While BSC training camp was one of the coolest things I've ever done, I'd be lying if I said I was ready for it to end. The emotional roller coaster that was my week leading up to it put me in a land of such unfamiliar territory I can't even remember half of the weekend. I don't remember the pain of pushing myself to limits, I don't remember every feeling like I had gone over the edge. And, most of all that feeling that I was hoping for at the end of the weekend of not being able to lift my head or move my legs was missing.
I'm not saying I wasn't pushed, because I was - but my head being somewhere else basically had me numb. And when I started getting sick before Thursday camp started it was 100% mind over matter that carried me through the workouts. I'd give anything for a re-do. A re-do to go harder, feel better & have ended the camp on Sunday by chasing Shane & Michelle around PV running HARD vs the zone 1, 2 hour run I ended up doing to not push my body & immune system over the edge.
Aside from my personal highlights (yes there definitely WERE some), I think the coolest part was seeing my friends go beyond their limits. At the top of that list is Shane. After multiple injuries and time off then trying to work his ass back into shape, he came into this camp probably with the least fitness, but did not ONCE back down from a challenge. On Wed we had the opportunity to swim with Michelle (just the 3 of us) where she immediately pushed him further than he would have even imagined doing without her completing the entire 1800 swim set after not swimming more than a 5x100 in almost 3 months. He followed that swim up with 3 back to back outdoor rides banking 160miles & 10,000ft of climbing with a base fitness of only riding 1-2hour trainer rides for the last 3 months. He didn't complain, he just did it with the rest of us. It was awesome to say the least.
Tracy, who is definitely a bad ass triathlete, did her first multi-day bike ride and even though she was pretty sure she was DONE after day 2, she got back out there and did another epic ride Saturday, followed by a 19mile long run Sunday. I'm fairly sure she proved to herself she can do so, so much more. I also heard (didn't get to go to this training session), she was able to swim with her ankles tied together, gaining some serious swim confidence!
My other local training partner Keith found out that when you actually start out easy on a run… you can drop the hammer on the last few miles instead of bonking and barely making it home. He finished his longest run since IMCDA last year and did it with a massive negative split! He also found some power limits on the bike and has so so much more potential that will be showing in this next year! I'm so excited to have these training partners this year!!
Tuesday started out with a social ride before camp began. Keith, Shane, Michelle & I headed out to Paradise Valley to show Michelle her old stomping grounds. It was a gorgeous morning and she was quickly reminded the beauty of the desert in March. She also quickly changed her mind that we would be moving our long run from the flat canals to the hillier PV loop. (yeah for me - I hate canal running!).
Thursday camp officially started. All campers were in town and we headed out for a beautiful 2 hour ride in N. Scottsdale area. Michelle had us doing a few 1min all out intervals, and this was where I first realized something was wrong with my body. The second I started to push the limits my lungs seized up and I felt like I had a brick on my chest. It burned like a fire from my throat down through my lungs as I tried to gasp for air… I told myself it was just allergies, took a few puffs off of my inhaler and finished the ride. We did a ~4mile ez transition run through our neighborhood as a group. My lungs felt better with the easy pace, but oh did my legs want to just GO!
That afternoon we headed to our gym for a swim workout. Michelle gave a few tips on swim technique before entering the pool, but since most pools here have issue with actual technique sessions with coaches, we were being good kids and just using the facility for a workout. I was put in the lane with Michelle and 2 other girls and without knowing their fitness I didn't want to assume anything so I headed out 3rd behind one other girl. Within the first couple hundred of the warmup I was moved up to 2nd behind Michelle. I kept the pace fairly easy, knowing she was going to be giving us a harder main set.
I don't remember much of that swim. The workout was 4x (300 *moderate, 3x50 all out). Moderate was a crock of shit because the first 300 was at a pace I usually do my 100s at and every single one of them got harder and faster. I don't remember much about the 50s except I know they were my fastest ever and my 3rd of each set was the slowest. My instructions were..
"stay on my f'ing feet - DO not get dropped because this is your only time with me and I'm going to ignore you on Saturday."
I did exactly what I was told. I did have to add paddles in for 2 of the 300s to keep up, but I did it and the final 300 was at a faster pace then I have ever done a 100 in this pool. I couldn't speak, I couldn't think, I couldn't even read my watch. But, I did it. When I got out of the pool, I was toast. I've never finished a swim workout with that much satisfaction or that much fear for what Michelle would do to me next. It was 100% awesome.
Later that evening I was awarded my swim cap that I've been waiting FOREVER for. I think we started talking about the Bat Shit Crazy caps about a year ago when I finished my first crazy swim matrix of 100s. I've been WAITING for this cap for that long.
Friday we drove out to Bartlett Lake for an open water swim technique session and long ride. We were incredibly lucky to have Matt & Theresa out there to act as Bay Watch life guards. Matt headed out in the lake with us on his paddle board, which made everyone feel pretty safe!
I did not start the day off in the best mood. I was achy and tired from the lack of sleep and emotional stress all week. I knew I was getting sick and the last thing I wanted to do was get my ass in the freezing cold lake and swim. Within 5 minutes I was pretty much bitch-slapped for having a whiney tone so from then on out I just kept my mouth shut and got er done. Michelle had us sprinting out to the buoys, practicing some cool moves to get around the turns fast. Dolphin dives, fast exits and while we were supposed to be practicing drafting - my only draft option was Michelle and I was getting dropped after about 50 yards so again it was back to full on sprinting!
We were given the most gorgeous day for riding. Warm, little wind and the most beautiful scenery to climb out of Bartlett (my first time). I started out really slowly, but like my normal self (I've decided I'm like the jack in the box - you have to wind me up and then I can really get going!) I got stronger as the climb went on and finished the first big climb of the day feeling good. We headed out for a nice 8mile out and back climb and this is where I really got into my groove. I had this moment of peace as I was climbing out of 7 springs where my mind was completely blank. No sadness or worry or emotions. It was just blank and it was the best feeling I'd had in a week.
I felt stronger as the ride went on, and finished the 4hours back at the lake feeling sick in my chest, but body was A-ok!
LOVE LOVE LOVE our new kits! Super comfy and cute.
Saturday was our final ride day and we took the group out for a more fun/HARD ride through Fountain Hills/Rio Verde. In my head I imagined myself chilling and not trashing my body so I didn't further progress being sick, but once I was out there I just went for it. I grabbed onto Michelle and Keith and they tore through the McDowell Mountain Park area rollers and we ended the 8 mile stretch in ~18minutes averaging 25mph! Holy moly. But that wasn't it. We still had 9 mile hill.
Michelle & Keith headed out front to play with some power, so I figured I'd just stay with them as long as I could. Turns out Keith left his cookies out on the 8 mile power interval so I was stuck chasing Michelle as she screamed at me to stay on her wheel for the next 6 miles. I worked so hard, but I did it and as we reached the top of the climb and she headed back down for the group & I had a total emotional breakdown. I started crying at my accomplishment. At my ability to go mind over matter and stick with her. I was proud of myself, and proud of the person and athlete I am becoming. I thought about how much more I am going to embrace my health and taking care of myself because we are only given this one opportunity to live. Life is too short to not take advantage of everything out there, to reach for things we thought impossible.
One more transition run for the day, and then the group also had a swim technique session later that afternoon, which I did not attend. Michelle thought it would be more beneficial for the others, and for me to stay home and rest. Of course I spent the 2 hours pacing around my house in circles not sure what to do with myself as I hadn't been alone or home for more than a few minutes. I was coughing pretty good and having trouble breathing. I called my good friend and NP for suggestions. She knows my asthma history and immediately could tell how bad I was. She thought up a plan and called me in some meds to get me on the mend.
have i mentioned how freaking amazing ALL of my friends are?
Sunday was our planned long run. I was definitely sick. It was cold and rainy out, and in my head I knew I should not be running, and even after Michelle told me to stay home I couldn't. I bundled up and still went out for the run. I stayed glued to my HR monitor to keep my HR in zone 1 and finished a nice easy 2hours. I didn't feel any worse so hopefully I didn't prolong being sick. It was a mental struggle to not take off with Shane & Michelle at the faster pace, but I knew it would only hurt me in the end.
That evening we had a party planned. It was originally supposed to be at our house as a celebration of camp and a reunion for Michelle and her old training partners. Matt & T generously hosted the party for us, and I'm so so thankful for that. It was a perfect end to the weekend with great food, company and cocktails.
The camp was such an amazing experience, I just wish for myself it had been under different circumstances. I will 100% be doing this again sometime and can not wait to push my limits further. I still don't know if I did the right thing by pushing through the training while getting/being sick as I'm not on day 2 of not leaving the house, on antibiotics & steroids - but I'm pretty sure this would have happened with or with out camp. It was a mental break I needed from the sadness. From the loss. To be honest, I'm having a hard time getting back to where I should be. Right now I'm just focused on getting healthy and building my immune system back up.
My best take aways from camp, and my biggest lessons engraved into my head from Michelle are that I am so much more of an athlete and so much more capable of things then I ever imagined. I will be on a big bike/swim focus and starting to do some masters swimming. Michelle wants me pushing harder on my swims as my technique is there I just need to do it more. She has put some big goals to reach towards for IM Canada swim so instead of being terrified, I'm just going to go for it.
We are also going to work on more hard effort bikes and runs. My aerobic base is there and now I need to get away from the easy efforts and try to build on my speed and muscular endurance. Get out of my comfort zone.
All I can say is, I'm ready for the challenge. I'm ready to be pushed. The sky is my limit and I have no reasons to hold back.
"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." - Mae West