Bike, Run, Triathlon

Falsies and Fun

Camp Day 3

We met at the same bike area in Natchez Trace at 6am.  We were assigned groups, and mine would be riding anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours.  We were to go to a rest stop 12 miles away.  Once we got there, we would do hills for however much time we needed to kill to then make it back from the rest stop by our meetup time.  I didn’t really sleep well and wasn’t feeling so hot, but was trying to make the best of it.  I like group rides and this was the same concept.  We were to stay within sight of each other at all times.  It also didn’t hurt that my group had two of the campers that I really liked a lot. 

We headed out and while it was hilly, it was a lot cooler and the hills weren’t as steep.  The scenery was absolutely gorgeous!  There were some challenging parts, but overall the ride to the rest stop wasn’t bad.  In fact, there were some nice down hills that made things really awesome.  Awesome until I said that and then heard someone say “yeah, Robbie plans it that way so the hard stuff is on the way back when you are tired!”  Jerk.  I will say that day two on downhills was much better.  I got a little more daring and didn’t brake much at all.  Dare I say it was kind of fun at times?  We filled up our water bottles and took quick potty breaks but there wasn’t much of a “rest” at the rest stop.  We headed for the prescribed hills to begin round 1.   

These hills were a little tougher and there were a lot of what they apparently call “false flats.”  When you look at it, you swear it is flattening out, it does not look like an incline at all, but it’s an optical illusion the way the road is marked and the angle of the mounts all around you.  False flats are my least favorite thing.  At least with the other hills, you know it’s coming!  With these, you think you might be getting a reprieve but NO, they are still a hill!   

Stuart (the awesome high five guy from the other day) was the most experienced of the group.  He would go to the front, check on everyone and make his way to the back.  His wife Megan was also in our group.  We talked and talked about how we grew up, our jobs, our support systems, etc.  She is just as awesome as he is, so I was surrounded by great people during that ride.  People would refer to Stuart as a “big guy” and he was telling me that another person at camp told him that when she saw his photo on the site and knew if he could do triathlon she should be able to.  I told him that I thought that was kind of rude.  I learned very early on when I started running that you cannot ever judge a book by it’s cover.  I’ve seen super fit looking women passed by women that could be considered “fat.”  He told me he was SO glad she said that.  He said that is his goal.  He says he wants people to look at him and think that if he can do it, they can do it.  I reminded him of how awesome he was. 

The gang at the rest stop

We started to make our way back when we realized how ominous the sky was.  A light rain came, which felt good.  It wasn’t as hot as yesterday, but I also knew I had dry running clothes in the car so if I got wet at all it would not be for long.  That light rain gradually turned into a downpour!  It was a little scarier going downhill in the rain, but surprised myself and handled it pretty well.  It was raining so hard it actually hurt and made it hard to see.  As we were finally coming up to the meeting point, I saw that two of the girls in my group passed the closer entrance.  I thought to myself that they must care about the details and have to fully complete the circle by going back in where we left.  Overachievers.   

I got my bike and my body in the truck as fast as I can since it was still pouring down.  Coach had texted someone was saving seats for everyone at a local breakfast place so I started to head out.  About a mile and a half I see one of the girls from my group.  I rolled the window down and asked her if she parked in the further lot and she replied that she had not, she didn’t realize she passed the place we met!  I told her to toss her bike in the bed and jump in and I would bring her back up the hill to her car.  I grabbed the bags in my front seat, tossed them in the back and took her up to her car. 

I got to the breakfast place so looking forward to putting on my nice warm running clothes.  What I did not realize was that when I tossed my bags in the back to let her in, the ice water I had poured directly into my running shoes and bag.  So much for nice and warm.  I pulled the ice cubes out of my shoes and slipped them on.  Thankfully my running leggings and tank were not wet so at least that was nice.  I still had to have a wet sports bra (my current one because the running one had ice in it) and shoes soaked and cold.  I went in and ate a bagel breakfast sandwich.  I was so looking forward to this run, now not so much.  The last thing I wanted was wet feet, and blisters. 

We headed over to Percy Warner Park for our run.  It’s absolutely beautiful!  I took every precaution I could.  I got anti-chafe cream and put it all between my toes and all over my feet and put my socks on at the last minute.  I knew they would get wet from the shoes but I was trying to delay the inevitable as long as I could.  We were given our instructions, my group’s run was about an hour and a half.  We were warned not to go hard because the entire thing is hilly.  I just hoped for no false flats! 

I put my headphone in and got to work.  For me, when I run the first mile or so is a little rough, but then I warm up and feel like I do my best.  Today was no different.  At the start, and those hills, I was thinking that maybe this was going to be way harder than I imagined!  I mean, I love running.  I am not as good as I used to be, but I genuinely enjoy it.  I hoped things would get better.  We had to watch where we went because the ground was covered in twigs and slippery leaves due to storms that came through the day before, but I started to look around a little.  We were literally in the middle of winding forest around a mountain.  How often do I get to see mountains that aren’t made of landfill?  Never!  I saw a chipmunk running around and the sounds reminded me of camping.  I know I said it already but I will say it again, it was beautiful.  At some point things clicked in and I was just jamming.  Not really fast, but a nice steady pace given the terrain.  There were a couple points where it got super steep and I walked but only a short time.  I was ok with that, because I was not sure what would be just around the corner. 

When I came out of the woods and started to round the corner to where we were parked, the entire team was lined up and chanting my name.  I threw my arms up and fist pumped and headed into the home stretch.  I got high fives on both sides, assuming I was the last in.  To my surprise, I was not.  There were actually a few people still out there.  I hung with the team and lines up for high fives as they came in.  The last person was a kick butt girl who paced herself slowly because of the humidity.  It was very similar to yucky Florida days, so I don’t think it affected me as bad.  When she came out of the forest and had the home stretch left she was walking.  Someone said “should we bring her in?” I bolted out along with two other ladies who I know like her as much as I do and we got next to her, turned around and got her running again and into the high five line that awaited her.   

It was a long hard day and we had a team dinner scheduled for 5:30.  I headed back to the hotel and crammed two peanut butter jelly sandwiches in my face to hold me over.  I showered and tried to stretch a little before it was time to head to dinner.  Including any spouses that came to dinner, we had 33 people so we had a section of the restaurant but not a table together.  I sat with coach and a really cool couple that I had not gotten a chance to hang with much prior.  It was really comfortable conversation and we had a lot of laughs.  Much like Burger King, it may have been the hunger but the place we went to had the best baked potato I have ever had!  They somehow embed sea salt into the skin and I ate every bite of that thing.  I also had a rare sirloin and that hit the spot as well.  We followed things up with some chocolate cake and a few more laughs before heading back to my home away from home for the night.  Sadly two of my favorites would not be at the final swim the next day, so we said our goodbyes.  I got the biggest and warmest hug from Stuart, or Papa Smurf as I called him.  He made me promise that I would update him on my progress.  Even if it meant triathlon wasn’t for me, he and his Mrs. Megan genuinely wanted to know.  Maybe people don’t suck.  Ok, these people definitely don’t suck. 

Bike, Run, Swim, Triathlon

Pool Pressure and Humble Pie

Camp Day 2

The alarm went off and I was so not ready.  I had to be at the pool at 6:00 am, and I was a good 30 minute drive away, so I got up at 4 (you know why, I don’t need to keep talking about my business).  I did all my morning stuff and headed out.  I was pretty terrified of the pool swim because I have seen videos of other camps and I haven’t been really pushing myself in the pool lately.  A little part of me felt more confident than I would have because of all those nice comments the day before about my stroke not being as horrible as I thought it was. 

We got assigned specific lanes and coach asked who there had never circle swum.  I raised my hand and his comment was “BOOOOO!”  He explained that the first person goes off and then X seconds later the next person, etc.  He explained you cannot stop at the other end since someone is coming up right behind you.  Great.  I always pause when I turn around, I mean I really like stealing that extra second of rest and extra breath!  He told us to swim 300 to warm up.  I said, “May I use the pool buoy?  I have never gone that long without it.”  His response was “No, there’s a first time for everything.”  Jerk.   

We got going, with 5 seconds between each person taking off and I actually didn’t do half bad!  He ended up giving me the buoy towards the end because he could see I was huffing a bit.  I was happy to see that at least I was not the only one.  I said to one of the girls that the pool felt really long to me and she asked about it because she thought that too.  Turned out it is 25 meters, not the 25 yards I am used to.  Not a huge difference, but longer just the same.  On our next set of laps, I kept hitting the feet of the lady in front of me with my hands  and slowing down.  He ended up making us swap spots.  Could it be?  I am not the last swimmer?!!!  That was pretty cool and gave me a nice boost. 

Once we were done with the main pool workout, he split us into groups that contained fast and slow people and were doing a relay.  Oh lordy, here it goes.  I don’t like to try to go fast but I did my best.  I had two different people comment on how good my stroke was.  Were these people paid off by coach to blow smoke up my butt or what?!   

Prepping for circle swims

We left the pool and headed to breakfast.  We had about two hours to order, eat and finish up to head to the Natchez Trace for our hill bike workout.  I figured that was enough time to digest.  I had what was called the 18 wheeler.  Oh yeah, it earned it’s name.  It was scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and french toast baby!  I ate every bite and felt like I still had room to go.  After chatting with some of the other campers and hanging a bit, it was time to go.  I stood up and thought, oh man, maybe that was not a good idea. 

We got to the trace and I had to pee really bad.  I was let down when I found out there was no bathroom…. Other than the woods.  Dang, I should have brought my tinkle bell.  Oh well, me and three other girls made our way into the dense treescape and did our thang.  

We were split into groups and told what to do.  My group was supposed to go down this 2+ mile hill and then back up it twice.  Once we were done with that, we were to go the other way, to the steep hill and do that one twice.  I was actually feeling a little confident.  I like what is called big gear work, which is just fancy for a gear that is harder to pedal in.  I like it more than when I am pedaling fast.  I hadn’t considered two things in this confidence equation.  First, the down hills and second, these were real hills, not overpasses like in FL!  I started down to the first turn around and was totally terrified!  I was going 25 miles per hour down a curvy hill!  I immediately began to start braking, which didn’t seem to be having the effect I expected.  It got to the point of where my hand was cramping I was trying to squeeze so hard!  I finally made it to the bottom and was excited for the uphill part. 

Beautiful Natchez Trace

I started the climb, which looked relatively even and not super steep, I switched gears to make it a little easier to pedal and huffed away.  I switched gears again to make it a little easier to pedal.  I did that a few more times until I realized I was completely out of gears!  I was dying!  My legs were on fire and my heart was beating out of my chest!  I finally got to the top where we turn around to head back downhill again and I almost threw up.  My heart rate was super high and I felt like my head was going to explode.  I was doing everything I could not to see the 18 wheeler again. 

A few minutes later as I was holding in my puke and trying to get my heartrate down, coach rode up beside and said “what are you doing?”  I told him I was trying not to toss my cookies and needed to get my heart rate back down before trying again.  I said, “I’m sorry.  I am just not sure I can do this.”  His response was “Don’t be sorry, you can do this.  And sometimes breakfast just needs to come back out.” He rode off and I thought, Jerk.  I took another minute to compose myself and headed back down.  I was ready for the shame of having to get off the bike and walk it back up if I had to, but I also realized that I was so confident and gung ho that I really tried to do it too fast on the way up.  I headed back down, death grip intact on the brakes, but I did let it up here and there when it wasn’t so curvy. 

I started the climb and this time, I did not change gears until my legs absolutely could not take it any more in the gear I was in.  I went very slowly and made the climb as stead as I could.  I made it back up to the top and was super thrilled and humbled.  I watched the others going by like maniacs on the downhill and rocking the ups like the rock stars they are.  Coach told me to continue that hill, over and over.  So, that’s what I did for what seemed like forever.  Then, it was time to run.  I wish I could say the run went well.  It was blistering hot and my legs were jelly after that ride.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to run the same hill, but it was definitely hilly enough to hurt.  Most of us walked in between rather we wanted to or not.  It wasn’t a very long run, so that was good and I knew that once it was over I would be eating and showering, two of my favorite things lately. 

We all talked about the plan for the next day and headed out.  Part of me wanted to get Burger King again but I knew that this time I really needed to shower before eating, but I also knew that I would not want to move after I showered so I opted for another old favorite… Jimmy Johns.  Thankfully there was one on the way home.  I picked it up and headed in for a shower and shoveled that sub in my face so fast it was probably dangerous.  Dangerous but delicious.  I realized that if I stayed there, I would probably fall asleep (it was 4pm) and that may not be a good idea.  I decided to explore the local shops including my favorite REI.  I found a really awesome bike shop and actually got a new pair of shorts.  I got a text that some folks were meeting up for pizza for dinner at 5:30.  It was about 3:30 when I had lunch but figured I could fit some pizza in and socializing would be good for me.  Ugh 

I headed over to meet up with the folks that were getting pizza, including coach.  It was very different than I expected.  Yes, a lot of the talk was about triathlon, but there was a lot more about where we were from, our families, etc.  It was reinforced how lucky I am that my boys support my crazy adventures.  I heard nightmare stories of family members being against their loved ones participating.  I was a little worried it might go late, but we were done by 7 and I headed back to the room to get everything ready for the next day.  The long ride and run day.  Why am I here again?