46 pace I passed the first of the three women I was hunting down. I saw some quick splits coming through on my watch but didn’t worry too much and let the legs turn as they wanted. Today I was either gonna prove to myself that I could put together a good run split, or blow up trying! After about 6km I passed Ashley, Paulina, and Emma who were amazing support that day. Their excitement was so contagious and I tried to thank them with a massive and genuine smile. They gave me some splits of the two girls in front of me and some of the men on the course cheered me on and said I wasn’t far behind. “You’re running faster than them. Elles ne sont pas loin!” There was the next woman, and when I made the pass there was no effort to stick with me. Okay, just one more to hunt down. Meanwhile my pressure in my bladder was building and I was worried about being too uncomfortable to keep up a good pace while needing to wee! Just keep going, maybe it’ll pass. Don’t think about it. After about 8km we had to run over a bridge to come back and start another loop. It was on this bridge that my breakthrough moment happened. I managed to wee on the go! It kind of just came out and I did my best to let it all go. Meanwhile I was highly aware that it must be very noticeable. Water dripping down my legs and splashing every where with every step I took, I got some funny looks and wondered what must be going through their minds. Embarrassment didn’t get to me, and a wide grin appeared on my face as I thought about how proud Lee would be! Coming into the start of the second loop, I spotted the leading female, checked in with my legs, lungs, and mind, and knew I could run another good lap. I made the pass and took on the lead bike. When I passed Lee I gave him another two thumbs up and yelled “I JUST PEED MY PANTS!!” He threw his hands in the air and returned my childish smile, “Leanne, that’s awesome, I’m so proud of you, WHOOOO!”
The rest of the run was really enjoyable. Running behind the lead bike meant lots of enthusiastic spectators and a VERY excited Paulina-Ashley-Emma crew. I was still feeling quite good and tried hard to hold on to my runner’s high. I had been doing well with my nutrition on the run (which was a first…), but coming through the last aid station, I gagged at the sight of gels. Just keep going, don’t be sick, nearly there. Luckily it didn’t last long and the last kilometer went quite quickly. I came into the finishers chute and got the shivers as the stands were filled with cheering spectators. And another surprise, there was a banner! YES, another banner! I ran over the finish line, grabbed it with both hands and held it above my head with a big sense of relief. Yes, I’d made it. And I think I ran okay.
A couple of interviewers started asking some questions and I kindly requested if we could please sit down while I answered their questions as I tried to regain some form of normal breathing. ☺ After a relaxing massage and some more chats with some of the men who had finished, I was eager to find out how my fellow training partners had done, and arrived to the finishing line just in time to see super star Lucy cross the line smiling from ear to ear. Goose-bump moment! When I finally found her in the finishers’ tent we gave each other a big hug and my eyes filled with tears of pride. Lucy is one of the most determined athletes I’ve come across and I have so much admiration for the grit she carries with her. Not much later Kathryn appeared and our trio was complete. Kathryn had just finished her first half ironman distance triathlon, having only done a Olympic distance race simulation two weeks before. Kathryn you should be so proud of your achievement, thanks so much for pushing me in the pool and showing us how it’s done!
The usual not-so-great feeling came up on me and I took some time underneath a tree to recover and avoid talking to people. After a few hours I finally managed to scruff down some plain pasta which did me a world of good.
Next was the awards ceremony, where I found out my official run split for the first time. Sketchers so kindly awarded the three fastest male and female athletes with a pair of free shoes of choice!! My run was recorded as a 1:19:29. I won’t quite take that as my official time as the run was a couple hundred meters short, but running at roughly 1:20-1:21 half marathon pace was really quite satisfying!
Reflecting on the race, I am still not too excited about my swim and bike splits. However, fortunately for me triathlon consists of three sports, which meant that my overall performance is probably somewhat respectable. I am really excited about having proven to myself that the speeds I’ve been training at in my running sessions hasn’t been a fluke nor an overly ambitious pace.
But most of all, I am happy that I managed to mentally pull myself together after disappointment and put on a genuine smile throughout the entire run course. Massive thanks to the supporters, my training partners, my family, our Tri-topia guests, and Coach Lee for getting me here. The win was as much yours as it is mine.
Much love and until next time,
- “I’m having fun!” August 12,2016
I’m on the grass, soaking up some sun as the birds are tweeting and the bees humming in the background. Besides early mornings, this wonderful silence is quite rare at Tri-topia. Splashing in the pool, kids playing, parents chatting, plates crashing and bread crunching. The daily chaos at Tri-topia doesn’t always allow for much time to sit down. The guests headed off to a river after this mornings track session, leaving us behind with some quiet time! This isn’t to say we don’t love our guests of course… 😉
I’ve calmed down from my runner’s high but still feel that lovely sense of satisfaction. My track session went well, one of the best ones yet even with the progression of decreasing rest time in between efforts. Even after having done my last BIG session just the day before yesterday. There have been ups and downs, good and bad sessions, but in preparation for my upcoming race I’m going to focus mainly on the positives, to remind myself we’ve done the work and I’ve come a long way. No need for doubts, time to build confidence and excitement to get me a new 70.3 PB!
My running has come along really well, with one seemingly break-through week where it all came together. The first run session that week was 17x 1km reps at 3:45 pace. It was a progression from the previous week, where we did 16 of them with 60 sec rest. This time we added another and decreased the rest to 45 seconds. Whereas last time I suffered to keep the pace towards the end (okay, also due to the heat, which affected even this camel that day), my effort was steady all the way and my legs felt like they could carry on forever! What a nice feeling that is… It was a relief to get in a good session that afternoon, as the pre-breakfast 20x200m wasn’t as big of a success. We’d done this session before and I knew what times I should be able to hit, but nothing seemed to work. I left the pool angry and frustrated, doubting myself and my abilities. Luckily Lee knows how to calm me down and I was ready to smash out a good run session.
Two days later was our track session, which is focused on 5k dream pace. Again, my legs are lungs were working well together and I flew my way through the session, ending with a 1k straight in a pb time. It was great to see some of our guests join in, with some speedy youngsters whom I will be looking out for in the future!
This day was followed by a hectic change over as well as a rest day. For those who know me, I’m hard to be around on rest days! Luckily I was able to head off to do some mega shopping with Lee, keeping my mind occupied for the time being. We welcomed the new guests and prepared ourselves for another busy week!
On Monday Lee had a TT planned for us around the Angles-sur-Anglin loop, which added up to about 33km. After this effort we got to do a quick 4x 1km run to try out the legs, which were turning over faster than I could control. A new Tri-topia Angles TT record and a good session! The next day included an absolute smash fest on the turbo trainer, where I had trouble keeping the watts up. Luckily our swim was just a recovery, as the day after was going to be a biggy!
Wednesday was a training day I’d really been looking forward to. I finally got to do the “yellow-pink half marathon loop” again. Aim for a 4:10 pace if it feels doable.
Coach, “If you feel really good, push a bit harder but don’t dig in. I don’t want you to have a suffer fest.” Okay. The first 5k took just over 20min, and I could tell it was going to be a good run. Lee surprised me on the way and had driven to roughly the 10k mark, where I was well into my runner’s high, with a big grin on my face as I updated him on my pace so far. I shouted out my now famous words of “I’m having fun!” and carried on. I got a bit excited in the last km as I could see the end, and sped up a little but remembered not to dig in. I stopped my watch as the distance read 21.1 and was pleased with a sub 1.25 and a new training pb of a 4:01min/k pace. This pace on a course which is anything but flat, without having to dig in is a big improvement for me! Happy days! On top of that the well-known 20x200m swim arrived the same afternoon, and I was surprised to be coming in before target times all the way through. Probably one of my most successful training days if you ask me.
Many people would probably look forward to rest and recovery the following day, but when I saw that the only thing on my plan was a 30min easy swim, I had a near panic and consulted coach. He allowed me to go ‘play’ with Lucy on a long ride as long as I didn’t push it. OKAY!! ☺
The following day we took our guests to the 10 mile TT. I was nervous, but pumped up to get a pb, trying out our new 3Peaks Coaching kit and at least looking the part. And yes, I managed to take 2 whole seconds off my pb. I’ll take that!
The following day it was not much of a surprise that the track session didn’t come too easy. I knew I hadn’t fueled properly for it as the timing had been a bit off that day. I was out of energy and tired from the previous days of training. I managed to hit the times but not with the usual enthousiasm. Fingers crossed I would be flying around the track again next week.
This brings us to this week’s training, where Tuesday was my last biggy as mentioned earlier. Lee had set Lucy, Porridge and I off to do the Angles 33km TT again, but three times. He’d set us all target times to aim for, and mine was to get it 3x under the hour. This is one session Lee had attempted a couple of times when he was training for 70.3 and full, but admitted to never having succeeded on the third one. Although we weren’t too keen on doing this loop three times due to the difficulty of keeping up a good pace through some of the towns and ‘hills’, we were ready to give it our best shot. Coming in over 2min early on both the first and second loop, I was determined to ‘beat Lee’ and hit the last one too. I came in a good 90 seconds faster than target time once more where Lee was waiting for me.
Coach: “Okay give me your bike, here are your running shoes.”
Me: “Uhm, okay. Where am I running and how fast?”
Coach: “Just start running pink route at race pace. Gel every 20min.”
Lee sometimes likes to surprise us with sessions like these, though I’m getting better at reading him and predicting the unknown! Hence I wasn’t surprised that he’d brought my running shoes. I’d actually considered putting my running shows on the table for him as a joke. He also wasn’t going to tell me how far I was having to go, but once he’d said “Gel every 20min” I figured that would mean at least two gels, so at least an hours’ run. Okay just go. The first 3km were a suffer fest as I struggled with my breathing thanks to the pollen in the air. Doubts, frustration, worry. I nearly stopped at one point, but thankfully my legs kept going. I considered stopping again, but I knew Lee was meeting me after 20min, which meant it would be forever until someone had found me and I was at least 5km from home. Nope, logistically not even a good option. Just carry on. I calmed myself down and got into a decent pace. I saw Lee again and managed a smile. The mind is such an interesting thing. Lee passed me again to get to the next ‘aid station’ and shouted some words of encouragement, “Even though you might be feeling terrible on the inside, you’re looking amazing from the outside!” Nice one, Lee. He drove up beside me again a few kilomters later with his camera in hand, “You havin’ fun yet? Tell you’re parents how much fun you’re having!”. Two thumbs up, a smile, and a “Mom and Dad, I’m having fun!”. Lee finally opened up his arms to catch me after an hour of running, with a face of pride and satisfaction. Even though the pace was slightly off, he was happy that I managed to pull myself together after my looks of doubt in the first few kilometers. With the difficulty for me to be pleased with a session like that, it was nice to hear his enthusiasm about how the session went.
The next day was a hard swim, which all went okay until the last quarter of it, where the accumulated fatigue really kicked in. The rest of the day was easy, and it was our night off. Lucy and I decided to go on a picnic adventure, combining our optional easy recovery cycle with a yummy dinner and a ‘wild night out’. The legs felt extremely heavy on every hill and we were glad to make it to our picnic stop. On the way back we heard some music in Concremiers, which is extremely rare in these ghost towns. “Let’s go see!” We ended up listening to a mini band consisting of woodwinds and a set of drums and dressed in… well, white robes and zebra-striped under skirts. Oh the adventures of evening cycles with Lucy..!
We jumped out of the caravan this morning both heavy legged and a bit worried what this may mean for the planned track session. Our worries were unnecessary though, as we all smashed out some good times in our individual sessions. For me this meant same splits, even less rest, strong form and a good feeling! I’m off to change into my swimming costume now, with a super hard speed set waiting for us. Good thing Porridge and Prancer will be in the pool for the same session.
- Mud races, Mad Max, and forced rest June 20,2016
I’m sitting on the couch huddled up under a blanket, listening to my own heavy breath as my nose is congested and my head pounding. I’m gutted to have to admit to having caught a bug disappointed that I’m sitting here at a quiet and completely deserted Tri-topia while everyone is out for a lovely 100k bike ride. Oh well, there’s no time for self pity, and instead I’ll use this time for some quiet ‘me’ time which often gets lost in the craziness of life at Tri-topia.
As I sit here in all laziness I repeat Lee’s words in my head, “You won’t lose any fitness from a few days of recovery right now, don’t stress”. I just opened up Trainingpeaks and did get some confidence from looking at my logged training sessions. Not only have I logged another few 20+ hours, but a there are a lot of quality sessions in there with a couple of breakthroughs as well.
One of these seems to be the last session I did on the turbo trainer. The session was a 3×20 min effort at ironman, half ironman, and near-FTP target power. As I started I was really surprised at the power I was managing to put in without having to push for it, and my heart rate stayed low and stable. Was I working hard enough? Was the power meter calibrated properly? Well Leanne, what about the possibility of actually seeing improvements? Could I dare to believe the data that was telling me I’m getting stronger? Effort 1 and 2 went well, and Lee just came to pop in hoping to be able to watch me suffer during the last hard effort. I told him how it had been going so far, and he gave me some words of encouragement for the suffer fest that was yet to come. I was excited in a way, looking forward to seeing what I’d be able to do today and how my mind would deal with this challenge. It started off well, I decided not to go out hard at the start and to minimize the drop off at the end, which is something I think I have previously done during time trials and FTP tests where similar efforts are needed. My heart rate was still pretty low for this effort and I watched as it slowly began to rise above threshold. Alright, now hold it. My head was strong and I was determined to finish. I managed to complete the effort just 1 watt below my FTP. Although I should have been really pleased with that, my mind once again started wondering in different directions and making excuses for why the data could be wrong or inaccurate. But coach was very pleased and a rewarding dinner concluded my training for the day (which also included a 6k run and 50×100 swim).
This whole week was bike-specific for me, which worked out well with the presence of our loyal guest Mad Max from the Netherlands, who has been given this nickname for a good reason! An easy 5h ride turned into 152km at around 33km/h with a little brick run to polish it off. We also kept each other company during a turbo session which consisted of 6x3min all out efforts. Wether it was his presence or my improvements, I saw a huge jump in power from the previous time I did this session, less than two weeks ago. Hey, maybe I am actually getting stronger! And to put the cherry on top we ran 4k hard off the bike, both really pleased with the pace that we managed to keep!
Besides these fun bike sessions there were of course also some swims and runs ☺ There was another trail run (the second one this month!) where Tri-topia once again dominated the podium. With Kathryn and Lucy both on the podium for their categories and Mad Max and I taking the overall wins for the 14km, we came home with more trophies to add to our collection. No time for a post-race recovery day, as we had a full week of training ahead of us. This included one of our awesome track sessions in which everyone saw improvement from the previous week. Go team!
Besides all this training fun, I also had some quality sis time. My sister came over and joined us for two weeks. It was really great to see her again and to welcome her here at Tri-topia. She joined in with almost all of the training sessions and made the most out of her time here. It was also really nice to spend some time away from swim-bike-run and it was sad to see her go. Unfortunately she passed on her virus to me before leaving…! Thanks Joc! 😉
Time to log off and try to take a nap and do my best to recover and prepare myself for more training. These few easy days will continue to fuel me and my hunger to get stronger, fitter, faster.
- Back at it at Tri-topia! May 24,2016
The other morning Lee told me I looked tired, I denied it and said I was feeling pretty good! But as the day progresses I realize he was right (as per usual) and I’m feeling a bit lazy on this recovery day! I only had a key swim session today which was a bit of a drag but I’m happy it’s done. The past two weeks have been quite good training-wise, and I’m happy to have logged over 20 hours of solid training three weeks in a row. Although I loved the training in the hilly and scenic Lanzarote, I am grateful for all the greenery and life I come across during my runs and cycles here.
Last week Lee had a 5h30 ride planned for me, which I had been really excited about a week in advance! The ride included 1 hour at a solid effort plus some race pace towards the end as well. The day finally came and I was completely in my element. I just wanted to get the first hour of easy riding done and start the 1h of effort! I was really pleased with the power output over the hour and was surprised by how quickly time past. The next hour was easy again, allowing me to enjoy the beautiful melodies of the birds as I cycled through the Brenne national park. During the race pace efforts my legs slowly started to fatigue as the intervals went on. It was a good feeling though, knowing I had to dig in a little bit to hit the power targets. The last interval came as a relief, and it was nice knowing that all that was left was an easy spin back home. However, this easy spin was the least enjoyable of the whole ride. With 5 hours already in the bank, I started to get a bit hungry and cold, and just wanted to get home at that point! I made it home safe and sound, and despite my slight bonk at the end, I came home with a big smile on my face and 155km in the bank. The best part was refueling, knowing I had burnt approximately 3000 calories. =D
Another training highlight was getting to use the track down at Le Blanc for the first time. This will be a great addition for all Tri-topians to use during their stay with us! It had been a long time since I’d done speed work like that, so it felt a bit strange touching those kinds of speeds again! Lee was standing on the side with a stopwatch in hand while I ran ‘naked’ (no watch or other gadgets to tell me how fast or slow I was going). My splits were consistent and I was pleasantly surprised with the times I was getting. Unfortunately I started getting some GI discomfort which prevented me from finishing the whole work out. Frustrating, but it was a good (and only the first of many to come) track session. I’ll have to start keeping a food diary to see if there are any patterns to the issue!
This morning I had my best swim yet since getting back into consistent training after my time out due to the eardrum issue. I have to thank our newcomer Kathryn for that, as it was very motivating to swim beside someone! Our session consisted of two sets of 4×200 hard with a long rest interval. Lung busting at the time, but we were in good spirits afterwards as we enjoyed our well deserved jacuzzi time. Fortunately Kathryn is swimming a pretty similar pace so I’m really excited to have a swimming partner from now on! Welcome to the Tri-topia family Kathryn!
Coming up this weekend is the Poitiers-Futuroscope half marathon! This will be my first real stand alone half marathon. Although there’s always that voice in my mind saying I haven’t trained fast, long, hard, slow enough, I’m excited to see what I’m capable of. My goal is to go hard, hang on, and hurt for as long as I can.
“The limits of possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible” – Arthur C Clarke
- Time flies (even when you’re not training all day!) April 25,2016
Time flies (even when you’re not training all day!)
It’s already been three weeks since I left Lanzarote and arrived back to Abu Dhabi. I’m already packing again for my next destination: Tri-topia in France! Although it was great to go back to Abu Dhabi for a while to spend time with family and friends, I have really been looking forward to getting back to Tri-topia. Being back I realize how fortunate I am with the training opportunities and venues in Lanzarote and France. The cycling in both these places is much safer and more enjoyable then the UAE. Unfortunately I live quite far away from the amazing cycle track in Al Wathba which means I spend a lot of time on the turbo trainer. I can’t wait to enjoy the lovely roads and scenic routes in France. Plus, I’ll have a pool on my doorstep, such luxury! Time to up the swimming again now that the doctor has given me the all clear sign!
Although I just said the cycling isn’t as great here as other places, I did two amazing rides this weekend. The first was Jebel Jais in the stunning mountains of Ras al Khaimah, and then Jebel Hafeet the day after in Al Ain. Two great days of climbing, made possible by my ever so committed and supportive parents who drove in the support vehicle.
I’ve got a bit more training planned before I fly to Paris at 23.30. I love to travel, but I love to train in beautiful places even more, so I already can’t wait for my first session in France! I hope to see some familiar faces during the summer and I encourage you all to BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY at Tri-topia if you haven’t already!
Lots of love,
- Lanzarote Highlights April 10,2016
It’s been a week since I left the wonderful island of Lanzarote, and I miss it already. I look back on my time there with pure gratitude and excitement because I am 10000 experiences richer! I decided to share ‘some’ highlights from my stay, both positive and not-so positive…
• Living on a sailing boat for over two months. I can’t thank the owner of the boat enough, and of course Erika and Neil for their invaluable help and kindness.• Cycling up the last 1k climb of Femes 7x, with people sitting at the café at the top, watching me coming and going again and again while other cyclists are nearly falling off their bikes as they reach the top. Also cycling past another guy on this climb, while he was doing the ‘walk of shame’. His look turned from a relatively friendly nod to a look of hopelessness and despair as I passed him for the fourth time.
• Spanish tapas
• A 5k open water swim set with my personal support dinghy. I thought we were just doing a short ‘cool down’ after 400m repeats, but the dinghy just kept moving further and further into the distance, to only send me all the way back to the starting point..
• Lots of coffee
• Montana Roja (Red Mountain) – usually my favorite run. But one day the weather ruined my bike session so I was sent out for a longer run instead. Unimaginably strong winds combines with heavy showers meant burning skin from the hail-like rain! I made my way up the Montana Roja in the head wind, with the motto “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But then I realized I had to go down with the wind in my back. Lethal. Absolutely terrifying.
• Tri-topia Lanza camp – thanks for a wonderful week!
• Running up Femes steady, to come down at a blistering pace. My session on TP literally said: 4x500m crazy pace.
• New max speed on bike: 80km/h (sorry Mom and Dad)
• New max speed on aerobars: 70km/h
• New max running speed: 2:30min/k pace (okay… downhill..)
• Chacho Burger. Because you need to refuel after 4h+ workouts, and this place knows exactly how.
• Tabayesco, Haria, Mirador, Femes. Because I love climbing, even on a TT bike, and this island just has the most amazing places for it.
• Nearly getting blown off the road, waiting for coach to come save me and take me back to a dry, warm place. Then being told to finish (well, start…) my workout of 8 hills reps as he drove beside me in the van. Yes, I was quite grumpy.
• Conquering the bike session that I had been dreading for weeks.
• Perforating my eardrum. Three courses of antibiotics. Not fun.
• Canarian soup at the very top of Tabayesco after climbing up from Orzola, Tabayesco, and finishing off with 7 hills reps up the switchback climb. There was nothing more satisfying than that well filled soup after smashing the legs in the cold and wet weather that day.
• Lanzarote Music Marathon 10k race – the win and a pb.
• Sailing with my second family. Lobos, Fuerteventura, staying on anchor, open water swims in crystal clear water, PANCAKES
• And of course, taking the win at the TRI122 Teguise Triathlon. What a way to end an unforgettable three months!
- The race – an imaginary chase…? – TRI122 Race Report April 7,2016
TRI122 Teguise Triathlon Race Report
.When I arrived in Lanzarote at the end of December, the plan had been to stay for twee weeks and then head back home to Abu Dhabi. It didn’t take long before I realized I was falling in love with the island. During my second week, talk of extending my stay became a daily occurrence. After lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ I called my parents and canceled my flight back. Now the question was, how long do I stay for? I then found this race on the island that looked really interesting, which would take place on April 2nd. Three months… is that not a bit long? It was a good reason to stay and a great target to get me through some though months of training.
I have to say that it wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, I felt I had other commitments back home, expectations to live up to, and people to please. But with the support of some important people, we made it work and I even found a perfect place for me to stay – a sailing boat named Cefalu, safely moored in Playa Blanca. For the next few months I breathed, slept, and ate triathlon.
Now on to the race!
Race morning started off okay – lots of time and a relatively calm mind. Then the first little things started to go wrong. My power meter wasn’t turning on. Oh well, only heart rate then. Wait… where is my strap? Shoot, left it back at the apartment! Mom??? Luckily our apartment was only about 500m away from the race venue so she so kindly agreed to go get it. When she came back with the strap in her hands I was relieved to know I wouldn’t be racing blind (speed on the bike in Lanzarote really doesn’t mean much..). “Failed to connect heart rate sensor.” What?! Okay nevermind, I’m racing on feel today!
SWIM – 2km
We stood around waiting a bit too long so I tried to keep moving as much as possible to make sure I stayed relatively warm and that my heart rate wouldn’t have to go from zero to 100 once the gun went off. We had a tiny field of just nine women, so the start wasn’t the type of chaos you can usually expect at the start of the swim. I managed to get on someone’s feet, who seemed to be on the toes of the leading lady. I figured this would do for now and we could stick to the fastest swimmer for a while. But the next time I looked up, there was a gap between the first and second female, and I would’ve had to put in a serious surge to catch up! Dang it, should’ve paid closer attention and stuck to her feet! After passing the first buoy, the pace seemed too slow so I took over and lead the rest of lap 1. Sighting was nearly impossible in the choppy waters and the distance between the first and second buoy seemed endless! I made it out of the water in second position after the first lap with a bit of a lead on third, and clumsily jumped over the breaking waves to start the second one. My heart rate had shot up and changing position from horizontal to vertical had made my legs heavy as bricks. I suffered for the first couple hundred meters and before I knew it there was someone on my toes again. About 100m before reaching the beach again, the swimmer behind me surged. I stayed on her feet but decided not to fight for it, the few seconds now wouldn’t cost me anything. I increased my kick a little to get some blood flowing, having learnt my mistake after that first lap.
T1 (Transition 1 – Swim to bike)
The run to T1 was on a long stretch of concrete – quite uncomfortable! I got to my bike and transitioned quickly. I left T1 before the other lady, but as soon as I got on my bike she came flying past and began to disappear into the distance.
BIKE – 85km
What was happening? Legs, common! My mind filled with questions and doubts. Why are my legs so heavy? Did I do something wrong in the swim? Did it have to do with the taper? Is it just not going to be my day? On the other hand, I also knew I was strong and just needed to push on. Be patient, I told myself.
The roads weren’t closed for the most part, which meant two things. 1) Ride safe! and 2) Lee and the family were able to follow me around a bit and shout things at me at different stages of the course. After about 15k I found Lee on the side of the road counting 43..44…45 seconds behind her! I didn’ think that was very much and thought I could see her in the distance. Turned out he was counting 2 minutes and 45 seconds, and that was NOT her in the distance. The way to Orzola, the very tip of the island was an undulating but not hilly, headwind stretch. From there it was quite a steep climb and I was happy to find my support crew near the top. I heard Lee say something about having lost another 15 seconds on her. Okay, one minute behind no. 2 now. (FYI: I found out afterwards this meant I was three minutes behind no. 1)
“But where’s there’s the one in front?”
“She’s three minutes ahead of you. She’s a pro you know, this is what you wanted. Now go get it!”
That was exactly what I needed to hear. Yes, this is what I wanted. To really have a race, and if that involved any pro’s – all the better!
My legs were feeling better now and I was preparing myself for the big Tabayesco climb where I’d have a good chance to make up some time. And apparently that’s exactly what I did, because about 4k into the Tabayesco climb I passed her with ease and started to gain a good lead on her. I knew she was a heavier rider than I was – which meant I had the advantage on the climbs but a disadvantage on the descents. I kept reminding myself there’s was no time to freewheel on the descents – I was going to have to put in more effort going down hill than she would. Now it was time to limit the distance between the leading female and I if I still wanted a shot at taking the win today. About 5k before T2, I see coach and fam going mental when they see me coming their way. A quick thought about maybe being in the lead crossed my mind but it didn’t make sense – I only passed one other female. Then a few k’s later a motor bike came up beside me and started leading me back into town. Don’t they only do that for the leading female? I thought maybe I was so far behind that they’d already brought be leading female into T2 and were just coming to see how #2 was doing.
T2 (Transition Bike to run)
“La primera chica!” – was what I heard as I jumped off my bike and ran into T2. My Spanish is rubbish, but I was pretty sure I knew what that meant. With a mega smile of disbelief I ran past the cheering crowd. Through the buzz of excitement I decided it would be easier if I sat down to put my shoes on then to struggle through the rush of adrenaline that I just received. I forgot about the caffeine tablet that I had ‘so cleverly’ placed in my shoe to take BEFORE putting it on. I remembered about it a split second later, took my shoe off again, shoved the tablet in my mouth, quickly washed it down with a gulp of water, put my shoe back on, and left T2.
RUN – 20km
Running is probably my strongest discipline of the three at the moment, and I can usually rely on pretty good running legs after a hard ride. This time wasn’t any different, and I started off at a fast (too fast..) pace. After 2k my average pace was still 3:45min/k, and I had to force myself to slow down because I knew it was not a pace I could sustain for 20k. I managed to run the first 10k just under 40min, which was just about my goal pace for the run. But I felt that things were beginning to drop off, my legs were starting to ache and I was starting to feel a bit nauseous. I was told a couple of split times and knew if I kept a reasonable pace I’d be able to take the win. But a ‘reasonable pace’ wasn’t satisfying enough and I wanted to get the most out of this race. I was starting to get disappointed that my pace was dropping near the end of the run, but the kind guy on the lead-bike lifted my spirits by getting random people (totally confused about why a bunch of people in lycra were putting themselves through the apparent suffer fest) to cheer me home the last 2k. At the finish line I was greeted by my mum, Lee, Sam, Meadow, Sol, Sennen, Shackle, Edo, Robert, race organisors and photographers, and random people asking for photos. Big thanks to all these amazing people for their invaluable support!