Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Niagara training camp

Picture taken from Sheri Fraser Coaching Facebook page
So it was the Canada Day long weekend and what comes to mind of most triathletes when there is a public holiday? More training! Coach Sheri organized a 3 day training camp over the long weekend in the Niagara region. Li-Ann decided to come along and it turned out to be quite a writer's retreat for her. We stayed in the Welland Residence and Conference Centre along with the others. We had just over 10 units booked altogether, each unit has two bedrooms. The place is a residential college but it's pretty decent, with complimentary breakfast and room cleaning service. And for $170 per unit for two nights, we had no complaints!

The journey to Welland was about 2 hour 15 minutes drive. The first session on Saturday was a swim in the Welland canal. It was a refreshing swim and for once we get to see past our hands underwater, a pleasant change compared to the murky water of Lake Whittaker which we are used to. We had to be careful and watch out for rowers and paddlers as they have their back facing us, so they can't see us! After a quick lunch, we then head out for a nice and easy 60km ride in the St Catherine area. We did the infamous Effingham (what an apt name!) hill twice. The average gradient is 11% with most of it at 14-15%, peaking just over 16%. Dinner was a pot luck BBQ where plenty of laughter from funny and some embarrassing race experiences were shared. Li-Ann baked chocolate brownies which were an instant hit.

The next morning, it was quite a fight getting breakfast in the dining room. As if having 20 over hungry triathletes in a small room wasn't bad enough. Becasue it was the long weekend, the place had plenty of other visitors including a tour bus from USA and a conference group from Bangladesh. Still, I was able to get my two servings of bagels and cereal in very quickly. We had a long day ahead of us. Only a few of us were training for Ironman, so the rest had shorter rides but we had to ride for 6 hours. We rode to St Catherine again, to Balls Falls and did the second half of the ride by doing laps of Effingham hill - we climbed that hill about 8-9 times, I lost count! One of us had a flat resulting from a cut tyre, 100km into the ride. But with a bit of sealant from the support station, we were good to go for the remainder. We finished 160km in just over 6 hours and did a 8km brick run to the canal and back. Yes, we did sleep well that night!

Final day of the camp, everyone had tired looks on their faces at the breakfast table. Another 1 hour swim in the canal was on the program. But not before the trademark pyramid photo for every Sheri training camp! After the swim, we checked out of the residence and drove to one of our locals for our long run. She had a nice big field of grass in front of her country house, where we could park all of our cars. It took me a while to locate her house though. I was a bit late as I dropped Li-Ann off at McDonald's, and the rest already started running. I wasn't sure where we were meant to run but I remembered Sheri saying something about Short Hills park. So I ran to Short Hills and did the trails.

Boy, was I in for a shock! Some of the trails were pretty technical and you know how much I hate getting my shoes soiled. There were some parts where there was more than one direction to take and it wasn't clearly marked. I was glad I came out alive! I ran back to the car to get some water, it was already almost 18km by then. I was tempted to stop at that but as the weather was quite cool, I decided to head out to make it at least 30km - on the road this time! But that doesn't mean the route wasn't challenging, there were some climbs which we rode the day before. Finally, I finished with 31.2km in 2 hours 45 minutes. Sheri was just driving out as I was running back in and everyone had already left!

A quick lunch at Pizza Hut (yes, you can say I'm not the best example when it comes to my nutrition) and then it was the drive home. Over the 3 days, I swam 7km, rode 220km and ran 39km but shared many moments of fun and laughter. I'm glad I have an off day from my training schedule today as I'm feeling pretty sore and tired. Still have to work though...

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