The track was under construction, so when we arrived - we set up camp on one of the grass training fields. I was a bit nervous about running on grass, but not for long. We tried to do a warm-up on the cross country course, but it was closed, so someone started a game of soccer instead. Or maybe the soccer came first, I can't quite remember.
Now, if you know me - you know how much I don't like things coming at me...but I made an effort to at least look like I was running on the soccer field while laughing at the guys who were really working hard. I did get the ball by accident a few times...and managed to kick a guy right in the head with a ball pretty hard.
Ouch. Sorry about that.
After we were warmed up, Coach James took us through a bunch of running drills - most of which I'd already learned but can always use more practice in. As, Bs, Cs, Karaoke, toe-walking and heel walking. Then we did a field's worth of suicides - and of course I decided to go with the group doing all of them rather than the group doing one less. Those things are really hard. I don't think I ever did them back in school (or if I did, I didn't do them properly enough to care) but I did them pretty well for a first time.
We then went out and split into two groups to run some hills. They split us based on the same groups that did the suicides, so I found myself doing the slightly steeper section of the hill with a bunch of fast guys and two really fast girls. This was great fun. It was really hard, but I felt like it was an amazing workout - and while I slowed down, I feel like I put in a great effort over the 11 reps (8 minutes we did). Plus, it was nice to run hills when it was not icy and where I couldn't fall into a snowbank! What a win.
Seriously - I just loved the running. I love running most of the time - but running in good weather is the best thing in the world, no matter how challenging the workout.
After that, we convened on the pool deck where we split into a bunch of lanes. We had a guest coach leading this session - Nate Korteum - husband and coach of Sarah Haskens who just won two big races in like two weeks. Nate was great (Sorry, had to say that - if you get the book reference!). We did a bunch of hard exercises - including head up front crawl, which is really exhausting, drills with a band tied around our ankles - which I'd never done before and found very challenging! And a neat drill where you swim in a line and the person at the back has to try and sprint to beat the leader.
I was in a lane with a bunch of very, very fast folks (still not really sure how that happened since compared to them I was slow!) but it actually pushed me way more than anything else would have, which I loved. I worked really hard through the drills and then through the set of 400-300-200 and 100 (although we had a break in the middle to get some underwater video analysis done). By the end, I was pretty wobbly, but definitely proud of myself and the crazy fast folks I swam with were incredibly supportive and awesome. Given I think I was older than all of them by at least 10 years - I felt I did pretty good! :)
I don't know. I think for improvement's sake - it's better to be the slower person in a faster lane than a faster person in a slower lane...so for me, the swim session was perfect! :)
On the funny side - I was pretty over the moon thinking I beat my 400 PR and my 100PR...but since my time for 100m was 1:31. I was very skeptical (my best time is 1:37 or so)...turns out the pool was 25 yards...which is shorter than 25 meters. ::laugh:: Ah well, the idea of getting so much faster was fun while it lasted! :)
Following that, we had two different seminars, both of which were amazing!
The first was from Coach Mark on hydration and nutrition. Now, that's one of the reasons I signed up with Coach Mark in the first place (in addition to just getting better and more consistent) because I know I am not the best person when it comes to hydration and nutrition. Well, I think I do okay drinking water in race - but I am not one for any of the sport drinks (during races I find they upset my stomach when I am running) - and during training I am pretty limited in what I eat and drink. I've tried to be better since training for Run for Heroes (carried a water bottle and found Cliff Shot Blocks work really well and ate those regularly in training) but then I got a stomach bug and my nutrition plan went out the window in favour of ...well, not being sick during the race. I think I at two shot blocks total during that marathon - which is why I finished in 4:15! :)
So Coach Mark's session was really useful - more so than last year when half of it went over my head (that was more about my lack of knowledge Coach Mark if you're reading this!). Although I am looking forward to getting a chance to chat with him about nutrition for my races this year hopefully later this week or soon after.
After Coach Mark chatted, Sarah Haskins came in and did a Q&A session. I mentioned Sarah before - but she's this lovely woman who was wonderful and down to earth and very easy going discussion wise. It was neat learning more about ITU racing, not to mention learning how her training has changed over the years. And given she just won two races after taking a long hiatus after having a baby - I can only be amazed by her!
One thing I loved was her comment on strength training and how she works with a trainer once a week. Given I do the same thing - I was kind of happy to hear her say how useful she finds this for her racing. I've always thought my sessions with Chris have been helpful - but now I have even more reason to keep them going - along with all the motor skills work that Coach Mark has me doing.
In the afternoon, we had a bike seminar where I saw Coach Ryan (I think it was Ryan at that point) change a tire. Given I've only learned about tire changing by watching YouTube videos - this was great. I was glad to hear I seem to have all the right stuff in my saddlebag though (phew) - so those videos actually seemed to have worked! ::laugh::
We then split into a couple of groups to do some skills work. And I went with Coaches Mark and Nissim. After a couple of loops around the resort for warming up - we stopped at a little closed circuit laneway and did some drills in circles - mostly focused on turning. This was great because I needed practice on my new-to-me bike and also Coach Mark really gave me some good tips on whe to stop breaking going into a turn. I was pretty bad at the start (I was nervous!) but I did get a bit better over the course of the drills. I really liked that we went in both directions though - since I really needed to work on my clockways turns since I don't tend to ride that direction as much.
After the drills, we went out for an hour-long ride. I LOVED this. I felt so much better on this ride - even tired after everything else we did today. We split our group into two - so I ended up riding with the same 2 women from my house who I road with yesterday. We get along great, so it worked well - and Coach Nissim kept us moving through a rolling paceline so we could really get used to the movement and transitioning. This was great - and I felt like I got it more than last year when so much of my focus was really just on not dying.
I was definitely tired when we got back though - so kind of glad it was only an hour of riding after the drills!
Went grocery shopping then came back to the house to watch people in the pool, eat dinner, and eat some utterly delicious brownies that my housemate Stacey made (so good I had two...thank goodness I am going to work them off tomorrow if I didn't today!).
So, lessons and thoughts from today summed up?
- Brownies are delicious - especially without nuts. Yummy.
- Yes, I am definitely better on a bike than I was last year (Recognizing that 'better' is a relative term). Today was better than yesterday too - so hopefully it's a trend!
- I love running - pretty much more than anything.
- Swimming with faster people is an incredible push! Probably the same could be said for running, so if given the chance to do so - take it!
- Yards are shorter than meters. Which is sad when you get a 400 and 100 PR ... only to realize that no. The length you thought you were swimming was just shorter! ::laugh::