Weekly Wrap. Week 11.
Journey back home from Lanzarote takes a lot of time, some transfer flights, stays somewhere in between. It almost took me a full day, to travel to Vilnius. I had left Lanzarote on Saturday midday, finishing the camp with a long run alongside my tri-friend, Finbarr. I first flew to Barcelona, where I would spend an evening and night, before boarding for my final flight to Vilnius on Sunday morning. There are no direct flights to Lanzarote from Lithuania, which means that you have to be imaginative, when searching the required flights and booking them. I stayed for a short sleep in a hotel close to the airport in Barcelona, a bit hesitant whether it was worth to do so – alternatively I was planning to just sleep in at the airport. But when I came to the airport in the morning and had seen all those people who slept there, I was happy that I listened to my wife and booked a hotel and had even a short sleep. After whole week of non-stop training and clocking almost 32 hours of physical activity, my body should be treated with some sleep in the bed, not on a chair in an airport.
With all this hassle of travelling home, made me hesitant to come back to training and start working out. Between the camp and next week of training, my coach scheduled only 1 rest day and that day was spent on travelling and finishing the house renovation. Luckily, the first sessions I encountered were a good transition back and I quickly was able to jump back into the flow of training. Most of the sessions were aimed to keep up my fitness, which we built up in Lanzarote and provide some “active recovery”. Such recovery consists of easy training sessions, which activate the muscles, but do not drain to create a diminishing return from the physical activities.
The week itself challenged me on multiple occasions and was ready to test my calmness at any given point. As mentioned before, we continued finishing our renovation at home, work volume did not go down, while I was away and on top of it I wanted to maintain the effectiveness of training and motivation I gained in the training camp. I had to fall back on the feeling of being content which I built up during last days in Lanzarote, I stayed re-vitalized, happy and ready to tackle any problem that was thrown at me.
And now, onto the next chapter of my diary from Lanzarote and how does a training camp look like.
Follow the leader. Sunday 04.03
On the morning, we are informed by our coach that there are only 3 of us (out of 10) at the camp on the first few days. Most of them got stuck, due to cancelled flights. In the background, I promise myself to keep up my stretching and yoga routine in the mornings, while in the camp. First day does not disappoint: I get up earlier, before appointed breakfast to wake my body up with a very light workout. We agreed to meet next to the buffet with Jon, who has been on the camp before, knows the routes and will show us today’s bike route.
At the buffet, Finbarr magically figures out that the person outside is Jon (there were more people there, but it seemed like he specifically knew who he was searching for – wizard!), we quickly make ourselves acquainted and go inhale some food. Jon shares his achievements, plans and experiences from the past camps and promises to look after us, until our coach is here and show us around. Looking back at it now, I am extremely grateful for it, he has been very helpful, friendly and looked after us on the roads throughout the most of the camp. To understand it better, I have to mention that Jon’s Ironman was due to 6 weeks and he is aiming for a World Championship qualification there. A normal person would most likely be so absorbed into his training, his workouts and himself that watching after other people – it just does not cross the mind, when your main race is so close already. At every stop, at every turn, he waited for us (and boy he is fast on his bike, so I only imagine that he had to wait for some time, usually) and made sure we are ok. I left the camp with a good amount of learning for myself from the encounter with him.
A bit after the morning lunch, we get our bikes and get ready for a short spin around a supposedly easy loop of around 50-60 kilometers. Finbarr and I, being the first timers on the island, are brimming with excitement and ready to show the island that we did not come here to be pushed around. It takes about 5 minutes of riding away from the resort, to encounter the first hill, which is accompanied by another hill right after. That hill is steeper and bigger than anything I have around my riding route at home. After these hills, few sharp corners and we get familiarized with our “road outside”, which we will be taking for the rest of the week. It is a uphill, upwind road, onto the highway, where you are blown out by the wind in any direction and you start to think that this should be as difficult, as it can get. The next few days will make this road look easi-er, but never easy and prove that this island has so many tricks in store to weigh you down.
The only logical way to respond to Jon’s politeness of showing us around, myself and Finbarr thought would be to keep up with him and switch places who is leading the pack, so Jon does not have to do all the work. As when riding in a group, the person in front has to do the most difficult task, as he battles the wind and sets the pace. If you are second, or third in the group, you get an artificial wind cover from your mate and you do not have to put the same amount of effort. It is much easier to be behind someone, rather than in front. I would say the ratio is around 60:40 in terms of effort required. It is important to come back to the fact, that Jon is 6 weeks away from his race of the season. That means that he is already approaching his best shape for the year. However, we realize it far too late and “murder” ourselves, when trying to keep up with him or trying to ride in front, accommodating his pace. We keep losing him for quite few times, then to find him waiting around the corner. On one of the straights, I push my heart out to keep the pace, then he comes in front and I am just empty. Incapable of keeping up. We are left with Finbarr to ourselves, but we still try to push as hard as before.
Few moments later, we have one of these moments with Finbarr, where we either think or say the same thing. He drives up in front of me, suggesting to slow it down. I was spent to the last cent by that time and if it was any other topic for conversation, I would struggle to find words for it. But hearing that it was a suggestion to slow down, I was ready to go into a credit, simply to agree with this amazing thought. “YES, LET US DO THAT”, I yell, while wind keeps smashing me from the front and hearing it constantly do the “swoosh” sound besides my years. After slowing down, we have a quick chat that it was not smart of us to keep up with him. Did we learn anything from it? On paper – yes, but not in practice, as you will find out further.
After we regroup, Jon and Finbarr casually climb yet another hill, while I am struggling and questioning the essence of my being, training and physical endurance. I am worried whether I will be able to withstand these rides, considering today was supposed to be easy and here I am, breathing my lungs out, just to make myself move slowly onto the climb. When I catch-up with them, I hear Jon sharing his bike details and decisions behind them. It is a fully packed with everything possible Cervelo P5. One of the sexiest triathlon bikes to this date and when it has all these gadgets like Jon’s – you can only listen and watch in awe of every little bit and piece on it. This bike looks like a bike, I would be taking pictures next to 2-3 years ago, because it is a rarity to see such a bike.
After we get to the top, myself and Finbarr receive instructions to be careful on the next descent, because the wind is brutal at this location and makes the bike control quite difficult. I was still scared from my experiences in Gran Canaria, when biking over huge ravines, so I take this advice to heart and descend as slowly as possible, ignoring all the adrenaline and testosterone, which builds up in the process. I decide to spend it elsewhere and get to the bottom alive and in one piece. Once at the bottom, we go back to the resort. This time Jon storms away and we know not to follow him. We struggle at our own war with the wind, but slowly get back to the camp place. I feel smashed into pieces and it is only mid-day and there is still a swim and a run to come. I swallow the panic and hide it deep. We agree to go for a lunch before the swim.
Lunch acted as a good rest and re-fueling and some rest.
At the swim, we meet Daniel and Thomas, our camp-buddies from Germany. Swim was supposed to be a 3.6 kilometers length, built out of different intervals. Following the plan and intervals we got a shorter distance than coach recommended. Only to find out later, that luckily there was a mistype in the plan and all our worries were for nothing. We did worry a bit that already at the first day of camp, we are expected to swim such distance, which we rarely do at home.
Now there is only a run left and yet again, Jon knows the route. The loop we are supposed to run is 7 kilometers one, but it includes both killer hills, we encountered on the bike right at the start. We align our expectations and paces. We should be all even at what we can run and agree to go at 4:30 minutes per kilometer at fastest. On the first hill, I feel the repercussions of my previous decision to lead the pack on the bike. While feeling the repercussions, I am seeing the guys faint in the distance. Heartrate through the roof, I know they are not running promised pace. I decide to maintain the visible distance and not catch up with them. Otherwise I will be as good as deflated mattress in the next few days. Luckily, after the descent from the hills, road evens out, there is not much wind and I can run faster. At the rendezvous, we compare our “notes”. I did run a 4:31 pace, while Finbarr and Jon kicked it up a notch to 4:13. And now I fully realize that I am among colleagues and athletes, who are stronger, faster and more experienced than I am. It sets up a premise for another panic, but I do not give in. All these guys are humble and down to earth, they are almost impossible to catch for me on the bike, they can storm away from me on the run, however they are always ready to wait for me and hit those speeds without showing off. Yet again, I have another thing to learn from.
At first, I am wary and feeling the discomfort, being the weak link in the group, but I try to make peace with it and maintain respect to my colleagues and admiration, instead of being scared and unhappy. That should be a good start to improve, just I have to remember not to follow Jon.