Its probably going to go down as the best week of the year for many of us.
After a few last minute changes and re-changes Nick, Kathryn, Clea, Seb, Caroline, James, Sean, Rabi, Lesly and Vero met up at Orly, all slightly unsure of what the week will hold (except for Nick and Seb who had already done it) but everyone happy to have managed to get there on time – the relaxing could start here, or so they thought…..
Tuesday Day 1
We arrived at the airport, and discovered that at least 2 of our members (Seb and Vero) could speak spanish. This was a most welcome ‘nouvelle’, as our drivers spoke only Spanish, and we had to explain to them that we might have to find others who were on an earlier flight and that Sean had to go pick up his own car then needed to follow us, as he has less sense of direction than a deaf bat. Long story short, we didn’t find the others, and Sean got lost anyways, happily he had Lesly to help him so later that evening we were all safely in the house tucking into a freshly prepared lasagne. There was talk of a wednesday early morning run…….it was just talk.
Wednesday Day 2 – Acclimatisation:
Everyone out on the bikes for the 6km to the Port de Pollenca swimming pool, weather was not great – even a little chilly, but apparently it was better than the previous week and without too much complaining everyone made the swim session and got themselves videoed. It was here that an old spark from a previous encounter was reignited, one of our excellent coaches Heather (an ex-professional triathlete from Manchester) has a rather exuberant accent, now, if you have ever met a girl from Manchester, you will know to ignore this fact, avoid eye contact, and at the first opportunity; run. Sebastien, however had not yet learned this – “Are Ya Readaay” he mimicked her with a slightly camp twang that only a frenchman can pull off, this was to be the start of the weeks catchphase.
The afternoon saw it brighten slightly and the 15 strong team, plus Heather and Nick the lead coach went for a gentle ride. Of course ‘gentle’ is always a relative term and although 60km doesn’t seem like much, add into it a medium hill and things get interesting. For many like Rabi it was the first time they have encountered a real hill, and it took them by surprise. However Kathryn took everyone by surprise and flew up it, leaving everyone in her dust, except for Lesly, James and Seb who decided to engage in a typically male display of muscle flexing. Nick stayed out of that as he is not particularly competitive, but then took the lead on the downhill section. Although strong Clea was clearly hindered by her bike selection (TT !)
Thursday Day 3 – Brightening up
Once again, Troy (the other coach) had offered to go running in the morning before breakfast, and this time both Seb and Nick got up and did it – even though Troy never made it, on reflection this was a good thing as both were tired from the previous day, and things were only going to get tougher.
We all left together for a warm 60km ride in the morning over pretty flat land, with just some slight undulations – the blue sky was a welcome sight, and although we didn’t know it then, it was a hint to the wonderful weather we were about to have for the rest of the week. Everyone enjoyed that ride, through fields and reeds and pretty roads. We finished by the sea where Troy turned up in the car with our kit and we all donned our wetsuits <some for the first time> to try out the sea…… It was cold, but after a few splashes and the inevitable cramps everyone was refreshed. Nobody remembered bodyglide, and as many were first time wetsuit wearers, about 75% of the team left the water with wetsuit lovebites on the backs of their necks.
After lunch the afternoon was handed over to Heather and Nick who took us to the local pitch / Yugoslavian graffiti pit for some running training, where we learned to stand up straight, bend our knees, use our arms, and not fall over. Then over to a 100m long hill for a session of sprints / finding max heart rate.
Friday Day 4 – Sa Colobra
Once again Nick and Seb up at the crack of dawn for a morning 10km, this time back in 45mins after putting in some sub 4min kms – this was to be regretted by both, as it was Sa Colobra Day !!!
Sa Colobra is one of the best hill climbs / descents on the island, still not huge compared to the Alps, but it is extremely popular with cyclists, plus it was a warm day with not too much traffic – everything was perfect. To help coordinate the group, which is a difficult and thankless task, the slower riders had to leave first, followed by the medium riders, then finally the big guns, so we all arrived at the top of the first hill together. Then it was just 9 undulating kms to the rest point, 2.5 further kms to the top of the hill, and almost exactly 10km to the bottom of it, once we got to the bottom the task was simple – turn around and go back up !!
Apparently Nick D had made it up previously in just over 30mins, Heather also said she had done it in 36mins. Lesly was the first in the team up in 43mins, beating James by a minute or two, then Nick L in 46mins. None of them stopped though because they knew Troy was waiting at the rest stop with the lunch and Vero, (who had sneakily only gone down halfway and hence had made it back for lunch in record time) and was now working hard on her tan.
The sandwiches and oranges in the sun were supremely welcome though, and as the team made it to the rest stop one by one everyone had huge smiles of satisfaction on their faces – they had all conquered a REAL hill
Although none were insane enough to go down it and take it on again, after the relax a few of the toughest team soldiers went the long way home, and all were thoroughly content with their decision to do this, and rewarded afterwards by the presence of a local sports therapist / masseuse with magic hands.
The evening was a delicious BBQ, Troy showing us that South Africans are in fact good at cooking as well as horrendously racist jokes. The conversation eventually turned to life in Paris, and Heather uttered her second catchphrase of the week “Whats ‘Off Your Chops’ in French” she asked loudly – nobody had a clue what she meant.
Saturday Day 5 – Rest Day ??
There is no rest for the wicked, and although we are not particularly wicked, we didn’t stop anyway – Another morning 10km run for Nick and Seb, this time graced with the sublime company of Kathryn, Clea and Jenson Button.
The afternoon was back to the pool to work on the technique issues that the previous video session had highlighted, there were many, and during the pool session Seb was able to compound his Heather bashing as she came out with her final catchphrase “Take it Steadaay”
It was the house staff day off so after home and showers the whole 15 strong troop hit the town in search of a restaurant with enough space, but as it was 19hr and as we were in Spain, this was not a problem (the spanish don’t start eating until 21hr at least). Clea came up with the (in hindsight) remarkably stupid idea that everything should be ordered in 3s. This meant that 12 bottles of wine later and with Lukes “Iphone which has every song from the 90s on it”we were all but standing on the table dancing. Rabi and Caroline were looking quite ashamed of us, sean had his head in his hands, but the rest of the Spanish clientele appeared to accept that English idiots singing old karaoke loudly and badly at the dinner table was normal, so we didn’t get kicked out or even asked to quieten down – which frankly is concerning !!
The fun didn’t stop there though, and after the resto cam the bar, again deserted until we turned up, but a few pints of gin and tonic later and we were the life and soul of the place, then back to the house for more 1am Guns n Roses and Jon-Bon-Jovi-Karaoki, it was about this time when Sean threatened to call the police – given the early start the next morning we agreed that bed probably was the best option, although Piers was clearly disappointed and attempted several times to call a taxi to go to ‘Magaloof’ (happily at that stage of the evening, correct use of a mobile phone evaded him)
Sunday Day 6 – Ironman
Although its only a Half Ironman course in Mallorca, most forget the ‘half’ bit, nobody blames them. The 7am breakfast was a little tough for the previous evenings singers, but after the first hour of the course up the big hill most had gotten over it, and some like Kathryn were positively on form. The 90km ride is pretty quick from there, down the hill, ‘Smash Out’ some flats then back along the seafront and home for lunch, nobody really thinks about the fact that if it were a real Ironman course you would have to do it all again.
After lunch a trip to the local supermarket, but not for groceries – it was sunday, the shop was shut, and the car park perfect for transition training, some like Jenson already knew how to do it all, others like Caro were barely able to get on the bike normally, but after some expert instruction from Heather, and despite Rabi nearly taking Sean out during his first attempt at jumping on – we all left having learned some vital technique.
In the afternoon most opted to jog the 6km down to the beach, and once again Troy was there with the kit so we could change into wetsuits and get salty again, less cramping this time, and yes even slightly warmer, chicken casserole was most welcome in the evening, and bed was early.
Monday Day 7 – nearing the end
It seemed like we had been there for ever, and we were all getting into the swing now. This mornings activities was pulling it all together, 5km down the road to the Port, then 5km into the wind coming back, a transition in a quiet road and a 2km run to finish – advice from the pros – Just Smash It. James, Nick and Seb all managed it 3 times, everyone else stopped at twice and cheered them on. Due to the running portion, and his dodgy knees – Lesly decided to take advantage of the great weather and put in a 120km cycle.
After the Time Trials it was lunch and after that a gentle 5km run finishing with the famous steps of Pollenca, if you start at the bottom there are more than 365, but not even Troy was able to go full pelt until the top.
At the top you are welcomed by several friendly cats and a shop selling ice cream, although nobody remembered to take money, and nobody was going all the way down, then back up again to get any ! – a great view and a super photo opportunity.
Tuesday Day 8
We were all very sad to be leaving, Rabi and Caro had left us the evening before, Nick and Clea finally managed to get up early and go for a 7am run with Troy, who admitted he had a man-crush on Jenson, but pointed out that Rabi had a man-crush on Nick D so all was fair between camps.
Everybody was packed and breakfasted and busied themselves with preparations to take their mind off the fact that they were leaving. A last minute place had opened up on the following week and James was seriously considering it. But common sense prevailed, and our non-English speaking taxi drivers turned up and with their usual apparent complete lack of understanding of what was going on, they loaded us up and off to the Airport, some fond farewells and blatant abuse of the french double cheek kiss later and we were all on our way.
Pretty sure we will all be returning.