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Two weeks before Christmas and here I am, training in the sun. For those of you who know me well, sun has been a pretty recurrent theme throughout this year. Yeah? Well I couldn’t keep away. This time, it’s Lanzarote. Again.

I was very lucky to be approached by Daz and Debs who run Tri Sports Lanzarote, a fantastic training facility in Lanzarote. They offered me a training trip before Christmas. Obviously, I couldn’t say no to that. Strangely enough, the only week I could fit into my diary straddled the weekend of the Lanzarote Marathon, organised by my friends Sands Beach Active. This was all slotting into place! Only one thing - I opted for the 10k because a half marathon and marathon are pretty outside of my fitness range at this time of year!

I considered it to be a quality training session instead – tempo work at this time of year will help sharpen me up for my very early start to the season in January. That’s my excuse anyway.

Oh goodness me. It was so, so nice to be back on that island. I hadn’t realised how much I had missed it until I was back, cruising along at 50kph on smooth tarmac, just cycle shorts and tee shirt in the 28 degree sunshine. Bliss.

As for Tri Sports Lanzarote as a venue – well. Words don’t really do it justice! Apart from the fact that Daz and Debs are brilliant company (and aside from being massively knowledgeable, actually very amusing too), their home is like nothing else! A luxury 9 bedroom villa nestled in the hillside with a sea view and a mountain vista, a 25m outdoor pool, bike workshop, gym, second to none communal facilities, an enormous American fridge freezer stocked with an endless supply of food, and two lovely little dogs; it really was a home from home. Yep, I didn’t want to leave.

It was so nice to not have to think about anything for the week – what the weather was doing, what meals to prepare, where I had to be – it was just a cycle of train, eat, chill. Everything else was taken care of. It was like paradise.

On the day of the 10k race I was a bit nervous, stupidly, but I think my body just knows when I am racing, whether it is an off-season 10k or a world championship event! I wasn’t hung up on a particular result for this race, I just knew I didn’t want to have a terrible performance, even though I knew that at this point in the season that it’s hardly going to be PB territory.

I started out pushing hard but at a pace which I felt was sustainable. It was hot, and there were hills. Every time I felt myself relaxing into an easier pace I pushed harder – my pacing, as a result, was impeccable. My primary thought was how quick a 10k is! It’s over within the hour – I am used to racing for over 5 hours, this was an amazing feeling!

Down the finish chute for a nice sprint (ish) finish and I just crept in at 49 minutes. Hardly breaking records (even my own) but nevertheless, this was probably better than I expected at this time of year. I later discovered I was 9th in the Senior category and 13th female overall out of 156. I’m not really a runner so this was quite pleasing. Yep, I’ll take that.

The marathon and the other distances forged a fantastic atmosphere on the day and the team at Sands Beach did a commendable job of the event. Everything ran smoothly and the post-race offering was brilliant. Think beer, chocolate, cakes, sweets, fruit, nuts, biscuits, pasta – they know how to do food and drink out there, that’s for sure!

The rest of the week pretty much consisted of swim, long miles on the bike (god that feels good in the sun) and run. I had a good quality week of volume training, probably the only one I will fit in before South Africa 70.3 in four weeks’ time, and it feels good (and marginally virtuous) to have completed a good block of training only a few weeks back into it after six whole weeks off. All in all, I’m happy.

Most of all though, I cannot wait to go back to Tri Sports Lanzarote for some more warm weather training next year. I even brought professional cyclist Alex Dowsett round to the villa, and after a tasty lunch and lying in the sun by the pool, he was also sold. If it’s good enough for the pros, it’s sure as hell good enough for me! See you in 2016, Lanzarote!

With special thanks to Tri Sports Lanzarote for a wonderful stay and to Sands Beach Active for my race entry into the Lanzarote Marathon 10k.