Reaching beyond myself

This past weekend I attended a training camp with Endorphin Fitness coached by Sally Fraser and Michael Harlow. Michael and I set off to Wintergreen, Virginia on Friday morning. After driving the next day’s bike course, we met the rest of the camp participants at a lake at the bottom of the mountain for an afternoon swim.

My first excitement was with a floating trampoline near the shore of the lake. I asked Michael “How many minutes did you have on my training plan for jumping on the trampoline today?” After entertaining myself for a few minutes I got to the real reason I came here and began swimming. The water was glass smooth and REALLY cold. And I got a wicked wetsuit hickey.

A post swim ten mile run took it out of me. The guys kept making me laugh when I was running. Michael’s shorts were falling down, I had wicked gas, and the guys seemed to make everything funny. Running and laughing is not a good combination for me. So it was either run with them, laugh, and get dropped, or set the pace and either make it so they cannot talk or they’re too far behind to hear them. Dropping the pace down to 6:40 pace killed their motivation to crack jokes.

All the ten mile runners gathered for a post run ice bath in the lake. I have never seen such a vast body of water so glass smooth. I poked my finger in the water and watched the ripples ride along the surface for several meters. For the first time in the day, the sun shone out of a corner of a cloud just over a mountaintop, providing me with a little warmth. I felt at absolute peace standing in this lake at the bottom of the mountain with no stranger in sight and the sun breaking the bleakness that had preceded.

This feeling was soon destroyed by my hatred for the law of gravity. The waterfall I had admired while driving the bike course the day before turned from being amazingly beautiful to amazingly aggravating. My admiration for the winding falls beside me quickly turned into a plain focus on reaching the top of a mountain during the long bike the next day. I would watch every drop of the water ahead of me and realize that was how much farther I had to climb. The water seemed to fall forever and I seemed to be climbing forever.

Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway the sun shone, the climbs were short, and the view seemed infinite. A massive group of touring cyclists aggravated the crap out of us for mile upon mile up on the highway. They made for good jokes and good confidence boosters. Towards the end of the loop we rode down wintergreen mountain. I reached a personal speed record on a bike at 58 mph.

Michael had told me I was supposed to cut off at fifty miles, one loop, and jump into the sag but that fifty soon turned to 3.5 hours turned to seventy-five miles. I was cool with that. My body wasn’t too happy with having run out of water and nutrition ten miles ago but seeing the sag truck for the first time in hours was a pleasant enough sight to dampen the pain in my legs and the aching in my stomach. I almost destroyed an entire pan of cookie brownie sparking questions later in the evening about how that night’s desert disappeared. Whoops.

The next day’s lineup consisted of a thirty mile mountainous fast ride ending with a three mile run up wintergreen mountain to finish the weekend off. I felt good so I hammered the bike with no regard for the other guys and the run to follow. Tyler, one of the guys at the camp had his revenge on the run. He caught me before the top after starting minutes behind me. Oh yeah and he had to run twice the distance as me. And he had run twenty miles on Friday when I had only run ten.

The slowest three miles for me for four years. After a quick clean up we headed home. A solid weekend of training to solid week of recovery before the Xterra off-road triathlon. Looking at my calendar for this coming week is kind of daunting. Eight races in two weeks. Two tri’s and six cycling races. We’ll see how it goes.

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