Missed Part 1 of my Ironman training camp experience? Here it is!
Saturday – recovery run, long swim, ride “the wall”
On Saturday we got together for a 30 – 40 min optional recovery run. We were told to keep the pace super easy on the run and it was amazing how much better my body and mind felt afterwards. I was now a little bit more ready to tackle the long swim at camp! Time to shimmy in to my wetsuit.
At first the water felt cool but in a minute or two I didn’t notice the temperature anymore. I took my time on the swim and overall it went pretty well. I’ve noticed that I feel a lot more comfortable swimming and in the water in general in my new Huub suit. I don’t feel restricted in the neck or shoulders and it has really improved how I feel about open water swimming these days! I also tested out a pair of Vorgee goggles for the first time and really loved them. No issues with fogging or leaking and they were really comfortable to wear!
We had just enough time to grab a quick breakfast after the swim, then it was time to get ready for our next workout. It was a recovery bike ride on a route that Coach Angie fondly likes to call “the wall.” This was the one activity at camp I was most worried about.
Four years ago at camp at rode to the first hair pin turn and called it a day. I remember it being really hot that day and being okay with putting my bike in the back of the truck and calling it a day. Two years ago at camp I really wanted to make it up the wall. It took many stops and starts going up that darn hill and there were a lot of tears. I did make it to the top and I was really proud of my effort. I still remember all of those emotional break downs on the way up though!
This year I was so worried about the climb. I had expectations since I knew I had made the climb before. Angie knew how nervous I was about it and she sent me off ahead of the rest of the group with a couple of other cyclists and a couple of strong climbers who could be there to provide encouragement or give us a push on our bikes if need be.
On the wall you gain 150 m in less than 2 km (500 feet in ~1 mile). You go around sharp hairpin turns. On a regular day the wall may not be so scary but the day after a tough 150 km ride where your legs are completely pooched? It is tough.
My friend Tara rode with me and she chatted with me and gave me tips about alternating sitting and standing. Once I made it past the first hair pin turn where I had quit four years ago I knew I could make the rest of the climb without stopping. It was hard, but I had faith!
The feeling of reaching the top and feeling strong the whole way up? Priceless.
From there on out the rest of the ride was not easy as we had several more climbs to tackle. It is certainly an interesting definition of the term “recovery” ride! After we were done there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I had made it past my most scary workout and only Sunday’s long run stood between me and a successfully completed camp. That made it a little easier to relax at our team dinner that night! (Photo via my teammate Sarah Van Tine.)
My friends and I had to be out of our rental house by 10 am…right when we would be at the tail end of our long run…so we were up early to pack and load up our cars. We were then off to run the Penticton Challenge marathon course from Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls and back. Shannon and I made plans to stick together and our friend Trevor ran with us for a bit too.
Shannon was keen to run 14:1 run/walk intervals but I’ve been training on 9:1 intervals these days. As soon as we set off on our run I could feel the fatigue in my legs and I was really worried about those longer intervals. Things went okay while we were running on the flats, but as soon as the hills started I got grumpy. I wasn’t sure I could keep those 14:1 intervals up. I kept saying the words over and over in my head, telling Shannon to go on without me and that I needed to run my shorter intervals. I just couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. All of a sudden we crested the biggest hill and were rewarded with a long, glorious downhill. All thoughts of dropping back left my mind and I felt great. Boy the brain is a funny thing. It is a reminder that at Ironman you will have highs and you will have lows during your day. Keep the faith on those lows that things will turn around!
When we hit about 2:15 of run time on our watch my legs were reminding me that 2:15 had been my longest run distance to date. They were starting to feel achy and tired. Luckily we were coming out of the hills at this point and our superstar SAG wagon driver Tara had supplies of nice, cold Coke. That helped me push on through that wall of fatigue. Soon after Shannon was starting to hurt. I tried to tell her silly stories to help take her mind off of what was bugging her so I told her stories about puppies. The good thing was it helped to distract me too and I finished off the long run feeling really strong. I had hydrated well and taken all the gels I meant to.
And camp was done. This year camp was a huge mental boost for me. I pushed through hard workouts and I felt like I was smart in how I tackled them. Completing almost 17 hours of training in a long weekend felt somewhat unbelievable. It was just the boost I needed so I can push through the last block of training before Ironman Boulder!