Day 3 begins with the gang assembled in wetsuits at 7:15am. It’s still dark and there are reports of restless night’s sleep and pre-ace anticipation as we make our way to transition….several comments are made about how akin this feels to Ironman morning! We’ll just be racing 1500m + 5(ish)km for our aquathon but with two solid training days in our legs, we’re all feeling at least apprehensive. Not least because in the pre-dawn gloom no one is able to see the big orange rubber ring turn buoy that Steven has tied about 350m from the shore. Luckily, once it’s started to get light it brightened up very rapidly and we’ everyone was reassured and good to go: two out-and-back laps for the swim. Various degrees of straight line were taken to reach the buoy, and Mel’s swim pace was almost as impressive as her utter inability to navigate a direct line between two fixed points. It’d be odd not to make some mention of jellyfish at some point in this blog: some were seen and felt as were several unusual looking rays. Transition included a run up the beach, then a brutal set of steps to our change area, before we ran out on our 2-lap run course along the seafront, which most people noted was not very flat!
It was great fun for me to have swum the second lap with Kevin and Simon and leave transition with them both close behind me. Kevin soon showed me his heels, whilst Simon was contented to look at mine. I was determined to catch Mel, and did manage to make up a little ground, but her 3min15second lead was too substantial in the end. The race was taken by Tim closely followed by Roger – two very impressive performances from two very competitive characters! It was great to see that everyone was giving it a good effort – and from the banter afterwards it seemed enjoyed the race. Marc A swam a 24 min 1500 and then withdrew on grounds of an achilles problem – he will complete the camp having earned a discretionary Wildcard by swimming back out to untie our marker buoy for us!
Here are the results of our aquathlon race which will be used to handicap the rest of the events on the camp – from here on we’re racing for points, and points means prizes!!!
All the racing talk and provisional results made for some jolly breakfast banter before kitting up for our days riding. Today’s route was a ride of the Ocean Lava half-ironman distance course, with a few tag-ons to make up a 110km ride for a “Wildcard”. This gruelling race includes an ascent of Femes’ steep side before going over Fire Mountain. Those who had earned a Wildcard yesterday were able to avoid this, the hardest climb on the island. As per yesterday, we organised two departures – one group rolling 15minutes ahead of a slightly faster group. There were a few pairs of tired legs as we pedalled up the unavoidable climbs out of Puerto d Carmen, and it took a bit of rallying to keep our large group moving! An earlier departure does allow this easier pace, and Emma and I managed the gaps between us. With the stronger riders making roundabout loops or rolling back along the raod rather than roadside regroup stops, and after half an hour or so had a nice continuos flow with everyone riding a pace that was comfortable for them (under the circumstances!) whilst maintaining the feeling of being on a group ride. Steven’s faster group probably has a lesser spread of pace and employs different tactics for keeping the group together – although every time I saw him today , he was on his own at the top of a climb!! At the break point between the standard and long ride option (which was to approach Fermes via Playa Blanca) we said goodbye to Emma, Simon and Ted and also Paul W who was playing his “wildcard” and saving his legs. We gained Kevin from the fast group, which proved useful on the return across the lava fields!
It’s been a tough three days and having ridden with her for 3 days now, I’ve been very impressed with Sarah, who took up ironman only recently having been inspired to do so whilst providing massage for our camp here last year. These are big rides and at a challenging pace for her – especially on top of everything else on the camp. But she’s kept on pedalling (with a little less than gentle encouragement at times) with must less rest than most of us, tucking in and hanging on a wheel for the last hour or so to get the job done and home when necessary – all without so much as a pause in her cheerful patter. We’ve thrown some hard work at her and still not found her “grunt point”!
An early return to base enabled me to get some mechanical works done on my bike and have a massage whilst others sunbathed – or went out to bank a second run. I have to confess that I’d planned to do just that whilst my bike was worked on, but “legs said no!” so I’m most impressed by the oldies who did ;o)