Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#Operation Top 5 Weeks 11 & 12: Playing Catch Up + Training Camp



I had every intention of blogging while we were away last week but it never happened.  I needed to take some time away from my computer.  The week leading up to our trip was one of the most stressful weeks I've had in a very long time.  I was mentally exhausted by the time I walked out the door on Friday night.  I didn't "catch up" on my rest until Monday.  Our flight out on Saturday was at 6:15 am which meant that I only got about 5 hours sleep.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The week leading up to our trip was a pretty easy week for me workout wise.  My coach wanted me to go into training camp rested.  Which I wasn't really, given the week of work I had.  I only had 4 hours and 20 minutes of workouts.  Had I done the Olympic race I signed up for, I would have been closer to 7 hours but I opted not to race.  I was feeling so worn out and my head wasn't even remotely in the game.  I just wanted to sleep.  I don't like to go into races feeling stressed or tired so as much I think that would have been a good benchmark race for me, I also didn't want to stress my body even further by pushing myself.  If it was a sprint race I probably would have done it as it would have been less than 1h 45 minutes but an Olympic distance race probably would have put me at 2h 40 minutes or so of going hard.  Given that I had a full week of training ahead of me that I wanted to feel good for, I opted to skip it and watch G instead.

When I got up race morning to pouring rain, I was REALLY happy with my decision.  The sun ended up coming out on the run, which made it smoking hot on the run course.  I certainly wasn't ready for that heat!  It was nice to spectate in though, ha ha.

After the race, the camp kicked off with an easy ride out to a town called Winter Garden.  It was beautiful and it had a local brewery so of course G and I made a mental note to go back there later on in the week and check it out.   The ride was pancake flat and we rode to this great little coffee shop to chat and get to know everyone.  We rode back nice and easy with a few sprints thrown in for those of us that were feeling energetic and then we regrouped for dinner at Sheri's house (the other coach who runs the camp).  G and I were staying at the Marriott nearby but ended up moving to a beautiful townhouse owned by one of Sheri's friends that was just around the corner from Sheri.  We had more room than we needed and a full kitchen.  It was perfect.

G and I taking a break in Winter Garden
 Monday was our first big day.   It started with stroke analysis in a lovely outdoor pool.  Unfortunately the temperature had dropped the night before due to the rain so it was quite chilly.  Still warmer than Toronto but chilly none the less.  We were in the water for a couple of hours and then it was on to the bike.  We were going to be riding on the Van Fleet Trail.  It was totally flat.  We had some rollers at the start but once we got on the trail it was pancake flat.  Paolina took myself, G and Dierdre (another one of her athletes) ahead of the group and told us we were going to be doing a tempo set.  So we essentially pace lined like you see in the team time trial at the Tour de France.  We'd take turns going super hard at the front for a couple of minutes each and then pull off and go to the back of the Pain Train.  We got up to 46 kph!  It was insane.

Deirdre and Paolina before the Pain Train started
I worked really hard for that section of the ride.  Thankfully the ride back was easy.  We even stopped to check out some gators.  Total mileage for the day was just over 100km on the bike.  Not a bad way to start off my week!

Tuesday was a 12km trail run in the morning followed by an easy ride to a bakery in the afternoon.  The temperature had started to rise and I was overdressed for the run.   It was pretty awesome and I was surprised at how good my legs felt after the previous days ride.

Wednesday we went out to the National Training Centre for more swim stroke work and an actual workout.  It was a 25 yard pool set up but I didn't care.  It was amazing to be outside in the sunshine.  I wore my Garmin but kept forgetting to turn it on so I think we ended up doing almost 4000m vs. the 2450m that it actually counted.  We were in the water for a very long time.  And of course I had to test out the underwater capabilities of my new toy.  After the swim, we did a quick upper body workout at the gym with Paolina.

Yup.  It's waterproof!
After the swim we headed out to the Clermont Hills.  By this point it was scorching hot.  We did loops of Buckhorn Road, which is a road filled with rollers and a couple of good steep climbs.  Then we circled around and climbed Sugarloaf Mountain Road.  By that point my legs were toast.  I squeaked up that hill.   We took the easy way back and I was very happy to be off my bike.  63km done that day. 

The next day (Thursday) was our long run of the week.  We were headed to the Orange Grove clay trail.  It was also a really early start (7:00 am).  The plan was to run 16km.  That would be my longest run this year.  I wasn't sure how my legs would feel given the beating they had been subjected to the day before but that's what my Zoot recovery tights + Vega recovery accelerator were for!  I slept in my recovery tights until about 3 am and then got up to take them off.  I swear they made a huge difference.
16km of this.  Plus some rollers for good measure.

Nothing beats running with the sunrise

I ran that 16km at a very comfortable pace.  I had no knee pain except for a few tweaks in the latter km's when I was running down hill.  My legs never felt tired or sore.  I was over the moon happy when I finished. I was even able to pick it up over the last km.   That was the best run I've had in ages.  I was expecting to be sore and tired but as the week progressed I started to feel better and stronger.  I'm chalking it up to not sitting all day.  I'm convinced the more you stand and move, the better you feel.

After the run we headed back home for a second breakfast and then made our way over to Lake Minneola to practice our open water swimming.  Both Sheri and Paolina gave me some instruction on what they wanted to see me change.  My body position is good as is my kick but my upper body isn't rolling and I'm very "delicate" when I enter the water.  I worked on my stroke when we were at the NTC and practiced the things they wanted me to practice when we were in open water.  This new technique has me using my shoulders way more.  I was so tired after swimming 50m like that, that I had to stop and take a break.  It's going to take me a while to get used to swimming this way and I'm definitely going to have to work on my shoulder strength.  I was actually a bit sore the next day.

Friday was our hardest day yet.  It was our brick day.  I thought it would be a long ride followed by a long run but boy was I mistaken.  We went to Lake Louisa State Park and practiced our transitions.  We set up our bikes and everything else we'd need to go from swim to bike to run.  We weren't going to actually swim, but we did practice running in bare feet to our bikes.  The park had a 13.5km beautifully paved loop and the plan was to ride that 3-4 times, with a 2km run after each loop.  Paolina had told me to build into it and that my 3rd lap should be the hardest.  We did a warm up lap to check out the course and then we were off.   I rode the first lap pretty hard.  Probably a bit too hard.  I came back in "racked" my bike, threw on my shoes and started running.  My knees were killing me, which was not good.  I ran on the trail which seemed to aggravate them a bit more so I quickly made my way out to the pavement where they seemed to settle down.  

Then I had a couple of minutes rest and it was back onto the bike.  I told Paolina that I had gone too hard on that first lap so I cruised the second lap.  I pushed on the flats and downhills but spun easy up the climbs.  I came back in and then went out on my second run.  I ran with Paolina and we were cranking out a pretty good pace.  I actually ran 2.6km for that brick.  We ran back, and I took another 2 minute break and then Paolina said it was go time.  This was going to be my hardest lap.  I hopped on my bike, and started chasing her.  Holy crap.  I was able to hang on to her until we got to any sort of incline and then I slowed down.  My legs and lungs were screaming at me.  I just don't have the leg strength to power up hills like she does.  I got into "transition" and almost barfed.  I racked my bike and pulled on my shoes.  I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were toast.  My Garmin will beep and tell me what my recovery is like and part way through my 2km run it beeped to tell me my recovery had gone from "Good" to "Fair".  Ha.  No kidding.  I was toast.  That last 2km run was the slowest of the day for me.  But I didn't care.  I had just done a triple brick.  I've never done anything like that before in my life.  It was hard.  It hurt.  But it was also AWESOME.  I've been told I'll be getting a few more workouts like that over the coming months.  Bring it on I say!

After that we went back to Sheri's and did about 40 minutes of yoga.  I really needed that.  We then went back home, showered refueled and chilled out before heading out to dinner with the group.  Some people were heading home early the next day so we thought it would be nice to have dinner together before people left.

Saturday was the last day of official camp activities and it started with a free 5km Park Run race.  They hold this free race every Saturday morning in Waterfront Park.  Paolina and I talked game plan the night before.  I wasn't sure what I'd be capable of since I've done ZERO speed work this year and I had just put quite the beatdown on my legs.  I figured somewhere between 21-22 minutes would be ideal.  She told me not to start out too fast but to build into it.

G and I ran to the park, it was roughly 2km from the condo so I had a nice little warm up run.  My knees were very sore when I started running.  They felt like they weren't tracking properly.  But once I got going, they were totally fine.  It was hot and muggy even at 7:30 am.  Thankfully it was also overcast.  There was a decent crowd of people ranging in age.  We all lined up and listened to announcements, had a round of applause for the volunteers and waited for the MC to yell GO.  Then we were off.  Of course I took off like a shot and had to dodge people because I didn't seed myself correctly.   My legs didn't fresh but they didn't feel awful either.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I pushed it through that first km and when my Garmin beeped I saw 4:09/km.  Oops.  That was too fast.  I tried to settle into a more sustainable pace.   I chugged along trying to keep the leaders in my sight.  One guy was pulling away from the group really quickly.  At the 2km mark the race had strung out.  I was the lead female and had no clue how close the second place woman was.  My 2nd km was 4:10.  Still too fast.  I figured I'd pay for that towards the end of the race.  We turned around and the first thing I noticed was the wind.  It was in my face.  That slowed me down a fair bit.  I really struggled running into it.  We were also running slightly uphill and I felt that.  My 3rd and 4th km were 4:17 and 4:19.  Ouch.  We ran out to another turn around so I knew I'd have the wind at my back on the way back in.  My goal was to pick it up over the last km.  I started reeling the guy in front of me in.  Had we had another 500m, I may have caught him but he rolled across the line about 5 seconds in front of me.  I ran down the chute and heard them call out 21:16.   After everything I put my body through that week and my lack of speed work, I was really happy with that time.

We walked back to our condo and got ourselves ready for our "recovery ride".  We were heading back to Winter Garden for a nice easy ride to spin out our legs and stop for a coffee and brunch.  The sun had started to come out and it was nice and warm.  It was the perfect morning for a ride.  We cruised along the bike path at a nice clip.  G and I had brunch and a cappuccino while the rest of the crew went out and checked out the local market.  We sat outside for an hour or so and then got on our bikes and rode back.  An easy 40km.  It was perfect.  

When we got back, G and I packed up our bikes, did some laundry and then packed up most of our stuff.  We were going to Sheri's for dinner so we grabbed all the leftovers from the fridge and brought them to her place.  The last supper was a mish mash of everyone's left overs.  It was pretty darn delicious.

Sunday was our day to explore so we slept in (finally!) then packed up the truck and hit the road.  We drove around the area, checking out small towns, we went to Daytona Beach and then by Cape Canaveral before heading to the airport.  It was a lovely way to end our "holiday".

I am amazed that my body withstood the volume that it did.  I felt better as the days went on.  This trip was exactly what I needed, mentally & physically.    I logged almost 20 hours of training.  This is how it broke out:

Swim:  5800m
Bike:  342km
Run:  41.6km

Lots of benchmarks for me in terms of mileage.  Longest run this year as well as longest ride (so far) this year.  I was on the fence about racing the Around the Bay Relay I had signed up for but now, I'm 100% in.  Bring it on.

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter! 

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