Friday, November 30, 2012

Fun in Lanzarote

Fumara Beach

So I wrote this post on the plane ride back from Lanzarote but am just now getting around to putting it up because we just finished 3 horrible days worth of exams in which I:

-might have failed
-ate about 1,800 calories of cashews within 27 hours at one point
-finished 3/4 of a jar of tahini
-smashed so much dark chocolate I had to take the trash out
-am still finding popcorn all around my desk (though this is pretty normal for me)
-gave MAJOR business to all of the cafes in a 1.5 mile radius of my apartment thanks to my latte addiction
-didn't go to bed before 2 am this whole past week. not for lack of trying. I apparently get exam anxiety now. great! 

I am so excited to have the weekend off from studying and to get back into a normal way of life. And relive this trip through working on this post has been nice!! 

Here is the old post though. I still agree with my 3 weeksago-self that if I fail the trip was worth it :)

View of some glory at Fumara Beach
Back in time:
I have my second round of exams in three weeks. Even if I fail due to my hiatus from school for this trip and have to re-sit my exams in August it would be worth it. This trip came at the perfect time as I alluded to before with my burn out from studying. We have pretty much been going non-stop since August 1 and it is catching up to me! I got in on Thursday afternoon, got a car, SIM card so I could have GPS, checked into my apartment, went for a little jog along the beach and promptly fell in love with this place! I was pretty stuffy and still feeling sick after flying but I was able to sleep alright and Friday I went out on my bike for a little tune up ride and was just getting so excited to race again but also as I looked around was just seeing all of the “mountains” around and thinking hmm that’s going to be fun. 

Phone camera could not do this spot justice!

Surfer's paradise

You can see that guy standing there, he had the cuttest dog running around the beach and into the ocean. I shared some of my beans and rice cakes with him. 
The island was formed as a result of volcanic eruptions and it is very unique in looks and coverings. It’s a lot of volcanic rock and the man that helped design/develop the island made it a rule that all of the buildings had to be similar so they are all low, small, white house that just dot the island. I couldn’t stop takin pictures of the place!

Club La Santa
The race was based out at Club La Santa, which is literally a training center for triathletes, bikers and swimmers with everything you would need for training right there, including a tri shop, multiple pools, spa, ocean swimming and of course wonderful places to bike and run. I headed over to pick up my packet and get checked in after getting in a quick ocean swim with some fish and checking out an amazing surfers beach. There were so many pretty/fit/attractive/gorgeous people at this race it was ridiculous and also a ton of people just out training at the club at the time so I was not without eye-candy athletes to look at!

You know you are in a triathlete/biker paradise when the biker on a sign is in aero.

Small circles of volcanic rock made by the farmers there to help keep water in for crops. 

I decided next to drive the bike course; I am so glad I did. The bike course covered the Northern part of the island and included a climb up Temanfaya which is a famous part of the Ironman course that they have here. I was scared going up the climb in my car because the guard rail was wimpy and it had all these switch backs. It reminded me so much of riding up Mount Lemmon in Tucson. As I drove higher and higher I was getting more scared of how we would be getting down…I hate descending because I am a huge whimp and was like ummm is this over yet. Eventually you start to go down but the road is pretty open and there were not too too many tricky turns so I was feeling better about it. I talked to coach and was pretty excited to race!

After the race I hung out with a group of very nice guys from Manchester and another girl I had met. It was nice to just “talk triathlon” and not feel like I was boring people! Club La Santa was so nice in that they had locker rooms so I just showered there and hung out with everyone till the awards.
Camels at the volcanoes. 

They really pulled out all of the stops for this race as well! They gave us all a very nice dinner in this tent and then had some live music. They also put together an awesome video of the race. This was an amazing race in terms of venue/organization and it did help that the location was amazing. I even got a unique trophy made of lava rock!

The next day was tourist day and Amy and I first rode camels around the national park, then went on a drive through the volcanoes and on a bus ride through the park as well. We stopped at this restaurant where they cook the food from the heat of the volcanoes which was pretty cool. We were both having waves of feeling like tired and awful then good, it was pretty comical. She is also a vegetarian so we just snacked on tapas and smoothies for the day including these really good roasted and salted peppers.

I wont go into details of the animal welfare issues here...I probably shouldn't have supported it with my 6 euros. 

Amy at the volcanoes! 

Volcanoes all around! You can see the hardened lava.

Driving through the park

HUGE volcano 

Smoking brush from the volcano at the restaurant 
Then it was time to go beach hunting! We went to Papagayo beach which is on the very southern tip of the island. It was difficult to find and you had to go down a dirt road for about 10 minutes then walk down this path and rocks to get there but it was so worth it. It was also pretty empty which was nice. We finally got to just lay out and relax. We walked over to another beach a little while later only to realize it was a nude beach eek! Like completely nude. Awkward when people go looking for shells on these types of beaches…..

Lunch: potatoes and peppers

So pretty! 

Amy at Papagayo

I was sad to leave, mostly because I have my school work cut out for me and Scotland is going to be SO COLD in comparison, but I’m already excited to race again. I am very thankful I get to travel and race like this. Just have to keep putting the work in to justify it!

 This is a view of Portugal from the plane. I need to find a race there as well! Gorgeous!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Race Report Lanzarote 70.3

The Club Race Morning
This was a fun one! Race morning was sort of funny cause I woke up after not much sleep, drove over to the race and was like omg this is empty, like no one was around. I went into reception and oh oops I had somehow set my alarm an hour too early?? So it was 5 am and I was standing there, had already eaten my breakfast and the security guards were looking at me like who is this girl? So I took an hour long nap in the car then it was race time.

I met a really nice girl in the transition area and after setting up our bikes I found some espresso and then we took a seat to hurry up and wait! We accidentally walked down to the swim start with our warm up bags and had to last minute run them back up to transition so I didn’t get my usual land or swim warm up in. Oh well!


UGH. This was terrible. I wasn’t too hopefully since A) it was wetsuit legal and I hate my wetsuit B) it was a mass start of about 900 people in like a narrow lagoon?? Silly. I didn’t get a good starting position so when the whistle went off I was in a SEA of aggressive black seals and after floundering for a while I ran into a leg. Like a leg that was standing up. I look up and people were walk/running because it was so shallow and crowded. I couldn’t swim through them so I followed suit, sluddging through the water, then swam again, then walked again. It was ridiculous. I could not get around all of these people or see anything. I was also just like moving my arms but not really swimming because it was impossible to get into any sort of rhythm. Halfway through the swim you get out of the water and then swim this loop again. The second loop went better than the first and I just tried to hug the buoys and stay away from the crazy people. I was so excited to get out of that water because my mouth was burning it was so salty. 


Within the first 5 miles I almost dropped out. The wind was INSANE. All I could think of was getting thrown off of the bike and the climb to come. I was getting blown to bits just drifting across the road and tossed around. There were some guys in front of me also getting rocked and none of them were in their aero bars either so I was like ok, give it some time! It was really awesome when we rode by the surfers beach at Fumara and the sand was blown in the cross winds stinging us. So fun. Not. My plan was just to ride hard the whole way.

The wind made sure that I did! When we would turn and get a tail wind for a bit it was amazing. I tried to just keep picking people off but when the wind would get really tough or we hit a huge downhill I would just get re-passed.

View from the top of the main climb!

The whole ride I had Taylor Swift’s new song Everything Has Changed stuck in my head which is like such a slow one but so good but it was a bit ridiculous. Right before we hit the big climb I saw the first girl since getting onto the bike. Once on the climb I caught a couple of female pros so I was feeling a bit better and just tried to be smart on the climb and buckle down. It was not nearly as scary, just painful! In a good way.

There were quite a few crowds out on the roads cheering us on and once at the top there was a huge group cheering which was so fun. I was excited to descend but was pretty quickly laying the breaks on and out of my aero bars. I have to fix this for the future because just a few minutes into the descent people just flew by me and were out of sight for the rest of the ride.

Falling rock signs up the bike course

It was only about 20 miles to go so I was feeling pretty good, drinking lots of varying concentrations of “sports drink” and could feel the sunburn on my back. The winds continued and there were some descents done out of the saddle because the head winds were so strong.


The last 5 miles I was totally alone and feeling like eek maybe I should try and catch those people but I relaxed, sang a little T-Swift and reminded myself of the run to come and just focused on getting in some water and staying steady going into transition.


I felt blisters on my arches on the bike so for the first time in forever I took the time to put socks on in transition; I was very thankful I had thrown them in my run transition bag last minute! I felt pretty crap when I got going and was scared to look at my Garmin. I knew it was a flat run with 3 loops so I gave myself some time to get my legs under me and was pleasantly surprised when I glanced down and saw a work-able split on my Garmin. I knew this was not sustainable but I was like I might be ok after all!

That was until I turned the corner out of la Santa and saw the run course splayed out in front of me: SO NOT FLAT. I was like noooo this is wrong! It’s suppose to be flat! What’s going on! The wind was also worse, again, so I was getting a bit like uh oh! But I just focused on breaking each lap up. The loop was an out and back, with a tail wind on the way out and head wind on the way back, each with 2 climbs. Terrible haha. I only drank coke and water and had it at every single aid station. I spotted a girl who had passed me going down the descent not far up the road and was able to pass her pretty quickly. I felt pretty decent considering everything once through the second lap.

Not THAT hilly, but also NOT flat

Around mile 7 I accidentally took sports drink instead of coke and almost vomed but thankfully it passed. I was carrying salt sticks and a gel but only took in 2 salt sticks and threw the gel down after awhile because I really didn’t need it. I was able to get a really good view of the field since there were so many turn arounds on the run course and I saw the mens professional race unfold which was pretty cool. The women’s professional race was also awesome and I knew I was still in front of a few of them. I didn’t see any amateurs in front of me but the numbering system was a bit funny so I was having trouble telling. Going into the 3rd lap I had put enough time into the next female back I knew if I could just hold on I would be alright. I made sure to give a cheesy smile like I FEEL GREAT!! whenever I saw her at a turn around so she didn’t get any ideas…

My calves had started to seize up (because they were not expecting to climb hills or fight winds on the run…) so I was happy I didn’t need to try and hold anyone off. It was also toasty with zero shade so I was dousing water and grabbing lots of sponges whenever I could. My third lap was 3 minutes slower than my first 2 so oops but like honestly the wind and hills were just beyond me at that point ha so I was like it’s fine, just bring it in, and stopped looking at my watch. 

The finish line felt good and I was pretty excited with the result! I was a bit disappointed when I saw the number of one of the girls who had been ahead of me and realized that she was an age grouper because I thought she was a pro so I was a bit regretful I hadn’t kept her in sight but I don’t know if it would have made much difference. I was still very happy with second amateur, 12th female and that I won my age group. These people know how to put on a good race and the spectators and volunteers were awesome. I would love to come back next year!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

say WHAT? I'm doing WHAT?

I'm not quite sure what is going on. I have been wrapped up in a haze of note cards, books, posters and papers about worms, bacteria and as one of my professors calls them, "li-l nastys". I am going slightly crazy as our exam is about 4 weeks away and I am already BURNT OUT of studying. Someone needs some motivation and a kick in the pants.

So right now I am so thankful that I planned to go race 70.3 Lanzarote this coming weekend. The only problem is how removed I feel from all things triathlon right now ha so that needs to change. I was training so well and feeling very good about things until I got sick about 2.5 weeks ago and since then have been riding a sin wave of I FEEL GREAT! Right back down to ummm I might faint, I'm tired from the swim warm up, I can't bike over 30 watts without feeling crap and snot rocketing all over myself. Hello doctor tomorrow!

Sickness be darned I will soon be in the sunshine. Which will be much appreciated as the sun set at 4:30 in Scotland today. JOY! I am actually very excited to race and ready for the mental challenge ahead. It is so different from the discipline needed to sit and study parasites and I am ready for that challenge. I think sometimes I race better when I go into races without focusing on them too much before.

I am also excited to see what this race is all about as I have heard some epic stories about the wind and long arduous climbs. I just hope my quads decide to show up on race day. If not it is going to be a longggggg day out there.

One quick story on parasites because I love this:

So there is this worm, a fluke to be exact, that has the most ridiculous life. So this worm is poo-d out in eggs from like a sheep, then it develops a bit, hatches out and within 3 hours has to find water and a snail. The snail says oh lunch!, eats the little larvae worm and in the snail, it again matures, then it is excreted in these slime balls from the snail....disgusting. THEN an ant comes along and says dinner! The ant eats the slime balls and unfortunately gets a brain disease from his supper which makes him be a dummy and climb to the top of a blade of grass so he can be an easy target FOR A SHEEP! which eats the ant/worm larvae and there you go, life cycle complete. 

Crazy. So next week when my wheels are falling off I will just think of that little worm larvae, persevering through all those stages. Heck, just like a triathlon!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thanks Arthur!

One of my favorite spots in this city is right next to my apartment. It is Arthur’s seat and I have written about it before but thought I would post some proper pictures from one of my runs there. I had to do some research on the name and apparently there are some disagreements but the name probably comes from king Arthur. It is some old volcanic rock and it’s forming also involved glaciers at some point (all over my head) but bottom line is it is an amazing addition to the city because it is covered with trails and hiking spots right in town. 

I think that's Prince Harry in the window!

It is about 833 ft tall so easy to climb and always covered with humans and dogs like any time of the day, dark or light out. There are also playing fields and a lot of grassy areas all around it and some little ponds around making it gorgeous. It is also right next to Holyrood palace, which is where the royal family gets to stay when they come to Scotland. It’s very petty. You can also get amazing panoramic views from not very high up of the city, the Pentland hills and other hill ranges and the ocean. What’s not to love!