Mallorca Training Week

Mallorca Training Week


I’ve been really excited about Mallorca over the last few weeks. The weather has been so bad in the UK that I haven’t been cycling as much compared to last year. I’ve also never cycled in Mallorca before and lots of my friends told me of the great road quality, warm weather as well as the many climbs!


The training week was organised by my coach Barron and, sharing lead rider duties, assistant coach Kevan. The week was predominantly focused on bike volume, with options of adding swimming and running if you wanted. We were sent an advance itinerary of the week and kit list.

I knew a few coming along to the training week including my husband. He decided to bring his bike, and I opted to hire a bike in Mallorca. Six of us were flying from Edinburgh and the rest of the group met in Mallorca. In total there were fourteen of us including the coaches.


Day one; we arrived early morning in Mallorca and were transferred to our accommodation at Aparthotel Duva, Porte de Pollenca, in the north of the island. We spent the late morning to early afternoon building bikes or picking them up and settling into our accommodation. In the afternoon we rode an easy ride as a group, testing out the bikes and getting our legs spinning, ready for our first proper day of training the following day. We rode along the coast from Porte de Pollensa to Alcudia and climbed up to Ermita de la Victoria. We had a quick stop and headed back- 24 miles in total. It was good to get used to my hire bike and get my legs spinning after an easy week on the run up to Mallorca.


Day two; we rode together, acclimatising to riding in a group. The ride was based on the Mallorca 70.3 route, on the climb up to Luc, we had a fitness threshold test. At the bottom of the climb we commenced the test and finished the test when we got to the top, or twenty minutes from starting the climb (whichever comes first). Coll de Femenia is a 7.6km climb with an average gradient 6% and was a taste of the climbs to come! During the climb I saw Emma Pooley fly past whilst I was a slow salty mess! The test is based on heart rate and power. I don’t have a power meter, but I do have a heart rate monitor and my heart rate threshold increased, which is an improvement! 

Coll de Femenia

 

After the climb we had a stop for coffee and almond cake. We proceeded down the other side of the climb and continued on the 70.3 route to Muro. After our break, it started to rain; luckily after the descent. Unluckily, whilst cycling in a group we had a crash on a bend. Three of us, including myself, came down but other than a bit of road rash, grazes and a bit of shock, we were all fine. My bike was fine but the other two needed to get repairs. The group continued to cycle in the rain. When we finished the ride it had stopped raining, typical! Just shy of 60miles and I finished with a short 3-mile brick run. I spent the rest of the day chilling by the pool in the sun.

Team Tuesday!


Day three; this was the first of our longer rides of the week. We started early and split the group into two: based on ability. I really didn’t want to hold up the group so went for the slower of the two groups. Our ride took us back up Coll de Femenia, with a short climb up to Coll dels Reis from the aqueduct. We went down to the famous Sa Calobra to the village, 9.5km of descending, with a short stop at the bottom to regroup then the long climb back up to reach the top of Coll dels Reis -9.5km with 7% gradient. We set off early so our descent down was quiet. On the way back up it was busy with many other cyclists and traffic including big buses. After the big climb we had some lunch, thankfully as I was getting very hungry at this point.

Sa Calobra village
Coll de Reis (Sa Calobra climb)
Reaching the top of Coll dels Reis!


The second half of the ride was back down Coll de Femenia to Port de Pollensa, up Coll de Sa Creueta -3.7km 5% gradient- to Formentor (Lighthouse) Mallorca’s most northern point. We regrouped at the Lighthouse and some of us made friends with the goats! At this point the group had different energy levels so we made our own way back to Port de Pollensa at our own pace. 86miles and over 9,000ft of climbing. In the group there was varied ability to climb and descend so the ride for me felt a little disjointed rather than a fluid ride. I did really enjoy the route: quite challenging with good company and a beautiful sunny day! The rest of the day was spent by the pool.

Views at the Lighthouse
Kevan making friends


Day four: this was a recovery day. I caught up on sleep and took the opportunity to test out my new wetsuit. I bought an Orca Alpha wetsuit at Christmas when on sale and hadn’t tried it out yet. Pier, Vicki, Eilidh and myself had a short swim in the sea at Port de Pollensa. The sea was very clear, and I was watching the fish swim beneath us as we were swimming. We swam at a steady pace between buoys, in total we swam for about twenty minutes. I am really impressed with the wetsuit. It’s designed for swimmers, so the arms have less neoprene so there is much more flexibility and easier to rotate my shoulders. The fit is good, I tend to have problems as I have broad shoulders (for a woman), the thinner neoprene arms help so it’s not tight and I don’t feel restricted when swimming. (This is not a sponsored post).

Swimming at Porte de Pollensa


In the afternoon we rode as a group at an easy pace to Coves de Campanet for lunch and back. My legs were very heavy from the climbs on the previous day, 30miles in total. Afterwards, I did lots of stretching and foam rolling to try and loosen up my legs.

Day 5; this was the longest ride and the most climbing of the week. My legs were feeling surprisingly fresh after an easier session the previous day. I went in the faster group after guidance from the coaches. I was initially worried that I would hold everyone up but this spurred me on to cycle faster to keep up. The route follows the Tramuntana epic ride and follows the majority of MA-10. We started at Pollensa and out to Alcudia then on to the foothills of the Tramuntana, Alora where the climbing begins. We started the ride quickly working as a group. When the climbs began we regrouped at the top or bottom whichever suited. We had a quick coffee stop (or juice for me) after two hours of riding we started climbing. We climbed Orient Valley and descended to Bunyola where we stopped for a quick lunch. I don’t think I will eat baguettes again after this trip!

After lunch we cycled to the coast, climbing up smaller hills and mountains to Deia. It was much warmer- 22 degrees and I was feeling it, the sun felt strong. We stopped at a petrol station to refuel. After this stop we descended to Soller. This was my favourite descend of the holiday, big wide roads, beautiful coastal views and probably my fastest downhill speed of the week. Getting back to sea level and 70miles into the ride we started the long climb up Puig Major, Mallorca biggest climb -13.9km, average gradient 6.2%. Barron stayed with me throughout the climb coaching and pushing me. I could see Sam ahead and was determined not to let him get away from my sight (which I didn’t). I was done when I got to the top. Eilidh took this photo at the top, I look happy, but I was pretty spent!

Top of Puig de Major
Sam and I at the top


We descended back to the aqueduct, refuelled and headed back to Pollenca. Luckily, it was mainly downhill and slightly undulating. At the bottom of Coll de Femenia, it was a fairly flat back to Pollenca. I was struggling, I had been dropped by the group, so Barron waited for me and pushed me to catch up, I held on to Barron’s wheel (for dear life). We just managed to catch up when we arrived back at the apartment, I was well and truly broken and had given it my all. I had intended to do a short brick run but every fibre of my being said no. Instead, I jumped into the pool, had a pint of beer (carb loading) and sun bathed. I really enjoyed the ride and had never been pushed like that during a ride before. In total 105miles, 10,000ft of climbing. Thanks coach Barron and the team for looking after me! 


Day 6; thankfully we had a late start at 9.30am. My legs were sore this morning! Initially, at the start of the ride I had issues with my gears which seemed to resolve by itself. I usually take a few miles or an hour to get properly warmed up on the bike, the faster group were too fast for my tired legs and I kept getting dropped on the climbs. We were doing the same route as the other group and I waited to join them. Luckily, they welcomed me back, I struggled for the first 30miles, legs were so heavy, and I felt I couldn’t climb any incline. Once my legs had warmed up and loosened up a bit cycling felt normal again.

Top of Coll de Randa

We cycled out to Llubi onto Montuiri and climbed to the top of Puig de Randa- 5.5km, gradient 6%. It was worth the climb as it had spectacular views of central Mallorca and the monastery of Santuari de Cura at the top. We stopped at the monastery cafe for lunch. After lunch, we headed back to Port de Pollensa via Algaida, Sencelles and Inca. The ride was good as it was more undulating with less big and long hills (apart from Puig de Randa) so as a group we were riding together and sharing the workload. After 85miles my legs and saddle-sore bottom were done. We finished the ride together with an ice cream by the beach at Port de Pollensa. I possibly could and should have done a brick run but once I had my ice cream, my body was in relaxed mode, so I had a dip in the pool and enjoyed the rest of the late afternoon/evening sunbathing.

Group shot at the top of Puig de Randa


Day 7; a few of the group entered the Tolo’s Time Trial bike race in the morning. I was initially undecided on entering as I thought I would be too tired to race after a week of long distance cycling. I was so glad I did not enter, there was no way my bottom would let me sit on my bike saddle on Saturday! Instead I went for a run along the beach followed by a swim. I wanted to go for a long swim in the sea and Kevan kindly volunteered to Kayak beside me. I’ve never swam with my own security before and I liked it. The only problem was I was a little lazy and didn’t sight much as I knew I could follow Kevan. We went a lot further out in the sea and the water was still so clear! I swam about 3km in about 50mins. I loved the swimming in sea, in Mallorca, it was so calm, clear and warm, very different to being back home! After the swim we headed out for lunch and joined the rest of the group at Tolo’s restaurant. I relaxed for the rest of the day and had a couple of drinks with everyone. The next day we were flying early so it was our last day exercising.

 

Captain Kevan
Having a quick drink

I had a great week, Thanks to Barron and Kevan for organising and coaching us all. I am definitely feeling the improvements in my cycling since Mallorca. Thanks also to everyone who came along, everyone in the group were very supportive, friendly and great to train with (like minded nutters). I certainly will be back to Mallorca cycling again soon.

 

Jenwaar

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon

I’ve been lacking in blog posts recently apologies. Sadly, my Granddad suddenly passed away four weeks ago and my husband broke his wrist during a bike race (on the same day).

Granddad

My Granddad has always been a big part of my (and my family’s) life especially over the last few years as we’ve lived so close by.  I got my sportiness from my Granddad. He had always been into sports, competing when he was younger playing football, golf and badminton. He was a coach and umpired many matches. He also umpired the Badminton for the Edinburgh Commonwealth games in 1970.  In his later years he took up the role of the spectator.  He supported me during my first half marathon four years ago in Glasgow, and watched me in London at ITU triathlon last year. He always thought I was mad completing in triathlons! He will be so sadly missed!!

granddad

Sam is making a good recovery, is now back to work and now doing some light exercise.

sam

As a result my training and blog writing two weeks prior to Aberfeldy was sporadic and somewhat lacking.

loch tay

Saturday afternoon Sam and I drove up to Perthshire, checked into our beautiful AirBnB accommodation overlooking Loch Tay. I then went to register for the triathlon, go to race briefing and drop of my transition two bag. In the evening we went to an Italian restaurant with some friends from Edinburgh triathletes for a good carbohydrate load.

loch tay

Sunday morning 4.45am alarm, triple checked my kit, ‘evacuated’ and had my usual race day breakfast porridge with blueberries, banana and cup of green tea. I was surprisingly relaxed; I hadn’t put any pressure on myself this race. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my ankle and not been running (maybe 5-6 times in the last two months) so all I wanted to do was complete the race and not worsen my injury.

edinburgh triathletes

I made it down to Loch Tay with just enough time to check my tyre pressures, rack up, get my wet suit on and also get bitten by a few midges!  I saw a few friendly faces from Edinburgh Triathletes, managed a quick team photo and we were called to the start.

The start was in the water between two buoys, the water temperature was 13 degrees, pretty cold and clustered start! Once I got going the temperature was no longer a problem and I was able to swim away from the main group. The swim route was one lap and in a triangle. This race I felt my sighting was better, maybe because I was in the first group and there were less competitors in this race.  My garmin statistics say otherwise, I swam an extra 200metres and my swim time wasn’t great for me (34minsmins 33secs) so I was a little disappointed.

loch tay

I got out of the water feeling a little dizzy and ran up to transition one to my bike. I had to sit down to take off my wetsuit and put my cycling gear on. When I was ready the dizziness had passed and I ran out of transition, and started cycling. Transition time 4mins, 28secs.

The cycle route went ok; the weather was beautiful which helped. I felt alright going up Schiehallion, however I found cycling around the first side of Loch Rannoch quite hard. There was a strong head wind, my legs were pedalling but I felt like I was going slowly and lots of people were overtaking me. Once I got around the other side of the Loch and had the couple of gels and jelly babies I had kicked in. I felt stronger and my pace was better. Going back over Schiehallon wasn’t too bad either; I think I was just looking forward to the long dissent back down. I found the last 10miles after the dissent from Keltneyburn to Aberfeldy a struggle, lucky it was fairly flat and made it back to transition two in one piece.  My bike time was 3hrs 15mins 7secs, pretty pleased with that as it was quite a hilly course.

cycle route

Picture credit: live active sport

Transition two was fairly uneventful, apart from my dash to the toilet, I needed to go for an hour on the bike and there were no toilets at the feed stations. I didn’t want to expose myself to follow competitors on the bike route. Transition time 2mins, 35secs.

 

So the run was hard, very hard! My legs felt tired right away. Straight out of transition we ran up a small hill and I honestly thought ‘was I going to complete this?’ I ran past Sam after the hill, shouting and cheering, which spurred me on. The course was a there and back along a quiet road, with the occasional car passing. It was now 11am, the sun was shining and it was 18-20 degrees!  Lucky I remembered to put my sunscreen on in the morning. My plan was just to make it to the end so I decided to walk at the feed stations (under a minute each time), take on a little water each time and have at least two gels during the run. My tactics worked quite well, I managed to run past a few runners. The course was quite undulating, I was aware of my ankle (not painful) between mile three and five which then subsided. At mile eight my legs felt like pure lead. At this point I started to see fellow ET’s going the other way, the friendly faces and a few high fives helped me continue on. I was really struggling the last three miles, I knew I would finish but I was so tired and frustrated that my legs were heavy and sore. At this point I was constantly looking at my watching checking the total distance. I made it to the finish and even managed a ‘sprint finish’ through the finishing tunnel. Run time 1hr 52mins 38secs. I knew my time wasn’t going to be any good due to the lack of run training however I finished and my ankle held up.

finish photo

Overall it was a successful race, I finished uninjured and it was a beautiful course and day. Total time was 5hrs 49mins 22secs. I was 5th in my age group and 14th female overall. This race was never going to be my best due to the build-up, my recent training and my ankle injury.  Taking the pressure off the race did make it more enjoyable. Not to have that constant stress of finishing in certain time or being disappointed at the finish if you didn’t. On reflection I need to still work on my open water swimming and sighting, be quicker in transition one and hopefully get back to regular running again.

results

Next challenge is the Scottish half marathon on 18th September. Since Aberfeldy my ankle has, so far, been ok and I have been running twice a week. It’s so frustrating that I’m not at my usual fitness but I’m so glad to be running again. This next race I will be doing with friends; my aim is to finish uninjured so I won’t be pushing for a personal best or a particular finishing time.

Jenwaar

 

Iceland Weekend Trip

Iceland Weekend Trip

Last weekend I went to Iceland with my little brother James for four days. This will be our last trip together for a while as he’s moving to Sydney, Australia on Friday (sad face).

iceland

Iceland is so unique and beautiful, definitely worth a visit however it’s not cheap, be prepared to spend much more than on your standard holiday. The landscape is so breath-taking and diverse, one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. It feels like you’re on another planet, from open fields of lava rock, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls to the vibrant capital city of Reykjavík. The weather is quite varied, always changing and unpredictable. During our visit we experienced, snow, rain, strong winds and cold temperatures, my warm coat and long underwear were essential!

iceland snow

Iceland

We only came for a short visit and stayed in Reykjavík city centre. We focused most of our stay in the south of the island. To keep costs down we stayed in an apartment using Airbnb, just a fifteen minute walk from the city centre. We stayed with the host in our own private room; our host was great at giving advice and recommendations during our stay.

Iceland

I arrived on Thursday evening, got the bus to Reykjavik from the airport. Getting the bus is much cheaper at ten pounds compared to getting a taxi costing £60-70. Keflavik airport is about 50kms from Reykjavik, usually buses are waiting after flights for transfers.

Iceland

Thursday evening we went out for dinner at Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish market). All the reviews we read in advance sang their praises. Our Taxi driver also informed us that the owner was Iceland’s version of Nigella Lawson, Hrefna Rosa Soetran, so we had high expectations. We weren’t disappointed! The décor of the restaurant was beautiful, the staff were very friendly and spoke English extremely well.  We had the tasting menu, eight courses of mainly seafood and lamb with a selection of desserts. They also have a great cocktail menu and good choice of craft beers and wines. This has to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had, every single course was delicious. It’s quite pricey but has good value for money because of the quality of the food and drink. I would recommend anyone visiting Iceland to go here, please view (drool) over my photos below.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland 020        Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

On Friday we went snorkelling and on the golden circle tour. We were picked up in the morning and taken to Thingvellir, Silfra a freshwater fissure.  This lake is so special because it’s the only place you can swim between two continents; North American and Europe. We bravely donned wet suits rather than dry suits and submerged ourselves in the gap where the two tectonic plates meet. The water is crystal clear and as pure as water gets you could even take a sip! Although it was incredible, I have never been so cold, the water temperature is 2C and the temperature outside was freezing. We got ready outside in the snow and before I took the plunge I couldn’t feel my hands and feet. I was quite surprised when I got in the water it wasn’t that cold but that’s probably because I was already so cold. The advantage of snorkelling with a wet suit is that you can dive underneath the surface and explore more. Dry suits you float along the top of the water but stay dry and keep you much warmer.

iceland

iceland snok

After warming up with a couple of cups of hot chocolate and dry clothes, we continued on the golden circle tour. Our route commenced at the national park Thingvellir where Althing the Icelandic parliament was established. It is also where the continental drift between North American and Europe plates can be seen in cracks and rifts.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                 Iceland

We moved onto a geothermally active valley, Haukadalur. This is where the famous Geysers, Strokkur and Geysir itself which gave others their name. Strokkur erupts regularly, which we saw a few times, quite spectacular to see in person! Geysir erupts rarely our guide informed us it erupted two weeks earlier, but usually goes off about once a year.

Iceland              Iceland

Iceland              Iceland

The last stop on our tour was Gullfoss waterfall, translated ‘Golden falls’. I don’t think you can really appreciate its magnitude and beauty until you see it in person. My photos don’t do it justice!

iceland   Iceland

Iceland   Iceland

Saturday we explored Reykjavík, it’s such a colourful and vibrant city. The houses are wooden framed and clad in wooden planks or corrugated metals painted in bright colours. The centre itself is quite compact and easy to walk around. We started the day walking down to the harbour and continued onto dramatic concrete Hallgrimskirkja church. We went up the tower and took in the wonderful views of Reykjavik. In the evening we went down to the Harpa concert centre and saw a comedy show ‘How to be Icelandic’. Later on in the evening we went to a few bars, most bars don’t have entry fees and all very close to one another. Craft beer and cocktails are popular and lots of specialised bars such as Mikkeller and Friends with twenty beers on tap. Just to mention the drinking age in Iceland is twenty (not that’s a problem for me).

Iceland 117

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                       Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Sunday we walked up to the Perlan (Pearl), which has a panoramic views over the city and a rotating restaurant. In the afternoon we caught a bus to one of the 25 wonders of the world, the blue lagoon. We took a dip in the geothermal water, it was so nice to go into warm water after our freezing dip on Friday. The water is cloudy and steam billows off the pool to make it feel mysterious. Again it’s quite pricey to go and a little busy, but it has good facilities and a nice relaxing way to end our trip. Afterwards we took a taxi to the airport for our late night flight back home.

Iceland

Iceland

iceland

iceland

iceland      iceland

iceland       iceland

During our stay we were lucky to experience the food and fun festival. Local restaurants created gourmet menus at affordable prices, using Icelandic ingredients. We tried menus at Sushi and Samba restaurant and Kopar restaurant. Both restaurants served amazing food. All the food we had on our trip was excellent, local cuisine is fish and lamb. I would also recommend Bernhorfbakari for a pastries and K Bar, a beer bar with Korean inspired food.

iceland

7th march 042

Iceland

Iceland

iceland           7th march 057

Sadly the three nights we stayed in Iceland it was cloudy and we were unable to see the Northern lights. Our flight back home was late and we were fortunate to see them from the plane.

The only ‘negative’ I would say is the recurrent smell of sulphur, smelled of rotten eggs. By the end of the trip I think got used to it. The trip was amazing and there is nowhere quite like it. I recommend anyone to visit this mysterious island. I would love to visit again and explore the rest of the island.

iceland

Jenwaar