Race Report: Monticelloman Olympic Triathlon

On Sunday, I raced the Olympic distance race at Monticelloman for the second year in a row.

Last year, I had a strong race at this event. My goal for this year was to try to improve on my times from last year, knowing that I have put in a lot of time and effort in the past year to improve my swim, bike, and run.

I’ve been challenging myself by going to early morning masters swim once a week; going to evening group rides once a week (even though I often get dropped during these rides); and pushing myself on the run with lots of speedwork on the treadmill. This March, I went through a bit of a training slump, but I’ve come back strong.

Despite knowing I’ve put in the work, leading up to this year’s Monticelloman, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to replicate my strong day from last year, particularly on a challenging course with rolling hills on the bike and run.

Race goals aside, I was super excited for race weekend because I was racing with two of my favorite people – Taryn and Megan.

Volunteering with Megan & Taryn at IM Maryland last year (someone didn’t wear her costume!)

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We were staying together for the weekend and I knew we were going to have a lot of fun hanging out together. The three of us met up at packet pickup at Lake Monticello on Saturday and did a shakeout ride and swim and then went to dinner. 

My pre-race routine was a bit different for this race. On the Friday night before the race, I went to a wine tasting party. I normally wouldn’t do something like that so close to a race, but I really like this group of ladies and wanted to go. The night before the race, the forecast was calling for thunderstorms and we were sure the race was going to be cancelled. So, we went to Ben & Jerry’s and got ice cream after dinner (if you haven’t tried their new vegan ice creams, you should!).

Of course, by the time we got back home, the forecast had cleared and we were expecting rain, but no thunderstorms, on race morning. Whoops! #sorrynotsorry

I called my husband before I went to bed on Saturday night. He said I should really work hard to have a good race because then I would have an excuse to drink wine and eat ice cream before every race going forward. Good point by the hubs!

On race morning, we woke up to pouring (I mean seriously pouring) rain and, of course, there was lots of discussion about what this would mean in terms of what we should wear (arm warmers? vest? jacket?), how we should alter our racing strategy, why are we even doing this crazy sport, should we just go out for pancakes instead, etc. We decided to go the race and hope for the best.

Luckily, shortly after we got into transition, we ran into my Team HPB and Ignite Endurance teammate, Nate, and he talked us through some of the questions we had (thank you, Nate!). I have to say, I did feel better about the rain after talking to him. The rain actually let up a bit as we were getting set up, but it was still quite cold. I was glad to get into my wetsuit, which kept me warm.

Megan was racing the half aqua bike, so she started in an early wave. Taryn and I were starting together in a later wave, so we were able to walk down to the beach to the start together.  When we got there, we both noticed we did not see a lot of pink (female athlete) caps. There were a lot more men than women. We did start to see some ladies trickle into the water and we ran into two athletes who live locally to us, Karen and Kate. Karen and I are making pre-race meets ups a habit – we hung out before the start at Atlantic City last year. It’s always nice to see familiar faces at the start of the race when nerves are a bit high.

One of the really nice things about this race is that Lake Monticello has a smooth sandy bottom and is shallow enough to stand for the start. The water in Lake Monticello was cold. I knew once we got moving we would warm up, but standing there was less than pleasant. Two waves of men were starting the Olympic in front of us, and, of course, as we were waiting, the rain started again – just in time to make things difficult for sighting on the swim course!

I’ve been working a lot on my swim, both with Alyssa and by attending masters with Machine M3 Triathlon every Thursday morning at my local rec center (I need to give a shout out to the Machine coaches – Andrew and Cindy – for helping me improve my swimming over the last several months), so I was hopeful that I would have a strong swim. I didn’t start off great (story of my OWS life!), but I eventually settled into a rhythm and was able to try to actually think about my stroke and the things I’ve been working on over the last few months.

Side note: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but for anyone who has open water swim anxiety, I highly recommend investing in a more expensive wetsuit. It has helped me so much to not feel so restricted in the water. Triathlon is expensive and you need to pick and choose what you want to spend money on. I still don’t use power on my bike, but I bought a nice wetsuit and that has really been worth it to me.

Sighting on the swim course was difficult in the rain, but generally speaking, the swim went by pretty quickly (is that the first time I’ve ever said that?) and soon enough I was back at the beach. I purposefully didn’t wear a watch for the swim, so I wasn’t sure of my time when I exited the water, but I knew I did the best I could on the day.

I scurried into transition and tried to get ready for the bike. It was POURING at this point and trying to get in and out of clothes and organized for the bike was a struggle. This was not the speediest of transitions for this girl (sorry, Alyssa!).

I headed out on the bike going a bit conservatively because of the rain, particularly because I knew there was a fairly steep descent within the first mile of the course. I took it easy there and on a few other tricky spots, but at the same time, I tried to push myself to go hard. Eventually, the rain stopped and the sun came out, and I was able to really push myself on the bike as the miles went by. The best news of the day is that I didn’t get any flats!

My only mechanical issue was that the velcro strap holding my aero bottle in place came undone after I hit a bump in the road. I am paranoid about following the rules and didn’t want to get a littering penalty, so I was trying to hold the bottle in place with my hand. The problem was that I couldn’t use my brakes with my hand holding the bottle in place. I finally figured out a way to wrap the strap around the bottle in a way that loosely held the bottle in place (better than nothing!) until I got back to the transition area. I slowed down a bit to deal with the bottle issue, but I tried to pick it back up as soon as I could.

I rode back to transition, dismounted, trotted back into transition with my bike (I was not about to try to run fast on wet pavement wearing bike shoes!) and just as I rounded the turn, I saw Taryn leaving transition. I shouted “GO TARYN!,” but she didn’t hear me.

This second transition was much quicker than the first (thankfully!) and I was able to get out on the run course in pretty smooth fashion.

I knew the run course was going to be brutal with all of the hills, especially after pushing myself on the bike. But, I also knew I just needed to focus on the task at hand (good form, fueling, etc.) and not let myself get distracted thinking about the hills or where I may or may not be in terms of my overall time or age group place.

Before the race, I was worried that a lot of the volunteers weren’t going to show up because of the weather. I wouldn’t need them for nutrition on the bike (I can carry plenty of nutrition to cover a 90 minute race), but I would for the 10k run. There were probably less volunteers than last year, but it didn’t negatively impact my racing experience. There were two adorable little girls – maybe 4 and 5 – volunteering on the run course and I ate a gel as I was approaching them. One of the girls must have seen me do that because she said something like “you can just drop your Gu packet here, we’ll get it for you!” So darn cute! 

In any case, I kept motoring along and would occasionally glance at my Garmin. I was hovering right around 9:00 mm pace, which was good, but nothing spectacular. I tried to push a bit harder.

A woman in my age group came running past me around mile 4-ish. I tried to stay with her, but I couldn’t. I kept her in my line of sight though and kept pushing. I always have to pull out all the stops in terms of positive thinking when I’m trying to push hard in a race. This time, I thought about an especially challenging workout I recently did with my friend (and Team HPB teammate), Beth, that finished with us running a mile as fast as we could. I ran that mile MUCH faster than I thought I was going to be able to during that workout. So, I told myself I could push harder than I thought I could to maintain my run pace to the finish.

I crossed the finish line and knew I had given it my all on the run because I felt like I might puke (luckily, I did not). I met up with Taryn right away and we talked about our days. We both knew we had strong races, but we anxiously awaited the posting of our times to confirm. Thankfully, it was good news for both of us!

My finish time of 2:42:22 was over 12 minutes faster than my race last year and I had improved my times in the swim, bike, and run.

2015     33:17     1:19:23     57:47     2:54:34

2016     26:07     1:16:26     54:14     2:42:22

I also ended up finishing in 2nd in my age group, which meant I would be standing on the podium for the first time ever. Now, full disclosure, the weather kept a lot of athletes home this year. They haven’t posted results by Age Group yet, but I saw very few women (of any age) out on the course on Sunday. However, even in last year’s women’s 35-39 field of 20 athletes, I would have finished in second place. Yes, I checked. I can only control what I can control. I can’t control who shows up on race day, but I can control my own performance. Small field or not, I am very happy with my day.

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Huge thanks to Alyssa and Team HPB; Ignite Endurance and our amazing sponsors; Andrew and Cindy at Machine M3; Bobo’s Oat Bars; and, of course, my fabulous husband for his continued support of this crazy hobby of mine.

Shout out to Taryn, who CRUSHED it and finished 1st AG in her first race back after she was hit by a car on the bike last year; Karen, who finished 2nd AG behind Taryn; and Nate, who won the half. Megan fought through the cold rain and finished the half aqua-bike, despite a rough day. 

I’m so glad I came back to Monticelloman for a second year. I definitely plan to do this race again in 2017.

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2015 Charlottesville Training Camp

After a great race in Atlantic City, I was home for only one day before heading to Charlottesville for the second annual East Coast version of Team HPB training camp over July Fourth weekend. I did the camp last year and was excited to see how I would do this year, with another year of training with Alyssa under my belt.

Like last year, Leslie and Nate joined Alyssa as camp coaches. I’ve become better friends with Leslie over the past year and was excited to get to train with her. I also knew a couple of other campers from working with Alyssa, and I was looking forward to getting to train with them and having company during camp this year (last year, I was by myself a lot, being slower than the other campers).

I arrived in Charlottesville on Thursday night and started camp off with an intense sports massage. I had one before Monticelloman and I thought it really helped me in the weeks afterward, so I knew I wanted to get another massage in while I was in the area again. After the massage, I checked into my sketchy wallet-friendly hotel and said hello to two of my Team HPB teammates, Megan and Bri, who were staying in the room next door. They are also training for their first Ironman (both doing Lake Placid later this month).

After we unpacked, we drove to the UVA track to meet up with the other campers (most of whom I “knew” from the Team HPB Facebook group) for a shake-out run. It’s always a little bit weird when you meet social media “friends” in-person for the first time. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out who was who and put names with faces. Everyone was super friendly right from the start, which is always a good sign.

I wasn’t feeling 100% (perhaps I caught a bug at one of the casinos in A.C.), so I knew this run wasn’t going to be easy. Thankfully, Leslie took pity on me and ran with me at the back of the pack. She just raced IM CdA, as did Nate and Alyssa, so I think she welcomed accompanying me for some slower-paced sessions over the course of the weekend.

After the run, we had pizza (thank you, Alyssa, for getting vegan pizza!) and watermelon and got to chit-chat a bit with the other campers. It was clear from the very first night that we were all going to get along very well. We laughed a lot at dinner! After we finished eating, we headed back to the hotel for an early bedtime, since Friday was our big bike day.

We woke up early on Friday morning for our long ride, which ended up being just under 105 miles. This was the longest ride I’ve done so far this season by quite a bit (I’d done one 70 and two 85 mile rides prior to camp). I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel riding so far so soon after the race, and being on my road bike (my tri bike was in the shop), which I never ride for more than 90 minutes at a time anymore.

Ready to ride Skyline, wearing my MooMotion kit & socks that say “You Got This” (a gift from Megan). Photo credit goes to Leslie.

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Leslie, Megan, and I rode together for the first half of the ride. I’ve ridden with Megan before, so I knew we were around the same pace and expected (hoped!) we would ride together during camp. It wasn’t really hot, but it was super humid. Luckily, we had SAG support which helped ensure we were all on top of our fluids and nutrition throughout the day. I carried two bottles on my bike (one with The Right Stuff, which was a lifesaver in that humidity) and two Bobo’s Oat Bars in my jersey pockets, and I had two more Bobo’s bars in the SAG vehicle.

The toughest part of the ride was the climb to get up to Skyline Drive and while it was still hard this year, it felt SO much easier than last year. Once we were on Skyline, there was a lot of gradual climbing. We were working, but also did get to chat with each other a bit which was really nice. On Skyline, we stopped at a little store with a lunch counter. The lead group was already there and we got to eat lunch together.

Once we started riding again, Bri and Nate joined our group, so the five of us did the second half of the ride together, including the descent down Skyline. I tried to be braver than last year (I’m kind of a wimpy descender) and followed Nate’s every move on the way down.

I definitely started feeling a bit uncomfortable and antsy toward the end of the ride, but overall, I was quite happy with my day. I really had a lot of fun, too, getting to chat with the other campers. We really lucked out with having such a great group this year.

I ended up finishing the almost 105 mile ride in about 7:15, as compared with finishing just over 98 miles in 7:30 last year (I had forgotten to start my Garmin at the start of last year’s ride). So, definitely some improvement there. Leslie and Nate said they could see improvement over my riding from last year, which was great to hear!

After the ride, Leslie (at Alyssa’s instruction) made Megan and I race against one another to change flats (don’t ever tell Alyssa you asked a boy to change a flat tire for you!!).

After quick showers, Megan, Bri, and I made a trip to Whole Foods to fuel up after the ride (one of many trips to Whole Foods over the course of the weekend). I remembered Saturday being a shorter, but for some reason tougher, day last year and knew fueling on Friday would be key to getting through the following day. We got back from dinner and I watched TV for a bit before falling asleep early.

We were up early again on Saturday for a bike->swim->bike->run->bike, just like last year. The one difference this year was that the swim was a lake swim (last year, we swam in a spring-fed pool).

We started with an easy, just over 11 mile ride to the lake. We made sure we hydrated and fueled up – I ate half of a Maple Pecan Bobo’s bar – changed into our bathing suits/swim skins/wetsuits, and then headed down to the beach for some race simulations. We practiced several different race start scenarios, practiced sighting, and also exiting the water. Even though we weren’t swimming continuously, all of the sudden bursts of activity were really exhausting. I remember feeling the same way about this session last year. It was surprisingly taxing.

Practicing race starts at the lake. I’m the one running into the water wearing the green cap and swim skin. I’m not sure who took this photo. 11667493_773632452755018_4977779319373453082_n

At this point, everyone had gotten to know one another pretty well, so we joked around a lot and kept the mood light, which is really necessary when you’re working this hard and feel this tired!

In any case, we finished up at the lake, had a snack (I finished the rest of my Bobo’s bar), and then got back on our bikes for a 26 plus mile ride to Ridge Road for an 8 (ish) mile, very hilly run.

If you read my post about camp last year, you know I really struggled during the Ridge Road run. In my mind, this year was going to be easier because of all of the work I have been doing on my run and fitness, generally. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Ridge Road continues to be my Charlottesville camp nemesis!

Leslie ran with me and really kept pushing me through the run. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have stopped to walk up some of the larger hills if she wasn’t running beside me. I can’t thank her enough for getting me through that session.

Finishing up the Ridge Road run with Leslie. Photo credit goes to Alyssa.

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As if this wasn’t enough, we finished up the day by riding about 8 miles back to our starting point. Luckily, everyone took this easy.

After quick showers, it was off to Whole Foods again for a late lunch/early dinner and then I spent the rest of the day laying in bed in compression socks (hashtag wild Saturday night). Bri and Megan asked if I wanted to go out for ice cream a few hours later and I couldn’t even muster up the energy to join them!

Sunday was an easy ride, long swim day (with lunch at Whole Foods in-between, of course!). I ended up swimming 75×100 for the long swim, which is what I did at camp last year. More importantly, Leslie gave me some things to work on with my stroke and at this point, that is really more important to me than setting a new distance PR in the pool.

During the long swim, I definitely felt the accumulated fatigue of Atlantic City and two days of camp. I was really happy when I finished that last 100!

After the swim, we went to Alyssa’s house for a barbecue. It was really nice to sit and chat with everyone and get to know each other more. We even had birthday cake to celebrate a couple of upcoming birthdays.

On Monday, we were up early again for a 15 mile run. It was very humid and the run was quite hilly and, honestly, I struggled. It’s hard when you are running in a group because on the one hand, I knew I wanted to take it nice and slow and steady (I knew I had to really, if I wanted to survive the entire run), but on the other hand, there is a fear of getting dropped by the group. I spent most of the run running with Bob from Chicago behind the main pack. We were both working hard, so we didn’t talk a ton, but did exchange comments/jokes a few times and that always helps.

After the run, we said our goodbyes and camp officially came to a close. While my very tired body was happy camp was over, I was definitely sad to say goodbye to my friends. I do most of my training alone, so it’s really a treat to spend four days training with others who are going through the same things I am. Ironman training is tough, and it’s nice to talk to people who can relate to the stresses and uncertainties that this level of training brings.

The group also had a great chemistry this year. Everyone had a good sense of humor and we really enjoyed spending time together. I am so glad I got to meet more of my Team HPB teammates in person.

While I was at camp, I definitely started thinking about whether I will be back for a third year next year. At this point, I’m leaving all of my options open, since I’m not sure how I will feel or what I will want to do after Chattanooga. But I know if I’m not there, I’m going to miss not only a lot of miles, but also a lot of laughs with some really great people.

If you have been thinking about trying a training camp, I highly recommend this one. It’s a great mix of work and fun and is very affordable for what you get!

Huge thanks to MooMotion for keeping me in comfortable gear during camp and to Bobo’s Oat Bars for keeping me well-fueled. Thanks again for a great camp, Alyssa, Leslie, and Nate!

Race Report: Monticelloman Triathlon

My triathlon season officially started last Sunday at Monticelloman in beautiful Lake Monticello, Virginia.

As I said in my preview post for this race, I really wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of my performance, particularly since I haven’t done an olympic distance tri since 2013. My last tri of any distance was in September, which feels like forever ago. I’ve also had some nagging physical issues and those three things combined left lots of question marks for me leading into the race. I had no idea what to expect in terms of my times.

I got down to Charlottesville on Saturday, picked up my packet, and talked to Alyssa about my race plan. Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning and I was on my way to the start.

Swim

With the water temperature in Lake Monticello being 64-65 degrees, Alyssa kindly let me borrow her sleeved wetsuit for the swim. The suit – a ROKA Sports Maverick Pro – fit me perfectly. If I ever take the plunge and buy a sleeved wetsuit, this is definitely the suit I will get. It was amazing.

If you have read my blog before you know that I have a lot of open water swim anxiety and that’s something I was really concerned about going into this race (that’s right – I had anxiety about anxiety). The long story short is that, with coaching advice from Alyssa, I was able to do much better this time. I still stopped and did the good ‘ol “tread water and think about quitting” routine, but it was a much shorter stop than normal and I never felt like my chest was tightening and I couldn’t breathe. That’s a huge step in the right direction for me with my open water swimming. The wetsuit kept me warm and wasn’t constricting, which I think helped a lot, too. I’m 100% on the ROKA bandwagon after this experience!

I finally got going and tried to just get into a rhythm with my stroke. Almost immediately, I realized my first mistake of the day. I knew I was going to forget something with this being my first triathlon in so many months, and sure enough I did! I forgot to use Body Glide on my neck to prevent the wetsuit from rubbing. That’s an omission I have been paying for every day since. Ouch!

Once I got going, I caught back up with the back of the pack and I was able to stick with them and even pass some people. The swim felt long, but I made it to the beach and knew the hardest part of my day was over.

As I ran in to T1, I saw Alyssa and she cheered and told me I had a great swim.

Running into T1. Alyssa gets the photo credit for all of these pics.

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Total swim time: 33:17, 10th in age group

(I think the swim time included the run into transition because my Garmin showed me at 32 and seconds coming out of the water.)

I fumbled around in transition for a bit, which was kind of frustrating, but I did finally get my stuff together and get out on the bike course.

Getting ready for the bike.

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Bike

I would characterize this is a challenging course. While there weren’t any super steep sections that I can recall, there were lots (lots!) of rolling hills and this required me to be on top of my shifting throughout the ride. I am still working to improve my shifting skills and this was definitely good practice.

As is the case at most (all?) triathlons, the bike course was a bit congested at points, particularly at the beginning of the ride, but once things spread out, it was generally okay. There were only a couple of times where I felt I was being held up by folks in front of me, and in one of the cases, the culprit was actually a car (the bike course was not closed to traffic). I did a lot of passing, especially in the beginning of the bike. Not being a super strong swimmer, I’m fairly used to that routine.

The course was quite scenic and the road quality was very good. I would also note that the bike course was well marked. Portions of the half and oly courses overlapped, but it was clear when they split and reconnected.

Overall, I was happy with my bike and that I was able to push myself to really work throughout the whole ride. I didn’t force myself to hold back and “save” something for the run.

Total bike time: 1:19:23 (18.1 mph pace), 4th in age group

My prior oly bike PR was 1:25:14 at Culpeper International in 2013. I rode a 1:27:18 at the Columbia Tri in May of last year, but that race had no swim. So, this was a big improvement for me.

I saw Alyssa again running in to T2 and she said something about me having a great ride, which made me very happy.

My transitions were definitely slow at this race. I had been fumbling around in transition with my Garmin, so I ended up just putting the face of my Garmin in the pocket of my shorts for the run. I got my belt and visor on, and off I went for the run.

Run

As I noted above, I had really pushed myself throughout the bike and didn’t hold anything back for the run. I think with all of the running races I did this spring (one ten miler and two half marathons), I wasn’t worried about cranking out just 6 miles. However, somehow I missed the description of the run course on the race website as “a roller coaster run,” and that was certainly an accurate description! It was a tough one, and it had started getting warm.

I had gotten a sports massage the day before the race and I was a bit sore from that as I started the run, but otherwise felt okay. I felt like I was moving along fairly well for the first two miles or so.

Then, I gradually started feeling more tired and I definitely slowed down at points, particularly some of the uphills. I tried to keep focused. I took a gel and actually started to feel a bit better – at least momentarily – around mile 4. As I mentioned, it had started getting warm, so I took water or Gatorade at each aid station and tried to make sure I really took it in, as opposed to just spilling on myself (although I unintentionally did some of that, too).

Luckily, the hamstring issue I’ve been dealing with for many months now held off until about the last mile. I saw Alyssa near the finish and she was cheering, but I couldn’t really respond because I was just focusing on getting to the finish line at that point. There were some spectators cheering for me and I tried to acknowledge them with a little wave. The last quarter mile or so was not pretty, but I was able to cross the line in a time I am happy with, particularly in light of the difficulty of the run course and my effort on the bike.

Total run time: 57:47 (9:19 pace), 6th in age group

My prior 10k PR (granted, from 2011, which is the most recent 10k I have run, but still…) was a 58:07.

In the end, I finished 7th in my age group of 20, in 2:54:34. That beats my prior Olympic PR of 3:07:40 by over 13 minutes. I was very pleasantly surprised with this result.

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I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow #50WomentoKona supporter (and #TriEqual board member), Kent, at the race.

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I have lots of positives to take from this race and I’m looking forward to building on them in Atlantic City on June 28th.

I want to thank Alyssa, for her awesome coaching and cheering on race day – it was such a treat to have her there! I also want to thank MooMotion for my beautiful and comfortable kit. I even got a compliment on it out on the bike course from another competitor during the race. And, last but not least, my hubs for his continued support of my passion for triathlon.

The next event on my calendar is a charity ride in Loudoun County on May 17.

Charlottesville Camp

I’m just back from Charlottesville, where I participated in yet another Team HPB tri camp – this one over July 4th weekend. Our coaches for this camp were my coach, Alyssa Godesky (who placed fourth at Challenge Atlantic City last weekend, btw!); fellow Team HPB-er Leslie DiMichele; and Nate Miller, who is on the Ignite Endurance team. They are all completely amazing athletes, but also totally fun to hang out with, so I was super excited to get to train with them over the holiday weekend and this camp did not disappoint!

The camp started on Thursday night, but I had some work obligations and couldn’t get there before dinner time. So, the real fun for me started on Friday, July 4.

Friday: Friday was our big ride day. We rode over 100 miles, which I have only done once before. The highlight of the ride was riding along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. I had heard a lot about this ride before camp and it exceeded my expectations. The Blue Ridge Mountains are absolutely gorgeous! There is no other way to describe it. The photo doesn’t even do the view justice.

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The ride was fully supported thanks to our fabulous SAG car driver and PowerBar – thanks Anne and PowerBar! – so we never had to worry about having enough to eat or drink, and the weather was perfect.

The ride was definitely challenging, with lots of climbing, and I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed in my climbing, considering all of the hilly riding I’ve been doing lately between Columbia Tri, Syracuse, and the weekly Tri360 rides. But, I made it through and you can’t help but feel accomplished after riding for 7 plus hours!

I also got to do the whole ride with Alyssa, which was really a treat for me. We don’t get to see each other a lot, so it was really nice to catch up (when I wasn’t gasping for air) and to have her watch me ride, since she is a long distance coach and doesn’t get to see me train very often.

It was a long day, but a great way to spend the Fourth.

I barely got myself to Whole Foods after the ride to buy a sandwich for dinner and was asleep before 8!

Saturday: Saturday was kind of insane. It was a Bike=>Swim=>Bike=>Run=>Bike day! And, the run was a brutal run. But, I’ll start with the swim at Blue Ridge Swim Club.

We started the day on our bikes and rode about 30 miles to the swim. The Blue Ridge Swim Club’s “pool” was built in 1913 and is filled with spring water. It’s 100 yards long with no lane lines and the water is not clear, so it’s the perfect venue to simulate open water swims. We swam and practiced race starts, which was very helpful for me, since this is always one of my biggest struggles in races. I would highly recommend you check it out if you are ever in Charlottesville!

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Photo from the Blue Ridge Swim Club website.

We swam for about an hour. The swim was more tiring than I would have expected. Something about the simulated race starts really took a toll (or maybe just accumulating fatigue from the day before?), but we hopped back on our bikes and rode to a gravel road for a run. The road, Ridge Road, is about four miles long and we were told to run out easy and back as hard as we could. It was getting warm and even though most of the road was shaded, I was certainly feeling the heat. And, like the rest of Charlottesville, this road was not flat.

I ran out okay (about ten minute mile pace, which is fine for me), but then we stopped for water at the bottom of a big hill at the turnaround (at mile four) and it was really hard for me to get started again after that – especially going back UP the big hill! My first mile on the return was at 10:30-ish pace. Then Alyssa started running with me and was giving me a pep talk and even though I was really dying, I was able to push through the last three miles at about 9:30 pace. If you know me at all, you know I can always talk and I couldn’t even talk to Alyssa for those three miles! She was handing me a water bottle and I don’t even think I said thank you (so, THANK YOU, Alyssa!). I’ve decided I’m going to try to be Alyssa in my own head on tough runs in the future.

We got back on our bikes for the third time and rode back to our cars (total biking mileage for the day was about 44 miles).

Saturday’s adventure was also fully supported with a SAG car (thanks, Shannon!). One of the best parts of doing a camp like this is that everything is taken care of for you – you don’t have to worry about anything but training.

Even though Saturday’s training ended mid-afternoon, I was beat. I spent the rest of the day laying in bed in my hotel room hoping my legs would not fall off.

Sunday: I can’t say I was super stoked to get back on the bike on Sunday morning, but I did. We did a 90 minute (about 20 miles) “easy spin” (that last part was totally a lie!). I got to ride with Nate for the first time and I actually ended up having a great time! He was coaching me the whole way and I learned a ton. Hopefully I can remember it all and put it into practice over the rest of the summer.

Sunday afternoon, I did my first ever 75×100 swim! I did 50×100 at Tucson camp, so I’m slowly working my way up to the big “Team HPB Birthday Swim,” which Alyssa confirmed I will do this November! During the cool down, Leslie watched my stroke and gave me several things to work on with my swim over the summer. I really need help with my swimming, so I loved getting her feedback and hope I can improve as the summer goes along.

Mondays are super big work days for me at my new job, so I drove back from camp on Sunday night, even though camp continued through Monday morning. I wasn’t off the hook though – Alyssa told me to run for 2 hours Monday morning at home. That one was a struggle, but I plodded my way through it. Put a fork in this girl!

Last week was the biggest training week of my life (even more than the week I was in Tucson for camp) and only two weeks after my first 70.3 in Syracuse, so, I’m definitely tired. But, I’m also super excited and motivated to keep working and improving throughout the rest of the summer.

Thanks, Alyssa, Leslie, and Nate for a great training weekend!