Thursday, March 6, 2014

Epic Women Camp - Craziness!

I just got back from my second training camp this year!  This time I joined pro/coaches Tara Norton and Joanna Carritt for the Epic Women Training Camp in Lanzarote, Spain.  It definitely was an interesting week and definitely epic!  High volume training in some of the toughest conditions with crazy high winds and endless climbing.  I do not think I ever put in volume like I did during the eight day camp before in my life. My totals for the week: 24km swimming, 724km biking, and 47.5km running totaling about 50hrs of training!  I came into this camp nervous knowing I would be out of my league but I held my own and made new friends in the process.  The camp also had a points game going on and you got points for meeting the day's camp minimum and then bonus points for extra mileage or blogging.  My goal was to survive the week, become a better climber/descender on the bike, and to try to meet the camp's daily minimum.  I think I achieved all three!  I was not sure if I was going to be able to do all the runs but I did.  It wasn't too bad but by mid camp my hamstring was feeling it.  Since part of the camp was blogging, I blogged on the camp page every night.  So I have decided to cut and paste my blogs to here so you have a better idea of what we did with some pics!

Day 1 & 2 of Epic Women Camp

Well, I made it!  My first ever Epic Women Camp and it is in Lanzarote, Canary Islands no less! :)  I was nervous coming in as I knew I would be out of my league but I figured I had nothing to lose but to get stronger.  Let me start off my saying I am in the company of some amazing and great women. Coach Tara and Jo have quite the resume and are two amazing and nice people.  I am surrounded by pro triathletes, a 30+ Ironman finisher, an Ultraman Canada champion, multiple IM finishers, and crazy strong and fast athletes!  No shortage of talent here!  I have my work cut out for me.  We also got some great swag from Zoot, and GU is providing our nutrition for the camp (bonus since I did not have to pack any nutrition which can add weight to luggage!).
So far I have survived Day 1 & 2!  Woohoo!  Day 1 we started with a 3km open water swim in the ocean, 105km bike ride including climbing Tobayesco which is apparently a famous climb here on the island, and a brutal 9km trail run.  Day 2 we did a 3km pool swim, 84km bike ride with a TT in the middle and a camel ride (not sure if we broke any Epic camp rules with that one but it definitely was fun!), and a 9km run that was not as brutal! :)  So far so good!  I am planning to survive the week, get stronger on the bike, and hopefully get my running legs back since I have been off of running due to injury.
Dinner time now! More tomorrow!

Day 3 – North Island Tour

This is beginning to get hard! ;)  Guess it is called “Epic” camp for a reason!
First off, I wanted to give props to our house host and hostess – Debs and Daz at Trisport Lanzarote!  They have been just incredible!  Debs has been creating some fabulous meals (including dessert!) feeding us hungry campers and Daz has been helping with our training sessions, bikes, etc.  Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the sag wagon lunches they have been providing so far! Meeting us for our KOMs or TTs and then a lunch stop with a real lunch and refueling our nutrition is priceless! I have been quite enjoying the sandwiches, chips, and coke for lunch!
I was beginning to feel it a bit more today.  We started with a 3km ocean water swim where I felt like I was struggling to move forward.  We followed that by 100+ bike ride of the north island which is part of the Ironman loop.  The bike ride was a bit of a challenge for me today, not only because of the wind and climbing, but more because of the descending.  I have a big fear of descending and I faced those fears head on today.  Full on steep descents with switchbacks and add some wind to the mix – this was not easy for me.  But I survived! Maybe with a little less rubber on my brake pads while white knuckling the handlebars, but I got down! ;) (Huge thanks to Daz for making sure I got down in one piece!) Apparently we will be doing the same descent again so hopefully next time I will feel a bit more comfortable.  Hopefully! ;)  I ended off the day with a 9km run and I have to say even though it was hard with the hills and a good headwind for a portion of it, I felt like my running legs are slowly coming back.  I just have to ignore my run pace! Haha!
Tomorrow we will be doing an aquathon!  Sounds like fun and painful at the same time! Lol!  I’ll report back tomorrow!
Now to enjoy my brownie and ice cream dessert! Yum!!!!  I think this one is well deserved! ;)

Day 4 – The Wind!

I am beginning to develop a love-hate relationship with this island. Today I got a good taste of what the wind is really like here, and it is pretty brutal.  Apparently, the winds can get even worse! Yikes!
The day started with an aquathon!  That was a lot of fun!  We did a 1200m swim, 2 loops of the swim loop we have been doing but with a beach run in between the loops.  I started laughing at one point early in the swim when we were full contact swimming out there, only to have Coach T lead us off course.  Haha!  I noticed we were off course when I saw arms swimming to my far right, and then I saw the first buoy way off to my right and I started making a bee-line to it.  The rest of the swim felt pretty good.  After the swim, I headed to transition and I made up a bit of time there and started the run.  I gave it my all on the run and even came close to puking at about 2km in.  I have not given a run effort like that in a while and I wasn’t sure if I could maintain that for the whole 5km.  I did fade at the end but tried to give a good finishing kick.
Then the bike. Today I got to wear the Player of the Day jersey!!! :)  I was quite honoured to be rewarded the jersey last night for facing my fear of descending yesterday.  So I felt like I had to ride as though I earned it. ;)  But the winds were pretty brutal out there today making this task harder.  The wind also made descending that much more trickier but at least they were not as steep as yesterday.  I was happy to have fellow campers, Alicia and Robyn join me today as it made the ride more bearable.  Always nice having company out there and we conquered the wind although at times there were some close calls.  The wind gusts were pushing us all over the road and then I was almost made roadkill by a tourist bus.  Fun times!  But we survived and hopefully it made us stronger.  We rode the Ocean Lava Half IM course and boy was it tough.  I’ve done some tough IMs and half IMs and this is right up there with one of the toughest.  That bike course was brutal with some wicked climbs.
We ended the day with a nice dinner at a local restaurant where I enjoyed some local grilled seafood and wine.  The wind is supposed to get even stronger the next couple of days so our schedule may be switched around a bit.  We will have to wait and see what happens. We are half way through the camp now and I am making some new friends! Love it!  Bring on the next four days – even the wind! Let’s Smash It!

wearing the "Player of the Day" jersey

Day 5 – Rest Day!

Today was an actual no mandatory workouts day but that did not stop many of us trying to gain some extra points and adding in a workout.  There is a points race going on in the camp which makes things a little more fun!  I won’t be winning the points race but tried to gain some extra points nonetheless.  So I opted for a 6km swim with a 12x (100 IM set, 150swim) set.  I joined Robyn for the IM set which made it a whole lot easier to get through!  Then I attempted the 20×100 set on 1:45 which dropped to 2:00 and then I had to abort.  The wind was making the pool a little extra wavy and after the IM set I may have been a little more tired.  I got to ten and then opted to just swim the rest of the 6000m.  Mission accomplished!
The afternoon we had some fun time with a visit to a winery and some wine tasting.  The initial plan was to ride our bikes to the winery but the winds are even stronger today so it was changed to a drive.  Afterwards we headed to the town of Puerto de Carmen for a little shopping where I got my oh-so-tasty European Nutella to bring home and some souvenirs for gifts.  A low-key day.  Not sure of the plan for tomorrow….will have to wait and see.

Day 6 – Becoming one with the wind.

We were back to the grind today after our rest day.  Today was more of a love the island type of day.
We started the day with a 3km ocean water swim.  As I was donning my wetsuit, my wetsuit decided it had enough training and fell apart.  I had salvaged the wetsuit a couple of years ago and sewed it together before one of my IMs and was able to use it for another year and a half.  I think it is done for realz now!  No chance of salvaging it this time as the hole is incredibly huge.  I was able to still swim with it this morning but I do not think I will be able to use it for the rest of the camp.  Only if it hung in there for another two days.
We came back to the villa for another delicious breakfast before heading out for our bike ride.  The route was changed and shortened to account for the 35+ kph winds with gusts in the 40-50kph range.  The first part of the ride was straight into the wind.  I kind of swore at the wind, and decided to embrace it and just deal with it as I really had no choice.  So the ride really was not that bad, helps that there were no crazy ascents or descents and it was more of a human-type ride.  Since it was a shorter ride I was so tempted to add in an extra 20km for an extra point but decided against it at the last minute and keep to my plan of sticking to the schedule.  After the ride I then went out for a run with Alicia and it was my best run to date.  I think I am getting my running legs back which is exciting and it was great to have Alicia push me along.  I think I may have gained a couple of new training partners when I get back home! ;)
After the run, the pool at the villa looked so inviting so I decided to go for an extra point and do a swim set: 20x100m on 2:00.  I tried 1:45 but the pool is a little on the slow side so I reverted to the 2:00 min pace.  Initially I was going to do another 3km swim but aborted that idea as I was getting tired and feeling lazy. Oh…and I have to make a correction from my post for yesterday – I swam the IM set yesterday with Robyn! Oops!  A bit of brain lapse there!  I ended the day with a yoga session led by Thomas, a friend of Coach T, and it was a really good session.  It was so nice to spend a few minutes to just relax and stretch things out a bit.  Also was nice to do yoga outdoors under the sun.
Day 6 done! Two more to go!

Day 7 – Almost there!

I cannot believe we are done day 7!  One more epic day left!
Today was a little special for me as it was my birthday, and baby Maya’s birthday, and I really did have a great day with my new friends!  We started with a 3km ocean swim as the sun was rising.  As we were getting our wetsuits on, the group sang happy birthday to me! :)  The water was not as inviting though as there were some swells and it was pretty chilly!  Ok, more like cold!  Robyn was kind enough to lend me her wetsuit so I can survive the ocean swim this morning.  After the swim, the plan was to run 9km along the ocean…a more flatter and kinder route.  To my surprise, my bday present was a 5km run instead of 9km! Wohoo!  Not gonna lie, I was pretty happy about this.  And the run felt great! :)  We got back to the villa for another great breakfast, another bday song, and then to get ready for our bike ride.  The plan was for a 111km ride to Orzola with a KOM to Mirador Del Rio.  We had another windy day with a good headwind for a good portion of it and lots of climbing but I decided to become friends with the wind instead of cursing at it.  The KOM was a lot of fun until the winds really had a field day.  I was barely able to stay on the right side of the road.  I was being pushed into the oncoming lane with the gusts and got nervous each time I saw an oncoming car hoping I would not get pushed over.  The fun part was when I was being passed during the KOM (I was the first to start), everyone either sang a short version of happy birthday or yelled it out! :) Even more impressive as we were climbing during this!  Thanks Epic Women!  You guys ROCK and made me feel special today!  I am also becoming accustomed to lunch during these long rides thanks to Debs and Daz.  I am enjoying the nutella and banana sandwich, chips, and coke! Delish!  What am I going to do when I get home?! ;)
Once we got back, I did a yoga session (thanks to Thomas), and had a massage (thanks to Lorenzo).   So nice!  We had a bbq dinner and even a birthday cake for baby Maya and me! I really did have a great day!  Thanks all!
Tomorrow – 180km bike ride!  Let’s SMASH it! ;)

Day 8 – Mission Accomplished!

Done!  And I survived!  Woohoo!
This morning we had a fun swim and did relays.  I was on Coach Jo’s team and we won both the IM relay and free relay.  We each had to do 50m of each IM stroke and then 100m for the free relay.  I did the swim sans wetsuit since mine died and everyone else did it in a wetsuit because of the cold.  But it really was not that bad.
Then for the longest ride of the camp – the Ironman course.  We had tastes of bits and pieces of the course throughout the week, but now for the whole thing.  The wind was not as bad as earlier in the week so the ride was a bit more manageable.  Still tough with the climbs and winds but with some good company and sag support we got through it.  165km total at the end.  DONE!
I’m a little too tired right now to write down more.  We are going out for dinner soon!  I am staying on the island for a couple of extra days to try out some surfing!  Hope I still have some legs left!


A few days have passed since Epic Camp is over.  I am still on this island of Lanzarote with a continued love-hate relationship! Haha!
A look back: I am so happy I did all the camp required workouts.  I wasn’t too sure if I would have been able to do the runs since I have been injured for over a year with very little running, but I managed! And by the end of the week my running legs felt like they were coming back! :)  Woohoo!!!
I was surrounded by an amazing group of women and athletes!  I knew I would be one of the slower ones for the run and bike but I thought I would have been midpack with my swim! Nope!  Very humbling week!  I was pretty much the slowest in everything! Lol!  But I continued and it did not stop me.  I just tried to make the gap less…but don’t think I achieved that!  I was really in survival mode for the bike rides.  I got through them despite the wind and the hills!
A huge thanks to our coaches, Tara and Jo.  As well to our sponsors, Trisport Lanzarote, Coffee of Hawaii, GU, and Zoot.  The camp would not have functioned without all these key participants.  Debs and Daz – your house was awesome!  I was planning (hoping) to lose some weight during this camp but I do not think I achieved this with all the eating of your delicious food I was doing! ;)
A bonus to this camp was the new friends I made.  Found out a couple of fellow campers live close to me so we are planning on doing some rides or runs together.  Yay! New training partners. And Lisa: you bet! IMSA 2015!!! Deal!!! ;)   Looking forward to seeing all of your success this racing season and beyond!
I will be leaving this island tomorrow.  Lanzarote made sure I had a good send off with colder temps and high winds again!  I spent the last two days surfing.  Yesterday was brutal!  With the high tide we were in the rocks and the waves were all over the place (it was also a full moon).  Robyn joined me on this surfing adventure yesterday and we were thrown all over the place.  It may have been the fatigue of the camp or the water was really rough, but the water won yesterday and I could not stand up on the board.  Today was another story! Yay!  I stood up on the board numerous times!  That was more like it!  It was low tide so we had a sandy beach and either I got used to the waves, had more strength, or the waves were tamer, but I had a great time today.  I was still thrown all over the place and am coming home with new bumps and bruises but I stood up! Lol!
I also did a little exploring today.  Since I do not have a car I am restricted to my bike or feet.  I was very reluctant to jump on the bike but I thought I would get to where I wanted to go quicker and I would just EASY pedal.  Easy I did go and I felt pretty good.  Also took a walk around the volcanoes today and my legs were feeling good then to!  Maybe I should have pushed harder during the camp! ;) Haha!  However, I think the effort of the camp finally got to me because now I am sick! Boo! :( I will be flying home with a runny nose, sore chest, and nasty cough – good times!
Well, that is a wrap up from me!  2014 Epic Women Camp Lanzarote was a success!
Adios! y Gracias!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Operation get back into shape 2014!

I started some "real" training last month and I am almost back to a regular training routine!  It definitely was hard to get back into training and doing the workouts that hurt more! Lol!  The winter we are having in Toronto is also making it hard to train.  Running, which is my weakest and least favourite event, has been non-existent.  It either has been too cold or too snowy or too icy to go out for a run.  Excuses, excuses, I know!  It is times like these I wish I had easy access to a treadmill.  There is always the indoor track but since my hamstring is not quite ready for intervals on a track, the thought of going round and round at a steady pace is nauseating.  I guess it is better than nothing.  I do hope to go out and run again soon!  I need to!  By mid January I had enough with the snow and ice.  I even crashed on my commuter one night due to some black ice so I made the last minute decision to sign up for a cycling training camp in California.  I first had to give away and switch some shifts around at work and I have awesome coworkers who helped me out and allowed me to escape from the winter for a week of cycling!  I joined the RealDeal Performance camp in San Diego, California knowing I would be out of my league but I figured I had nothing to lose!  And boy was I right! These people were either pro, elite, or on the national team!  I worked hard and definitely improved over the week getting some fitness and strength back and I had a great time and made some new friends!  I apparently impressed some of the guys during the week but I am not a quitter and I stuck to it and just worked hard getting my butt kicked! Haha!  I put in about 500km during the week.  Not bad!   Here is a group pic of us at La Jolla Cove, so nice to be outside!

Photo courtesy of Ed Veal/RealDeal Performance

Now I am trying to keep my gained fitness and keep myself fit for the next camp I signed up for.  Another camp which I will be out of my league but I was welcomed to join and again, have nothing to lose but to get stronger!  I will be leaving at the end of the month for Lanzarote, Canary Islands for the Epic Women Camp hosted my pro triathlete Tara Norton!  Not gonna lie, I am super nervous but also super excited about the trip.  Bring it on! :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Looking back at 2013 and looking forward to 2014.

Wow!  Have I ever neglected this blog! :( Oops!  I will certainly try to do better in 2014.  There are a couple of posts I would still like to write about and still plan on doing so.  Luckily, I wrote notes on my Pacific coast cycling adventure and my Kilimanjaro adventure!  Both were done in 2013 and were incredible adventures that I would like to share!  Climbing Kilimanjaro was a goal of mine and I am so happy that I accomplished it!  Truly, amazing!

In the past I have written a 'year in review' post, however, I kind of also failed to put one together for 2013. So here it is, better late than never! ;)

2013 ended up being a frustrating year injury wise.  I had stopped running after my last race in 2012 in hopes that my hamstring would heal.  No dice!  Ended up getting an MRI late January after xrays and ultrasounds were done to confirm that I did tear my hamstring.  With that news and the number of hours of rehab I have already went through, it was decided that I go the PRP route.  Until then, I was focusing on just swimming and yoga.  Got my first PRP shot at the end of February and I decided to also lay off the yoga.  My 35th birthday present to myself was a PRP shot, haha!  After that, I started getting back on the bike trainer and tried some running by mid April.  I went on a cycling trip to Vegas in April with two fantastic athletes/friends and put in some great mileage!  Running was still painful so in May, we decided to go for a second PRP shot, with the understanding I may need two more since my injury has been chronic.  Getting the 2nd shot in May was putting any chance of racing in 2013 in jeopardy.  However, I am a pretty stubborn and determined person and was not going to give up yet.  So six weeks after the 2nd PRP shot I went and completed Mont Tremblant 70.3 on virtually no run training.  I was pleased with myself for finishing it and then backed off the running again to try to give my hammy a break.  I mainly focused on cycling and swimming.  In mid July, I started to get more serious in running again and did the Toronto Olympic triathlon and followed that by the Calgary 70.3.  I was actually very happy with my performance in Calgary.  I used my time in Alberta for my last bit of training before the Ironman and managed to run 15km, 24km, and 25km in the last two weeks before my two week taper. That was it for long runs.  Then it was time for Ironman Mont Tremblant.  And I did it!  I managed to gut it out and finished the Ironman on little run training.  Not a personal best or anything but a definite accomplishment.  After the race, I stuck true to the deal I made with myself of no more races for the year and to stop running again to try to get back to 100%.  In the meantime, I traveled and went on some amazing adventures.  I rode my bike from San Francisco to San Diego in six days!  My friend and I may make this a yearly trip!  So much fun!  And then in October I traveled to Tanzania in East Africa and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and went on a safari!  A trip of a lifetime!  I got back into yoga and by December, I started to slowly get back into running.  Along the way I managed to get tendinitis in my right foot by June and sprained my wrist trying something new out in December.  I am looking forward to becoming pain and injury free in 2014!

Here are some numbers for 2013:

Swim:  248.2km (Jan to the beginning of Aug - stopped logging after that)
Bike:  4243.08 km (March to beg of September - no trainer or commuting mileage included)
Run: 369.87 km

On tap for 2014? Well, after IM MT I had the racing bug in me and felt that after my cycling adventure I was in much better shape for an Ironman.  I had a hard time not signing up for another race in 2013 so what did I do? Sign up for two Ironmans in 2014! Smart? Ha! Probably not!  But I am up to the challenge and looking forward to it!  I have a new coach and hopefully a better year in training.  My previous coach had worked out well and he was great, but he just got picked up to race cycling at an elite level and decided he could not give me as much time as he deemed fair to be my coach.  I need accountability and therefore, need a coach to achieve that.  Hopefully, my new coach will work out well and I can get back into IM race shape (and lose some pounds I gained over the holidays)!.  I have a couple of training camps on tap to kick my butt into shape as well as continuing with the rehab and getting my hammy back to 100%.  I really hope to get back to training on the track sometime soon with the UTTC gang but I cannot do that yet.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  Slowly but surely...I hope!