I swear I would've written more intermittent updates but we just barely had time for anything in between all of the training so I'm just getting to it now. I made it to our hotel in Florida on Wednesday afternoon after a mere four hours of driving. After the day before, this wasn't too bad at all. Though in spite of the fact that I'd slept in and didn't even leave until after 10:00 in the morning I still spent some time in the middle of the driving thinking how nice it would be to just shut my eyes and fall asleep. Nice, that is, except for the whole crashing and dying part. But I survived and made myself at home.
I was rooming with Mary and Tara, teammates, fellow coaches, awesome triathletes and friends. Our room situation worked out quite well when without really talking about it we all just sort of settled into our own little corners where we'd pile our stuff quite haphazardly. Poor Mary once again had a messed up flight and didn't get here until about 1:30 in the morning the first night. I was exhausted the next morning after having gone to bed at 9:45, so I can't imagine what she must've felt like. It was also the first time I've ever known Mary to actually sleep in, which in this case was about 7am.
Day one started off with a nice 4000-yard swim over at the National Training Center. We divided up by ability and it's always very nice when your group really works out just the way those groups are supposed to, which was the case in my lane of five. It's amazing how a 4000-yard workout seems a lot less painful when you're not by yourself. We had some time off after that before going out for a two-hour easy ride, which was spent in the warm sun.
After that came the part of the weekend I was probably most dreading, and that is a 5K time trial on the track. After riding we changed and headed over to warm up. We were, as usual, running a little late so this didn't even start until 5:00 or so. We split into two groups and fortunately mine was going first so I could get it over with! Trying to run "hard" for really almost any amount of time is not really my thing. But, the good news is that I survived without any lingering damage. I wasn't expecting much and I got pretty much what I expected. I was mostly just glad to be done. But it was fun to watch the really fast people head out and run after us. It never ceases to amaze me how they can so often make that kind of thing look effortless.
It was almost dark by the time we finished and we didn't have a ton of time before we had to meet up again for a Q&A session back at the hotel, so we needed to grab some dinner. I suggested the Ruby Tuesday's just down the street because they have that fantastic salad bar which meant that we could begin eating from almost the moment we sat down, so Mary, Tara and I had a nice dinner over there and made it back for the talk. Once we went to bed we spent way too much time talking before falling asleep and woke up pretty tired again.
We had some breakfast and then got ready for the long ride. Six hours and a little transition run. It sounds like a lot to some, but really, I enjoy the long rides, so I was looking forward to it. We were going to set off in three separate groups since there were a lot of us and Jesse told me to ride with them (them being the really fast ones) so I was interested to see how things would go. Overall I was really happy with that ride. Eventually we sort of split into two groups and I was in the second one but much like the swimming our little group worked well and kept a good pace (mostly thanks to Cait tugging us around for 60+ miles) and I was really, really happy with the overall pace.
After one last fuel stop we sort of regrouped again and I wound up riding back with Duffy and Charlie while those other guys rode out a bit further before turning back so they could really, really go at it on the way back. I still felt decent, but I definitely didn't feel like I was in a position to hammer the final 25 miles of the ride. Ours worked out perfectly. I was really, really exhausted at the end, and definitely pushed my limits though not to the point of destroying myself at the end, which was perfect. It's nice to have a really solid and encouraging workout like that.
Unfortunately, I still had to run. The first few steps sent pain radiating through my tired quads but I did eventually loosen up and while it wasn't fast, it was at least not the worst thing I'd ever tried to do. So it was a very good workout day. After we all got cleaned up we had a big group dinner at Carrabba's, which is conveniently located pretty much in our hotel parking lot. Definitely had an enjoyable dinner there and then went back for a nutrition talk before collapsing into bed. Once again, we just couldn't stop talking. It's very strange to suddenly have people to talk to before you fall asleep.
Then yesterday afternoon we had a 5000m swim in the NTC pool that had been switched to long course. That's a lot of swimming, but once again, it went by much faster than expected and my lane worked out perfectly. We even did something fun for a change and at the end of the whole swim workout we split into random 4-person groups for a 4x50 relay race. By that point in the day I was pretty shot, but I must say as I took off the wall to swim the second leg I felt like I was flying. Of course, this all ended very quickly as after only about twenty yards my arms completely shut down and I swear I thought I was never going to finally get to the wall at the other end of the pool. But, of course, I did. My team did not win. But Mary won her 50-meter kick-off against Pat Wheeler, which really was the most important thing.
Last night we had dinner delivered and then watched people's run analysis videos before once again trying to go to bed early but failing. Well, to be fair, we get in bed at a reasonable time, it's the falling asleep part that happens way too late. So this morning was a bit rough getting up but we were almost done. For some reason, even though I'm in Florida, it was really, really cold. I'm not talking about cold compared to what Florida normally is, I mean actually cold. Like low 30's and windchill in the 20's. The plan today was 2-hour easy ride and then a 2-hour long run but most people here don't have the kind of gear you need to train in temperatures like that. So a lot of people went back to the NTC to use the treadmills and spin bikes.
I, on the other hand, have everything. But of course this has a lot more to do with the fact that I'm going to be on the road for three months and figured I'd rather have everything for the chance of almost any weather rather than getting stuck without something I needed. I did at least decide to go run first and let it warm up a tiny bit. The run wasn't really that bad. Sure, my legs were really cold, but I never felt overwhelmingly cold while I was running. The only times it wasn't so great were when the wind was once again blowing harshly in my face. But hey, at least the sun was out.
So I spent the run thinking that it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be, and then when I suited up and hopped on my bike I spent a good chunk of that thinking it was a lot worse than I expected it to be. I was so cold! I think it was also because the ride starts out with a lot of downhills, which when it's cold is pretty much the last thing you actually want. But, like always, I survived and it felt so good to be done. Not to mention finally getting to hop into a nice shower. But I even had to turn on the heat in the hotel room. Hopefully this doesn't last long!
So now we're just waiting for our last little camp wrap up and that will be the end of that. It's been a good weekend and I think a good way to kick off the beginning of my travels. It's funny that last year it was the end of my trip and this year it's the beginning. Now will come a few weeks of bouncing around Florida before moving on over to Birmingham. So this will be fun, I think. Hopefully I don't get too sick of traveling with my entire life in my car!