First thoughts – Why the heck haven’t I don’t this before ?
Last thoughts of the week – I’m Knackered !
The training week was put together by Performance Edge, my coach Neil and his wife Beth. We were based at VIVA Blue in Mallorca, Spain. I was able to attend for 5 solid days of warm weather training in April avoiding the filthy weather of the UK and get on my bike to ride & run in sunshine and get wet on my first open water swim of the year in the Mediterranean sea – lovely.
As we would be swimming in either the outdoor 25m pool or the sea, cycling and running everyday plus taking part in our own triathlon my suit case consisted of 20kg of lycra, wetsuit rubber, cycle & running shoes, wind proof jackets, arm warmers, water bottles, socks, sports bras, suncream, caps, bike helmet, goggles etc etc – you get the picture a lot of kit was required to cover every activity & possible weather. Like packing for 5 consecutive triathlons. There were free laundry and drying facilities at the hotel but when I would have had time to do kit washing ? or even wanted to is another matter. I hired a quality Cannondale carbon road bike from the hotel which was ready to ride with ladies saddle, Shimano pedals and all set up for my height.
The 6:05am flight from Bristol took me back to my commuter days, not telling Mike my exact flight details until mid route we went from a calm morning drive to carving through Bristol town centre cursing the red lights. Timing was perfect as I grabbed my big bag wheeled it to an empty check in desk, breezed through Fast Track security, detour via Starbucks and I walked straight on to the shuttle bus and delivered to the plane doors in one smooth motion. Then slept on the plane.
The competitive triathletes habits kicked in at the airport as Briony and I met up, but ended up on different buses so had bus races to the hotel, mine may have been a close second but it had free wi-fi so I was ahead on the Social Media exposure.
Meeting coaches Neil & Beth in reception we dropped our bag and had instructions to meet at the outdoor pool for our first training session. Followed by bike collection, set up and test ride then onto a seafront run. This Sunday was long day from an early start.
The group started small but grew day by day to two coaches and ten athletes of varying experience and ability but we all gelled instantly and soon were chatting away in between training sessions about different races we had done and planned to do, the training sessions we hated most from Neil ( triple run days for me !), mishaps & adventures in races, ironman dreams & disasters, injuries and victories. It was fab to spend time with like minded individuals who also worked as a team in training.
Day one briefing – “Eating & sleeping ain’t cheating” Within 24 hours I was demolishing the excellant buffet and sleeping like a log for 9+hours a night.
I was a little nervous about my first tri camp as it was booked on an impulse, had I bitten off more than I could chew ? Would I be left behind ? Would I have anything in common with others ? Have I brought the right kit ? Will I get lost ( yes I did !) ? Am I good enough to be on a camp ? Is my running too slow ?, or when I cycle up hill and my Garmin goes to sleep as its thinks I’ve stopped be an issue for the group ? Do I have to navigate ? Are there sharks in the sea ? Has my rib injury recovered enough ? Am I really too overweight & undertrained for this ?
I need not have been worried at all, the support from the coaches and other athletes was immense. We stuck together, no one was left behind, we all had our strengths and weaknesses across the three tri disciplines, we supported, pushed and thoroughly enjoyed each others company. I was chuffed that I completed all sessions and distances in the 5 days and felt stronger as the week went on, moving from the back of the pack forwards a little on the bikes. Still at the back for the run ! but others dropped back to keep me company. We had individual video analysis for swimming and running which we then had feedback on our changes or progression as the days went by.
It really was swim, bike, run, eat, sleep and laugh everyday.
In regards to the location of the camp it was perfect for sea swimming, outdoor training pool on site and access to 100’s miles of challenging and scenic roads for cycling. The hotel was a triathletes dream with all that facilities we needed, even though it took us 4 days to find and use the spa.
Motorists in Mallorca respect and protect cyclist, no road rage, verbal abuse, angry tooting of horns or being forced off the road. The drivers gave us space, time and priority. It was great to be a able to dress in shorts and jersey and just ride. Road side cafes and stalls appeared at the top of mountains – Cols, selling ice cold water, cakes, fruit, sandwiches to fuel up before tackling the next mountain pass. In general the road surfaces were smooth and often had wide two abreast cycle lanes on each side of the more main roads.
The cycling was spectacular and challenging but so rewarding. My first experience of switchbacks and after a few pointers and tips following Neil around a few bends I got it and enjoyed the sweeping descents and stopped burning my brakes out and squaring off the corners. The 10km climbs gave us stunning views as I sat and span my way up to the tops. Working in a group we increased the speed on the smooth flat roads in and around the Nature reserves and coastline taking turns pulling on the front and then coasting in the close formation, felt like a real peloton 🙂
I finished the 5 days with nearly more miles than my previous months this year combined ! 240 of these miles were from cycling and exploring the island on two wheels. I did manage to get lost a few times the first resulted in two of use walking through the main reception with our bikes in cleats as couldn’t find the Bike station entry – got a few odd looks as we walked past the 4* spa area. Then on our long ride the group splintered on a roundabout into 3, one off each exit. One headed home, my second group reunited with a couple who stopped as cramped and the third group headed to Palma giving them their first century ride. We all got back to the hotel safely still smiling and shared our routes over dinner.
There were plenty of places to run straight from the hotel doors, along the reed beds of the nature reserve or along the seafront on side roads. Many options for pre breakfast 10km runs, quiet locations for video analysis to evening recovery runs and the mini triathlon we finished with.
After our first dip in the heated outdoor pool we headed to the sea, finding a 450m loop we could have nearly walked to the first buoy as such a shallow entry. A bit of seaweed in the shallows but the diggers were collecting it up before peak season arrives. It was windy and rough waters for our first sea swim and many mouthfuls of water were swallowed by most. Second swim was flat calm warm waters and allowed clear sighting on the buoys. Still early season so wetsuits required and no life guards on duty.
My camp finished with a triathlon set up with a sea swim, clockwise cycle loop and out and back run with transition just off the beach. It was relatively short distances but I gave it my all, unfortunately I still got the wooden spoon sprint distances just not my thing ! but meant I had a wall of supporters coming into the finish as the other caught their breath. It was a fun finish to a fantastic training camp for me. Next morning I was ready to get on the plane and have a rest day. The camp pushed our training but didn’t break us.
This really kick started my start / stop year of training and gave me my mojo back. The day after returning from camp I headed out with a friend on a 50 mile hilly bike ride, then the next day raced a local 10k undulating road race – my legs were shattered I won’t lie.
Within a month of returning I have already booked up to go back to Mallorca with Performance Edge for another camp in October, hoping to stretch the summer training out as long as possible.
Here is a movie of our Performance Edge Triathlon Training Camp in Mallorca, April 2015. Beth on the camera was the only cycling faller on the tour and caught it on camera !
Thanks to all who took part in the camp it was an awesome week to be remembered – Sarah, Briony, Emma, Jon, Will, Jaz, Kevin, James, Rob, Neil, Beth, partners & kids that joined us for sessions.
A few pictures from the camp