Sunday, August 31, 2014

Epic Camp Canada 2014: Epilogue

Today is the first day post-Epic Camp Canada 2014, so it's time to reflect on the past twelve days.  It's hard to believe it's all over.  I'm sure you won't find it hard to believe, but it was  kind of nice to wake up this morning and not have to swim 3k, run 10k, and bike 200k.  I thought I might join a few others for a light jog this morning, but my legs are still in a state of extreme shock.  It hurts to squat down, and I don't think that feeling will go away for at least a few more days.

As I fly home, I have a mixture of emotions right now, but most of all, I'm feeling relief.  Going into this camp, I had a ton of anxiety.  I think that's pretty normal though.  I haven't done a lot of international travel.  I was going to spend two weeks with people I've never met before.  I didn't even know if my body was going to be able to handle the extreme amount of punishment it was going to endure.  There was also the added stress to perform in the jersey competitions.  For all of these reasons, I don't think I had a single "good" night's sleep the entire trip.  I joked near the end of the camp that I'm going to go to sleep tonight (Sunday) and wake up for work on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday,) but given my current sleep debt, I don't know if that's a joke...

I still need to add up the numbers, but I did somewhere close to 80 hours of workouts in 12 days.  This included swimming over 3km per day, running over 6.2 miles per day, and biking over 1000 miles through the mountains (ie tons of climbing.)  At my peak, that amount of training took me over a month.  Squeezing that down to two weeks with the added intensity of races and other competitions meant that my body went through the beating of a lifetime. (To be updated with exact numbers.)

Coming into the camp, John Newsom said I would be one of the slower guys as well as one of the younger campers (Leah was the youngest at 28.)  For these reasons, I took things pretty slow at first.  I relied quite a bit on the group and on the veteran campers to help guide me in my approach.  Initially I was a bit trigger happy on the pulls and on the climbs.  I trained and tapered well, so the first few days I felt much better than expected.  I also knew my strengths (climbing and running,) so I strategically used those to my advantage.

The first week was great.  I was doing the camp minimums, and my perception was that I was handling things as well or better than most.  I was pretty lucky to only get one flat on the road, so for the most part, I was always keeping up with the lead pack.  The pace never felt unmanageable either.  My swimming was a solid 7th, but this was a pretty minor part of the camp.

Around the beginning of the second week, the fatigue started to set in.  I think it coincided with my first two hour run.  Due to my foot injury coming into camp, my run wasn't where it should have been, so the longer runs definitely had a major impact on performance.  There was also the incident with my bike towards the middle of the camp.  This killed me both mentally and physically.  Wildflower (my bike) and I were like one.  That bike was basically an extension of my body, so to lose something like that was difficult.  At the time, I was in a mild state of shock because I didn't know if I would be able to complete the camp, and I knew it was a multi-thousand dollar incident.  A tough pill to swallow for sure.  The new bike is nice though.  Dandelion (thanks Sam!) and I got to know each other pretty well, and by the end of the camp, we are on pretty solid terms.

The last half of the second week was very dark for me.  Right around day 9 is when things took a turn for the worst.  I was still able to move, but getting out of bed in the morning was difficult.  Biking became tougher and tougher, and I kept missing the main pack.  Occasionally there would be someone I could ride with, but pulling (riding in front) was out of the question.  My most sincere apologies to everyone for doing almost no work towards the end.  Physically, I just couldn't.  I hope you understand and don't hold too much of a grudge.

The KOM competition was something I was looking forward to, but Zach crushed that hard.  He went five for five on the KOMs which was untouchable.  Before the fatigue set in, I was close, but once I lost my bike and my legs, there was no coming back.  Well done Zach.  I hope I at least made you work for it.

The yellow jersey competition was something I had in the back of my mind for a while.  Realistically I never thought I had a chance especially with my foot and lack of running coming into camp.  After the KOM was lost, I noticed I was doing well in GC (yellow jersey) points purely based on performance in the races.  With just a little more effort to pick up a few "easy" points, I could be a contender.  So that's what I did.  By the last two days, I had a severe case of yellow fever.  I didn't quite realize what I was up against with Adam B, but I tried hard.  It took a bit of ingenuity to grab some points (convincing Scott to let me violate the 12-hour rule, downhill 7x1k, etc.) but for two days, I went for it.  The best I did was tie Adam B for one day, but after reading Molina's blog about the integrity of the yellow jersey and considering the shape that my legs were in, I decided to call it quits.  Adam B tacked on way more than I did, and he got up at 4:30am on the last day to put in some monster training.  Kudos dude.  You are a badass and earned the yellow.  But all things considered, I'm happy to have been a contender and to have had the opportunity to go for it.  I made you work for it, and likewise, you made me do work as well.

To John and the support crew, thanks for an amazing experience.  Logistically, everything was incredible.  Michelle made the most amazing food and gave a killer massage, Dave went out of his way for me so many times (almond milk smoothies) and had an incredible personality, and Mark saved me so many times with bike stuff.  You guys were like wizards with logistics.

Here are a few things that I learned that might make for a better experience next time:
- Bring a laptop.  Managing pictures and garmin issues would have been a lot better with a real computer.  There was a ton of extra room, so size wouldn't have been an issue.
- Bring warmer clothes.  Again, size and space weren't really issues, so there was room for bigger bags with more of the uncommon but greatly appreciated things like cold/wet weather gloves and full cycling booties.  Those two things alone would have been a game-changer during that one miserable day from Sunwapta to Lake Louise.
- Better run fitness would have helped a ton.  Going into camp, I was lacking some long run training.  You're never forced to run long, but that extra durability in my legs would have helped a lot.
- Pick your battles.  Halfway through the camp I flipped from going for the KOM to the yellow jersey.  In the future, if the yellow jersey is a realistic goal, go for it on day one.  Likewise, if you're going for the KOM, take it easy on the rest of the stuff.  Zach wasn't going for camp completion, so trying to split my effort in both competitions was difficult.
- Do the fast stuff EARLY, at sea level, and on FLAT ground.  Trying to do hard run sets when you're super tired, at 5000 feet, and in the mountains is a nightmare.
- Declare your tack-ons.  Being secret about your bonus points is not a good way to make friends.  It all gets revealed at the end anyway.
- Be a tourist every once in a while.  I missed out on a few opportunities to have some fun like the river adventure and the Lake Louise gondola because I was too busy training.  At the end of the day, the experience is a lot more valuable than a little more training.

I had a great time here at Epic Camp Canada.  I feel like I accomplished something huge and am a better person for it.  I also met some great people along the way and shared many epic moments with them.  I will almost certainly be back for the next one!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Epic Camp Day 12: Lake Louise to Calgary - The Final Day

I conceded the yellow jersey this morning.  Actually, I conceded it sometime last night.  My legs hurt so much that I couldn't bend them to curl up into a ball, so I decided that enough was enough.  It wasn't worth risking my chances of doing well in Tahoe in three weeks.  I feel bad because Adam B got up at 4:30am to do the 7x1k run reps, another 10k run, and a 60k bike to pull ahead all before the 200k run.  That's HUGE.  I seriously can't touch that.  Adam B: You are a hardcore badass well-deserving of the yellow jersey.  Congrats.

So instead I got up at 6:15 to make the 6:45 van ride up to Lake Louise.  We stopped at the lake to take pictures just as we headed out on our tea house run.  It's hard to describe how beautiful it was.  I've been waiting FOREVER to take a picture standing in front of the lake.  You see pictures of it all over the internet, but today was my day.  I was happy that it was pretty calm and clear too, and it was definitely worth it.

After some solid photography, we headed up the trail towards the tea house.  The trail was much like the one yesterday with nice dirt and straight uphill.  And of course ridiculously beautiful.  Just like yesterday, it twas a mixture of running and walking (mostly walking) that is, unless your name is Lou.  I don't know how, but Lou somehow managed to run the entire way up.  It might not have been blazingly fast, but he did it.  The view from the tea house was worth it too.  Definitely one I will not forget for a while.  On the way down, I had some solid man-to-man-to-man time with Lou and Scott.  They gave me a ton of life and racing advice that I won't soon forget.  The rest of the descent was spent chasing after Zach and Petro.  We took the scenic route and ended up getting back way later than expected.

Breakfast was a bit rushed, but we go out on the bikes by 9:30.  My legs were thoroughly crushed into oblivion, so almost immediately the pace seemed difficult.  Newsom said the pace was going to be on from the start, and he wasn't kidding.  We took a side road which paralleled the main highway.  It was nice, but it wasn't as scenic as I was hoping.  The views I saw yesterday from the main highway were definitely better.  The first aid station was just outside Banff, and it was a welcome break.  But as soon as that was over, John promised that the pace would be even higher for the 30k out on the highway.  He wasn't kidding either.  As soon as we got out there, the front pack took off.  I tried to hang with them, but I didn't last long.  As soon as the main group got up to me, they flew past too!  Crap, I missed both groups!  Thankfully Molina was smart enough not to hammer, and he fell off too.  I got on his wheel and hung there until the turn.

I also hung onto his wheel until the aid station at 100k too.  We took another side road, and the shoulder was a death trap for tires.  Another day with plenty of punctures!  After the aid station, we were noticeably exiting the mountains.  The terrain was changing more and more to gently rolling hills, and the weather was getting sunnier and warmer.  Molina and I just kept on motoring along (he obviously leading) all the way to lunch at 150k.  I swear, Molina must be sick of towing me around the past two weeks.  He might as well of had a rope attached from his bike to mine pulling me along.  I spent more time with him than anyone else this entire camp.

Lunch was our typical road lunch, and naturally I tried to eat everything in sight.  The plan was to wait up for everyone and roll into Calgary together.  This worked well for a while, but we got split on the climb just before town.  Eventually we regrouped and made our way to the hotel.  I think we stopped at a thousand stoplights on the way, but we made it.  Once we got to the hotel, things were a little crazy.  People were packing bikes, showering, etc. all the way until dinner.

The Epic Camp closing dinner was great.  The food was good, and many good laughs were shared.  Epic support crew Dave Dwan had an excellent speech, and John Newsom handed out some fancy Epic Camp swag.  Slowly people started trickling out, but it was hard to leave all of the good stories from Molina.  I think the story of Gary's snickers bars will be told for many Epic Camps to come.

My flight is at 11:20 tomorrow, but I'll head down to the lobby much earlier to hang out with people.  Tomorrow I will type up my epilogue too, so stay tuned!

Epic Camp Day 12: Lake Louise to Calgary - The Final Day

I conceded the yellow jersey this morning.  Actually, I conceded it sometime last night.  My legs hurt so much that I couldn't bend them to curl up into a ball, so I decided that enough was enough.  It wasn't worth risking my chances of doing well in Tahoe in three weeks.  I feel bad because Adam B got up at 4:30am to do the 7x1k run reps, another 10k run, and a 60k bike to pull ahead all before the 200k run.  That's HUGE.  I seriously can't touch that.  Adam B: You are a hardcore badass well-deserving of the yellow jersey.  Congrats.

So instead I got up at 6:15 to make the 6:45 van ride up to Lake Louise.  We stopped at the lake to take pictures just as we headed out on our tea house run.  It's hard to describe how beautiful it was.  I've been waiting FOREVER to take a picture standing in front of the lake.  You see pictures of it all over the internet, but today was my day.  I was happy that it was pretty calm and clear too, and it was definitely worth it.

After some solid photography, we headed up the trail towards the tea house.  The trail was much like the one yesterday with nice dirt and straight uphill.  And of course ridiculously beautiful.  Just like yesterday, it twas a mixture of running and walking (mostly walking) that is, unless your name is Lou.  I don't know how, but Lou somehow managed to run the entire way up.  It might not have been blazingly fast, but he did it.  The view from the tea house was worth it too.  Definitely one I will not forget for a while.  On the way down, I had some solid man-to-man-to-man time with Lou and Scott.  They gave me a ton of life and racing advice that I won't soon forget.  The rest of the descent was spent chasing after Zach and Petro.  We took the scenic route and ended up getting back way later than expected.

Breakfast was a bit rushed, but we go out on the bikes by 9:30.  My legs were thoroughly crushed into oblivion, so almost immediately the pace seemed difficult.  Newsom said the pace was going to be on from the start, and he wasn't kidding.  We took a side road which paralleled the main highway.  It was nice, but it wasn't as scenic as I was hoping.  The views I saw yesterday from the main highway were definitely better.  The first aid station was just outside Banff, and it was a welcome break.  But as soon as that was over, John promised that the pace would be even higher for the 30k out on the highway.  He wasn't kidding either.  As soon as we got out there, the front pack took off.  I tried to hang with them, but I didn't last long.  As soon as the main group got up to me, they flew past too!  Crap, I missed both groups!  Thankfully Molina was smart enough not to hammer, and he fell off too.  I got on his wheel and hung there until the turn.

I also hung onto his wheel until the aid station at 100k too.  We took another side road, and the shoulder was a death trap for tires.  Another day with plenty of punctures!  After the aid station, we were noticeably exiting the mountains.  The terrain was changing more and more to gently rolling hills, and the weather was getting sunnier and warmer.  Molina and I just kept on motoring along (he obviously leading) all the way to lunch at 150k.  I swear, Molina must be sick of towing me around the past two weeks.  He might as well of had a rope attached from his bike to mine pulling me along.  I spent more time with him than anyone else this entire camp.

Lunch was our typical road lunch, and naturally I tried to eat everything in sight.  The plan was to wait up for everyone and roll into Calgary together.  This worked well for a while, but we got split on the climb just before town.  Eventually we regrouped and made our way to the hotel.  I think we stopped at a thousand stoplights on the way, but we made it.  Once we got to the hotel, things were a little crazy.  People were packing bikes, showering, etc. all the way until dinner.

The Epic Camp closing dinner was great.  The food was good, and many good laughs were shared.  Epic support crew Dave Dwan had an excellent speech, and John Newsom handed out some fancy Epic Camp swag.  Slowly people started trickling out, but it was hard to leave all of the good stories from Molina.  I think the story of Gary's snickers bars will be told for many Epic Camps to come.

My flight is at 11:20 tomorrow, but I'll head down to the lobby much earlier to hang out with people.  Tomorrow I will type up my epilogue too, so stay tuned!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Epic Camp Day 11: In Lake Louise

Once again, I'll cut right to the chase: The race for yellow is on.  Adam Bardsley has the lead over me by a single point.  As it stands, I have not done my second 200k ride, so if/when I make it to Calgary tomorrow (assuming by bike,) I will get those two points.  So in virtual standings, I'm ahead by one point.  I know this; Adam knows this; everyone knows this.  I told Adam B exactly what my plan is for tomorrow, so if he can somehow beat that, then he deserves yellow.

And now the recap of the day.  We rolled out this morning at 9am.  The plan was to ride 15k uphill to Lake Moraine, run up Sentinel Pass, and bike down.  The ride up was super mellow.  It wasn't a race of any kind, and we knew the run was going to be a doozy.  Once we got to the top, we tossed our bikes in the truck and headed to the trail.

The run was 5.8k long and 2400 feet up to Sentinel Pass.  The way up was brutal.  We tried to run at first, but eventually we resorted to power walking.  When the trail leveled out a bit, we'd try to run, but it always pitched up too steep to climb.  At first we were running through a cloud, so the views were crappy.  But once we got above the cloud, the vistas were spectacular.  In fact, they were better than anything I've ever seen before.  Once the internet is good again, I'll post pictures, but for now, you'll have to take my word for it.  The run back down was nice.  Zach and I were running quickly, but I was trying to be cautious to avoid the ankle traps everywhere.  Once we got down to Lake Moraine, we took a quick dip to ice our legs.  Damn that felt good.

After we biked down, lunch was served.  I have to hand it to Michelle, she can make anything taste good with whatever materials she has.  Today we had a Mexican rice dish and pasta with sausage.  Both were amazing.  Sadly, I went light on lunch because I had other plans...

After lunch, I went for a 20k run.  The plan was to run out 10k as a warmup and then do the 7x1k under 3:50 with one minute rest on the way back.  This was a really difficult run, but if I made it under 3:50, it would be worth mega points.  I got it done, so that 20k run alone was worth five points - huge.

Next up was a 90k ride.  I originally planned on riding 120k, but it was getting a little late.  I didn't get out there until 4pm.  My plan was to go out super easy since my legs were a little sore from the 20k run.  I had a nice tailwind, and it was downhill.  I was mentally preparing myself for a grind on the way back.  After the 45k mark, I had some good luck.  The winds had somehow magically changed, and I had a tailwind going back too!  Booyah (or so I thought.)  Around the 65k mark, my luck went to shit.  I saw the clouds off in the distance, and at 65k I finally reached them.  The rain started to come down pretty heavy, and it was back to a stiff headwind.  It wasn't too cold, so I was actually pretty happy about the rain.  If you know me at all, the biggest thing I miss about Chicago is the thunderstorms.  If it's not cold, rain is such a joy for me.  Today though, the rain was ok for about 20 minutes, but the temperature dropped just past my comfort level for the last 20.  When I got back, I was shaking quite a bit, but I did indeed make it back.  This 90k ride netted me another three points.

I met up with the group just a bit late for dinner, but I still had my delicious pulled pork sandwich, all of my fries, the communal salad, and most of Mark's fries as well.  I think I'm starting to get a reputation around here.  I don't know how these guys don't eat more!

When it was all said and done, I was one point behind Adam B.  My eight points didn't quite close the gap.  His early morning 10k run and 150k on the bike was big (I only anticipated him doing 120k.)  But as I said, he knows what I'm going to do tomorrow, so the ball is in his court.  Good luck.

Epic Camp Day 10: Sunwapta to Lake Louise

I won't sugar coat it: Today was absolutely miserable.  I knew the weather here in Canada was too good to be true, and today made up for it.  It was cold and rainy from the time we woke up to about five minutes before the end of our ride.

The day started with a short 4k run to Honeymoon Lake.  Given that we were at 4500 feet, Newsom was going to make the call as to how long we'd have to swim due to cold water.  His conclusion: Swim as long as you can, but if you're getting hypothermic, get out.  Yep, that about sums it up.  The water was f'ing frigid!  As usual, I got in the water and started following my favorite swim buddy Shannon.  About five minutes in, my hands and feet were numb.  I checked my watch thinking we'd been in the water for 20+ minutes.  Nope.  5.  This was torture, but since it was our last official swim, I wanted to beast mode the full 3k.  I got it done, but I definitely paid for it.  After getting out, I could barely get dressed because I saw shaking so much.  It definitely reminded me of my 19min T1 at Tahoe last year.  The 4k jog back to the cabin helped warm me up a bit, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Before the big ride of the day, I could tell it was going to be a shitty day.  The rain was coming down, and the temperature was dropping.  I put just about every piece of warm clothing I had in my day bag on top of what I was already wearing.  The details for the ride were: 178k with two KOMs at 54k and 134k.  Translation: LONG with two HUGE climbs in the worst possible weather.  I think I was completely soaked less than 10k into the ride.  It wasn't raining too hard, but the spray from wheels including my own was wrecking my gloves and shoes.  Around 25k, the front group took off.  I hung back with the more logical crew.  The theme from yesterday continued: No energy.  I just didn't have it.

The first KOM was a grinder.  There's a steep part in the beginning followed by a downhill and finishing up with a long slog at a steady grade.  The steep part was tough.  I caught up to Gary and just chilled on his wheel for a while.  He didn't know that the steep part wasn't the KOM, so he dropped back a bit.  For the steady part, Gareth and I just slogged up that.  Brutal, brutal grind.  Eventually we saw the top, and he busted out a solid sprint to take it...for like 10th place (the front group was long gone.)  At the top, they had the greatest soup of my life.  In reality, it probably wasn't that great, but given the situation, it was everything I could have hoped for at the top of a climb.  At the aid station at the top, I also made the decision to put on my long sleeve thermal shirt (layer number 4) and put garbage bags on my completely drenched feet.

From there, we had a long descent down to the next aid station at 100k.  Normally I love descents, but given the weather, this was the last thing I wanted.  Freezing.  Cold.  The other guys here are also much faster at descents due to gearing, so I missed the group which meant 45k solo.  Actually, Douglas came by, so he want I cruising along together for a while.

After what seemed like forever, Douglas and I got to the aid station.  Actually, we missed it, but thanks to a really awesome car, they let us know and we doubled back a bit.  Initially the garbage bags that I put on my feet were a good idea, but somehow water got in and never drained.  The pools in my shoes were quite annoying, so I ditched them at 100k.  Feet were still freezing though.  I downed two Snickers bars, and since the main group was rolling out, I decided to head out too.

The next KOM was at 134k.  Almost immediately I was dropped by the pack.  Molina didn't have much either, so it was me and him grinding away up this mountain.  Near the top, I hit my low.  According to Molina, I didn't hit rock bottom because I was still pedaling, but I will tell you now that I was as close to getting off my bike as I have ever been.  I was questioning how I ever got into this mess, why I even decided to buy a bike, and probably even the meaning of life.  I was dropping F-bombs left and right and yelling, "Where the hell is the top!?!?!"  It was bad.  Cold, wet, and absolutely miserable.

After a quick lunch at the top, we had a decent descent down to Lake Louise.  It wasn't pleasant, but at least I knew the end was near.  A Red Bull gave me some wings for the final stretch, and after almost seven long, treacherous, uncomfortable, grueling, and stressful hours, that bitch of a ride was done.  Molina and I celebrated with a quick dip in the hot tub which was amazing after a day full of numb hands and feet.  The circulation returned.

I didn't take many pictures today partly because I couldn't get my camera out, and if I did, I couldn't squeeze my fingers hard enough to turn it on.  It's also a day I would rather forget.  I'm sure in some weird way it made me tougher, but it was also the worst training day of my life.  Today was supposed to be one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world, and it was ruined by cold, wet fog.  What a disappointment.  If there's one thing that I want to take away from today, it's a quote from Molina which he told me while I was hating life up the second KOM: "Even if you have the perfect race, it always fucking hurts."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Epic Camp Day 9: Jasper to Sunwapta Falls

The day started off a little later than usual (thankfully - sleeping in is always nice!)  The pre-ride plan was to bike up to Pyramid Lake and get our daily minimum of 3k in.  It wasn't a particularly eventful morning.  We headed up to the lake around 7:30.  It was a 7k ride, but it was not an easy 7k.  It was straight up into the hills north of Jasper.  The swim wasn't too eventful either.  Other than being absolutely frigid, Shannon and I did easy loops and hopped out.  Biking back to the hotel was pretty sweet though since it was entirely downhill.

We headed out towards Sunwapta Falls just after 10:30.  It's a short ride there, so we did a climb up to Marmot Basin for the KOM competition.  Technically we had two KOMs scheduled for the day, but the other one was closed due to a mud slide (some people did it anyway, and with it being closed to cars, I hear it was pretty amazing.)  Marmot Basin was a 13k climb which we reached just a few miles out from Jasper.  An eight mile climb is no joke, and let me tell you, it felt like it went on forever.  I'm still getting used to the new bike, and so far it isn't great.  Losing my R5 (named Wildflower) was soul crushing.  I felt like that bike was an extension of my body, and this new bike just feels...foreign.  Anyway, I made it up the climb in 5th place.  Zach was first as usual, and Adam Bardsley (current yellow jersey holder) was second.

The rest of the ride was a grind to Sunwapta Falls.  I felt completely drained - no energy whatsoever.  I tried to do a pull at the front, but that lasted about 15 seconds.  From there on out, I mostly just hung on to the back and drafted whoever or whatever I could.  I was in a dark place.  This is the first time during the camp where I've felt a significant lack of energy.  It's almost certainly physical, but with everything going on, there's definitely a mental component as well.

Eventually I made it to the destination.  We had to do a 10k run, and most people went out on the trail out by the falls.  My plan was different: Fast 10k for points.  Since I was low on energy, I ate and drank as much sugar as I could and let everything digest for a bit.  My stretch goal was sub-38min which would net me three huge points.  My primary goal was sub-40 which only nets two.  After a short warmup, I headed out.  Initially the pace was good, but as soon as I headed out on Ice Fields Parkway, my pace dropped to around 6:40.  Crap.  This is no where the 6:07/mile pace needed for 38min and way off the 6:27/mile pace I needed for sub-40.  Sub-40 was supposed to be EASY!  I grinded it out for almost 5k.  As soon as I turned around, I started flying at way under 6min/mile pace.  AH HA!  Turns out I had been climbing the entire way out and didn't even realize it (severe case of poo-brain.)  Almost the entire way back was downhill, and I was crushing it.  By the end, I just barely missed the 38min mark.  I was maybe 20 seconds off.  The initial climb, 4500 foot elevation, and the fact that I did a swim and ride beforehand put me in the hole.

So given the points situation from yesterday, I knew I was close to yellow.  How close was tough to say.  Regardless, I waited a while and decided to head out for 10k run #2.  This was worth one bonus point, and all I had to do was grind it out.  Pace was irrelevant.  And that's what I did.  It was slow and painful, but I got it done.

After adding in all tack-ons for the day, I'm tied for yellow.  Mission accomplished.  Secretly all I wanted to do was wear the jersey for one day, and I'm happy to say that I'll get to do that.  Given the bike situation, I'm going to drop down a lot in the KOM competition, and once that rolls into the overall points, I won't stand a chance.

Tomorrow is going to  be a tough day.  There are two KOMs, and the weather is going to be bad.  There's a lot of rain in the forecast, and it'll be cold since we're going up high (~6500 feet.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Epic Camp Day 8: In Jasper

I'll skip ahead to the good news: I got a bike today!  After our swim, I went down to the bike shop and had them build up a Specialized Roubaix SL4 for me.  I was pretty lucky that they had one in my size, and fortunately they had a pretty nice sale going on too which means I got a sweet deal.  It took a bit longer than expected to get it ready which meant I missed the group for the 60k daily minimum, but I got it done.

Anyway, back to the start of the day.  We got to use the pool here in Jasper which we specially booked ahead of time.  We had to get things done early which meant getting there at 6am.  With the time change coming into Alberta, this was a particularly brutal early morning wake up.  The pool was only a quarter mile away, so the walk was short.  We all did an easy warmup, and then got on with the special events that were planned: The races.  First up was the 400m IM race.  We split into waves based on projected finish time.  I was in the faster wave, and it was fun to watch some of the earlier waves race.  When my wave was up, Petro and Molina were trash talking like they were going to win, and rightfully so since they are both very good swimmers.  But little do they know that I'm a strong pool swimmer and that IM is my jam. :)  I ended up going out strong and took the lead immediately during the butterfly.  I don't have a lot of endurance with fly, but I can swim a solid 100 if needed.  I was pretty bushed after the fly, but backstroke is my strongest stroke so I increased my lead a bit.  From there on out, I just hung on to my lead and ended up winning.  No points were on the line, only prestige.

The next event was the 200m kick.  Zach was the closest competitor here, but I won this too.  The last race was the 50m free.  Gary was officiating this, and he said I left early.  I argue that everyone else just left late!  It's not my fault they didn't anticipate the start! :)  I ended up winning by more than a second though, so it was a moot point anyway.

After the races, we just had a little more to do, so I followed Newsom's lead doing a 20x100m on 1:35 pace.  I got a bonus point for that set, and I got a bonus point for the 200m butterfly afterward that nearly killed me.  Some people stayed and did more, but I had to go to the bike shop to search for a bike (more on that later.)

Breakfast was awesome as usual.  We had a bread, bacon, ham, and cheese casserole as well as leftover pancakes.  It was amazing.  Thanks Michelle!

Next up was our "2 hour" trail run.  We decided to go to the Valley of the Five Lakes.  It was recommended by many people (including my friend Dave,) and it was worth it.  The trail was definitely some of the best trail running I have ever done, but the colors in the lakes were amazing.  I've never seen so many shades of green!  The run ended up being quite a bit longer than we planned, but the views of Jasper were incredible.  My expert navigation skills ended up taking us to all of the right places, and we didn't get lost once!  My quads were pretty crushed after this, but as usual, it was worth it.

Our bike minimum for the day was 60k.  I wanted to head out with the group, but my bike wasn't ready until after everyone was gone.  I kept it pretty simple.  I headed east on the main highway.  I stopped quickly at the Japser Lodge just to check it out.  The first half of the riding going out was great.  It was downhill is a nice tailwind, but I didn't realize this until the way back.  The headwind was soul-crushing.  Thankfully I only had to put up with it for about 12 miles.

And now things get interesting.  It was a little past 6pm which is usually our cutoff for workouts.  We have a "12 hour rule" to prevent people from training into the evening (mostly for safety reasons.)  Since I had to get out of the pool early this morning to buy a bike, I asked for special permission to go back to the pool to do the 3k IM set (12x (100 IM, 150 freestyle.))  Molina was the final ruler on this, and he said it was OK.  And with that, I hustled down to the pool for a quick hour to get that done.  It was an easy set, but the people in my lane were quite frustrating at times.

Afterward I hurried down to the main strip to meet everyone for dinner at the Jasper Pizzeria.  I'm a bit of a pizza snob, but it was acceptably OK.  And afterward, we had some delicious ice cream at Scoops and Loops.  We never did figure out what the loops were...