Last Monday, I was dying for somebody to ask me about my weekend, but the hermit joys of working freelance meant that nobody did. For once, I wouldn’t have had to change the subject to a more exciting theme (like the weather) because I had just returned from two whole days in Lanzarote. Why would anybody in their right minds get up at midnight on Thursday night, drive to Dublin, take a four-hour flight to Lanzarote and leave their hotel at 9:30am on Sunday for a ten-hour journey back to Killarney? I’m still wondering, but it was great fun.
I had heard so many warnings about the baking January heat of this Mediterranean chunk of lava that it was almost a relief to land to overcast skies and a cool breeze (imagine high summer in Ireland, and you have the idea). We were met by Ocean Lava founder Kenneth Gasque, an imposing, ponytailed 65-year-old Dane in yellow trousers who seems to be universally beloved by the general populace of Puerta del Carmen, where he has lived for the past 30 years without any apparent need or desire to learn Spanish.
He and his wife, AnnaLis, welcomed us into their stunning home, the sun made its grand entrance over the Mediterranean, and I wanted to move in: To call their terrace a “balcony” is like calling Buckingham Palace a house; suffice to say, it has entire plantations of aloe vera and a swimming pool. Sipping coffee from dainty porcelain cups, surrounded by AnnaLis’s colourful canvases and the warm, sparrow-accented air of a Canarian January, I almost forgot the task I had set myself for the next day.
By 7:30am the following morning, however, I had my runners laced up, Ocean Lava visor pulled on, and water bottle filled, ready to trot down to the seafront for a 17-mile buzz killer. After about an hour, when the sun decided to make up for the previous day’s feeble start with a ferocious blasting that continued throughout the day, “run” became something of a misnomer. In fact, by the return leg, I was reduced to several stretches of walking, which grew in length and sluggishness as I neared the hotel.
I could have absolutely no complaints about the route: an almost perfect 8.5 miles from the hotel to the only skyscraper in Arrecife, all on paved paths specifically designed for bikes and pedestrians, complete with neat little sand-scraping machines and enough cafes and shops to keep you more than adequately refreshed (had you the foresight or common sense to bring any money…).
No, I could not complain about the route, but that did not stop my body from whining loudly and frequently through the tightly knotted sinews of my right glute, and later through the screeches of my hamstring, not to be left out of the pain party. Ah yes, there’s nothing like long miles in accustomed 80-degree sunshine to remind you just how pasty, weak, and imperfect your own particular version of the human body is. Once I got past the initial pain, sweat, thirst, and lightheadedness, however, there was something amost meditative about the process of putting one swollen paw in front of the other, when every ambition had shrunk to the desperate desire to rest, to shower, to drink.
That, I think, is the best thing about putting your body under pressure – the realisation that relief is the most powerful feeling of all. That, and the fact that a bag of salt and vinegar crisps is a meal whose deliciousness is beyond measure.
Next time, I’m doing what any sensible person does in Lanzarote and heading to the beach.