Sunday, March 20, 2016

LPC Florida Tri Camp - Last Day: Orange Grove Run and a Ride with Power

The last day of the LPC Florida Triathlon Camp is always my favourite day. That’s because we get to run the utterly spectacular Orange Grove Trail. This 16km (10 mile) loop is red clay/dirt – and includes some beautiful views – including, often, several orange groves.

In past years, this run has started right at sunrise, but with the time change moving to the weekend after camp, the sunrise was too early – so the coaches decided to start the run a bit later. That was fine with me – it meant I got a little extra sleep, and also had time to eat an English muffin with some peanut butter in advance of the run.

Unlike previous years when I ate too much at the Irish Pub, this year, I was feeling pretty decent stomach wise before the Orange Grove run. Alas, the temperature was already climbing when we met up at the start of the trail – and the humidity wasn’t much better. I did use my inhaler, but I admit, I was uncertain how this run was going to go. I was also testing numerous things on this run – including my Mizuno Catalysts (first long run in them) and my new LPC running singlet. I was hoping that both would turn out to be good purchases.

Before we started, we had a group picture – I think we were all raring to go! 
At the start of the Orange Grove Trail

I put my handheld water bottle in the support van. In hindsight, this was the absolute wrong move. But you’ll hear more about that as I go along.

My goal from Coach Mark for this run was to do the first 8k easy, then 6 steady and 2 tempo. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. (In other words…this didn’t really happen).

The first 8km were beautiful, but incredibly difficult for me. My asthma was really kicking me in the butt, so I had to run incredibly easy for most of this time – which didn’t feel at all easy. I was sweating but none of it was evaporating, which meant I got incredibly hot. I wasn’t particularly thirsty, but I found myself wishing I had water with me to try and cool down. Even running slow, I didn’t feel very good.

I admit, I was utterly over the moon when I saw Coach James at the half-way point. I picked up my water bottle and took a few moments to catch my breath. As I leaned against the car, he asked how I was…my response was ‘terrible!’ Given I normally come up with something positive to say about most situations, you can tell I was feeling the heat/humidity pretty badly.

My only saving grace that first 8km was that I hadn’t had any foods I can’t eat before I run – so I avoided a full-on asthma attack (I generally only have those when I mix eating the wrong foods - like dairy, citrus and a few other things - before I  exercise). I wasn’t breathing particularly well that first half, but as long as I ran slow, I was okay.

While I was stopped, I took an extra dose of my inhaler. Between that and pouring water on myself, I was feeling much better just a minute or two later. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hit my steady pace (~4:55 pace), much less my tempo pace (~4:35), but I tried to up my effort heading into the second half.

I could tell almost right away that I was feeling better. My first km after stopping was significantly faster than all of my other kilometers so far. Every couple of minutes, I made sure to take a small sip of water and to pour a few drops on my head. It was like magic, I tell you. The difference in hindsight was astounding.

I caught up with Coach Mark fairly soon after (he’d been within sight for much of the first half of the run - running with one of the other campers). I mentioned as I was passing by that there was no way I’d be hitting my goals for the run. He said to just aim for a negative split given the weather. With the second half more hilly (making it harder) – a negative split made for a more realistic goal in the heat, while still being challenging. I agreed that’s what I’d do.

And I did. While I lost my data for this run (and the other stuff from Thurs/Friday at camp), I remember that I was well under my first 8km pace for most of the second half of the run. Especially near the beginning. I wasn’t at goal tempo pace by a long shot, but I was in the 5:15-5:30 pace for all but 1km of this – except the last km or two, which I’ll mention later.

Going up and down the hills was spectacular, although footing is always a bit challenging in the dirt. I think this time last year was the last time I ran on dirt (besides a couple of runs on a dirt track) – so I’m not good at it. Always worried I’m going to mis-step. I kept my habit of sipping water regularly and dumping it on my head. It made a massive difference. It was like I was on a completely different run from the first 8km.

With about 2 or 3 km to go, Coach Mark caught up with me and ran with me. He couldn’t have picked a better time (it may have been intentional – I didn’t ask!). Either way, as we ran side by side, I was able to pick up the pace for the last couple of km, which is what I was supposed to do. I don’t know that I would’ve had the oomph to do it if my coach wasn’t right next to me! When I looked afterwards, I managed to get under 5min pace for both of those – if barely. I think it was 4:59 and 4:51 for the last 2…but I will take it in that weather!

Crossed the ‘finish’ line feeling toasted, but did manage to squeeze out a 200m cool down to get my mileage right to 10 (or 16km). Had fun waiting for everyone else – and also took a picture of another group that was running who asked me too. Yes, it was a busy trail that day!

Verdict for the shoes was a tentative ‘good’ – although I need to test them on normal pavement. They did feel much better than the Inspires, with more support than the Sayonaras though – so I am very hopeful they’ll work for the Toronto Goodlife Half in May and the Tremblant 70.3 in June. We’ll see.

The LPC run singlet was wonderful as well – fit was perfect. The only issue is the water really soaked into the back of the shirt rather than evaporating – but that could’ve just been the highish humidity. Either way, I expect to be running in it more often as the weather gets nicer – so I can give it more trials. At first test though – it worked – and I didn’t get any chaffing. Mind you, I did use a bit of body glide just to be sure. Better safe than sorry!

After the run, my wonderful friends from Missouri were heading out since they had a long drive ahead of them. It was very sad to see them leave – but it was so wonderful having them here for the week.  I’d post a great picture of all of us – but those pics are on my dead phone – so I will have to wait and see what I can do to get them off of there!

After cheering on Coach James’ Dad who made it the full 16km (he's an amazing inspiration, that’s for sure), the rest of our house headed back to the resort for a bite to eat and to get ready for the last bike. Although only a couple of us actually did the bike, since the others wanted to pack and get sorted for their trip home.

The afternoon ride was spectacular. Despite being tired, I was really looking forward to testing out my borrowed PowerTap wheel.  I even rode a lap around the resort before the ride just to make sure the wheel wasn’t going to fall off – and to see if the power was syncing with my watch. It was!

We started the ride with a visit to the fountain at the entrance to Emerald Island Resort. I got there a bit early, but that worked well since there was a family there taking pictures –  two from California and 2 from Asia (I can’t remember which country – I think it might have been Hong Kong). After chatting with them, I learned that one guy had a sister from Guelph – where Coach James is from. What a small world. After taking a ton of pictures for them, they took a few for me (also on my dead phone) – and were off before the rest of our group got there for a group photo. Perfect timing!
A group picture before our final camp ride!
Following the photo, we biked out to an empty subdivision about 15km away from the resort. Well, technically, we biked past it first to get a picture at the Disney World entrance. That was fun. It is also one of the few pictures I have from that day right on hand, since I emailed it to someone! Lucky me!

Small but mighty Group B on the final Camp 2016 Ride
After the picture, we biked back to the subdivision. As I was starting to say above...this sub-division is awesome. It’s a 1.5km loop – which was pretty much completely empty of all traffic. This made it incredibly easy to ride fast. Wanting to test out my new power meter, I did exactly that. I ended up doing 7 laps…1 easy, 1 hard, 1 easy, 1 hard, 2 easy, and then 1 extra to find one of our riders who was waiting at a different corner than the rest of us. I was actually excited to do another loop because I was having so much fun. I honestly think this was the most fun I had all week. Or maybe not – but it was close. I just loved, loved, loved it. Given how tired I was, it was kind of amazing. Goes to show how much having a new piece of technology can do to get you excited and energized! Hilarious, right?

Power wise – I can’t remember anything but the two hard loops. For the first, I averaged around 214 watts (~35.7km/h), while for the second I was a bit lower (around 210 watts, 35.2km/h). Those could be off given I'm not sure as to the accuracy of this power meter compared to the one I did my FTP on - so take the numbers with a grain of salt. Although the speed is accurate - which is crazy.
What you need to know is that I’ve never done those speeds on a flat outside – EVER – except going down a hill or long false flat (think riding down the Beeline in the rain during IMAZ)….which is amazing all by itself.  Goes to show how much I was wanting to test the power meter since I didn't worry about going too fast for comfort (the lack of cars helped immensely though - had there been cars, I wouldn't have been so fast). Also, we’re talking these speeds for around 2 minutes – so not very long by any stretch at all. But still – it was fun!
I very quickly learned that power will keep you honest. If you’re coasting…you can see it (I went down to 66 watts around corners)…I certainly did, so rode harder. Not sure how that will work to keep from going too hard at times – but for this one day, it was so much fun just to do some testing. I loved it. Also, I never would’ve even tried to ride hard without a good excuse! When I texted my friend Paula after, I think she was overjoyed to hear how much fun I'd had! Can't wait to do more riding with this wheel when the nice weather comes!

After doing the fun loops, we headed back to Emerald Island – where we had plenty of time before getting ready for the final night dinner. I admit, I was pretty tired, so it was nice to get some downtime! I went with 3 of my fellow housemates to happy hour at the Tiki Bar at the resort clubhouse and tried the Florida Lager. It was actually quite nice. After a few drinks there, we had time to get back to the house and pick up our leftovers before heading to the main camp house for the final potluck.

In previous years, we’ve gone out for dinner – but I liked this option so much more. It was much more relaxed and I got to talk to everyone. Mind you, I was utterly exhausted, so I headed out a bit early. I was dead to the world by 10pm that’s for sure.

On the bizarre side, I was woken suddenly at 11 or 11:30pm when all of our fire alarms started buzzing. They’re hard-wired so if one goes off – they all do. I was so sound asleep, I spent 15 minutes thinking it was a truck backing up outside before I realized it wasn’t. Out in the hallway, my other housemates were trying to figure out what was happening since there was no fire. We finally figured out that one of the alarms had a dead battery…but then we had to fiddle with half of them before we got the stupid things to shut off. Gak. These wired alarms are great if there is a fire…but for a low battery, it was overkill to the n-th degree.

I ended up reading for 30 minutes after that since I was wired (pun intended), and then got back to sleep thankfully! I was then up early enough to have a cup of coffee and to say goodbye to several of my housemates before it was time to head to the airport and back home.

All in all, it was an incredible week. I learned a lot, saw many friends, made many more – and had a blast training with everyone. Big thanks to everyone at LPC for putting on such an incredible week.  I think this was my favourite camp yet!
I’m already looking forward to 2017 for another week of awesome adventures and training – okay, and to finally do the Allen’s Challenge with as part of my 5 year camper-versary celebrations – assuming my friend Paula really is willing to do it too. Ha. It’ll be nuts. Can’t wait!

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