Take me back to Spain! I can’t believe there is snow here 😦 😦 😦
What a great, motivating, inspiring, challenging and educational 10 days I had with the Scottish team in Aguilas. I don’t even know where to start with all I learned (a big one being that the bin liners over there smell like parma violets.)!
In summary, the weather was super windy and not too hot (average was maybe 16C) but from a training perspective, that was as hot as I’d like. I also really liked the fact it was a dry heat so I didn’t sweat nearly as much as over here! I was happy with how my swimming and cycling came on 🙂
I swam pretty much every day, to my 2-3 times per week back home, which I believe made a MASSIVE difference. For you non-swimmers out there, you can lose the “feel” for the water in a day, requiring a lot of warming up at the next session. It’s a funny sensation when you haven’t swam in a while – it is like slipping through the water as opposed to pulling your body through it. Anyway, in my head I make sense and I left feeling a lot stronger and fitter in the pool!
I am ashamed to admit I haven’t done any real sessions outside on the bike (turbo, yes, but not out on the open roads). My favourite session of the whole camp was a near 40 mile cycle that consisted of 90s max/60s max/30s max, (where the person at the back has to move through the cyclists in front of them and attack to stay in front) with 60s recovery, then a 10 minute individual TT effort. Then REPEAT that 3 times!! I loved how good it hurt! In the first section, you were really pushing the people around you, then on the individual part it was you against the clock. I was lucky in that I went last each time, having to try and catch up with the guys in front. It made it super challenging and tough, but a goal I managed to achieve about 9 minutes into the effort! The session also included a long 8% climb to warm up, but that should have been a breeze, apparently! All in all I surprised myself with the speed I had on the road.
In contrast to this, my bike actually needs the most work (we kinda already know this from last year’s attempts at learning to drink/eat/not fall off or get hit by a car etc). We worked quite a lot in empty car parks, working on cornering and other essential skills, and I am a complete novice! I was by far the worst, but I took so much away from this and I will work my butt off until I master dem skillzzz.
It also didn’t help that in one car park session, Julie took a corner too hard and fell off, knocking 2 teeth out and having really bad road rash (look away now if you’re squeemish)…
(And yes I cried. After realising she was ok, and Julie laughing at the fact she had no teeth, I was a blubbering mess because any sort of fall or crash on the bike terrifies me these days. So she ended up laughing at me!)
On the swimming side, we only had use of a 25m pool (and the sea!), but it did the job! I think it actually built my confidence because I could focus on my technique without getting too tired, considering a wall was always going to be close to have a rest on 😉 My favourite set in the pool was 5×300 on 4.30, where my average was approx 3.52. Nowhere near as good as the top guys, but not the worst either!
That same day, we had a run session which was a controlled paced 6x800m along the beach. Working as a team really helps to push you on. Had I done it solo I don’t think I would have achieved the times I did.
With all the above sessions, we had Nikki there to take our lactates! Even in my previous life as a swimmer, I had never had this much testing, so having the results collated will be very interesting! At the time when I was getting glimpses of my lactate, it was on the low side which I was surprised with. For example, after my 2nd 10 minute TT on that bike session, I was told I wasn’t working hard enough! We also had to pee in a pot every morning for her to check our hydration levels; the glamourous side to sport!
On the last day, the coaches held “Mini Races” – we had a power point presentation the night before on race details; it was taken very seriously! So much so, that we went back to our villa post-presentation actually pretty nervous!
The day consisted of 3xraces of 300m swim/12km bike/2.5km run (the 1st race was only 1km run). The boys did a run session in the am so were exempt from the 1st race and run part of the races. So it was just the girls!
When we got to the beach that morning, the waves were MENTAL. Like I’m talking metres high! In our heads there was no way we would be allowed to swim in that, nor did we want to. But the coaches said we were to go in, so we listened and did as we were told. We didn’t do the full 300m but we did do some out and back stuff to get used to swimming in tough conditions (the waves were worse than Kalmar, and that’s saying something!).
(Let’s just say we weren’t exactly sprinting into the sea in excitement…)
Unfortunately, on the 2nd race, I got pulled under – despite my incredibly buoyant Aqua Sphere wetsuit! – (it was really scary actually – I was under for quite a while and it’s the 1st time I have ever worried about drowning), and hit my foot badly off a rock. I thought it was fine until we got out and the ice pack of the sea wore off and it started to pulse and swell. So that was a DNF for me.
I put some ice on it and elevated it, and there were a couple of hours to kill before the final race, so I thought I would be able to cycle with a bruised foot, so I took some painkiller, worked on more car park skills, then was ready for the 3rd race (which omitted the swim for obvious reasons after my foot incident). It was a handicapped start, so Sophia went off first, then Julie and I, then the boys after us (there were only 3 girls on camp). I was the freshest girl after my DNF (and no that was not intentional!) so the plan was for me to try hard to drop the girls and then when the guys flew past (literally, it seemed) I would grab one of their wheels. The front pack were faaaar to quick, but Cameron was a little behind, so I worked with him in the 12km effort – which was super tough in the wind! – and managed to average about 35kph, then it was a solo 2.5km run for me to finish. Bex was next to me on her bike pushing me out of my comfort zone which meant I had nowhere to hide so really worked hard! It was the first time I had worked on a strategy in a race situation where you can draft, so I will definitely be taking a lot away from that.
(“Race” venue – taken on a much calmer day)
When we weren’t training, we did (A LOT) of food shopping, cooking, recovering in our pool aka ice bath, and exploring! It is such a beautiful place and with the smooth road surfaces, endless trails and tough climbs, it is a triathlete’s paradise! Apart from the waves. The waves not so much.
A photo dump for you:
(Taking up the train with my suitcase, bike box and backpack)
(Arriving at the villa and building our bikes)
(Valentine’s day long ride up “Bertha”)
(Foam rolling, stretching and ice bathing post-long ride!)
(chilling with some OJ (no cervezas on this adventure) in Aguilas with my roomies)
(Car pool karaoke – one of the best things on Youtube! Watched while wee Sophia had homework to do!)
(I had the fear before getting into the sea!)
(So after a trail run trying to keep up with the boys, bushes were flinged back at me…ouch they were prickly!)
(The boys doing their track session in the sun #tapsaff)
(Pasta salad for lunch, followed by junk food for dessert. Oops)
(Saying RIP to my mouldy water bottles…)
(The girls hid my pop tarts…found hours later amongst the lights. Not cool.)
(Julie was self conscious putting all this cream on her face to help the road rash post-crash, so we did it too!)
(Look what I found in my case! He’s a keeper)
(I’m allowed to post mushy stuff from Kylie Babez around Valentine’s, right?)
(The Cheetos addict didn’t buy one bag while she was away!
She bought 4)
(My ride – yes, they let me drive on the wrong side of the road! – and view from our villas)
(A reminder we had to stick on our walls)
(For once they got my name right! I wasn’t “Davi”, or “Daddy”, but Cameron was slightly off!)
(Riding at sunset)
I had the best time and really hope I can get the chance to go away with them again! Thanks to all the coaches and staff that were there supporting us, and to my roomies Julie and Sophia who attempted to teach me how to be cool (they are both still teenagers) ie Instagram is the new Facebook, and rolling down the windows singing at the top of your voice while driving is a definite no-no.
*Note: A lot of these photos courtesy of Andrew’s constant picture taking and hashtagging on Instagram !) *