Where was I [Part 3]
What a long, strange and fulfilling 4 months have it been since my last post. Even though I have kept the idea in my head for all this time, I was unable to simply sit back and write it down. So many things happened. But that is a good thing! It is a good thing, because I have even more to tell, more stories to uncover – Ironman 70.3 Mallorca and personal best, local Olympic distance race and my first Top10 finish, upcoming races, upcoming training, all the stuff I have done. I am completely excited and happy to be able to share it with you. As for now – welcome back, I am happy to see you again, my dear reader. Sit back, enjoy the last bit of the story from my training camp in Lanzarote, back from March and anticipate more stories, more engagements and more pictures.
If you forgot what happened or where did we stop, feel free to catch up within my stories:
Weekly Wrap. Week 14
This week I had to go for a business trip to Copenhagen, which still remains one of my favourite cities to visit. When I landed though, I was a bit underwhelmed, because this particular week was promised to be very sunny and warm in Lithuania – while in Copenhagen it was snowing the moment I landed. Bummer. However, as I was exposed to Danish weather peculiarities – I figured that it might be soon warmer and sun would come up. As I entered the office, disappointed by the weather – my guys were fast to reassure me that tomorrow it will be +20 degrees Celsius. Difficult to believe at first, but if any weather could do a 180 turn on the weather and add other 22 degrees into positive side – it is definitely Danish weather.
On the sports side, the week presented the usual challenges of being a bit jet-lagged and tired from early morning flight, logistical challenges of going to unfamiliar pool. Luckily I received a day-off on my flight day, which allowed me to get some rest and sleep after the travel and whole day in the office. As well as rest of the sessions were rather simple and did not complicate life on a business trip. Unfamiliar swimming pool, just 40 minutes walk outside of my hotel, becomes rather welcoming with a lot of friendly Danes greeting me and sharing swimming lanes. In addition, I was able to visit Rapha Cycling Club and shop, which is located in Copenhagen and of course I spend more money there, than I should have to. If I were to provide an analogy for Rapha cycling clothes, it would be “Victoria’s Secret” for cycling enthusiasts. Most comfortable, classy and impeccably sewn clothing kit I have ever worn.
Once I came back, I have had a productive and interesting weekend – I have run my furthest distance so far within this training period – 27 kilometres on Saturday, which was exciting and challenging run, but gave a lot of confidence. While on Sunday, myself and Dovile have created an in-house spin-class with Paris-Roubaix 2018 cycling race as an inspiration in front of us. It made my bike session a bit easier and Dovile’s company has trained my composure to withstand a difficult 3 hour biking session in-doors:
In general this week had been different than previous – with some travelling, training abroad and “virtually racing” with best cyclists in the world with the best company of my wife on a bike next to me. What time to be alive! In general, I have managed to tick all the boxes in this week’s sessions and now let us go back to continue last week journey onto the second biggest climb in Lanzarote!
Day 3,5 & 4: Mirador de Haria climb and Rest Day
“Fuck it, I am coming” became my motivational words which have helped me to decide on continuing the journey with my buddy Finbarr onto the climb, after a good 3,5 hour bike ride with a lot of pain in my bum area from the saddle. Previously, I was on the verge of coming back to the hotel and dealing with the pain, but after seeing a silver medallist of Ironman World Championship – Lucy Charles – something else came up within me, which helped me to suck up the pain and go onwards.
For the first 15 minutes I was questioning my decision, whether it was the right one and if I will be able to withstand the challenge ahead of me. This is supposed to be the first time I will be riding up a serious mountain on my bike. I decide to leave my worries behind and just patiently, step by step become one with the challenge.
At the bottom of the climb, we are once again greeted with extreme winds, which almost make me stop, despite all the efforts. We agree with Finbarr that we are going to do the climb on our own and not wait for each other – read: Finbarr is not going to wait for a sack of potatoes, aka myself, while I slowly ascend the mountain.
Ascension begins with a lot of aforementioned self-doubt and discomfort. Wind is strong enough to knock me down from time to time and there simply are not enough gears for me to spin my bike in comfort. Nevertheless I collect myself and simply grind through the first elevation, I try to see the surroundings and to fall back on the following thought – whenever I watched Giro D’Italia or Tour de France (professional bike races), I was always envious of riding in the mountains. Now is my turn to ride this mountain, right here, right now. Few hairpins and sharp elevations more and I can see what might be the top of it. I stop for a picture, despite my lungs screaming for more air and legs negating any thought of upcoming work. In this moment of no physical activity, I start to hear the wind, not blowing, but roaring around me. I try to frame it, film it, understand it, but it is just beyond me.
Last push towards the top and I am done with the difficult part of the climb, or at least physically difficult. Now comes the part which gives me shivers – descending. As you might remember, I tried descending in Gran Canaria previously and it was scaresome. I came to Lanzarote in hopes that I can battle that fear of descending and discomfort, but upcoming descend had something else for me. When I got to the top, I noticed that there is more and more of a fog forming around. We quickly reckonned with Finbarr and started riding into the fog. At first it was exciting and new experience to toy around with, however the more into the fog, the more I realized – you can see at best 5 meters upfront. Combine that with my poor descending skills and I was terrified of what was there to come. For an example here are pictures of how the Mirador de Haria looks on a sunny day and how it greeted us:
On top of that, the humidity surrounding that climb and day brought another problem to life. Lanzarote was greeting us with sunshine and hot air all the time, however top of Mirador was different – it was cold, it was foggy, it was covering us with humidity and ultimately drizzles on our skin. Switching from +23 degrees Celsius to +12 was another problem – such drastic difference of temperatures made me feel cold very fast. One could think that this should not be a problem, when you are on a bike and you can spin your legs, to elevate your heartrate and warm yourself up. Not in our case, not in the case, when you can barely see anything up front and keep in mind that that is a public road, where cars and busses are riding. This is how this descent became from “exciting” to “frightening” in a short period of time. On every hairpin I almost had to do a full stop, because I could not see what is coming from around the corner. And I definitely did not want to surprise a car, coming from the opposite side. Shaking from cold, drizzling with the water from humidity I try not to think of how high we are from the sea level – hint: pretty damn high – and what could I expect if I hit the barrier. Luckily, fog did not allow me to let the eyesight to go loose, as I simply could not see anything behind the barriers. Only this fluffy, grey apparition, covering basically everything around us. Slowly, with my breaks squeking I kept on going down, sometimes thinking if I should just walk down, but more often battling that fear and moving forwards-down. 10-15minutes after this mesmerizing experience the fog stayed behind us and we just had to go downhill, sunshine was blocked by the mountain, so it was still cold for me. When we stopped with Finbarr for a chat, I came in shivering and in huge discomfort, but he greeted me with another great line, which I still enjoy to recite and remember: “Oh what, are you cold? What? You are Lithuanian, I expected you to be tougher than this”. I replied with a smile at the time, just to preserve my energy on keeping myself warm. Deep down inside of me, however, wanted to explain that I came to Lanzarote to escape the minus 20-25 degrees Celsius we had at that time in Lithuania and be warm. I was not warm at that point and time.
Luckily rest of the descent was easier and less foggy with a lot of sun’s warmth to keep us accompanied and dry for the ride back home. I had a lot of time to reflect on the decision I made at the climb’s start and despite all the pain, discomfort and practically swolen “seating area” – I was still happy that I have done it, that I got inspired by Lucy Charles and made it to the top of the climb. It was not my best or strongest climbing, nor it was even close to the descend I wished it would be, but the fact that I managed to go through all this – that was the real win on this day.
Once we came back, I felt absolutely spent and knew that I have only next day to recover, for us to start riding the full route of Ironman Lanzarote – that is 180 kilometres including this climb and the toughest parts of the course we have done. It meant that I had to embrace rest and to somehow mend my butt, or at least the area that I am going to sit on for the 6 hours ride in two days. And by this point, you are wondering how do triathlete’s rest on camps? Here is a sneak peak:
Besides that, myself and Finbarr went for a cake and a coffee, a quick, short recovery ride around the town and I have bought all the gels and all the food for the 6 hours ride. The ride itself was epic, it had a lot of highs and lows and at some point I just managed to withstand all the discomfort I was feeling, when seating on the bike. That meant that there is some part of my brain, which can ignore or disconnect from the unpleasantness and just roll with it. Which I am grateful for.
With this post, I finish my story about the training camp in Lanzarote and to every athlete out there – I wish you to have the capabilities to attend such camp and have the support of your family (Dovile, my wife, for me) to go to such a camp. It left me inspired, it left me in love with the sport and with a lot of friends. I am happy to have met Jon, Finbarr, worked with my coach in person and many other friendly people around in the resort. This was one of the best weeks I have had and even now, 4 months after being there, I can still pick up the story and tell it to you. This is how deeply I was engaged within the camp and how much excitement it did build up for me.