Friday, March 15, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 6: All good things...

Today was the last day of the LPC Triathlon Camp in Kissimee Florida.

Wow. It has been one heck of a week. And today was pretty much a capstone of it all in terms of what I did. It was the longest training day I've ever had, both in terms of miles and in terms of duration.

And yet, the miles didn't feel hard. In fact, they felt a little triumphant...because I knew I made it through the entire week. I finished every single workout. I went as far as I could possibly go. Really, I am leaving with not a single regret but the fact it was so short. Although going home and making money so I can come back next year would be a good plan. I now know why there are so many returning campers - it really is an incredible time filled with great learning opportunities.

So, on to the day's festivities.

We all woke up well before sunrise so we could head to the Orange Grove Trail. I have no idea if that is the real name for the place, or if it's just called that because there are orange trees. But it was beautiful...a dirt road through the country, complete with mist, cows, and orange trees.

Picture 1: The Orange Grove Trail

The loop was 10 miles. We were pretty much given free reign to run as much or as little of it as we wanted, so I of course decided to do it all (I needed a long run this week after all). I knew we were going for a pretty long bike ride in the afternoon, so I held my pace to as slow as I could go. It wasn't a bad plan either since there were a few rolling hills there that made the later half of the trail a bit challenging.
But overall, it was really nice. I loved how the mist just rose from the grass...although the fact there was frost on the ground was annoying. This is Florida!
When I was about a half a mile from the end of the trail, I noticed a group of folks coming toward me...turned out the handful of guys (and Flora who can kick all their butts I think) who made it in well before me decided to do a bit of an extra run. So they came out to meet me and we all finished (Them for the second time) together. I loved that. It was fun!
I actually finished pretty quickly, so spent the rest of the time cheering people in as they finished. We all did. It was quite motivating. I couldn't believe how many people did it - and all in great time! Kudos to everyone for a fantastic run.
Here is everyone in my House of Secrets group - at the end of 10 miles...Janice, Coach Nissim, me, Paula, Kelly and Ian. What a great and supportive group!
Picture 2: Team House of Secrets
After running 10 miles, we hit the pool at the Lazy River...or in reality, we hit the hot tub. :) A 30 minute leisurely swim means hot tub to you too, doesn't it? We all thought so. The hot water felt wonderful.
My fellow housemates and I returned home for a quick lunch and a bit of recovery time before we all met up for the bike ride in the early afternoon.
Now what I hadn't really paid attention to was the length of today's ride. Apparently it was set as an easy "40 miles"....if you recall I did just a touch more than that yesterday. So the thought of doing 40 miles on top of a 10 mile run was somewhat daunting. Fortunately, I didn't really think about it until it was too late to change my mind. Not that I would've of course. :)
The ride was amazing. The weather was spectacular, which meant I could ride in short sleeves. I also was able to stay with the group pretty well and even had a short stint in the lead of our small group (Which I found terrifying because the road was quite busy at that time).
We stopped at the 20 mile marker at an ice cream store called Allen's. Now, there is apparently an LPC camp tradition to have some of the guys try the Allen's Challenge...which is to eat 11 scoops of ice cream with all the fixings in 15 minutes. Today, four of the young guys faced off in pairs....3 of them actually did it. I will admit, it was definitely something to watch. Although I think I'd have been sick as anything if I'd tried to eat that much. I stuck to two scoops - toasted coconut and chocolate peanut butter.
The ride home was a lot faster, apparently because on the way out we had a headwind (that I apparently didn't notice). Although when I reached the house, I was pretty tired. Up until today, yesterday had been my biggest mileage day yet - with the 40 miles including some good rollers. Well, today blew that out of the water by adding a 10 mile run ahead of the bike.
Much to my great surprise and thrill, I didn't have any aches and pains, just general tiredness at the end of the training. I also managed for the third day in a row not to have any incidents on the bike...I think that's enough to call it a trend, don't you?
Back home, we dropped our bikes off for transport back to Canada (Thank goodness I didn't need to manage that part!) and got ready for dinner - which was a lot of fun. It was great to celebrate a great week at camp with everyone - or almost everyone since a few folks had to leave early.
Some more ice cream (yes, I had a lot of ice cream today) with my housemates ended the day - along with general discussions as to what to do with all the extra food. Note for next year...don't buy nearly as much.
Although our house did go through a ton of bananas...I'd say at least 30....which is kind of impressive for 6 people in 6 days!
Tomorrow, it is back home - or at least to my parents', and then back to Toronto on Sunday.
It's so hard to believe it's all over - when a few days ago, time was just flying. But all I need to do is look at what I've accomplished over the past six days to know that it was worth it to come here. I think going to triathlon camp - and the LPC triathlon camp in particular - has been priceless. Truly, truly priceless.
 Thanks to Coaches James Loaring, Mark Linsman, Jeff Cowan and Nissim Abergel for an incredible week.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

LPC Triathlon Training Camp - Day 5: A bike milestone!

Another day without blood!

Yes - I managed to stay upright, which was a wonderful testament to my growing bike skills. Okay, truth be told I had a couple of very close calls, including a bit of a stumble into some grass - but no actual falls.

Today was another great day at camp. Although I am starting to get a bit tired, so I am afraid these blogs are becoming more of a laundry list of what I did, without enough fun commentary. If so, I am sorry in advance.

I promise I'll do a retrospective next week sometime looking overall at what I learned and what I got out of this week.

But seriously, today we went to the Lazy River at Orange Lake Resort again - which I loved on Sunday and loved even more today. I graduated (not literally) to the slightly more advanced group (i.e., I was doing the longer swimming distances - 1 loop intervals instead of half loop ones, etc.). It felt nice to be good at something!

After some triathlon specific exercises (the main one I want to remember since I already knew the rest of the exercises, involves a band that you pull sideways - similar to something Trainer Chris has had me do a few times).

Once we finished the exercises, we did a two loop warm-up of the 350 meter lazy river. I admit, it was nice getting in the pool since the air temperature was quite chilly.

The main workout involved three descending interval loops, where each loop was faster than the one before. I think I actually managed to do them properly, which was kind of amazing. Once we finished the intervals, we swam against the current for a loop, which was odd, but fun. I quite liked this swim because I was feeling more comfortable and confident and got to keep practicing the sighting drills Coach Jeff taught us a few days ago. We did another half-a-loop as a cool down.

After the swim (and a good soak in the Jacuzzi), I had to head home to take an important work phone call. While doing so, I tried to mow down some food to prep for the long bike ride. I ate a bizarre mix of Cliff Blocks, a Honey Stinger Waffle, a banana, and a granola bar. It did the trick, even if it wasn't really a meal per se.

The bike was something else. I started off at a pretty even pace. We got to ride some nice bike paths for much of the way, which was wonderful -- although the stop signs were not. I did get a lot of practice clipping in and clipping out though. I had some good conversations with a few of the other girls for at least the first hour. About that point, our group (the shorter distance group) stopped to divide. A few turned around and went back to the Irish Pub where we started from (a great two-hour ride) while the rest agreed to carry on to Sugarloaf.

Here's the thing. I thought seriously about turning back - not facing the big climb or doing the three or more hour ride and doing the two instead. It would have been easy and I am sure no one would have thought badly of me for choosing to go the shorter route. I'm still a newbie biker after all.

But the truth is, there was no way I was actually going to do that unless it was "highly recommended" by the coaches... and since it wasn't - I decided to forge ahead with the folks wanting to ride the full distance...which meant going ahead with the infamous Sugarloaf climb. After all, I need all the practice I can get - and camp is the best place to get it.

It's a good thing I had no idea how many hills would be coming before Sugarloaf when I made the decision to forge ahead. But, such is my lot - when I decide to do something, I go for it. Was I fast? Not at all. Did I keep up -- actually not too badly. I was behind, but this was more of an endurance ride, so I found I often had one or two others for company. Not always - but a fair bit. And Coach Nissim was almost always there keeping the mood cheerful and giving me practical lessons (like telling me to clip in and out 10 times with each leg while moving).

The hills were something else. I've never done hills on a ride before (outside of spin class fake hills), but I just geared down (yes, I've learned how to shift gears while moving!) and ploughed my way up. We went up a bunch of hills and down a bunch of hills, which was kind of fun actually. I loved going downhill...even if I had to brake a fair bit because I was nervous going too fast. If my watch is right, I hit 55k at one point on a downhill.

And then I got to the top of this seemingly long hill....only to find out I'd made it to the top of Sugarloaf: the hill I'd been hearing about all week as the "crazy hill in the middle of the long bike ride." ... I was like, "That was it? Oh, Okay."

It was hard, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Which was great.

At the top of the climb, there is a house that leaves out a jug of water for anyone to enjoy (for a donation to the Wounded Warrior's project). Apparently they've been doing this for 20 years or more. I can tell you - water never tasted so good! After some great pictures (see below), we headed back a different (and much less hilly)  way.

Picture 1: Me at the Top of Sugarloaf

Picture 2: Our Bike Group at the Top of Sugarloaf

We stopped at a convenience store on the way back where I downed a Coke (which tasted great) and another pack of Cliff Blocks. We then headed back to the Irish Pub where we'd started from (and where the earlier group waited for us - and we then waited for the 100k group.

The final tally was approximately 66-70 kilometers (the longest distance I've ever biked) about 3 hours and 20 minutes of riding time. Too bad I kept forgetting to start my watch or I'd know for sure.

All in all, I was thrilled with this ride. I managed the distance really well I think, especially given the hills (another first!). My bike handling has also gotten a bit better - which gives me a lot of hope since it has only been five days.

Really, I only have positive things to say about today. Sure, it was challenging -- but it felt great to know that I could do it.

After the ride, we went to the Irish Pub where we'd left from and I had a very well deserved beer and some French fries. They were delicious.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 4: An Awesome Training Day

Today was the most awesome day of training yet at the LPC triathlon camp...and not just because I managed not to fall over on my bike!

We went to Lake Louisa State Park - which is apparently a triathlon training paradise (I think Coach James actually says that on the camp website...he is absolutely right).

The roads were well paved, wide and curvy with some nicely rolling hills. Best of all, there were not very many cars, which meant I got to go fast (for me, that is). I even had enough calm to try my aerobars a few times over the straight parts.

After a warm-up  (one loop of the park, followed by a 1k run), we did some transition practice. There were a few demonstrations (one for the juniors going into draft-legal events and one for the rest of us), and then had us practice switching from swim (sans wetsuit) to bike, and then bike to run. I found that really helpful.

After that we did a couple of higher tempo intervals - consisting of one bike loop of the park and a 1 mile run.

I loved it. I enjoyed flying (well, flying for wasn't fast by any stretch of my imagination) down the open road on my bike. Well, not so much flying up the hills, but certainly sailing down the easy sloping downhills.

I had lots of room to practice changing my gears, and like I said above, on the third loop I actually managed to ride in the aero position for a couple of good, mostly straight stretches.

Switching to the run felt pretty good overall. I kind of felt slow, but my Garmin showed me going at a pretty decent rate (8:05) for the mile. Considering my thigh is still really painful, I was thrilled with that.

After the intervals, we got set for an open water swim practice. I'd been looking forward to this all week because I got to use my wetsuit for the first time (besides trying it on). 

The water was oddly red due to mineral deposits in the water. It was also quite choppy - but it wasn't very deep, so no one had to worry about not being able to touch the bottom. It was a great place to practice. Many of the campers thought it was cold, but since I'd tried swimming in open water last summer in Lake Ontario (which is freezing), I thought the temperature was really nice.

The coaches set up some buoys and we practiced a swim start, and then swam back and forth between the buoys a bunch of times. I found the sighting lesson and practice we had on Sunday was priceless here. I think I managed to do a really good job of keeping on course using the tips I'd be shown.

And Coach Mark actually complimented me on my stroke. He said I had a really good stroke for open water. One of the campers said he even told her to look at me when he was telling her how to adjust her form. I felt great after hearing that. Not that I don't have a ton to learn and plenty of ways to improve.

After the swim, the campers in our house went out for breakfast at IHOP. We really do get along quite well and had a good time relaxing. I am sure we did a good job impressing the waitress with how much we ate and how fast we ate it!

Tonight, we watched the swim analysis video that was taped at the National Training Centre back on Monday. I found this session fascinating. I enjoyed seeing Coach Jeff point out a lot of typical problems - and then discuss some individual analysis.

In terms of my video, the big thing was that I have a ridiculously fast kick that I need to work on slowing down - and that I kick a lot from the knee, instead of the hip. Interestingly, he said that a wetsuit actually corrects that (the knee bend) because it forces you to have good form.

There was also some discussion about stroke count (I have quite a high one - 70-75 according to Coach Mark), but at the same time I have quite a long reach, which is apparently good for pool swimming. So if I tighten up my reach a little (I really have no idea if that is the right terminology), I will be in good shape.

Overall, it was neat to see the video of my swimming, because it makes the issues blatantly obvious. A  fantastic and very informative evening - and it leaves me with some good stuff to work on.

So, that was my day. I had a fantastic experience on the bike for the first time. It was ridiculously fun and exciting (as opposed to un-nerving and awkward like some of the rides this week). I also had some good run intervals, a great open water swim, and then a positive and helpful swim analysis.

Couldn't ask for a better training day!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 3: It's Raining, It's Pouring

Rain, rain go away - no need to come back another day.

It was raining this morning. Not just the light sprinkle or 15 minute storm that seems more common for Florida. No, it poured for the entire morning.

But, that didn't stop us. Nope - we jumped into the planned workout despite the rain.

The day started with a bike. Originally, the bike was going to be around 65k (more for the advanced folks). Our ride was cut short, mostly due to bad weather and a bit of concern for safety, I think.

Riding in the rain was another first for me at camp. Might as well get them all over with at once, don't you think?

I’ve never biked in the rain before. The roads are slick and when the water is flying up in your face from the rider in front of you, not to mention coming down in sheets, your glasses get covered and it makes it really difficult to see. Seriously, I was squinting through raindrops. I wish I had windshield wipers for my glasses ::laugh:: …and yet the glasses were critical for letting me see at all since they blocked my eyes from other crud.

This was a very challenging ride for me. I thought I did pretty well given the circumstances for the first half of the ride, until I took a U-turn like turn (going very slow) and slid out (similar to my 0mph falls, but more angled than straight down).  I wasn’t hurt, but I did take a good blow to my upper thigh. I am going to have a very nasty bruise in a few days – but hey, there was no blood! I think that is progress.  

After that, riding was a bit harder. I think I slowed down a fair bit. Coach Nissim stuck with me through it all (have I said he’s a saint yet?). We pushed on – and I kept my spirits up. At one point he said something along the lines of “You’re always smiling, you know that?”

My answer was “Well, sure I am. Truth is, I know I chose to be here. Sure it’s raining. Sure I think I am utterly dreadful and I feel bad that you’re having to spend so much time helping me out…but the truth is, a year ago, I’d never have imagined being here – and, yet here I am. I wouldn’t change this for the world."

Because what is rain and a few falls while being out there trying to do something awesome – compared to where I was before I decided to see what I was capable of?

A friend of mine gave me a ring for Christmas with the words that got me through my first (and second) half marathon engraved on it. The words said:

Be Awesome Today

I looked at that ring several times during the challenging ride…and every time I smiled and got more energy. Whatever else I was doing, I was doing my best to be awesome today. I might have been slow, unsteady, and sopping wet…but I was still awesome.

As Coach Nissim and I headed back toward the starting point, we (finally!) got onto a low traffic road. I admit, that was the best part of the ride. He had me practicing taking my hands off the brakes – and gave me a bunch of good tips on how to take that to the next level when I was ready. This is all valuable stuff I can continue to practice once I am home.

Once we got back to the camp house (about 40k later), we quickly changed into our running shoes, picked up one of the juniors (I am not really sure where he came from…I think he was in the lead of one of the other faster bike groups that went farther than I did – so he finished around the same time). The three of us did a run loop of Emerald Island Resort (still utterly sopping wet from the bike ride).

Other people say running off the bike is awful, challenging and painful…me, I finally had a chance to relax! I loved it. Despite the rain, we kept up an easy clip the entire way. Coach Nissim even complimented me on my run efficiency/economy (which I think means I am not wasting any movements).

It is so nice to be good at something!

Truth be told, I am very thankful both my running and swimming are pretty decent (lots I can do to improve, but generally better than average). I hope this means I am not monopolizing too much coaching time (i.e., hopefully the people more challenged in the swim or run are getting more coaching help there, similar to my experience on the bike).

The rest of the day was free – so I needed something to do to fill my time. Luckily, it turned out a guy I went to high school with was actually in Orlando – and asked if I wanted to get together. So I gave him a shout and we arranged to get together in the afternoon.

We started with an early dinner at iHop, and then headed back to the resort. By this point, the weather was amazing. The sun was out and the temperature was nice. He really wanted to go for a bike ride…and my answer was “Well, I feel like I got my biking in for the day…but I didn’t get my sun in – so let’s go.”

I also figured since my thigh hurt like dickens, an easy ride would actually do it good – keep it from knotting up too much.

So, after all the riding that morning, I went out for another 50 minute easy ride (Crazy, I know). We just went very easy around the resort (I warned him I was in for a big workout tomorrow – so needed to keep it to a recovery ride). He’s actually an experienced triathlete – so totally understood.

It was a wonderful ride. Perfect weather, no traffic, and no need for speed. Quite relaxing after the somewhat stressful morning. And because we were riding very slow in a non-traffic area, I got to practice some of the drills Coach Nissim and Coach James taught me some more – lifting my hands and turning and so forth. It was a great way to start to ingrain some of the stuff I’ve been taught over the last few days.

Best of all? It was the first ride where I managed to stay upright! Wooohoo! Progress!

Came home and had a second dinner with my housemates, including two helpings of dessert (we all had two helpings - unanimously agreeing we’d worked them off). Ice cream, topped with berries and banana. It was delicious.

And that was the end of Day 3. There was rain, there was sun…there were a few bike rides and a run (and it felt like we were swimming in the rain some of the time). All in all, another great day – with great people. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Monday, March 11, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 2: Lots of skills and drills

Wow, has it only been two days? I feel like I've done more in 48 hours than I'd normally do in a week!

I am quite tired tonight. I'm writing this a bit later than normal because we had a great house dinner with lots of talking afterwards. Just now settling in for bed and blogging.

This morning was a big skills and drills day across the board (yep, you guessed it...running, swimming and biking!).

We started the day at the National Training Centre - a lovely facility that was awesome to train at (How Coach James found all of these awesome places is kind of amazing...each one has been terrific).

We went for an easy warm up run along a cross country trail. Other than Spartan Race, I've never really done any trail running - so this was fun. It's so different than running on a road. We followed that up with some ABC drills, which I hadn't thought I knew - but in reality, it turned out that Trainer Chris had taught me the basics under different names.
  • A: Basically a drill with your knees up like a soldier (I think of this as high knees).
  • B: The same thing as the A drill, but you are extending your leg a bit. This was tricky since you need rhythm, which I don't really have.
  • C: Basically butt kickers or fast feet - where you are going fast, but not very far.
After getting the hang of those, we did some track intervals - basically running for part of the way, then going slow, and repeating that a bunch of times. I enjoyed it because I got to go fast. That is always fun. And it was kind of neat running on a track.

We then went outside of the track to do a bit of a hill workout. Basically running up the hill (which wasn't a HILL, more like a slight incline, thank goodness), and then jogging back. We did three sets of three, with each one in a set getting progressively faster. It was a fun workout for sure!

And then we got to go jump in the pool. It was kind of awesome. It was outdoors with a lot of individual lanes. We had plenty of space with 5 people to a lane. We spent a good portion of the time doing drills:
  1.  Shark - Swimming while holding a flutter board between your legs (like a shark).
  2. Rotisserie - Swimming while holding a flutter board between your legs lengthwise, like a chicken on a stick.
  3. Kicking with no arms - one arm out.
  4. One arm drills with the other back and breathing to the opposite side.
We also had a chance to do a lot more drafting practice. First on feet and then by the hip. This was great fun. Two of us generally switched off leading the group each time, which gave us both a good chance to practice drafting off of each other (I have to admit it was nice being good at something...even if it was just compared to a few people in my lane).

We also got video recorded much as I feel like I am a decent swimmer, I am sure I will find out on Wednesday all the things I am doing wrong. That's quite okay - I want to know what I can work on to get better and faster! Although I wish the filming had been first thing - not during the second of back to back workouts! ::laugh::

We ended the morning with lunch (and a bit of shopping at the tri store at the NTC), followed by a session led by Coach Mark on nutrition and endurance - focusing a lot on race prep. I've read a bunch of books on the topic, most of which were really scientific and made little sense. Coach Mark put it all very easily...and more important, put it in terms that made sense at camp (like looking at what kinds of carbs, fats, protein and sodium were in the different bars, gels and powders provided by the sponsors (and on that note...I quite like Cliff Blocks...kind of like eating jube jubes).

Home for a bit of quiet time in the afternoon, mostly sipping tea and chatting next to our pool (which is too cold to swim in...not that I need more exercise this week).

In the late afternoon, we gathered for another bike session - this time focusing on skills and drills. We did a number of loops of a roundabout like structure in the neighbourhood (sans traffic!). I feel like I picked up the basic turning skills pretty well, and by the end was fairly comfortable riding fairly close to the person in front of me. I managed to take my hands off the handlebars a few times, but there was no hope at all that I was going to be able to change gears that quickly, or drink from a water bottle. I think I'll need to invest in one of those profile drinking systems that sits right between your aerobars...drinking without effort...I can't tell you how nice that would be right now!

Funniest thing was having to do the roundabouts going in the opposite direction. Funny how you get used to doing things one changing it up is harder. What a great idea to practice from both directions.

Finished the bike with about a 30 minute ride outside of the resort. I managed a bit better this time (that's a relative term, of course). I actually shifted gears a few times - which really can make a big difference in how fast you are going. Still very tense and iffy in traffic (I desperately need to learn to move my hands better), but Coach Nissim kept me out of trouble the whole time.  Eventually I'll get there, but I have a long way to go. But hey, I was better today than yesterday - and I am hopeful I will be better tomorrow than today.

This evening, we had a wonderful dinner as a house. I made an omelet since everyone else was having salmon, but it was the camaraderie that was great. We're lucky to have a good bunch in our house. We all get a long, despite being different ages and from different places. I've learned a lot from each one of them (Paula, Janice, Ian and Kelly - plus Nissim). I think three of us are going to end up doing the Toronto Triathlon - which would be kind of cool. It'd be nice to see them they are whizzing by me on the bike course. Although who knows, maybe I'll be better by then! ::grin::

Now, it is off for a hopefully wonderful night sleep. Hope you are enjoying my adventures as much as I am.

Oh, and I only had two 0 mph falls today (no new injuries thank goodness)...although I think I may have figured out why - so we'll see how I do tomorrow!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - Day 1: I rode with bike shoes!

Coming to camp was the best idea ever. I've probably learned more today than I'd learn in an entire year on my own. And it's only the first day.

Today's activities involved a run, a swim and a bike. Funny how that happens at a triathlon camp, right?

Training this morning centred around Orange Lake Resort. It's a large resort with a 350 meter lazy river that's between 3 and 4.5 feet deep. It's also very curvy, making it great for triathlon swim training. You could just swim around and around and around.

Not that we did. Or at least not right when we got there. Our first activity was actually a short run. Nothing too crazy, just an easy run to get the legs going. I think we went about 2 miles. This was by far the easiest part of the day. Have I said how much I love running? Well, running in Florida is even better - since it is warm! (Well, it was actually a bit on the brisk side...but brisk summer weather...not winter! I was in shorts and a sleeveless top).

Next up, we did a short swim-specific warm-up with Coach Jeff, and then hopped in the water. After a lap and a half warm up, we did a bunch of great triathlon drills. We started with sighting, moved on to dolphin dives, did some drafting and then finished with some group starts.

Sighting was great. The key there seems to be to bring your head up just a bit (goggles above the water to see), then turn right to the side for a breath. I think I caught on to this decently well...probably all the breathing drills I've been doing the past couple of weeks.

Dolphin dives are a bit different from the dolphin kicks I vaguely remember from back when I learned butterfly way, way back when. Not that I ever did butterfly well, but I loved it. The different with triathlon is that you dive, touch the bottom with your feet and then dive again. Apparently it's easier to do in shallow water...and I apparently need to tuck my chin down more. Practice makes perfect.

I really enjoyed getting a chance to practice drafting on the swim. I really didn't know how that worked, so the coaches (Jeff and Nissim I believe at this point)  were great showing it and then having us practice. I did find myself bumping into the person in front of me quite often, so no doubt I need a lot of work there. But I get the general idea. I think we get to do more on Wednesday or Thursday.

The mass start practice was actually a lot of fun. So different than anything I've ever done before. It was good getting a sense of what it feels like to have people swimming around you. It was noticeable, but not nearly as bad as I expected. Probably because everyone was trying to wasn't really a race.

After breakfast, we headed to Hoolihan's for brunch...and Coach Nissim took our car on a great scenic tour of Kissimee first. By accident, but if you are ever down here - you will understand. The roads turn into highways without any turnarounds. Once you're takes you miles to try and maneuver back. But we made it - and the food was quite good, as promised. Especially the fresh pineapple. Yum, pineapple!

Got back to the house and went over to get my bike from the LPC camp house. I thought a few runs up and down the street might be in order before I went out on my first group bike ride and my first ride on real roads...riding the bike I've only been on outside 3 times (although I've put 450 miles on my trainer), while using clipless pedals for the first time.

Why yes, there were a whole lot of firsts in my bike day today. Kind of crazy when you think about I try not to.

Managed to make it up and down the street a few times without crashing, practicing clipping in and out. Thank goodness for the hours and hours on the trainer and in spin class...I think it did help a lot.

Met up with everyone a short time later at the LPC camp house.

The ride was awesome, with a whole lot of anxiety tossed in for good measure.

First, the anxiety. It didn't occur to me that we'd be riding on roads...with cars. Yes, I probably should have guessed this, but it didn't occur to me since I generally avoid anything remotely motorized when on my bike. But, I think I did pretty well around the cars, and the various coaches were doing a remarkable job keeping any eye out for traffic. One of my biggest issues I need to fix is my ability to let go off my brake handles and actually signal properly. Right now, I can't get my fingers off the handles more than an inch or two without veering.

I am by far the most inexperienced rider at camp (a fact I was pretty confident about), but there did seem to be a few other folks there who were still in the "newer" category, or who haven't put in a lot of base miles yet. One girl who has been sick recently bonked a bit about 2/3 of the way through. Good lesson for remembering to eat/hydrate properly.

Not that I did a good job on hydration myself. I had to stop every time I wanted a sip of water (I think I drank half a bottle of the two I brought total) there is another skill I need to figure out!

Coach James was an ace the entire time I was riding with his group - encouraging me onward the entire time and really being supportive (and patient). Toward the end, one of the speedier groups came up on us...and one of the campers, Kelly, in my house made a point of sticking with me and also continually encouraging me along. Coach Nissim got in the game as well while Coach James was managing traffic. By the end, I actually was managing to ride fairly close to Nissim and Kelly without feeling too out of sorts!

The total ride was 22 and a bit miles (Just under 40k I think). Which is the longest ride I've done outside, ever - although I've managed 30 on my trainer.

Personal learnings from the bike:
  • The actual physical riding felt easier on a real bike than it was on my trainer (the pedaling, etc.).
  • My slowness seemed to be more about nerves/tension/awkward bike handling, and of course almost never changing my gears (because of not wanting to change gears in traffic) ...not exhaustion. Here is hoping all the biking (and the skills work) this week will move me forward in terms of bike handling. I plan to learn everything I can and then take it home and practice, practice, practice.
  • I felt good at the end of the ride, which means I've done something right over the winter. If I hadn't built a base, I'd be dead. I couldn't imagine being both a newbie biker and out of shape.
And now, the battle scars.

First ride. First time with clipless pedals. I wouldn't be a klutz without something happening, right?

Specifically, I fell over trying to stop...going 0 miles an hour. The nice thing is, apparently this is a bit of a right of passage. After the ride, I heard a few good stories (including one from Coach Mark) about when/how this has happened to them in far more embarrassing and awkward settings.

The result...a slightly bruised hand and a scraped knee. My housemate Paula was very kind to take a couple of pictures.

Picture 1: Me, somewhat embarrassed by my 0 mph fall.

Picture 2: A close-up - because you need one, right?

The incident happened about half-way through the ride. I finished with no trouble at all, which proves it was really just a small surface scratch. Seriously, if this is the worst incident I have this week, I will be thanking my lucky stars.

After arriving safely home, everyone at camp got together for a big potluck dinner. Lots of fabulous food and lots of fascinating people. Just the introductions gave a small sense of how different everyone is - where they've come from, where they are at, and the races they are aspiring to undertake and race.

I think the campers and coaches are the best part of this camp - everyone is so inspiring - and encouraging to everyone else. I have to say, it has meant the world to me here on Day 1.

So, at the close of Day 1...I leave you with this link to  Coach Jeff's Day 1 Recap Video!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

LPC Triathlon Camp - I made it!

I made it.

I am currently sitting on my bed in my room at the Secrets House (Every house has a name...which is kind of cool), typing this because despite knowing how early I need to get up tomorrow, I am too wired to sleep. I am not nearly as nervous as I was - but I am definitely still anxious. No longer worried about the people...just being able to keep up or not be too embarrassed! I expect by end of day tomorrow that will be gone though. Once I'd done a full cycle of swim/bike/run activities.

Arrival today was entertaining. My Dad and I left for the airport with a few hours to spare...but after 90 minutes waiting in line at the Ambassador Bridge, the time for my flight was getting very under an hour close.

Our extra detour (the highway ramp was under construction) included driving through some really sketchy areas of Detroit...with burnt out buildings, abandoned buildings and some policemen on what looked like a bust.

But, we made it to the airport...and thanks to flying Southwest, it was one of the smaller terminals. I had no challenges checking my bag or getting through security. Phew! Ended up with enough time to grab lunch and call my mother to say I'd made it.

The flight was easy and smooth. The plane was filled with a lot of excited kids headed to Disney World...I think the airplane could've run on them to be honest. I am sure next Saturday the plane will be filled with very exhausted kids. Funny how that works!

Coach Jeff picked me up at the airport (funny refering to him as such since we went to high school together...but it'll help you keep people sorted), and then we detoured to the grocery store. I stocked up for the week. Thank goodness the "Super Target" (as opposed to the new Targets we have in Canada now), had Greek yogurt. I bought a tub and a small container of peanut butter. Do you want to bet they are both gone by the end of the week?

Coach Jeff dropped me off at my house next....Wow! It's awesome. It's huge to start (it has a pool - in case we don't get enough swimming in sessions), a big kitchen, sitting room, garage and more. Seriously - very impressed. It's called Emerald Island Resort. Very grand. Apparently the camp has 4 houses, all pretty close to each other. I've only seen mine and the camp house so far though. I imagine tomorrow I'll see the others.

Most of my housemates were already there when I arrived. I believe we also have Coach Nissim (I am not sure I am spelling his name correctly) staying here - but he's not set to arrive until late tonight.  All of the other campers seem like very nice folks.

I arrived just in time to have dinner with them and to learn their stories. Three of them have done triathlons before - and one has even been to the camp before - so together they make great people to ask questions of. ::grin:: And I am sure I'll have a lot. One of the other folks is new to the sport I really won't be the only newbie, although he did say his strength is his bike.

And we do all seem to have different skills. One is a good swimmer. Another thinks swimming is the part you suffer through to get to the bike. They all seem like decent I made them promise not to laugh too hard at my biking. They were all very encouraging - and one made a point to tell me about their penchant early on to fall going zero miles an hour. It helped, believe it or not.

Another person said that they would be listening in on the advice being given to me on my tri-bike since they didn't bring their bike because they haven't really gotten comfortable with it yet. I mentioned that was one benefit to starting from scratch...I can learn right from the get go and not have to try and get used to it later. See, there are some bonuses to being a newbie!

Anyways - that's it for now. I've unpacked. I've written my first blog. Now it's time to get to sleep before my first big day tomorrow!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Almost start packing!

So, with four  one day until I leave for the LPC triathlon training camp, mentally my brain is turned to “What do I need to bring?”

Okay, technically I leave for camp on Saturday, but I am headed to Windsor after work tomorrow since I am flying out of Detroit. Wish I could've left earlier, but with a few projects underway, it wasn't in the cards.

No comment on the fact work decided to go crazy this week...which was good because it meant I had less time to worry, but was bad because I am now afraid I’ll forget something.

My friends laugh and say, "It's not like you need to bring much. Aren't you just exercising for a week?"
Well, technically yes. Although training and exercise are different in my mind (some might say that's semantics). A post for another day, perhaps.
But, since I am worried about it, I decided to post on what I actually am planning to bring for 7 days in Florida filled with training for swimming, biking and running. Exciting stuff, right?

The biggest thing of course is my bike (hard to ride without it). Fortunately, I sent that to Guelph last weekend for shipping down to camp with the Coaches. Heard yesterday that the van (and the bikes) arrived safe and sound. That means everything I sent with my bike also arrived safely…including my bike helmet (never ride without one!), wetsuit (which I bought in the fall and haven’t tried out yet – except to make sure it still fits), and a handful of CO2 cartridges to change tubes if/when needed  (Haven’t ever used one, but my brother recommended not trying until I get there in case I do something and screw it up).

So, the big things are gone. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot I could forget. So, here’s my current packing list in case you’re wondering:

·         Bike shoes – I’ve been using them inside on my bike trainer all winter, and used them at spin class this week. I am extraordinarily anxious about trying them outside…but it’ll be an adventure. And if I don’t practice now – when would I start?

·         Running shoes – I won’t be packing these until after my last run…probably tonight or tomorrow.

·         Bathing cap/goggles – My swim cap broke the other day, which is good timing since it gave me time to buy a new one. Also have my normal clear goggles and a new pair of tinted ones. 

·         Swimsuits – I was happily surprised to find a suit I’ve had for a long time but had never worn (it was always too small) now fits me! So it’ll be coming along with a second suit (just in case).

·       Bike clothes – have a couple of pairs of bike shorts and a pair of tri shorts (happily purchased at the bike show for $20!). Also have exactly two bike shirts (also purchased at the bike show), but figure I can also just wear any of my run shirts while biking, and may well do so. We'll see.

·         Run clothes – I’ll pretty much be bringing everything I own that isn’t winter-related.

·         Other clothes – can’t forget a few things that aren’t specific to swim/bike/run.  Like slightly warmer clothes in case it gets cool or windy.

·         Other shoes – flip flops and sandals are both coming along in addition to my regular shoes.

·        Socks – yes, they get their own spot on my list because  I don’t actually have that many pairs of running/biking socks. I need to find them all since I expect to be changing them frequently.

·        Sunglasses – yikes. Almost forgot these. I have two pairs I’ll be bringing, in case one pair breaks or gets lost.

·        Fuel belt – no idea if I’ll actually use it while I am there, but I did buy one (it came on the recommended list and I figure since I was going to buy one for marathon training anyways, I might as well buy it early).

·        Food – I really don’t know how much I might need for this kind of training schedule. Bringing the stuff I know (meaning some Chocolate and Peanut Butter Gu, and my staple Kashi 7 grain granola bars). I’ll have a few protein bars as well, but I generally prefer real food. I expect my first purchase when I arrive will be Greek yogurt and peanut butter… powerhouse of protein and darned tasty. I was also debating bringing my cereal (Wheetabix), but looks like there will be a lot of brunch opportunities after morning sessions – and I do love brunch, so the cereal is staying behind.

·        Various watches/plugs/computer stuff – Yes, the Garmin, Garmin Swim, my iPad and my laptop are all coming with me, in addition to all of their cords, plug-ins and accessories. I have to record what I do after all, and I’ll need the computer for updating you on all the fun adventures I am having.

Wow, that seems like a lot of stuff…and I am sure I’ll forget something. I just hope it isn’t anything important – or I that I can buy it in Florida (which I will do with sunscreen since I prefer the spray on variety).

Here’s hoping it all fits in my bag! Thank goodness exercise clothes are generally light.