Saturday, March 15, 2014

LPC triathlon camp - day: 95k in one day...crazy town.

Yesterday was epic.

It was always going to be long, but it turned into my longest training day ever, complete with my longest ride ever (for the third time this week).

The day started before sunrise as we headed out to the Orange Grove trail - one of the nicest runs I have ever had. Last year, I stopped a bunch to take pictures so I'd keep the effort, the goals was much harder. Although there was still time to smell the oranges!

Here is everyone right after sunrise!

The goal was 2k easy, 14k at marathon pace, and a few more k easy. Yes, that was longer than the 10 mile loop in total, so I did an extra out and back to get the time in (oh, the hardship!). Given  it was my shortest long run in months - it sounded pretty easy when I read it in my schedule...but I did climb Sugarloaf yesterday (and swim a bunch), so I was quite tired going in.

I had a bit of indigestion when I woke up since I ate a lot of not-so-healthy foods yesterday at the Irish pub after Sugarloaf (Nachos and French fries, plus a beer)...including cheese on the nachos which I should know better than to eat the day before I run long). So I skipped breakfast. I did have a chocolate outrage GU before starting though!

Fortunately, it was perfect weather for a run (45f). A little chilly at the start, but I warmed up quickly and had to shed my windbreaker (thanks to being able to give it to our support crew driving around!) after a couple of kilometers. Need to remember that for May, since the start of the marathon might be cold. I should have something to wear and throw away! My stomach also settled a few minutes into the run, so I chewed on a couple of shot blocks along the way for some added energy,

Forgot that the course actually has some nice rolling hills on it...especially the back half. This was good because it forced me to try and pace better. Overall, other than starting a little quick for a warm up, and then the first marathon pace mile a bit quick, I think I did great. Managed to average MP the whole time I was supposed to...with a few quicker miles, a few slower ones, and many right in the sweet spot (5:10-5:15). Seemed right given the hills, but we will see what Coach Mark has to say when he looks at the data. He was very positive when I finished though.

Headed home, ate a good breakfast and had a couple of hours of rest (partly spent sitting in the backyard reading) before meeting up for the ride to Allen's. Allen's is a little ice cream shop (the one we rode to a few days ago) and a visit there is a staple of the last day of camp because usually a few of the guys take up the Allen's Challenge: eating 11 scoops of ice cream with 6 toppings in 15 minutes (Coach Mark apparently holds the record at 7 minutes). We ride there, the guys do the challenge, and we ride back.

It is meant to be an easy ride of less than 60k...but Coach James and Coach Nissim managed to get us detoured a few times...leading to a 38k ride to Allen's and a 37k ride back. I think they figured our beginner group just didn't have enough mileage for the week so decided to get us to ride longer today than anticipated. ::laugh::

In reality, the accidental route we took out was fabulous - taking in some beautiful residential neighbourhoods! Loved seeing the big houses and riding through quiet subdivisions!

What is great about this ride is the fact I did well (for me, of course!). Still slow descending even small hills, but did pretty well pushing to catch up every time I fell back. While I did walk my bike across one crazy street and one very busy and non-light intersection toward the end (I was tired and afraid of making a mistake...better safe than sorry), I was generally much less twitchy about cars and felt a little more confident on my bike.

Got home safe and sound, with a final total of over 75km of riding for the day. Crazy! Especially after a reasonable hard run! That means that for my race in September, I will only need to add 2k of swimming, another 1.5k of running, and 15k of riding to what I did today (and put them back to back). But today's session really gave me confidence that with another 6 months of training under my belt, I should be able to do it.

My shower afterwards never felt so good...but we didn't have much time before heading off for the camp dinner at Breezes restaurant at Orange Lake Resort. Dinner was fun since I got of talk to some folks I really hadn't chatted with at camp yet (because they ride in the faster group and aren't in my house). Had a celebratory piƱa colada which tasted good too.

Then it was back home to say good bye to everyone. And of to bed for my early morning wake up. All.

Lessons learned today?
  1. I can do way more than I think I can. I don't think I'd have decided to go 75km on the bike today if I'd been asked in advance...but I did it because I needed to. We all did. I can use the confidence from today for when I face hard points during Mississauga and any other race that I decide to do.
  2. As the Girl Guides say: be prepared. I am glad I had lots of water with me and some Sharkies for energy.
  3. Sometimes the road less travelled is literal! :)
And since yesterday was the last day of the LPC Florida Triathlon Camp, I really need to say a lot of thanks.

To Coach James Loaring who runs an incredible camp that I'd recommend to anyone...we had a gamut there from incredible elite athletes to, well, me!  But I think there was more than enough going on that everyone learned something and never felt held back. Coach James also brought together some amazing coaches to lead sessions and to give help and advice! He is an incredible coach and I learned a lot from him this week, and appreciated all his encouragement. Thank goodness for my brother who convinced me last year that I really needed to go to James' camp if I wanted to learn about triathlon.

To Coach Mark Linseman, my personal coach, who I've only been working with for 4 months. To be honest, I've learned more in those four months than in a year of training mostly on my own. He is great and will no doubt have me ready to do anything I set my mind on. He has more confidence in me than I do some days! One day I will climb Sugarloaf  4-5 times just to prove that I can...although I might be 90 before I am ready to go down it! :) It was great having a week of training with him so I could pick his brain more in person!

To Coach Nissim who kept with our newbie bike group day after day - always supportive and patient. He kept me in one piece last year when I was a newbie biker, and managed it again this year as I continued to improve (but continued to be new...and likely will be for a few more years!)

Thanks to all the other coaches and guest coaches/speakers who were there as well (Ryan, Kyle, Katelyn, Coach Nate and Sarah Haskins) - and to all my fellow campers. I learned a lot - not just from the coaches - but from everyone else too. I was excited to see several of my fellow campers and new friends achieve their own personal feats this year - from finishing the Orange Grove loop to climbing Sugarloaf for the first time. Everyone at camp was awesome. Seriously awesome.

Sad to head back to the snow...but already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 5: Conquering Sugarloaf!

A little nippy this morning when I got up...a whole 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Given our first workout was an outdoor swim in the Lazy River...I was a bit concerned.

But the water temperature was 83 degrees - so it was actually much nicer to be in the water and moving than being outside of the water! So no complaints from me.

We did some dynamic stretching before we jumped in, which was great as a warm-up - but I was really glad to dive in afterwards!

During the pool workout, we did a ton. Learned several more drills (dog paddle - which is basically front crawl without bringing your hands out of the water so you can really work on the catch part of the stroke, front sculling, and mid-sculling.) Liked seeing these since I've been having trouble figuring them out from videos. Much better to see and get tips in person.

We also did several loops of the river - once easy, and twice faster paced. Got a chance to work on drafting and sighting, not to mention more dolphin diving.

After the swim and the cool down, most of us enjoyed the hot Jacuzzi.

Got a little break after the swim - enough time to get home and make a few eggs before getting ready for the bike.

Sugarloaf is probably the most anticipated ride of the week - similar to how the Orange Grove Trail run is the most anticipated run (that's tomorrow!). The ride is a very hilly 40k that culminates at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (I don't know if it's really high enough to be called a mountain - but trust me, it feels like one when riding up it!).

Even with my ability to change my gears properly, this was a challenging ride. But I did much better than I did last year. While it was exhausting - I wasn't dying at the end (although I didn't want to see another hill - that's for sure) which made me happy. I even had a chance to notice some of the scenery...which I didn't much get to do last year since I was so focused on moving forward and not crashing.

Truth be told, I never felt crazy nervous during this bike ride - well, except for a couple of really busy intersections and some riding on a cobblestone path that was kind of cruddy. I did have one little incident involving starting on a sandy patch (I tipped over, but caught myself) - but as incidents go - I don't think it really counts...not like when I banged my head on a cupboard door over lunch so hard I needed to put ice on it.

I was definitely pretty slow on the ascent up Sugarloaf - but not so slow I couldn't generally keep up with the group. I tended to pass a couple of people on the uphill (and a few while climbing Sugarloaf) - but then they all passed me on all the down hills since I don't like going too fast, especially in areas I don't know very well. I think I topped out at 45km an hour on down hills where some folks probably did twice that! ::laugh:: But it all worked out - and our group was fantastic.

Here we all our at the top of Sugarloaf!


And here I am! So glad to have made it to the top for the second year in a row! Especially since we had a pretty bad headwind for much of the way!

The 30k ride back from Sugarloaf was a bit easier than the route we used to get there - and it included a couple of stops...including one at a convenience store where Coach James turned up with some pizza. Had a good half a slice which tasted wonderful and powered me through the ride back.
This ride started and ended at an Irish I bet you can imagine where we ended off once we made it back. After 72.71k (my longest bike by half a kilometer!) guessed it: at the pub.

A great day overall. The weather warmed up nicely so it turned out to be a great day for a long ride.

Lessons learned:
  1. It is so much more fun to tackle hard sessions with other people. 4 of the 5 of our House of Secrets campers (Mary, Stacy, Kelly and I in the picture above) were in the same group riding together today - and we encouraged each other the entire way. We also had Coach James and Coach Nissim keeping us out of trouble and helping motivate us along.
  2. Swimming outside when it's cold out is actually quite fun if the water is warm!
  3. An ice cold beer is a good reward after a great day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 4: The day I liked the rain

I've been looking at the weather reports for a week - and haven't been too impressed with the rain scheduled for today - including the possibility of Thunderstorms.

But really, while we had a ton of rain today - I can't complain about the timing. Not like last year, that's for sure. This year - the rain was perfectly timed.

Woke up this morning to high humidity and a lot of cloud cover, but by the time we made it to Lake Louisa State Park - the humidity fell off a little bit (thank goodness) and it still wasn't raining.

We did one loop of the mile run course and a loop of the 11k bike course as a warm up, before getting into some transition practice. After a couple of fun (and funny) demonstrations - we did two rounds of transition practice, including a run to the bike, bike around the parking lot, dismount, change from bike to run, and a quick run to the finish. I found this helpful - mostly as a reminder. Don't think I'll be doing any crazy dismounts or anything any time soon though (or really - ever!).

After that, we did two brick intervals - bike and run, then bike and run - of the same course.

I loved this workout for many reasons - mostly because the park was very quite and traffic was minimal. I think I saw a handful of cars the whole time - which gave me time to really enjoy biking and practicing gearing and the like. Even managed a few decent down hills. Other than one narrow U-turn that I missed the line on twice (although I just rode onto the grass - nothing bad and no "fall" involved!), I actually thought I did pretty well. Was riding an average of 26km an hour for most of it - which seemed pretty decent for me!

My runs off the bike were all pretty good, especially given the humidity. I managed a great tempo pace for the two actual intervals (4:39 pace per km).

Right after the last bike loop, it started to spit - raining just a tad on my last run. But pretty much the second I finished the skies opened up and it started to pour rain. I felt a bit bad for the poor folks doing another loop of the bike course - but I was over the moon that the rain waited until I was done to start!

We did not get to go for our open water swim practice in the lake, but given I live on a lake and swam a lot last summer - I was okay with that. I will trade that experience for a good bike one any day! But we had a good make-up session instead - heading to Orange Lake Resort for 5 loops of the 250m lazy river....which was mostly empty.

This afternoon was spent getting caught up on some work and going for a chocolate milkshake with one of my housemates who was craving one. It was really good - and worked as my dinner along with an Orange. That balances out, right?

Before our swim video analysis - one of the campers led a yoga session on the back deck of the LPC Camp House - which was a great chance to do some stretching and movements not used during the swim, bike and run. She did a great job dealing with a group of generally awkward and un-stretchy triathletes who tried our best and yet still probably looked like drunk squirrels.

Following the yoga session, we went inside and Coach James gave analysis of everyone's swim videos - which were taken on Monday at the National Training Centre. I found it just as interesting as last year because seeing what other people do wrong helps you get a sense of what you can do differently (or what you do right!). Like last year, I still kick way too much - although I did notice I am kicking more from the hip - where last year I was kicking from the knee. That's improvement right there.

My hand position was also a bit off - but I usually don't have that problem (or at least it's never come up before) - so wondering if that was because I was so tired from trying to keep up with the fast folks in my lane. Either that, or maybe I've introduced something into my stroke incorrectly. I asked Coach Mark about it. Fortunately, he wasn't too concerned given I'd just done a harder track session and running can affect stuff like that. He also said that given my swim times are still improving - I shouldn't lose any sleep over it (not that I would anyways). Although he did say he'd take a look at my last video and see if there's a trend. Better to try and stop bad habits from forming before they become too ingrained!

So overall - a great day with lots of fun and challenging things, plus lots of learning. Just the right kind of day!

Lessons learned?
  1. Rain is best when it happens when a bike ride is over (oh, right - that's a given with me).
  2. I don't seem to have any problem running off the bike (like I said - it's my reward for finishing!). Although I expect my inability to fuel on the bike will bite me in the butt one day if I had to run longer (like the 21.1k I'll need to do after my 90k ride in Niagara). Really need to figure out that one. I admit - more so than the distances themselves which no longer scare me - I am afraid I won't get the nutrition issue resolved. But because I know it's an issue - of course I will, right? I believe it! :)
  3. There's always something to learn - no matter how good you are (and some of the folks here are pretty darned good).
On a funny note, one of the other folks in my house came up with a better word for the "unskilled" bike group. She decided we should be called the "Elite Recreational Group" ... or the "Entry-Level Triathletes." I admit, that made me laugh a lot (and all the others in our little group). Of course, it was probably only funny because we were so tired after the 70+ kilometres yesterday.

Off to Sugarloaf tomorrow - along with another great swim session in the Lazy River. Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LPC Triathlon Camp Day 3: Longest Ride Ever!

Another beautiful day in Florida. I hear it is 7 degrees back home...but it's still much nicer here! Or at least it was today!

Got a little time to sleep in this morning with a call to action at 9am. Last year, today's ride was in the pouring rain (still one of the scariest days of my life...go read my blog about it) so it was nice when today turned out great. It was a little foggy right when we left, but not for very long - maybe 15 minutes.

The actual ride was amazing. Kept up a nice steady pace the whole time and spent a lot of time changing gears and just getting more comfortable with my road bike. There were times when I actually was really enjoying myself (usually I am pretty tense when I ride). I did have a few nervous moments - but overall, I felt really good the whole time.

Here is me at 32.5k at Allen's (I will write more about Allen's on Friday) - see the smile?

I admit, I was a bit pleased that we managed to stay with the full "C" Group - rather than 3 of us breaking off into a "D" group. I feel like that vouches for some of my improvements over the week! :) Actually managed an average pace of about 24k an hour which is pretty good for an "easier" ride...although no doubt the drafting had a lot to do with it. I expect 24k an hour on my own would've felt a lot harder.
Here's a picture of our whole group!

Got back to resort with my watch reading 2:56 and my mileage at 67.something - so decided to do a loop of the resort because I wanted it to be over 70. And since Coach Mark had 3 hours in my schedule - well, I figured the 4 minute gap was a good excuse to keep riding to get the last bit of mileage. After taking a wrong turn - I actually ended up doing a total of 72.16k....which is my longest ride ever - beating out my longest ride ever from last year at camp which was 67k I think.
Now - throughout this ride, one of my shoes refused to lock to the pedal properly because I'd somehow managed to screw up the cleats (more like shear off some of it) while stopping. So I had that going for me for a good 85% of the ride...annoying, but hey, it didn't affect my riding at all - so all was fine.
Got back to the camp house and immediately changed into running shorts and my running shoes and guzzled some water since I don't drink enough on the bike since I can't get at my water bottle when I am moving - and then got onto the road for my brick run within 4 minutes. Not a bad transition, I don't think!
Interestingly, running off the bike doesn't bother me very often. I think it's because I find biking so stressful that running, even on tired legs is a pleasure and a reward. After all, it means I am pretty much home free.
I didn't look at my watch since it was supposed to be easy to moderate - and I was hot (that is not a complaint...I liked the heat!)...but when I did glance down as I was getting close to my 20 minutes (and zig-zagging in front of my house to get the time to love that) - turns out my average pace was 5:05. That shocked me. Further analysis showed my km paces as 5:06, 5:13, 4:49, and 4:56 (over .93k).
When I got back to the camp house - I took a quick 15 minute dip in our pool just to get cool (it was nice!) before eating lunch.
In the afternoon, a few of us went to a bike shop so I could buy new cleats (someone else did as well) - and then we went to an outlet mall with a Pearl Izumi store. Picked up a nice running shirt and pair of shorts for a really good deal!
We then met up with a bunch of other folks from camp for dinner at a sushi restaurant (I had very good veggie tempura instead) - and finished off at home with a dessert of tasty brownies.
Lessons learned today?
  • I honestly believe I am going to be able to do the Niagara Falls half iron in September. Today's ride was only 18k short of the bike - and my excellent run - while a heck of a lot shorter - was a good indicator to me that I really will be able to do it come the day, especially with Coach Mark's help.
  • Doctor Pepper during a ride is the best thing ever. It powered me from 32.5k to the end and right through the brick run. I need to remember that!
  • I really am not very good at following directions. I took a wrong turn twice while biking and then running around the resort. ::laugh:: Ah well! :) I knew I'd get to where I was going eventually!

Monday, March 10, 2014

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 3: National Training Centre - and Bike Skills!

Today we visited the National Training Centre in Clearmont, Florida. It was awesome! I just love the location!

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 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?
  1. Brownies are delicious - especially without nuts. Yummy.
  2. 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!
  3. I love running - pretty much more than anything.
  4. 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!
  5. 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::

Sunday, March 9, 2014

LPC Triathlon Camp Day 2 - We swam...and biked...and ran! :)

A glorious first day at camp. Woke up to beautiful, sunny skies and lovely warm weather. Not super warm when I got up – but compared to what I left behind in Toronto – it was still wonderful!

So what did we do today?

Well, this might come as a shock - but we swam. And we biked. And we ran. Although not in that order!

Started the day at River Island – where there is a lazy river that’s 350 meters long with a slight current. Terrific for practicing triathlon swimming drills – although the first thing we did when we arrived and dropped our bags was go for a short warm-up run around the resort. Best 4k I’ve had in 4 months I think…shorts, t-shirt, no air hurting my face. Really, it was awesome. We were supposed to run easy – but I kind of went under 5min per km without thinking just because of my utter joy at the conditions.

Why no – it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. :) A great, effortless run will do it.

After that, we did a number of dynamic stretches. These ran the gamut from simple arm circles and leg swings, to standing balance and single leg squat drills. On a funny side note – I’ve taken to doing the leg drills while waiting for the subway. It’s amazing how much room people will give you when you’re doing single leg squats while waiting for the train – or just waving one leg around a bit while standing on the other foot. Try it sometime!

Following that, we got into the Lazy River and went through some excellent triathlon specific drills. Because the river is very shallow and curvy – it was perfect for doing dolphin dive practice, not to mention sighting drills. We also did several “starts” and my personal favourite – drafting practice. I tried to draft in races last year – but I really am not particularly good at it – so this was much needed for me!

Got back to the camp house were we all had lunch and a bit of down time before we had to meet up for the group ride. Before we started, they had a good 20 minute discussion on checking your bike before a ride (and before races) for common issues. I really, really appreciated that since I wouldn’t have a clue what to look for other than a tire needing some air!

We separated into three groups on the bike – which was wonderful for me since I didn’t need to worry about all the speedy folks. I could just ride and worry about not tipping over. Coach Nissim stewarded 5 of us on a 43.5 kilometer ride – including 5 circuits of an empty subdivision where we practiced leading the pace group.

Now – I am still by far the weakest bike handler at camp (I knew I would be). But I managed to both lead the group (calling out the turns since I have yet to be able to make hand signals…fortunately there were no cars in this loop to worry about) and not have a heart attack when Coach Nissim had us ride two abreast and switch leaders (going through so every pair had a turn in the lead). Last year, this would have been terrifying for me – so definitely something I consider a big improvement!
As a side note - I obviously wasn't looking around at all last year during this ride - since nothing looked familiar. I didn't even recognize where I had my first tumble on my first day with clip-less pedals (going 0 mph) - although my housemate Stacy, who is a returning camper, did.

Other great bike things I learned today…wow, I LOVE being able to shift my gears. How did I not do this at all last year? Seriously, I think I shifted ever 5 minutes – and found the ride so much easier (and yet faster) because of it! I am seriously thinking of riding this bike in triathlons this year since the gear shifting will improve my speed – since I can’t yet use my aerobars on my triathlon bike. Fortunately – one day I will get there – so it’s not like I’d be wasting my tri-bike – it’s more I am taking a step back so I can take two steps forward!

After some time to clean up, everyone met at the LPC Camp House for a potluck dinner. There was a ton of delicious and healthy foods – which I guess is a sign that we’re at a triathlon camp – since anywhere else there would’ve been way more desserts and less healthy options! (laugh).  I made tomato and cucumber salad – which was gone pretty quick.

We did have cake and ice cream at the end since it was Coach Mark’s 29th birthday yesterday.

And as an aside…can I say, wow. I had no idea Coach Mark was so young. Doesn’t that make me feel old at 35! ::laugh:: Not that age matters – Coach Mark has already helped me a tremendous amount in the 4 months he’s been coaching me. I just feel so much more prepared – and I still have 2 months until the Mississauga Marathon – and 3.5 months until my first triathlon of the season! When I was training for Run for Heroes, I pretty much dropped swimming and biking all together for the couple of months beforehand. Now, I’m training 3 days a week on the bike and at least 2 on the swim – in addition to my 3 days a week of running. No idea if the cross training will help with the Marathon – but it will certainly help with my triathlon season!

So – if I had to sum up today’s experience and lessons learned?

1.       Perfect, warm weather. Enough said.

2.       I am definitely a bit better on the bike than I was last year. I still have an incredible distance to go before I can consider myself passably competent – but every step is a step in the right direction!

3.       Dolphin dives are harder than they look…but I think I’ve gotten it down to basically being one “butterfly style stroke, with a big long shallow glide. I don’t know if that’s really an accurate description – but it seemed to work for me in terms of visualization.

4.       Running outside in shorts and a t-shirt in weather that wasn’t too hot or bitterly cold. I loved every second of it.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

LPC Triathlon Camp - arrival and Hello Sunshine!

Arrived today in Kissimmee, Florida for my second LPC Florida Triathlon Camp. If you look back at my posts from last March, you will see how much fun I had...and how utterly nervous I was before I arrived.

This year, there was no nervousness. If anything, when I got off the plane in Orlando, it was like taking a breath of fresh air. Given the frigid winter we've had, not to mention the snow and ice, coming here was a reward...a "you survived the Polar Vortex" present. To be honest, I have been more focused on making it to somewhere warm than getting to cramp itself. Do you blame me?

Regardless of how camp goes, just being here I am already fulfilled. I stood outside and it was warm. It was sunny. The air didn't hurt my face!

But, I am at camp and, of course, I expect to have another fabulous time. I am currently sitting in the House of Secrets - the same house I was in last year. I even have the same room. It is hard to believe it has been a year since I left!

Today has been very easy and relaxing. I got in around noon and had a good chat with Coach Mark on the way from the airport. Got settled in my camp house, then picked up my bike from the LPC Camp House and took it for a short (20 min) ride around the resort. It was my first time really riding my new-to-me road bike outside, so I was glad to see I didn't have any problems and could still clip in and out even on a different bike.

You will laugh to know I changed gears something like forty times over 10k just because I could. And how nice was that? I love my triathlon bike, but I have a hard time taking my hands off the handlebars, so changing gears is a painful exercise I tended to avoid last year. I did all three of my triathlons last summer, and most of my training rides, in one gear. No, I am not kidding.

With this bike, I can just tap my shifters, what a difference!

See, told you that you'd laugh. But recall I'd never really been on any bike before borrowing a mountain bike for my first beginner tri and then buying my tri bike. I hope now having a road bike too will let me pick up some of the bike handling skills I just couldn't even begin to imagine last, yes, taking my hands off the handlebars.

Tomorrow is  the first official day at camp. We have a short run, followed by a swim in the morning and a bike in the afternoon followed by the camp potluck. Most of the schedule is similar to last year, which makes me a little less nervous about everything..although it will be fascinating to see what is different and how my ability has changed since last year. After all, I've run, biked and swam a lot more since I came to camp last year - and have been working with Coach Mark for a few months now. I expect at least running and swimming wise to notice differences! I don't expect my biking skills have improved much, but I hope my nervousness will have at least eased a little!

But I remember how much I learned biking last year at camp. I'd be thrilled if I learned that much again this time around!

So...what are my goals for camp this time around? Simple:

1. Don't get hurt...not during camp or on the way home (last year I tripped over my suitcase on my way home and couldn't run for a month).
2. Like I said above...I want to learn as much as I did last year about biking - preferably while staying upright so I can gain a bit more confidence.
3. To  have a lot of fun swimming and running while also learning new things that will help me improve.
4. To have fun all around and to take advantage of all these smart people I can learn from.
5. To soak up every bit of warmth I can, because no doubt there wills till be snow and ice around when I get home!

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Catching Up - 2014: The Year of Believing

I admit, I am copying what I wrote on Facebook on January 1st since it's two months into the New Year - and I forgot to update my blog with what I named the new year. Oops! :)
So for the sake of consistency and record...
When it comes to naming the year, I admit - 2014 was a toughie. I just couldn’t figure it out. And then, it hit me. The last few years have been about big outward things: Reinvention - when I first decided to become healthy and fit and hired a personal trainer to help me, Endeavour - where I strived toward the goal set the previous year, ran my first races, and quit my job to start my own business..., and Acceleration where I took everything to the next level.

But here's the funny thing. Much as I love what I’ve done the past few years - I still have a lot of doubts. I wonder if my goals are just a bit too crazy. I wonder why I think I can do things that other people can't or have no desire to do. I wonder if this year was a fluke work wise and when reality will hit. I wonder if all my success has been luck - and when the luck will run out.

But the truth is doubt is your worst enemy. Doubt keeps so many people from even trying to achieve their goals because inside they don't really believe they can. And the bigger the goals, the bigger the self-doubts.  

You all know I am hard headed when I make a decision to do something. And yet, I still tip-toe around some of my goals and qualify things a lot in conversations. “If, Maybe, One day, I’ve been lucky, This might not last”. I really need to stop that. I need to start believing in myself, my capabilities, and my results more – and in my ability to figure out how to do everything I want to do - including finding the right people to help me. I also want this year to be about encouraging other people to pursue their dreams.

So that’s why I’ve decided to make 2014 the Year of Believing.

It’s a great word. Very different from ones I’ve picked in the past – but one that underpins every other word that has gone before. Because the people who succeed are the people who truly believe that they can.