Jun. 1, 2007

So What Happened Last Weekend?

Finally I return to the blogosphere! I know the suspense has been unbearable...

Last weekend I was up in Blue Mountain for my triathlon club's first spring training camp. I drove up Friday morning in order to get an extra workout in before the camp actually started. A fellow club member (Ian) came with me and that afternoon we rode 64K on the country roads surrounding the ski resort, including up the escarpment and later back down. Like good little triathletes we also went for a short 5K run as soon as we got off our bikes. It all felt really good, the scenery was spectacular and the weather was very pleasant. I was hoping that the "big" day on Saturday would be as successful!

A few other club members had arrived early too, we did a bit of shopping and had our separate dinners before the rest of the gang arrived. Then the camp began with a seminar by our coach, Nigel Gray, on Perceived Exertion and Heart Rate Zones. It was interesting to learn how paying attention to your breathing can help you stay in the right zone for the kind of workout you are doing. "Flat out" should only be used for specific interval workouts. Much better performance improvements come from sustained workouts at lower levels of effort mixed in with fewer intense training sessions.

That's me in the yellow vestSaturday was the camp's official "long ride". It also turned out to the the furthest I've ever ridden, almost 90K. Lots of climbing too, as we rode up the escarpment again and then over five or six other hills up top. My chain popped off a few times, I have to learn to be careful gearing down as I transition from flat and fast to steep and slow. Again the weather was great and the scenery spectacular. I managed to stay near the front of the group the whole way too. It was a great confidence builder for my upcoming races, especially for the Half Ironman I'll be racing in just over a month's time. Again I ran shortly after finishing my ride, this time going 10K in 46:00. Pretty good! We all conked out for an afternoon nap afterwards. We roused ourselves for a seminar by our other coach, Sylvie Dansereau, on Race Day Nutrition. Not a significant factor in shorter races, but often the deciding factor in longer ones... Dinner was a group affair in Blue Mountain Village, which has been transformed into a kind of ski resort/open-air mall. After a quick visit to Ben & Jerry's we came back to the chalet to watch What It Takes, a documentary about four elite Ironman triathletes. My conclusion? They're all whack jobs! Then blessed sleep again.

Still Fits!Sunday morning was an early start as we'd rented a local pool for some swimming instruction. I spread the word at breakfast about "real" oatmeal, steel-cut oats brought to a boil (4:1 ratio of water to oats) and left to cool overnight, and made a few converts. The pool was freezing cold so I was glad to have brought my wet-suit along. With my first race now only two days away I also needed every chance to get used to swimming in it again. I got some good stroke tips from the coaches, even though I was already the best swimmer there (he said modestly). Basically I'm not "catching" the water soon enough when I begin my stroke and my hands are crossing over the imaginary centreline a little bit at the start of the stroke. That crossover might be the source of my nagging shoulder injury! In my swim workouts since then I've tried to remember the tips, but it takes weeks if not months to make stroke changes stick.

Stationary BikeBack in dry clothes again we hauled our bikes into a field and set them up on "indoor trainers" for a stationary interval workout. I had brought up a borrowed trainer, riding it that morning was my first experience on one. Usually they're used to maintain cycling endurance during bad weather (i.e. winter). Looks like a good investment next Fall. After each "ride" we jumped off our bikes, pulled on our running shoes and did a short 1K run to simulate the bike-to-run transition that is so important in triathlons. I was wearing my new Pearl Izumi cycling shoes, which tighten with a snowboard-style ratchet. It looks like I'll need lots of practice in getting out of them quickly!

Suddenly the camp was over, we all packed up and rushed back to Toronto which was two hours away. I had a last-minute Sunday afternoon Go See to get to and I also wanted to watch the morning's Monaco Grand Prix with my friend Brian, so I needed to get moving anyway.

Looking back over my description of the weekend it now seems a bit mundane but as I drove home I felt as if some kind of threshold had been crossed. We'll see how the summer progresses, but I think it's going to be a good one!

Listening to: Move Any Mountain by Shamen from En-Tact.

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