Monday, November 16, 2009

Ironman Camp Recap

Official Course Review to come later.... this is all about the camp

Friday we were up at 6:30 for breakfast and a "talk" - all good training and Ironman stuff. Headed to the pool- we planned to ride but it was raining. And a cold front had moved in and the temperature was dropping.

Nice pool- indoors with funky bubble over it. We had 5 or 6 lanes so we broke up by interval and did a tough workout. I swam with Pro Chris McDonald (he had a buoy and band on his legs), Gordo, Slater and Nina. Interval was not tough but the effort was and by the end it was all I could do to stay on Chris's feet. 4300 yard and we are done..until Gordo says "want to play a game?" of course I say yes so he says ez 200, then Chris asked for another 50 which tipped me off, the "game" was going to be tough. The set we completed started with a series of 400's and worked down to 100's. Gordo asked what my 1st 400 time was and then challenged me to beat the time. And I could not sit on Chris's feet. We were the only 2 nut cases who took on the challenge and Chris took off and me 15 sec behind and Gordo 15 after me. It was all I could do to finish the 400 but I was 6 seconds faster! Yes, challenge done. Chris laid it down and swam a 4:39.....(with buoy and band) Pulled my tired body out of the pool.....sought out food!

Chilled for a bit and then we headed on a short ride with a reasonable climb into Snow Canyon. The ride to Snow Canyon was 15 minutes and then we entered the park and it was stunning, no snow but beautiful. Climb was only a few miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain. It was great...so fun that Trevor, Gordo, Braman and I did it again. Marilyn McDonald, pro cyclist, gave us an awesome descending workshop. You can check it out here....good skills to have http://www.xtri.com/tri_tech_display.aspx?riIDReport=5851&CAT=5&xref=xx

Ride was 2 hours and although tempted to do more we headed home as we knew we had a big ride on Saturday. Followed the ride with a 30 minute run and all was good....but it was time for meeting and dinner.

Now St George is a funky town....not cute, charming, or even historic. It is laden with strip malls, low end hotels and very few coffee shops....seems the Mormon influence may not encourage a coffee place on every corner. In search of caffeine before the ride a few of us headed out to find a local Java spot. Was not ez and we could not have picked a worse place. Looked okay from the outside, inside had some Reggae playing. We order, 3 coffees and a sandwich. The drip was not issue. The cappuccino took about 10 minutes and I had to go and remind them of my coffee. TB had to remind them about the sandwich so 20+ minutes later we had mediocre coffee and a lame sandwich. Seems the help either lit up that morning or have lit up so many times that their brains are not really functioning. We had dinner at probably the best spot in town....very casual, but not a chain and good food. Twenty Five Main Cafe. Will be good to keep in mind for race weekend...but then again I have a condo, which was a good move I think after checking out the town.

We are up at 6:30 and have staggered departure times based on your pace and how aggressive you felt like riding. JB and the majority of the group rolled at 7:30, 2 of us rolled at 8:15 with KP (I wanted to ride with him) and the last 2 rolled at 9 with Chris (Chris who holds the Ironman Wisconsin bike course record of 4:45) It was cold...real cold, maybe 40 degrees. We had on all the gear. Goal of the day was to ride about 15 miles and then ride part of the course. From the swim, you ride 20 miles rolling hills to where the 2 loops take place and then you ride back to town- T1 and T2 are in separate locations. So we hit the split button and the goal was to ride 2 loops and ride the 2nd loop faster - so ride controlled and then see how it feels the 2nd time. Trying to get a feel for how tough the course is. Each loop is 43 miles. So off we went with a very undetailed map, no cross streets listed, not to scale but we felt like we had a good idea of where to go and it did not seem that hard. Gordo made a parting comment at breakfast " as long as you are not climbing out of a canyon on your way to Vegas you are fine."

So we are are rolling and we get to a point that we can turn off right towards Gunlock or keep climbing. Nothing on the map says Gunlock, no one has mentioned Gunlock, so we keep going. We have now been climbing 9 miles continuously and we finally reach the top. I am thinking this Ironman is a beast, people will not finish, how can anyone do this twice and run a marathon. We go screaming downhill, fast and far.....we realize we have not seen the SAG van...little voice hmmm "are we not climbing out of a canyon?" We stop, I pull out the iPhone and punch in "find me" there we are on the map about 5 miles from the Arizona border.... bummer, not where the course takes us. Why we did not think about this before we descended the 9 miles we just climbed. So we go back up and all the way down to the Gunlock turn off and sure enough within 5 minutes we see the SAG van. So there goes our pacing efforts....but we figure we are basically starting the course now and with the mileage and climbing we have done it will simulate lap 2.

The course is stunningly beautiful, rolling hills with a few very steep climbs. The last being a switchback that is brutal, nearly everyone was out of the saddle. Pacing will be critical...if you override loop1 your are history.... so we finish the ride, I add on a bit as my mileage was a bit short due to our "adventure" Ride felt good, rode controlled and was able to pull off a nice 20 minute transition run. 5:31 ride time, 90 miles and 7132 ft total elevation gain.

It was cold all day.....not likely to be so for the race, but it was cold for us. Had dinner at the Golden Corral, which is pretty much like a Hometown Buffet, not a place I will return but actually worked out pretty well for 18 starving cyclists. Something for everyone and we ate a lot, no wait for the food and lots of lemonade.

No problems falling asleep and up at 6, dark and 37 degrees. It's winter baby.....head to Gordos room for hot coffee and banana bread- nice way to start the day. Braman is in bed- between swimming on Friday for the 1st time in years followed by the 2 hour ride and then the 6 hour ride on Saturday he felt he had gotten his money's worth from the camp. Sunday's goal was to run 1 loop of the course, or as much or as little as you felt. My ankle is still healing so to have run the loop from the hotel would have been 15+miles...too much too soon. So C and I hitched a ride to where Transition 2 will be and we did a loop of the run from there..... all I can say is holy cow. 1st 3.1 miles are up hill and then you go down and then back up....pretty much the entire course if up or down and some parts are so steep our pace slowed by over 2 minutes. More details to come pertaining to the course.

Lots of expletives out there as we realized what a day May1 will be. What were they thinking in creating hte course...hardest, masochistic....who knows.

But now I know what is ahead and am prepared for the journey. Lots of training, lots of hills and lots of good wisdom gained at the camp.

Camp is fun....sort of feels like what it would like to be a pro (well assuming I was 15 years younger and a whole lot faster) but the idea of training full time. We basically ate, trained, ate, relaxed, trained, ate.....Met some awesome people. Group was made up of 10 hour IM'ers to 14+ hours. Will be great to see more familiar faces out there on the course.