Sunday, March 5, 2017

LPC Florida Triathlon Camp - Starting off on the right foot (Days 0 and 1)

Hard to believe it's been 5 years since I first came to the LPC Florida Triathlon camp. Well, technically it's only been 4 years and a week, since my first camp was in March 2013. Every year, I've done a daily blog of my experience - and I am so glad I did because it really shows how much I've improved over the different years.

Looking back, there was the very first camp (I am posting the links to the March archive for each year, so start at the bottom and read up to get the posts in order) where I was completely out of my league but had a blast anyways (and didn't die!). I'd never been on a bike with clipless pedals, fell numerous times (going 0km/h) and pretty much needed a personal coach on the bike because I probably would've died otherwise.

In my second year, I wasn't quite a hazard on wheels (but I was still by far the worst rider) but I think I broke my bike distance record 3 times over the course of the week (crazy, right?).

In my third year, my bike group got lost what seemed like every day...but that led to my having a massive day to end the camp with a 19km run AND a 90km bike. I almost did the equivalent of an Ironman over 2 days when you include the swim workout. This was also the year I 'graduated' from the C group to the B group for biking - which was an amazing feat for me. I was (and am) still a terrible bike handler...but I was getting faster.

Then last year, we had what turned out to be an absolutely perfect week of training. It was probably my favourite year of camp -ever- (no doubt this year will be even better). I was a much better rider, was solidly in the B group on the bike and actually enjoyed all the rides immensely (the previous years were mostly me just being terrified and hoping not to die).

And so, I've made it safely to my fifth year camp-iversary. And I still love coming to camp and sharing the love of all things triathlon with friends old and new.  I wonder if anyone really cares about these blog posts given you really just need to read through any of the previous years to find out how awesome this camp is - and why you should come. But I personally want the record of what I do because these blogs show my incredible progress while coming to camp- and I expect to continue that progress many years to come (fingers crossed and knock on wood) because there is always something new to learn! It's nice to have this record to look back on!

Pre-Camp: Long run and short bike - with a new accomplishment

Today was Day 1 of camp. Although this year, I had a pre-camp workout day because Coach Mark gave me the option of doing my long ride in Florida or in Toronto before I left. Glad I picked Florida because work was insane and it got really cold the day I would've run. Here, I woke up  bright and early Saturday and was out the door for my 20k run by 8am (which is pretty much a miracle for me). The run itself was absolutely magnificent. I wandered around the resort, found some nice out and backs and just had a very smooth, even and nicely paced run...all without having breakfast!

Post-run: relaxing in the sun

Thank goodness I found these nuts. I was starving when I finished my run

In fact, I felt so good after the bike and chatting with Coach Mark, that I ended up doing the afternoon 'unofficial' group ride. I was a bit at a loss when I showed up to find the people biking were mostly the crazy fast guys. I was debating not riding after all, but Coach James and Coach Jack (who I interviewed for my blog back in 2015) confirmed the first 25km loop was going to be their easy pace and I'd probably be fine. Sure enough, the guys were wonderful and I had no problems riding at the back of the pace line (enjoying a very nice draft!) for 25km.

When we got back, the guys headed out to get more distance at speeds I can only dream of. I decided to take a little bit of time getting to know my new bike (this was just my second ride outside - and my first non 'just for fun' ride on it). I worked on my left U-turns (and failed dismally). But then for some reason, I decided to work on grabbing my water bottle from my bike cage...and much to my shock, I was able to get the bottle out and put it back in - without falling over, veering wildly or dying (priorities!). And then I did it again and a few more times!

After the bike
That's a huge accomplishment for me - and one I honestly didn't think I'd ever figure out. Sure, I was only riding like 5km/h at the time, but I will have to practice it again going faster when I don't have anyone near me (otherwise I'd be too nervous).

Saturday night, I made a rice with veggies dish for the potluck (on Sunday) and for my main meal for the week. It was a bit of a mess, but the final result turned out much better than I expected. Then I went to bed because I was exhausted.

Day 1: No Run, but a swim, exercises and a bike

This morning, we headed over to River Island - a wonderful 350m pool at Orange Lake Resort (apparently the largest resort in the world - or so I heard today). I love the lazy river and today was no exception.

Technically, the day started with a short run, but Coach Mark told me to skip that given I'd just run 20km the day before. I ended up walking with one of the other campers and taking some pictures instead.

When everyone got back from the short run, Coach Alex led us through a dynamic stretching routine which included a number of great exercises. Some new ones, and a few great variations on ones I did know with much better mobility focused exercises for the shoulders and hip flexors. It was great.

Exercises with Coach Alex

We then jumped into the Lazy River and did a couple of loops warm-up. Just finished my second loop in time to join the A swim group (made up mostly of people way faster than me, but thankfully a few my speed) for some practice turns in one section of the river. We worked with Coach Gabby first, then switched over to work with Coach James for some dolphin dives and drafting practice which was a lot of fun. Challenging, but fun.

Spent a little bit of time in the hot tub before getting a coffee at Starbucks and sitting out in the sun for a bit.

Coffee time!

We came back from the swim and ate lunch. Had plenty of time to relax for a bit before it was time to meet up for the short bike ride. After Coach James chatted a bit about the ride, we split into three groups. Coach Mark ran our B group through a safety checklist  and then we left pretty soon thereafter.

Pre-bike discussion and demos

Coach Mark and Coach Alex highlight how to draft

The bike ride was so different from yesterday despite being the same loop. It was insanely windy at times and got a bit challenging toward the end because of it. But this kind of ride is why I come to camp....I could really see my progress. While I was a bit nervous about the wind, I was also convinced it didn't matter and I'd be fine. I just tucked my head down as much as you can on a road bike and did my best. I got back to the camp house feeling pretty awesome, I must admit. I was tired, but I felt great about how I'd handled myself in the wind.

After the ride (and a shower), I sat down intending to do a bit of work on an article, but my brain was a bit fried. Decided to let it wait until tomorrow or Tuesday. It's not due until mid-week (and it's short), so I felt okay procrastinating about it. I am writing this blog instead of doing work - because apparently writing a blog isn't actual work. At least, not to me.

Tonight, we had our giant all Camp potluck at the LPC Camp House. My rice dish seemed to go over well, with only one spoonful left of a giant bowl of it at the end. Glad I kept a second giant bowl for myself so I can eat it all week.

Coach James talking about the camp at the potluck

Avid listeners to Coach James
At the potluck, Coach Mark gave me some hints on running a Beer Mile - mostly about the fact you can get 355ml cans. On the Thursday before camp started, I ran a Beer Mile. I admit, I had a heck of a time finding bottles - and the one I did find tasted like revolting grapefruit. Oops. Next time I need to be more prepared!

Now, I'm back in the Hose of Lido (the house I'm staying at this year) writing this blog. Need to stop soon because it'll be an early morning tomorrow to get out to the National Training Centre in Clearmont!

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