Last August, I was given an amazing opportunity to be at the OPTC for the first Visually Impaired (VI) Talent ID Camp. Even though I struggled during that camp (see last year’s blog post), I still learned a tremendous amount from it.
Even though there have been unexpected and unplanned bumps throughout this season, I’ve seen an upward trend. I had hoped to have the opportunity to be there again this year. While I wasn’t given a spot initially, I was fortunate to be given one off the wait list.
Last year, I suffered from the altitude adjustment and from trying to do a long bike ride in Tri shorts. Going into this year, I intended to do a run in CO pre-camp and had bibs for the longer ride. So after running errands Wednesday morning, Larry and I went to the track and ran 2 miles. As expected, it was absolutely, positively no fun. Even doing 1/2 mile repeats was a challenge since my body wasn’t yet acclimated. However, it was worth it in the long run.
Something that I’ve said before and will say again is that you can’t do this sport without a lot of trust. You’re putting your life in someone else’s hands, especially on the bike. For me, as long as my guide is an experienced Triathlete and has a good attitude, it’s all going to work out. I’ll always share what I need with a new guide before we do a practice or race. Taking that small amount of time leads to success, even if they’re a first-time guide.
The first full day of camp was packed. We started on the Colorado College track for a strenuous workout. I was glad to have done the warm ups the day before with Larry. Because of that, the first session with Jace went much better. That’s not to say it was easy by any means though. We ended up doing a warmup followed by dynamic stretching work and then 3x 400/200/400/200 (run/walk) with a focus on negative splits. During that last session, one of the coaches showed me a way to improve my run strike/run stride. It was odd and a bit painful at first, but I knew / know it will pay off long-term.
After a strength session and lunch, we were in the OPTC pool for the first time. While the altitude created some struggles for me during the early set, it wasn’t as bad as last year. I would say that I wasn’t feeling it that much by about 500-600 into the set. The main set was full of drills, during which I was trying to watch/focus on the left arm catch. While the right is usually OK, the left has far more drag — and is something that I’ve been working on with a private coach as well.
After the swim and time to finish bike builds, we headed out to do bike skills. For safety reasons, they had the pilots ride over solo while the stokers were in the vans. I’m sure that drivers in Colorado Springs had some interesting comments when they say 10 tandems ride by with just one person on them. After working out some minor issues with starts and stops, Jace and I went through all of the different drills without incident. He was able to successfully maneuver us around those small two legged obstacles. Once done there, the day ended with a Sports Psychology classroom session.
While the next day only had two sessions, it was more challenging than the previous day. It started with 4.8mi Gold Camp repeats. Even with losing 20-30 minutes having to address a tire puncture, we made it up / down almost twice. The van turned us around about 80-85% of the way back up the 2nd time because of time constraints. It’s a long uphill climb, where you feel like you’re going through mud a times. But it’s well worth doing and an amazing hill workout. Oh, and coming down Gold Camp is a tremendous amount of fun. 🙂
The afternoon swim session was an Open Water Skills (OWS) session. It included a warmup, drills and all of the standard things you’d do in open water in a race. We also had the assistance of two coaches (Beck and Kelly) that were there for the PT Coaching Certification Clinic during the session. It ended with us doing two full race simulation laps.
In 2007, when Coach O put us through the paces like we new recruits during the first day of spring ball, I remember walking around the IPF track in a daze post-workout. My brain was fighting my body at that point. I had a similar feeling after these two sessions, and it took a good deal of sugar to get me back to ‘normal’ so that I didn’t fall asleep during the classroom sessions.
The next day included the Triple Brick session and another pool session. Each of the bicks was T1->bike (5K)->T2->run (1mi), with a focus on negative splitting per brick. Throughout our sessions, the transitions kept decreasing, the runs were about constant and the bikes were on target.
The meat of the swim session was a 16×50 workout. These were broken down into 3 ‘active recovery’ and 1 fast. For me, I can do a fast 25 okay. But after that 25, the motor dies a bit. Even still, we made it through the workout, which finished with a coach/guide race.
The final day was an optonial swim workout. It was a good opportunity to practice the drills that we had done throughout the camp. It also had more of the 4×50 drills…
I am truly grateful to have had this amazing opportunity again in 2019. While it’s a short stay, I always learn a LOT at the camps I’ve been at at the OPTC. And what I’ve learned has helped me to improve across all phases of Triathlon.
THANK YOU to everyone that made this possible, all the coaches for their time and sharing their knowledge, Larry for his help in getting to/from Denver and Jace for guiding for me. He did an amazing job as my guide and I hope to work with him again!