(Thanks to Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club for the photo)
For those of you who haven’t read my 2015 Camp blog, please read my 2015 camp blog first. Or if you don’t want to, the thumbnail is this — I had never done a triathlon before, I struggled at camp and managed to cross my first finish line and had some amazing experiences.
Prior to this year’s camp, I had spent about 6 months in the pool, continually getting my ass kicked by one of my coaches. Never fun to wake up at 3:30AM for a 5AM session, but oh so worth it… And there were other times and other ways that both of my main coaches (Coach Stacee Seay and Terri Hayes) pushed me during the last year since camp. If you want details on any of it, just backread through the last year – it’s pretty well chronicled.
Day 0 of camp went pretty much like last year – get to 31st Street Marina, get on the bus to Pleasant Prairie and then crash out early. The slight wrinkle to this year was that I was so spent from the week to that point that I didn’t bother going out to dinner and just crashed.
Day 1 of camp started with the introduction and then led us into the pool with Coach Stacee. Last year I was struggling to do a 50 meter swim and having to stand up at the middle sandbar. This year, while they weren’t as smooth as they should be, I was still churning out 50s, 100s and multiples of 100s. And then I got to do my oh so favorite drill of all time – bilateral breathing. Never a fun one, but oh so useful. Much more on that later on…. When we finished in the pool, we did functional strength drills and then had lunch as a group.
The afternoon of day 1 started out on the bike with Coach Chris. While there were a lot of fundamentals (start/stop, mount/dismount, turns, etc.), it was still great to do. We finished with a run session with Coach Judy that started with the fundamentals (paw and more) and then went to tension running. Last year, I know I struggled on the tension runnings; this year, I was close to beating the camper I was running against. And we got to finish up with the ‘fun’ of running up hill several times, during which I was told I had great arms.
Day 2 started out hot and then only got hotter. I know that I put on full suntan lotion 3 times and had someone else do my legs/face a 4th time. But it was still so hot that I ended up burning in a couple places. Our day started out on the bike doing interval rides up H/88 and lots of turns. For those of you who have never been at Pleasant Prairie, H/88 from Park Place is mostly uphill. Not much fun to do 8 loops of that during training (or 3 loops during the race), but all part of the day. After about 90 minutes on the bike, we went onto the run.
During the run, we did 2 800s and then 4 400s. After the first 800 (5:33), I was tempted to sit out the 2nd (run in 6:04). And the same was true of wanting to sit out parts of the 400 (first 3 run at about 2:55 each, 4th run at 3:17). What kept me from sitting out ANY of those regardless of how much I was hurting was this simple thought – ‘there are a lot of people here with a lot less than me. If they can do it, I’m going to push myself until I at least fall down on the course and someone has to pick me up’. None of the runs were any fun, but I pushed through all of them. What got me through was that thought above and a LOT of ice, water and ice.
Our afternoon ended in the lake. As it was about 7000 degrees out, jumping into a 65-70 degree lake felt really, really, really good. So much so that after 800 meters of practice I joking told a friend that I was just going to stay in the lake until the morning. If you haven’t gotten the point by now, “the sun [was] a mass of incandescence gas. A hot nuclear furnace. A gigantic nuclear furnace. Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees” (Thanks to the 2 Johns for that. And I take no responsibility if that’s now stuck in your head.)
We finished Day 2 with Yoga and then a group dinner, at which I was blindsided. They do camp awards each year, and I was presented with the one for most improvement. I would not have received that had it not been for all of my coaches – especially Coach Stacee and Terri Hayes – continually pushing me forward throughout the last year. I was very proud to receive the award, not just as validation for my effort but also to validate Dare2Tri’s support of me. At the beginning of the year, they selected me to their Development Team, which means a lot of support from them and a lot of investment into me. I am very proud to be able to show that their support and belief in me is starting to pay off. And I meant what I said that night – it’s never going to go perfect, but you just keep pushing forward and it’ll all come together.
Day 3 (race day) started off with a very patriotic salute led by Melissa Stockwell and others. And then it was time to race – 800 meters in the lake, 15 miles on the bile and 3.1 miles on the run (aka Sprint+). For added fun, that meant 3 loops uphill into a 20-25 MPH headwind.
We started out in the lake as a group and the swim went well for the most part. One of the buoy turns took straight into choppy water. This is where the bilateral breathing came into play. And when I forgot to do it, I got a VERY stiff correction to do it right by getting a huge mouthful of water. It was going so well that I was surprised when Lee told me that we were done with the swim. Along the lines of Day 2, if he hadn’t told me that, I probably would have done another loop. We headed out of the water and onto T1 (aka long transition).
Towards the beginning of the bike, I made my first mistake. We were close to the tandem team of Caroline and Ashley and I decided to try and keep pace with them. For those of you who’ve never seen them ride together, just think of that Jim Croche line “You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim” and substitute Caroline/Ashley where it says Jim. Sadly, I will never remember that lesson for the simple reason that as I continue to push forward, I will see them out there a lot. And I’ll continue tor try pushing that envelope. Charlie Brown eventually kicked the football out of Lucy’s hands, right? 😉 😛
The bike portion really was no fun. As I’ve already mentioned, it was 15 miles with big chunks of it uphill into strong headwinds. But we pushed through it and made it back to T2. That was after we listened to the incorrect information from a volunteer and lost a few minutes.
From T2 out onto the run after putting nutrition into my body. To say I was spent at that point would be an understatement. But I was determined to get that 3.1 miles in, even if it was 1/1 intervals. And unfortunately there were a few place where it was like that. But in the end, we made it back to a lot of cheering campers, staff and volunteers.
1) THANK YOU to all of the volunteers, staff, coaches and sponsors that made this weekend possible. And a special THANK YOU to Luke Migalla and Lee Dunbar for helping to guide me thoughout the weekend.
2) Even if you struggle, don’t give up. There will always be bad days, bad race and people that continually beat you at a disciple or on the course. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance; if you keep pushing forward, you will eventually get to a point where you can. It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen…. Eventually.
3) I am so glad that I did the Shamrock Shuffle last year. If I hadn’t, I would have never have met Keri and NONE of this would have happened.
4) If you want to succeed and push forward, the words don’t, can’t, won’t and will not need to disappear from your vocabulary.
I’m looking forward to being back at Pleasant Prairie in two weeks to race with an even larger field!
And if you would like to support me as I move forward with my season, you can do so through my Race2Raise Page