Thursday, August 12, 2010

Training Camp!

Last weekend we had our first training camp, and in the words of Borat: “GREAT SUCCESS!” It was a great chance to get in some fine training and have some girl-on-girl time (get your mind out of the gutter). I drove down with Kat on Friday in what seemed like a very quick 2hr45min drive to Prince Edward County. We stayed entertained with our amusing directions to the Isaiah Tubbs Resort, which striked me as something out of a Disney movie: “Follow Highway 33 south for approximately 30 minutes until you arrive at a stop sign. You will now be in the village of Bloomfield.” Could there really be only ONE stop sign in 30km of country road? Would this magical stop sign suddenly catapult us into a small lovely flowery village? Answer: yes. Not only did Bloomfield have one stop sign, but one grocery store, one post office, one church, and of course, one [important] liquor store! Unfortunately we didn’t stop at the one-and-only liquor store, a decision we were soon to regret. Once we arrived at Isaiah Tubbs, however, Nic called those still on their way and told them to pick up “a magnum of vodka” (whatever that means!). Now THAT is an awesome coach!

We had Friday night to chill out and make dinner with those who had arrived before 6PM – AZ, Nic, me, Kat, Cathryn and Jenn. Kat, being the only vegetarian in the house, strangely offered to cook us chicken, while I made the salad and Nic butchered the sweet potatoes. Surprisingly, Kat’s chicken was absolutely delicious, and she made sure we finished every last bite on our plate before amassing and doing the dishes. Thus, her ‘Mama Kat’ nickname was born. The late-comers arrived by about 10PM, which included Val and Jenny, who we suspected had got held up smoking some kind of grass, as they were overcome with giggles and an immense appetite upon their arrival. Soon after we were off to bed in preparation for the true beginning of our training camp.

Saturday began with a 5k hard tempo for the non-triathletes in the group, which included everyone but Jenn and AZ. They opted for a swim in the lake during our tempo-time, before they would jump on their bikes for a 180km ride. We were out the door at 8AM for our 2k jog over to a long, secluded road about 3k long. Nic and Beth’s plan was to go out at 18:30 pace and for me to hang on and go anywhere from 18:30 to 18:50. My legs were not feeling great, even after a day off of running on Friday, so I was weary of how feasible an 18:30 was. We did some drills and strides while Mama K – saving her legs for the big 30k execution run on Sunday - jogged to the 2.5k turnaround to direct us back. We set out and as usual, Nic was out like a bullet at far faster than 18:30 pace – so much for me ‘hanging on’ – I decided not to even go with them. After 1k I settled into a pace that felt hard but not race-hard, and reached the turnaround in 9:12-13. This is where the pain began....Nic, Beth and me were strung out about 100m apart at this point and my legs felt heavy and dead. I tried not to let the gap between Beth and I get any bigger, but as soon as a small incline crept up this strategy quickly crumbled. I struggled big time from 3-4k, but the last 500m downhill gave me a second wind and I was able to push hard to the finish and cross the ‘pole’ in 18:59-19:00. Beth was 18:26 and Coach N was 17:44. Nice! We turned around to see Val and Jenny bustin’ it home in just under 20:30, which are seasonal bests for them, and Cathryn not too far behind. Coach was proud and took some lovely photographs of us afterwards (Cathryn wasn’t quite ready to celebrate ;).

As we jogged back in the morning heat I looked forward to a pool run in the impressive 25 meter “heated outdoor pool” near our lodge. I went straight there and jumped in, only to resurface shrieking in terror and shock, since it was actually frigid (that’s-what-she -said). It must have been about 50 degrees, which perplexed me since it seems they would actually have to purposely cool the pool for it to be that cold. Any sane person at this point would have jumped out onto their towel and never returned to this horrible, frozen and deceitful place – I, however, being the crazy person that I am, decided to continue on with my workout and go as hard as I possibly could so as to prevent my whole body from going numb. After 25 minutes, however, I realized that my efforts were to no avail as I was shivering and –according to Mama K – my face had gone blue. That would be a sign.

When I got back to the room Nic was gone with Val, Cathryn, Jenn and AZ for their 180km bike ride. We ate breakfast then headed down to the beach for some vitamin D. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to execute my number two goal of training camp which was to get rid of my tan lines for my wedding. It was pretty windy down there so I kept my sweatshirt on and worked on my computer. There happened to be a wedding ceremony beginning on the beach to which we had front row seats, so Mama K brought out the party mix and we sat back in our lawn chairs to spectate. Beth retreated to the far end of the beach at this point, embarrassed to be associated with the loud and intrusive wedding gawkers, but we sat happily, criticising the bride’s overly pouffy wedding gown and incompetent guitar player. As we realized 2nd workout time was approaching, we hustled back to the lodge and got into our running gear for either a 5k or 10k run. At about 4:30, Nic, AZ and Jenn returned in a fluster, throwing down their bikes and dashing into their room to rip off their bike shoes and helmets. 30s later Jenn bolted out the front door in a full-out sprint that nearly knocked me over. Holy crap! She is going to rock the transition at Ironman Canada. The seemingly slow and lazy runners finally got their acts together and caught up with the triathletes for their last workout of the day. I helped pace Jenn for the last 5k of her run in 4:35-4:45/km and Beth sat with AZ to the end. We finished the day with a group stretch led by Coach N., which was a great way to wind down. Almost as good, in fact, as breaking open the magnum of vodka and pouring ourselves a drink (or for Coach, perhaps one drink too many ;)!

Once again, dinner was made by Mama K, who today marinated a salmon and baked it to perfection. This was accompanied by rice, salad, corn, broccoli, Suzy G.’s infamous foccacia bread and wine...(or vodka). It was a spectacular meal, so perfectly summed up by Nic’s shriek of “this is better than Thanksgiving!!!” though that may have been the magnum talking. Afterwards we had some chocolate almonds and donuts (Nic was trying hard to hit her target of 5000 calories for the night...but I don’t think she quite made it ;) and then we made a fire in the BBQ pit for smores. People began to fade pretty early and by 11PM everyone was asleep for the big execution that was to go down at 7:30AM the next morning.

Sunday was Mama K’s big 30k execution – and luckily Nic discovered a perfect 15k loop that we could run twice so that everyone could either do 15k or the full distance. Beth and I joined in for the second half where Kat would be doing 6k at marathon pace (4:10) and 2k hard from 20-28k followed by a 2k cooldown. We acted as the support group for the first half, driving to every 4k mark and handing out the group’s Gatorade and gels. They all looked awesome, Kat and Nic clocking consistent sub-4:45 ks and AZ, Jenn, Suzy G., Val, Cathryn and Jenny sitting around 4:50/k. I hoped in at 12k with Nic and Kat and ran in front to shield Mama K from the wind. She looked so strong and in control, and at this point most of our k’s were clocked at sub-4:40, some 4:32. Despite the odd curses to Absolut vodka, Coach N looked pretty comfortable throughout ;). At about 17k we started to wonder where the support vehicle was that was supposed to be picked up by Suzy G. after our first lap. It was pretty humid and Kat missed a gel and water that she definitely needed. Nevertheless, anything can happen in a race so we took it as good prep for the big day. At 20k, still no support car was in view but we began our execution phase of the run regardless. After playing with pacing for a few hundred meters we finally got it right and went through 1k in 4:09. We were pretty much right on for every subsequent k and hit 6k in just under 25:00. I dropped off at this point, unwilling to bust out some sub-4:00 as was the plan, but it turns out Mama K was feelin’ the burn and didn’t drop the pace significantly. She finished strong, however, holding the pace to 28k. Very impressive on such a hot day and going more than 10k without water or fuel. Awesome work!!! Once again we headed to the pool post-workout – this time not to pool run but to soak our legs in the icy coolness to help recovery. Turns out this ‘pool’ made for a fantastic ice bath. We packed up and headed back home, concluding our first training camp, that is sure to be followed by many more!

Afterwards my legs were completely toast. I could hardly make it back the 3k easy to the lodge and practically fell asleep standing up before we left (this could have been attributed to the lack of my blessed Starbucks coffee, however ;). Looking back on my last 8-9 days of training, I am not surprised why. I raced Nationals 5000m on Friday, followed by a 3000m on the track on Tuesday night, a very tough track workout on Thursday night and two back-to-back workouts (including a double run) on Saturday and Sunday. I decided on Saturday to call it quits on my track season, so luckily I have a week of easy running ahead of me, which I’m sure my body will appreciate. I am really looking forward to building up the long runs again and increasing my mileage – I am not the low-mileage type and although it was fun for the summer, I am excited to get back to my meat and potatoes.

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