Thursday, August 21, 2014

Epic Camp Day 3: Lillooet to Clinton

After the briefing last night, day 3 was looking like it would be a little lighter, and after looking around the room, it seemed like it was needed.  The schedule for today would be a 3k or 6k swim (first 6k swim option of the camp,) 10k run for the daily minimum, and a 105k bike.  The first van full of campers rolled out at 6:45am.  My goal was to do the 3k swim and run back to the hotel to get it out of the way before the ride.

We did the swim at probably the most beautiful lake I've ever seen.  The only way to really describe it would be heaven for swimming open water.  Initially it looked like the water was going to be frigid, but it was comfortable seconds after getting in.  For the first half of the swim, I was swimming mostly alone.  Apparently I missed the memo that everyone was keeping close to the left shore because I was way out in the middle of the lake.  After what seemed like quite a while, I caught up to someone a bit farther up.  We stopped for a moment to check our watches.  Mine wasn't showing the distance at first, but Phil asked, "Do you have 2k?"  Oh crap, I did!  Apparently I ended up swimming out 500m longer than intended which meant today would be a 4k swim instead of the planned 3k.  I started swimming back pretty hard because I wanted to make sure I had enough time to run, and thankfully I came out with David and Douglas which meant I would have some running buddies for the way back.  We casually jogged back at ~8min/mi pace while having a good chat as well.

Since we had a pretty short ride, breakfast and packing was all pretty mellow.  You could tell that people were starting to get tired, and this was reflected in the initial roll out of town.  My legs even took a little bit longer than usual to warm up.  The group mostly stuck together until the road started pitching up.  There were even a few dirt sections that we had to navigate (this made me happy since dirt is pretty exciting for a road bike.)

Due to a recent mudslide, there was a chance we were going to have to divert the route for the day, but we ended up getting lucky.  The road had just opened up.  About five miles before the slide, Petro (Mark) started yelling at me (ok perhaps it would just fatherly advice.)  Apparently he didn't like that I would surge ahead and then soft pedal to let the group catch back up.  He also didn't like that I wasn't tired enough.  I have been "sitting in" too much, and instead I should be burying myself every single day.  I knew he was just trying to get into my head, but I bit anyway.  I put in a pretty huge effort and gapped the group significantly on the next climb.  Sadly, the effort was wasted since Glen came blazing past about five miles later and just before the mud slide and rest stop.

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful.  We had a really good paceline going into a stiff headwind.  Glen was like a semi truck and took pulls way longer than he should have (although very much appreciated!!)  Unfortunately it was not his day since his rear derailleur ended up suiciding with him being forced to ride a single gear into town.  The remainder of the group started to split once we turned off 99 towards Clinton.  By the end, it was me, Petro, and Zach.  Zach took off, and instead of going with, I pitied Petro and pulled the old man into town.

We got to Clinton pretty early, so the rest of the afternoon was nice and chill.  After dinner, Scott Molina presented the jerseys at our nightly briefing.  Newsom in yellow, Petro in red, and Zach in polka dot.  As you might have read, I'm bummed that I'm not wearing polka dots, but I intend on fighting until the bitter end.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Epic Camp Day 2 - Whistler to Lillooet

We got to sleep in today!  Day 2 started off at a more reasonable 6:30am with a light snack before heading out to the Ironman Whistler course for a morning aquathlon.  The plan was to swim around the two sailboats (about a half mile) and do a three loop 6k run.  Just like yesterday, I came out of the water in 7th after just over 12 minutes.  I started off the run at a pretty chill pace.  My plan was to take it easy with my foot, but as soon as I got to the first turn-around and saw John about 40 seconds up, that plan immediately went out the window.  I took the pace up to around 5:50/mi which felt slightly uncomfortable but manageable.  I started picking people off, but by the end, I just couldn't get Newsom.  I debated putting in a monster effort to try and catch up, but as soon as I saw John glancing back, I knew it would be a lost cause.  Still, I was pleased with second despite possibly burning a match for the KOM later.

After a short ride back to the hotel, a shower, and breakfast, we were out on the road headed to our next destination.  My mantra was the same as yesterday: "Save it for the climb."  The first 35 miles was mostly downhill and pretty chill.  I stuck with the group and avoided pulling at all costs.  About five miles in, I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn't risk losing the group.  However, Molina had the right idea.  I always thought it was a myth, but today I actually witnessed someone piss off the side of their bike while riding.  Sadly, I do not have the bike skills to give that a try after almost crashing while taking off my vest.

The big event of the day was the Joffre Lakes climb.  The KOM competition has been on my mind for weeks.  If there was ever a time that I was going to bury myself at camp, this was going to be it.  I knew Zach was going to give me some trouble, but everything was still very much unknown.  I decided that the best plan was to ride MY race.  I knew what I could do for this climb, and I knew what would make me hurt.  The plan: 300 watts as steady as possible.  On a fresh day, I could push that higher, but after some solid riding and running at camp already, it needed to be adjusted.

I took the lead immediately after the start.  Zach was on my wheel which made me a little anxious.  After about a half mile, Zach put in a big effort to get ahead.  He made the right move in putting in enough distance to "break the spring" and got about 25 meters ahead.  I resisted the urge to go and maintained my steady pacing.  I could see Zach slowly pulling away, but I was banking on him blowing up at some point and catching him later in the climb.  The minutes and miles ticked on, and it wasn't until about 35 minutes into the climb that I got comfortable.  I had just over three miles left.  This was familiar to me.  My favorite local climb is three miles, so it was time to push hard to the finish.  Something weird happened though.  I cramped in a weird spot in my left thigh, and I realized I made a mistake.  I hadn't drank a single thing since the start of the climb.  Dang.  After immediately burning through an entire bottle, the cramp went away.  I could see Zach off in the distance still, but there just wasn't enough runway to get him.  Again, I'd have to settle for 2nd and lost the KOM by 60 seconds.

When I realized it was lost, I debated shutting it down and saving the effort for another day.  However, this is Epic Camp.  I would most likely have only one shot at this climb, so I decided to go for my secondary goal of front page on Strava.  This would take a sub-60min climb, and I was on track for that.  I was pretty happy to finish the climb in 55:41.

After the big KOM, the rest of the ride was pretty chill.  It was almost entirely downhill, so I just stuck with the pack, drafted when I could, and pulled occasionally.  The ride down to Lillooet included some of the sickest views I've ever seen.  These mountains are like nothing I could have ever imagined.  I stuck with Petro and Zach on the way down, and thankfully they wanted to stop at some good photo opportunities.  Hopefully they turned out already!

So how am I doing?  This is a question that quite a few people are asking me.  In short, I'm doing well.  I'm managing my fatigue well, the company is terrific, the views are spectacular, and I'm reasonably competitive in the races (well, except swimming.)  My plan is working out well.  So far I'm focusing on camp minimums, keeping my effort in check, and being decisive in my pushes.  I'm super lucky to be a climber on the bike.  The rollers seem to be eating into peoples' legs and affecting me relatively minimally.  I can feel some building fatigue, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

The internet here in Lillooet is questionable at best, so I'll add pictures later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Epic Camp Prologue

Before I get into the daily blog, I wanted to do a quick intro:

What is Epic Camp?  Epic Camp is an ironman triathlon training camp.  This particular camp in Canada is 12 days long, and over the course of the adventure, we will travel from Vancouver, BC to Calgary, AB.  The scheduled distance is over 850 miles of biking with additional "daily minimums" of five miles of running and 3000 meters of swimming.  There are also races for points and jerseys - similar to the Tour de France.

I heard about this in the early days of my triathlon career, and ever since I followed the Epic Camp France journey, I was hooked.  I HAD to do it.  When the Canada camp was announced, I signed up immediately.  The timing was perfect, and the venue was going to be amazing.  It also lines up perfectly with my training for Ironman Lake Tahoe on September 21.

And with that, let the games begin...

Epic Camp Day 1 - Vancouver to Whistler

The day started pretty early.  5:30am to be exact.  Despite what my roommate Gary might tell you, I did not sleep well.  Just like a big race (or any race,) I was wide awake well before the alarm went off.  The plan was to do an easy 5.5 mile run to the pool, swim the daily minimum (3k,) run 1.5 miles back, and then depart for our 75 mile bike ride to Whistler.  It sounds like a big day, but compared to what's coming, this is nothing.

The run to the pool was pretty uneventful.  John lead us out in order to keep the pace reasonable.  We mostly followed the path around the lake and had some pretty nice views of the city.  It's probably an understatement to say that Vancouver is gorgeous.  Water and green stuff EVERYWHERE!  The temperature at 6:15 was even tolerable!  My legs were a little stiff and my ankles were tight, but things loosened up midway through.  I could tell that they wanted to GO, but I resisted as best I could.

The pool we swam at was 137 meters long.  For a comparison, a long-course pool is 50 meters, so this thing was massive.  Except for the advanced calculus that we had to do in our heads to figure out how long 3k is, the long lengths made counting fewer laps much easier.  Once we got ready, John laid out the plan: 10 lengths (1370 meter) race.  Alright, game on.  I went out hard and got on John's feet in second place.  The pace was strong but manageable, and I held on for four lengths.  But then the pace picked up and five people passed me.  No, I didn't blow up, Mark!  Finishing in 7th wasn't amazing, but I didn't dig myself into a hole either.  After the fun "race," we did a 1000m "bands-only."  What is bands-only?  It's torture for swimmers.  Take an old bike tube and tie your feet together and try to swim.  I wouldn't call what I did swimming; it was more like a fish dying.  I thought I was cheating by doing a butterfly kick, but from what I hear, that was par for the course.  Afterward it was just a short jog back to the hotel.

We had a quick breakfast and were out on our bikes by 10am.  John lead the way out of Vancouver and kept the pace low to keep the group together.  We snaked through Stanely Park (gorgeous!) and took a bunch of side streets that you'd only now if you were a local.  Once we got out on the main highway, John dropped the hammer.  For the most part, everyone was able to hang on.  His pull lasted quite a bit longer than I expected, and after the first aid station, I didn't see him again until Whistler.  After a few lead changes with people hammering at the front, the group was starting to spread out.  I'm not sure if it was the pace or the endless flat tires, but 50 miles in, the lead group was down to four.  And then another flat brought us to a halt as well only to be passed by another group.  I decided to hang since the dudes I was with were pretty cool.

At that point, I realized there was very little point to pushing hard to the finish.  I was still really fresh from sitting in all day, but the first day was not the day to be a hero.  I tried to stick with a few guys, but the hills were starting to eat into their legs.  I wasn't crushing it, but I was still gapping them.  "Save it for tomorrow" became my mantra as I was enjoying the scenery and taking pictures.

Speaking of which, the scenery was breathtaking.  I've seen gorgeous mountains, but I was blown away.  It's hard to adequately describe how nice they were, so hopefully my pictures turned out alright.

Lunch was waiting for us when we got to Whistler.  Recovery smoothies and turkey wraps with avacado were on tap, and our rooms were ready for check-in immediately.  It's incredible how awesome the support crew is here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

ONE WEEK until Epic Camp Canada

In less than seven days, I will be on a plane headed for Vancouver.  Yep, Epic Camp is less than a week away.  At the moment I have a mix of emotions: Scared (terrified,) nervous, anxious... just to name a few.  I think I'm ready, but in the wise words of Mark (fellow camper): "I am pretty sure you can never be ready for EPIC camp."  As someone who's going into their fifth camp, that worries me.  I have the gps files of the route, so I know what's coming.  A rough estimate puts us close to 850 miles in 12 days (10 days of riding it seems.)  At a high level, that doesn't seem bad, but intensity makes all of the difference.  850 miles of casual riding is MUCH different than 850 miles of hammering (plus swimming and running.)

My goals have changed for the camp.
1.) Camp completion.  I think I can handle this.  I've put in enough time over the past 8-10 weeks to know that my body can at least cover the distance.
2.) Polka dot jersey.  The climbers jersey.  I'm not an ultra light guy, but I'm lighter than most.  I don't want to be a one-trick pony, but the majority of my time training has been spent climbing on the bike.  The body has adapted, so I'm curious to see how I stack up.  My foot started bothering me a month ago, so today was my first run back after that.  The foot felt good, but the severe lack of run training means that I'm unlikely to be a contender for the yellow jersey.
3.) Avoid the deep, dark depression of day 5.  I want to wake up every day with a smile on my face ready to tackle the challenges of the day.  Whenever I travel, I have a strict no-complaining policy.  As lame as it sounds, staying positive is going to make or break this trip.
4.) Blog daily with pictures and video.  This is going to be the experience of a lifetime, and I want to remember it as vividly as possible.  I've put a lot of time into making sure I can document the journey as best I can: tablet + keyboard, gopro for pictures and video, instagram for strava pictures, bike computer for GPS, etc.

In light of that, I've done some testing with the gopro.  Her's a quick video of me swimming over the weekend:

We'll be doing a lot of swimming in lakes, so I still need to buy a few things such as a lanyard to avoid losing it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Test post

This is a test post.  I just wanted to test out my new keyboar for my tablet to make sure everything is functional before I leave for Epic Camp in just over a week.  My goal is to do a daily blog with GPS and pictures.  I borrow my friend's gopro, so I might have video too.  Cheers!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


It's been a long time since Lake Tahoe last year, and I've been pretty quiet lately.  There are a few interesting things going on, so let me publicize the major events:

1.) Epic Camp Canada - Flying out on August 18 and returning on August 31.
2.) Ironman Lake Tahoe - This is my main focus for the year.

There have been many reasons for my absence from the internet.  Early in the year, school was soul-crushing.  With work, training, AND school, there just wasn't enough time or energy to go around.  After graduating in June, I had a huge void in my week which I promptly filled with additional training.

My build started the week after graduation (June 16.)  My parents and I went to Tahoe for the week, and they were incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of my training.  Not only did my dad keep me on track when I almost bailed on riding around the lake, but they also rented a kayak when I wanted to swim in the lake.  I can't wait to give them the gift of an awesome Kona vacation in October next year (fingers crossed!!)

Since that week, my training has been incredibly consistent except for a small hiccup with running.  I've had five 20+ hour training weeks.  The breakdowns of each week:

Swim: 59min
Bike: 18hr 48min
Run: 2hr 50min
Total: 22hr 38min

Jun 23-29:
Swim: 0min (!!)
Bike: 16h 41min
Run: 4hr 14min
Total: 20hr 56min

Jun 30-Jul 6:
Swim: 35min (!!)
Bike: 21hr 38min
Run: 1hr 19min
Total: 23hr 32min

Jul 7-13:
Swim: 1hr 19min
Bike: 17hr 17min
Run: 1hr 55min
Total: 20hr 31min

July 14-20:
Swim: 2hr 0min
Bike: 20hr 59min
Run: 3hr 15min
Total: 26hr 15min

I've had a few really good workouts that I consider breakthrough workouts:
- Sub-60min Mt. Diablo south gate
- 18:34 Old La Honda
- 16 mile run at 6:16/mi (probably contributed to injuring my foot)
- 148 mile ride from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz and back

Speaking of which, a few weeks ago my foot started hurting.  It's mostly better now, but whenever the pace starts creeping into the low 6's, I get super worried.  Now, I have to wonder how beneficial fast running is for ironman training.  A lot of people on the internet have been criticizing my runs saying they're way too fast.  Given that my goal is to run a 3:10 on race day, it's really hard to say.  Hard tempo running is something that I *REALLY* enjoy.  Since I've been babying my foot post-injury, I've really been missing it.  Hopefully I can get back to those soon.  I feel like there's a benefit, if only to keep me loving running as much as I do.

Epic Camp is four weeks away.  This means I have probably have 2.5 weeks of hard training before I need to start tapering.  John Newsom sent out the points sheet a few days ago.  The breakdown looks pretty good, and it seems to favor runners and swimmers.  There will be a few King of the Mountain competitions for biking, and I believe those will be huge in deciding who wins overall.  I'll see what I can do, but my ultimate goal is camp completion.  That might be hard enough as-is.

I'm headed to Kirkwood this weekend for some good training.  I have a pretty epic ride planned for Saturday, and I haven't finalized my plans for Sunday.