This past weekend I attended the Inspired Performance Triathlon Training Camp in Lake Placid, NY. I am not racing the Lake Placid Ironman next month, but my wife and closest friends are. I attended to get in some workouts and prep for shorter races coming up over the next few months. As a new triathlete, I wanted to experience training camp, and as a resident of the Jersey Shore—where there are no hills—I wanted to get in some hill training! Sitting here at my desk after camp on Tuesday morning, I am reminded of the pain (in the ass) of those hills. The extreme soreness in my quads, hams, and glutes tries to distract me as I read through my journal entries from this past weekend…
Thursday June, 18
We arrive at camp in LP around 5:30pm. We meet the coaches in the hotel lobby for some icebreaker cocktails. All three coaches have YEARS of experience racing and training clients. They are all members of the Masters Division. I fear I’m about to be humbled by these baby boomers.
Friday June, 19
Today starts with a 1.2 mile loop swim in Mirror Lake. I may be going a bit further than 1.2 as I don’t follow “the line” and end up off course. It feels good to get up and swim. Following breakfast and some lectures, we head out for a 56 mile loop of the bike course. In brief: the first 26 miles is great; the last 36 SUCK!! Other than the weather—rain, fog, bitter cold—the first 26 miles is fun, with some uphills and long, fast descents. Then comes the turn back onto Route 86. Make note: after the first out-and-back, be sure to be in the small ring as the course turns on to an immediate uphill climb. The second half of the course has multiple climbs—hint: you are riding past rows of ski slopes!—and ends with The Bears (Mama, Baby, and Papa). After finishing, we decide to run 1 loop around Mirror Lake (about 2.5 miles) to simulate the run off the bike. Finally, it’s time for a shower, workshops, dinner, and, of course, drinks.
Saturday June, 20
This morning is supposed to start with another swim in Mirror Lake, but when the weatherman says it’s 36 degrees outside, we decide to sleep in! I’ve done plenty of Tough Mudder adventure races, so there is no need for me to swim and get out of the water into 36 degrees. So, we get ready and hit the bike course. I plan a 1-loop ride, and the girls are doing 2. Once again, the first half is fun, especially since the weather is perfect. The only issue this time around is the cars riding their brakes in front of me while hitting the descents. I am forced to brake to keep from rear-ending them! We stop at the halfway point to get more Infinit and Clif products and head out for the second half. And now for the humbling part. About 10 miles into it we see Coach Tom Manzi and blow by him while he waits for some other campers. The four of us head in the direction of town toward the hills. About an hour later on one of the uphill climbs, I hear a voice coming up behind me. Yes, it is Coach Tom chanting something about “reeling in the four fishies”. His hill training and experience allow him to easily come from behind and effortlessly blow by us on the uphill climb. Of course, not to be easily defeated, I try to keep up with him. Well, that is a mistake. I’m able to stay 1-2 minutes behind him and keep him in my sights, but I just can’t catch up. Fortunately, I had only planned 1 loop. The thought of a run off the bike quickly disappears. I meet Tom once at the top of the Bears, and we discuss my ride. Then, as if being passed isn’t humbling enough, Tom heads out to do another 20-30 miles. Hell, no! I head for the hotel to shower and sooth my wounded ego with a beer.
Sunday June, 21
Today starts with another loop of the swim course, followed by a run on the marathon course. The plan is 11 miles, as we are eliminating the portion on Mirror Lake Drive. We head out after Coach Craig Cecil’s Run Clinic, and I’m doing pretty well. Initially, I’m able to keep up with Craig. At mile five, however, the wheels fall off my bus. I manage to complete a very painful 10 miles before dragging myself back to the hotel. Once again, I am reminded of my junior status, and realize that I have been outrun by someone significantly older than me. Humbled by two Master Athletes in two days—lesson learned!
In summary, I had a great time at training camp. Despite the aching muscles AND pride, I gathered some great tips on improving my technique and tweaking my race day performance. I also learned the following lessons:
- Have fun and remember—we do this because we enjoy it. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Older does NOT equal slower.
- Training creates stronger athletes. If we were already performing at our peaks, there would be no need for camps. I feel much more prepared for my next race than I did last week.
- Four people in one hotel room with tri gear, bikes, etc. is TIGHT. Next year’s plan: CONDO!