December in London: The rain came down and carried on coming down; the days got darker and shorter. With Christmas over and after a few days of festive gorging, it was time to head to Spain for the Optima Racing Team New Years training camp.
So off we went, the day after boxing day, for 10 days of training camp fun in the Spanish sun. We had a lovely but very diverse strong bunch of 9 out with us from up and coming 15 yr old juniors, to GB Olympic talent squad athletes, to Olympians, to Age Groupers. We were also happy to welcome our Blackline London guest Paul on camp who will be racing Ironman South Africa in a bid to qualify for Kona. We went to an area in southern Spain known for its gorgeous winter micro climate where the maximum temperature seldom drops below 16 degrees in winter. It did not disappoint – we had gorgeous weather, most often around 20 deg which allowed us to go riding in shortleeves (yes, we managed to get tanlines even in the depths of winter!) and get in some great open water swims in the Mediterranean.
The focus of the camp was to get some winter miles in which was not difficult given our surroundings, I can see why some pro cycling teams also choose this area for their winter training – the riding was simply magnificent. On the first day of the camp we did a 4 hr ride that included a 10km climb. Two of the young junior boys learnt a valuable first lesson about bonking on the bike and I have no doubt will never forget to eat whilst on a long ride ever again – all in the name of experience! We did a heck of a lot of riding throughout the 10 days and as the camp drew closer to its end, so the cake and coffee stops increased as the bodies started to fatigue. There was nothing quite like re-charging in the glorious sun on the patio of a coffee shop, eating cake and listening to the sea!
The running was equally as good – we scaled mountains where we did not see another soul and it felt like you were the only one out there. We ran through orange groves and lemon groves to the sweet smell of citrus as well as wild lavender and the most stunning scenery and views. Day 2 and the junior boys who had bonked the previous day were sent on a 70min run and strict instructions for ‘No more!’ by James. So we set off with the boys, up the mountain – up and up and up for 45 mins. The boys then took a path that looked like it went directly back to make up their 70mins. We carried on to make up extra for our 2 hour run and thereafter went down the same path ‘back’ to the lodge. Needless to say, we found the boys coming back the same way after finding that the path took them to a dead end at a massive lake and the only option was to either swim across or come back. The poor souls ended up running for over 2 hours (with James frantically sending out the search party in the interim) – clever boys at least packed food with them this time!
We were based at the Kinetic PB lodge and had a lovely Spanish family cooking us traditional dinner most nights which was delicious after a long days training. We also had exclusive use of the Kinetic pool which was great – no more fighting with the ‘sharks’ in the fast lane down at the public pool back home. We popped in a few sea swims too. The junior boys were terrified of there being proper sharks in the water and in my African ways, I told them to stop being silly, there were no sharks in the Med, they were all in Aus andSouth Africaand to get on with it. I made the stupid mistake of googling ‘sharks in the Mediterranean’ that night to prove my point and to my horror yes, there are sharks in the Med, even Great Whites.I freaked out a bit too after that when James told us to swim 12 mins out to sea and back.
On New Years eve a chilli eating contest was held. Spanish New Years is a bit strange – they stay in until 12, eat 12 grapes at 12 o’ clock and then go out at about 1am. These festivities are a bit late for a serious bunch of triathletes so the junior boys improvised with a chilli eating contest which was won by young Marcus Francis with a total of 7, followed by Ollie Wood with a total of 6 – the New Years Chilli King and Prince were crowned. 00h30 and we were all in bed to wake up for our 6km swim the next morning!
We managed to fit in some beach runs too which was lovely. This is great training as it really tests your technique and whether you are landing nice and lightly on your feet with quick steps. In our concentration, Anna, James and I found ourselves straying onto a nudist beach. You really don’t know where to look in a situation like that – we had a really good giggle about it. James got so excited he told us that he was going to go back to the beach and take a trot in his birthday suit. However, when crunch time came he backed out – maybe next year – so long as we’re not around to see it!
So after 10 days of sun, sand, blue sky, mountains, sea and 1Euro coffees and 45plus hours training later, we sadly said goodbye toSpainand a wonderful New Years camp. We will look to do the same camp next year so if you are a loser and don’t have any New Years party plans, it’s a great way to see in a fresh, new year….keep eyes and ears posted later on this year for more details if you’d like to join in on our fun.