21 April 2008

C&C Triathlete Factory Report

Well, I arrived back from my tri-camp weekend and I have to say that I'm definitely feeling fatigued. Here is the website, if you want more info on the coaches, the workouts, the schedule, etc. The weekend workouts were tough, but doable and I learned so much, so it was definitely a success. I told several of you that I would be writing a "report" and while I'm sure that I'll forget some things, at least I'll have some sort of idea of how the weekend went. I should also mention that I had every intention (I even took a notebook) of writing down workout information, HR data, calories burned and tips, etc, but I didn't have time, so I'll be working from memory. I should also warn you that this will probably be a VERY LONG entry.

April 18, 2008

I arrived at Camp Wokanda ( in Chillecothe, IL around 5pm on Friday afternoon. I checked in at the lodge and then started hauling all of my stuff up to the cabins. The weather was a little rainy, but not cold. At around 6pm, we headed out for our first workout. Chris Sweet took us on one of his favorite trail runs around the camp. I think that we ran on the Red Trail for a little while ( Who knew that IL could have such incredibly steep hills! I had decided to take it easy on the run, because I knew there would be alot more workouts to come and I thought I might want to spare my legs. My calves were definitely working during the hills.

After the run, I grabbed a shower, changed into some comfy clothes and then headed to the lodge for dinner. We had a yummy dinner of pasta with red sauce, baked potatoes, salad, garlic bread and green beans. This was only the beginning of some really delicious meals that gave us something to look forward to before and after our workouts. After dinner, we had our first clinic which was on changing a tire. I had changed a tire on my mountain bike before, but not on my road bike, so this was a great opportunity to learn the tricks from some experts. Chris demonstrated first and then we all got to change our tires. I discovered that I have a pretty tight bead on my tires, so it took a bit of effort to get the tire off. I took the tube out and then put it back in, and then got my tire back on with the help of Flip. Then, as I was trying to re-inflate my tube, I was having alot of trouble getting the pump to stay on the stem. I ended up having to change out my tube for my new tube that had a longer stem, so I got to change my tire twice. I was really hoping that I wouldn't get a flat on the rides, since I didn't have another tube. I also learned what I should keep in my tire changing kit and got some really good practice on changing tires. After the clinic, we all headed to our cabin to get some sleep. It ended up being an incredibly long night as very few people actually slept, which we all discovered on Saturday morning.

April 19, 2008

We all got up around 6am on Saturday morning to prepare for the long bike ride (3 hours). The weather was kind of sketchy, but Chris and Chris Daniels thought we would be able to have a good ride, in spite of the light rain. We had a great breakfast of pancakes and fruit, loaded up the bikes, and then headed over to Germantown Hills where we would be riding. As we were driving, it started to downpour and I was thinking in my head, "I really don't want to ride in the rain. I really don't want to ride in the rain." We arrived at the parking lot, unracked our bikes, and then split into our groups. The rain had slowed down to a slight drizzle, so I wasn't worried about riding in the rain anymore. I was in the slower group, which is exactly what I expected. I wasn't sure what to wear, but after talking with Chris S., I decided to wear my tri-shorts with running tights over them, a long-sleeve tech shirt, and my warm running jacket that's water and wind resistant. We headed out for our ride with Chris S. and Stan Watkins, who is a level 3 USA cycling coach.

I'm always a little (or alot) nervous when I head out for a bike ride. I hadn't been on my bike outside since last September, so I wasn't sure how this was going to go. I was also a little worried about my saddle and how I would feel after riding for an hour or so. We did a nice slow warm-up and the light rain stopped. As we got going, I learned several things, including: my bike didn't fit very well, so I needed to meet with Andy Sweet during the weekend to work on that; I'm a toe-down peddler, which is not good for triathletes because it makes you use the same muscles you use when running; how to ride fast down a hill without losing control of my front wheel; that I'm not so good at riding up the hills; that I need to learn to stand up and pedal; and that I'm not terribly fast or slow, but that I have ALOT to work on in my cycling. I spoke with both Chris S. and Stan about some tips and things I can work on. I really have no idea of the route that we rode, so I don't have a map. However, I will tell you that we rode alot of hills. I actually think that I want to start driving over there once a month or so and practice riding the hills. I should also mention that while we were riding, I looked down and had worm guts on my jacket. I was totally grossed out. By the end of the ride, there were also worm guts all over the underside of my bike, which means I need to do some serious bike washing tonight!

After the ride, we headed back to camp and I headed off to the showers. I had no saddle issues on the ride, which was definitely a good thing. Lunch was a very yummy sandwich bar and salad. It tasted so good after the ride. Of course, the sun came out at this point so it was feeling quite nice to be warm. After lunch, we had a nutrition clinic that was incredibly helpful. I don't know how many times I've sat through nutrition clinics, and thought, "but I already know this stuff." Chris D. spent alot of time talking about how to plan your nutrition on race day, for training, and for both pre- and post-race. He talked alot about calories, when to take them in, what type of calories to take in, and he also said that we need to try new things and not just stick with what works, because there may be something that works better for us. We talked about sports drinks and Chris S. mentioned the importance of fueling your body before and after workouts. I've decided that I need to embrace this and really work hard on this idea of keeping my body properly fueled. It was definitely helpful and I'm looking forward to trying some of the strategies that were mentioned and discussed.

After the clinic, we headed to Detweiller Park to run on the cross-country course. We started off with a 20 min. warm-up, then a 20-min. tempo run, and then a 20 min. cooldown. I struggled to run on the uneven surfaces and I'm not sure if I did the 20 min. tempo run. However, I did stay on the grass and I did run the entire time. My lower leg muscles are definitely sore from that, but I realized, as I was running, that I need to spend more time working on my stabilizing muscles because I think that will pay off, especially with my balance. I was in the middle of the group with my running, but I think only because I'm a slow runner and I can run for a long time when I'm fatigued.

After the run, we headed back to camp, and I headed to the showers again. I was definitely the cleanest camper, but only because I HATE being sweaty, and I also wanted to be warm. I grabbed a snack and then we headed off to the pool at the Pearce Community Center in Chillicothe, IL. We worked on the Total Immersion drills for about 2 hours, which are focused on learning your balance in the pool. We also had our freestyle strokes analyzed. These drills were incredible and I finally feel like I can breathe on both sides comfortably when swimming. I was so excited when I realized this. I'm definitely looking forward to incorporating these drills into my workouts. When I jumped out of the pool, all I kept thinking was, "I've finally figured this out!" I also learned that I don't need to kickboard for my kicking drills anymore and that these drills will definitely help me become a better faster swimmer.

After the swim, we were all ready to take long, hot showers. We headed back to the camp for some really yummy Monical's pizza. I think it might have been the best pizza I've ever had, although I'm sure it was just because I was starving. We had dinner, socialized, and then we watched our swim stroke and got tips for improving. I was first, and I learned that I swim pretty well, but that I need to be lower in the water. So, I need to focus on pushing my chest down into the water. My pull looks good, but I do want it to be stronger, which means I really need to start using my core. It was also helpful to watch the other participants' swim and to see what they do right and things not to do. I also need to work on "finding new water" with my pull.

At this point of the day, I was feeling so exhausted, from both the training, and the lack of sleep. I thought for sure I would sleep great. I headed back up to the cabin, crawled into bed and ended up lying there for awhile. Finally, about an hour later, I fell asleep. However, I ended up waking up an awful lot (I think every time I moved). I would fall right back to sleep, but I never really stayed asleep for a long time.

April 21, 2008

I woke up at around 5:45am, I think and ended up lying in bed just resting for awhile. We got up, got ready to swim, and then headed to the pool. I did grab a cereal bar before swimming, so I had a little bit of energy. I was excited to get back into the pool and to practice the skills from the night before. I was tired, but not from swimming since the night before was almost all drills. Chris S. had us do a traditional swim workout. He split us into two groups, a faster group and a slower group, and I was in the faster group, which totally made me happy. Who knew that I was a good swimmer! I'm pretty sure that I've forgotten some things, but I think the workout looked something like this. Warm-up (300 yds) - Drills (3x100 yds, each drill) - Intervals (8x100 yds, 20 sec rest) - Speed (8x25 yds, 30 sec rest) - Cooldown (100 yds) I felt so great after the swim and was very happy with my swimming overall.

After the swim, we headed back to camp for breakfast and I was starving. We had the best french toast ever, eggs, hashbrowns, fruit, juice and milk. It tasted so good and I ate too much, but I was feeling hungry. We got changed and packed up our bikes, and headed back to Detweiller Park for a clinic on transition, and then the Hill Brick of Death. Before we left, I spoke with Andy about working on my bike fit while we were at the park.

Chris S. and Chris D. talked about how they approach transition and gave us several tips on getting our transitions down in time. They spoke about how to lay out your transition area, how to think about transitions, and then tips to speed up your transition times. I think the takeaway for me from this session was to keep your transition as simple as possible. Think about transition, practice it, and realize that while you're saving seconds in transition, sometimes it's better to take those seconds in transition, and then make them up on the bike or run. For me, those seconds aren't really important right now because I'm certainly not competitive yet. However, later on, I will definitely be trying things like the cyclocross dismount, taking my shoes off on the bike, etc.

While the others were practicing transitions, I met with Andy and we started working on my bike fit. The first thing that he did was work on my saddle height which was way high. I was surprised by that because I thought that it might need to be up higher. However, he made some adjustments after watching me spin and then got the seat height and saddle position where he wanted it. I do need to order a new seat post to get my saddle a bit more forward. Then, we started working on the dropbar and aerobars. My stem is a little long, so Andy tried switching it out with another stem, but the stem he had pushed my bars up to high, so he put my stem back on and traded the risers around a bit. He also talked me into putting my clipless pedals back on the bike. I didn't have them with me, but he said he would take care of it back at camp. I also talked to him about bike maintenance and what I could be doing to take care of my bike to make it operate better and more efficiently.

During my bike fit, the others had started the Hill Brick of Death workout, so I headed off for a short warm-up and started my first climb up the hill. I made it about a third of the way up the first hill, before I was in my lowest gear and still pedaling as hard as I could, but going like 3 mph. I ended up stopping, which was a bad idea, because of course, you can't just start riding up in the middle of the hill. My quads were toasted and I was tired, so I rode down the hill, propped up my bike by a tree and decided to run instead. I made it around a 2 mile loop and then decided to be done. I was tired and my stomach wasn't feeling great and I mostly just wanted to be done, so I finished.

I racked my bike and drove back to camp, grabbed another shower (see, I really was the cleanest camper), and then packed up my car. Andy came back and changed out my pedals so I now have "big girl" pedals on my bike. I spoke with Chris S. about what I can do to really improve over the next year and he said that I need to work on my limiters, which are cycling and overall speed. Because I've been doing marathons, I have the endurance base there, but I need to switch gears and really start working on my intervals and power to become a better triathlete.

Lunch was grilled hamburgers and they were absolutely delicious. Food is always so much better when you're starving. I can't believe how hungry I was throughout the weekend! I spoke with some of the other campers about training and we all thought it might be fun to meet up and ride the hills over near the river. I definitely need hill work, so I will have to take advantage of that. We talked a little about training and how to recover from the hard weekend. Mostly, we were all just tired and ready to sleep.

Chris and Chris took us out to the steps of the lodge for some more group pictures and then preceded to answer more questions about training. They both talked alot about recovery and the importance of rest, as well as taking care of injuries before they become a problem. Chris S. talked about skipping "recovery workouts" and just taking the time to rest and catch up on life. Both of them discussed the importance of training plans based on "A" races, and that you should really make the most of your workouts.

Finally, (see...I told you this was VERY LONG) Chris and Chris thanked us for coming and they even had some awards. They had awards for Most Improved Swimmer, Hardest Worker, Best Tire Changer, etc. The best part of the camp was when they said that I got the "Most Potential Award." I'm sitting here with a big silly grin on my face just thinking about that. It meant alot to hear two guys who are doing what I want to eventually do, say that I had potential. Now, I just have to live up to it. After the awards, I headed back to my car, and drove home, feeling incredibly exhausted, but so happy!

Here is another report from Chris Daniels re: the tri-camp.
Here is another report from Chris Sweet re: the tri-camp.


Ms. Robyn said...

AJ: It's great to read your blog, and go through each and every aspect of the camp all over again. It was an amazing experience, wasn't it? Often, throughout the weekend, I felt so grateful to participate in it and to be strong enough to do the workouts. I appreciated the time we spent together, and supporting each other. Good luck w/ Utah 1/2 m in August! I'm off to Sullivan~