Sunday, March 10, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 1: I rode with bike shoes!

Coming to camp was the best idea ever. I've probably learned more today than I'd learn in an entire year on my own. And it's only the first day.

Today's activities involved a run, a swim and a bike. Funny how that happens at a triathlon camp, right?

Training this morning centred around Orange Lake Resort. It's a large resort with a 350 meter lazy river that's between 3 and 4.5 feet deep. It's also very curvy, making it great for triathlon swim training. You could just swim around and around and around.

Not that we did. Or at least not right when we got there. Our first activity was actually a short run. Nothing too crazy, just an easy run to get the legs going. I think we went about 2 miles. This was by far the easiest part of the day. Have I said how much I love running? Well, running in Florida is even better - since it is warm! (Well, it was actually a bit on the brisk side...but brisk summer weather...not winter! I was in shorts and a sleeveless top).

Next up, we did a short swim-specific warm-up with Coach Jeff, and then hopped in the water. After a lap and a half warm up, we did a bunch of great triathlon drills. We started with sighting, moved on to dolphin dives, did some drafting and then finished with some group starts.

Sighting was great. The key there seems to be to bring your head up just a bit (goggles above the water to see), then turn right to the side for a breath. I think I caught on to this decently well...probably all the breathing drills I've been doing the past couple of weeks.

Dolphin dives are a bit different from the dolphin kicks I vaguely remember from back when I learned butterfly way, way back when. Not that I ever did butterfly well, but I loved it. The different with triathlon is that you dive, touch the bottom with your feet and then dive again. Apparently it's easier to do in shallow water...and I apparently need to tuck my chin down more. Practice makes perfect.

I really enjoyed getting a chance to practice drafting on the swim. I really didn't know how that worked, so the coaches (Jeff and Nissim I believe at this point)  were great showing it and then having us practice. I did find myself bumping into the person in front of me quite often, so no doubt I need a lot of work there. But I get the general idea. I think we get to do more on Wednesday or Thursday.

The mass start practice was actually a lot of fun. So different than anything I've ever done before. It was good getting a sense of what it feels like to have people swimming around you. It was noticeable, but not nearly as bad as I expected. Probably because everyone was trying to wasn't really a race.

After breakfast, we headed to Hoolihan's for brunch...and Coach Nissim took our car on a great scenic tour of Kissimee first. By accident, but if you are ever down here - you will understand. The roads turn into highways without any turnarounds. Once you're takes you miles to try and maneuver back. But we made it - and the food was quite good, as promised. Especially the fresh pineapple. Yum, pineapple!

Got back to the house and went over to get my bike from the LPC camp house. I thought a few runs up and down the street might be in order before I went out on my first group bike ride and my first ride on real roads...riding the bike I've only been on outside 3 times (although I've put 450 miles on my trainer), while using clipless pedals for the first time.

Why yes, there were a whole lot of firsts in my bike day today. Kind of crazy when you think about I try not to.

Managed to make it up and down the street a few times without crashing, practicing clipping in and out. Thank goodness for the hours and hours on the trainer and in spin class...I think it did help a lot.

Met up with everyone a short time later at the LPC camp house.

The ride was awesome, with a whole lot of anxiety tossed in for good measure.

First, the anxiety. It didn't occur to me that we'd be riding on roads...with cars. Yes, I probably should have guessed this, but it didn't occur to me since I generally avoid anything remotely motorized when on my bike. But, I think I did pretty well around the cars, and the various coaches were doing a remarkable job keeping any eye out for traffic. One of my biggest issues I need to fix is my ability to let go off my brake handles and actually signal properly. Right now, I can't get my fingers off the handles more than an inch or two without veering.

I am by far the most inexperienced rider at camp (a fact I was pretty confident about), but there did seem to be a few other folks there who were still in the "newer" category, or who haven't put in a lot of base miles yet. One girl who has been sick recently bonked a bit about 2/3 of the way through. Good lesson for remembering to eat/hydrate properly.

Not that I did a good job on hydration myself. I had to stop every time I wanted a sip of water (I think I drank half a bottle of the two I brought total) there is another skill I need to figure out!

Coach James was an ace the entire time I was riding with his group - encouraging me onward the entire time and really being supportive (and patient). Toward the end, one of the speedier groups came up on us...and one of the campers, Kelly, in my house made a point of sticking with me and also continually encouraging me along. Coach Nissim got in the game as well while Coach James was managing traffic. By the end, I actually was managing to ride fairly close to Nissim and Kelly without feeling too out of sorts!

The total ride was 22 and a bit miles (Just under 40k I think). Which is the longest ride I've done outside, ever - although I've managed 30 on my trainer.

Personal learnings from the bike:
  • The actual physical riding felt easier on a real bike than it was on my trainer (the pedaling, etc.).
  • My slowness seemed to be more about nerves/tension/awkward bike handling, and of course almost never changing my gears (because of not wanting to change gears in traffic) ...not exhaustion. Here is hoping all the biking (and the skills work) this week will move me forward in terms of bike handling. I plan to learn everything I can and then take it home and practice, practice, practice.
  • I felt good at the end of the ride, which means I've done something right over the winter. If I hadn't built a base, I'd be dead. I couldn't imagine being both a newbie biker and out of shape.
And now, the battle scars.

First ride. First time with clipless pedals. I wouldn't be a klutz without something happening, right?

Specifically, I fell over trying to stop...going 0 miles an hour. The nice thing is, apparently this is a bit of a right of passage. After the ride, I heard a few good stories (including one from Coach Mark) about when/how this has happened to them in far more embarrassing and awkward settings.

The result...a slightly bruised hand and a scraped knee. My housemate Paula was very kind to take a couple of pictures.

Picture 1: Me, somewhat embarrassed by my 0 mph fall.

Picture 2: A close-up - because you need one, right?

The incident happened about half-way through the ride. I finished with no trouble at all, which proves it was really just a small surface scratch. Seriously, if this is the worst incident I have this week, I will be thanking my lucky stars.

After arriving safely home, everyone at camp got together for a big potluck dinner. Lots of fabulous food and lots of fascinating people. Just the introductions gave a small sense of how different everyone is - where they've come from, where they are at, and the races they are aspiring to undertake and race.

I think the campers and coaches are the best part of this camp - everyone is so inspiring - and encouraging to everyone else. I have to say, it has meant the world to me here on Day 1.

So, at the close of Day 1...I leave you with this link to  Coach Jeff's Day 1 Recap Video!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you're off to an awesome start! And hey, you had to have a fall sometime. At least you got it over with!

    (I also had fun playing "spot Jana!" with the recap video.)