Club La Santa Mini Triathlon

  • Wed 14 Dec 2016

I had big plans for the week. I was going to do the triple: Half-Marathon, Duathlon, and Mini-Triathlon. Then I saw the Lanzarote Marathon was on the same week, and entered that too. I clearly hadn’t thought this through.

I picked up a calf-strain in the last few kms of the marathon and hoped to shoogle it out by some gentle jogging on the volcanic trails around La Santa. The half-marathon wasn’t going to happen, but the other two were still possible.  And with more optimism than sense I turned up for the duathlon. 2.5km run, a bit of cycling, then another run. Should be fine.

I take some pride in bailing out of the first run section of the duathlon. I was fine to the turn, a massive 1.25km into the event, then suddenly my calf kicked off. I walked, hopped, skipped and jogged back to transition,  retired before crossing the timing mat, and huffed off to breakfast.

A few days later I was back for the tri. I did this in March and had been indescribably nervous with the leap into the unknown. This time round I was a bit more relaxed. Roberta got a decent night’s sleep too as I wasn’t up every hour staring aghast out of the window at the massive swimming pool.

Club La Santa Green Team Triathlon – The Swim – Lane 1!

For a small field it was acutely diverse – from athletes clearly here on a serious week’s training through to first-timers wanting to give something new a go. For the swim we would self-seed into the appropriate lanes – the “Olympians” in lane 1, through to the “Doggy Paddlers” in lane 8. Lane 8 it was then.

Club La Santa Green Team Triathlon – Running round the swimming pool

8 lengths of doggy paddling later and out of the pool, where you are positively encouraged to run around the length of the swimming pool across the timing mat and to your bike. I love running beside the swimming pool. It feels so wrong.

Club La Santa Green Team Triathlon – Transition

I was pretty much at the back of the swimmers but expected to take some positions back on the bike bit. It’s a good bike section – a flat bit along to La Santa, then a steady climb up to the turn at Tinajo. I gained a few places on the outward climb, then a few more on the descent.

Descending is a funny old game. I’d never claim to be the world’s best but it is quite clear, whether it’s cycling or running, that many athletes are not at all comfortable about descending fast. It seems to cut across all abilities. I’ve torn past cyclists and runners who are far faster than I am, but who seem massively uneasy on their going downhill skills. They inevitably storm past me later in a race when they’re back in their comfort zone.

Club La Santa Green Team Triathlon – Time for the last bit

Still, I take what I can get. Even if it’s temporary. Back at transition, then the last bit. A quick out and back running back towards La Santa, round a roundy thing, then home to Club La Santa.

Club La Santa Green Team Triathlon – Cheered in by the Green Team

The finish is good. You circle back into the centre then do a quick lap of the track. The ‘Green Team’ are fantastic, cheering you in and making you feel like a proper champion. Even if it is just a little Triathlon to get an appetite before breakfast.

Club La Santa Mini Triathlon

If I’d been nervous for the Half Marathon the nerves were nothing compared to those I felt for the Triathlon. Or ‘MiniTriathlon’, as it was billed. I kept telling myself a mini triathlon was just a bit of fun, and the man who’d sold it to me (zero Euros again) insisted it was ‘beginner friendly’.

I’ve always wanted to give a triathlon a go but never had the courage. Even though I know they’re friendly, informal, and not at all scary, that doesn’t stop them being scary. They remind me, strangely, of orienteering competitions. I know, as someone who has done a lot of orienteering competitions, that they are fun and friendly and suitable for all abilities. But to the first timer they can be daunting beasts and I always have sympathy for people who see them as a bit intimidating.

View from the villa – every time I look out the window

So there we were, at 730AM (on holiday), for the second day in a row, waiting for the briefing. Roberta had got up (again) to see me off, not that she got much sleep with me pacing about. Our villa overlooked the swimming pools which, on the one hand, were pretty impressive. On the other hand, if ever I glanced out of the window during the night, there they were, in all their floodlit glory, taunting me with their massiveness.

The briefing was pretty straightforward. No cycling in the complex. No running over the timing mats in cycling shoes. But the main thing was to “Make sure the Timing Mat says BEEEEP!” – good advice.

Swimming in the Sunshine

We started in the pool, picking lanes according to our ability. I picked a slow lane and was just beginning to know my lane-mates well before it was time to start. Off we went and I settled into a steady breaststroke. I’m rubbish at the crawl but after a few lengths I was discovering that my breaststroke was a lot faster than some of my lane-mates’ crawl. Not that it mattered. Overtaking was never going to happen, not without implementing some sort of congestion charge. Anyway, the sun was out, and I zoned out, knowing that the swim wasn’t a big part of the event and I wasn’t going to make any real gains here anyway.

On to the bike bit

Out of the pool and an exciting jog around the poolside before crossing the timing map, making sure it said BEEP! and onto the bike. It may have only been 0830 but there was never any danger of being chilly. The bike section was a long, steady climb up to the neighbouring village of Tinajo, round the roundabout, and a fun descent back to Club La Santa.

I’d passed a few people on the bike section and now I fully expected them to be popping by again on the final run section. I knew I’d be ok on the bike section, terrible on the swim, and indeterminate on the run. The last section was a bit like a handicap – all the time expecting to be pipped on the final approach. It was also a good motivitor and encouraged me to push hard on the final few km of the run. A final push round the track to the finish then across the timing mat, which said BEEP!, and relax. I looked at my watch and it wasn’t even 10AM, and I’d done a triathlon! Time for breakfast.