Ironman Canada Training Camp 2012 Day 1: Blinded by the Climb

The last weekend of July was my team’s Ironman Canada training camp. It had been a couple years since I had ridden the course (the last time I trained on it was when I raced the event in 2010), so I was really anxious to dust off the ol’ cobwebs and re-familiarize myself with the area and see how much my fitness had improved in the past two years. I was also excited to hang out with my teammates–even though we were going to be working our asses off all weekend long, it’s still fun to spend time with your friends and enjoy each other’s company away from the stresses of the real world.

The camp consisted of three days, which I’ve broken into separate posts. Here’s a recap of Day 1:

Day 1: What Doesn’t Kill You Just Half-Blinds You

Canada camp was scheduled a bit differently than Coeur d’Alene’s training camp. At Coeur d’Alene we swam, then rode the course, then did a brick run (and the day bested me because I was battling a fever and a cold and chumped out after 80 miles on the bike). At Canada, however, we’d start the day off by tackling the bike course, then doing a 20-30 minute brick run. No swimming? Boo-yah!

I took off with my cycling group from our hotel. It was going to be warm (mid to upper-80s) but not as hot as the ridiculous training camp back in 2010 (when temps hit 97 degrees).

Ready to roll out!

I was supposed to stay in zone 2 for my ride but my stupid Garmin didn’t charge overnight so I had to ride “naked,” so to speak, and went without heart rate information. It was actually kind of nice riding based on exertion/feel for a change, but I was mildly disheartened when the guys all took off as if they stole something and left me, Aimee, and Leslee behind. It was hard to tell whether I was going out too easy or they were going out too hard, or if they were just riding comfortably while I was sucking it up.

Not helping matters was hitting Richter about 2 hours, 3 minutes into my ride, which was a few minutes slower than my training time two years ago. Cue the “Oh God, am I actually slower than I was in 2010?! My bike split is going to be shit this year! Why did I sign up for this race, I’m no good, I’m not getting faster, what the hell is the matter with me, I’m not going to break 12 hours this year, not by a long shot, screw this sport, I’mma retire and get fat instead.”

I pushed the doubt out of my head and instructed myself to just ride. Don’t worry about the watch or how fast your teammates are going, just focus on what you need to do out there. So that’s what I did–I powered up Richter at a good clip (hooray for improved climbing skills this year!), busted through the “rollers” (aka the “Little Bitches,” as Slowtwitch so appropriately named them), and made it to the TN support car at the end of the out and back turnaround. And wouldn’t you know it, my lovely ladies Leslee and Aimee were right there with me as the first three in our group to make it to the car. I guess we all paced ourselves perfectly fine, after all. 🙂

By this point I had to pee something fierce. I looked around for a semi-private place to wander off to but there really weren’t many options, especially as more teammates started to roll in. Aimee tried to find a secluded place but ended up going in some poor woman’s front yard right when the homeowner came outside. After that very amusing moment, I thought, “Screw it” and just peed myself as I simultaneously squirted water down my shorts. My teammates gave exactly zero fucks–they all know how profoundly unglamorous this sport is.

Feeling rejuvenated after emptying my bladder and stocking up on more Powerbar Perform and gels, I headed back out to attack the remainder of the course. It had been a couple years since I tackled the Yellow Lake portion, and I had forgotten about the long false flat that you had to ride through before getting to the actual start of the climb. It was getting hotter outside so the Yellow Lake climb was stifling with zero cover or shade whatsoever. I started to sweat profusely, which ran into my eyes and stung the shit out of them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any water with me–all of my bottles contained Perform–so I couldn’t squirt the sweat off my face. The more I climbed, the more I sweat, and the more it stung. My perspiration started to feel like acid corroding my eyes, and pretty soon I was reduced to climbing Yellow Lake with one eye squinted shut and the other cracked open in a pirate “arrghhh matey” fashion. I was starting to feel pretty distraught; I couldn’t remember how long the climb was, I could barely see, and my eyes were hurting really bad. I’d try wiping the sweat away but would just produce twice as much. I felt like Newman after that shitty little dinosaur spit in his face.

"Bahhhhh, I hate you, Yellow Lake!"

When I finally reached the top of Yellow Lake, I pulled up to our support car, grabbed a handful of ice cubes, and started rubbing them on my raw, stinging eyes. They hurt so. Friggin. Bad. I couldn’t see a thing. It was so ridiculous that the following exchange occurred:

Male voice: “Good job, Rebecca!”

Me, doing my best Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport impression (see below): “Thanks. Is that Bill?”

"Who's talking to me? Who is that?"

Jason: “That was Strayer!”

I was a mess at Yellow Lake, so much so that I couldn’t tell my teammates from one another. Speaking of Bill, the poor guy was standing right next to me when I shot a snot rocket in an effort to clean my sorry ass up a bit before hopping back on my bike. Because I suck at snot rockets and he happened to be within eight feet of me, my mucus ended up splashing him on the leg. He pretended not to notice and I thought I could emerge from the faux pas unscathed…until my stupid boyfriend opened his fat mouth.

Jason: “Ugh, you just hit Bill with your snot rocket!”

Bill: “That’s okay.”

Me: “Kill me now.”

Bill was nice enough to brush off the incident (figuratively and literally), although later I heard he took a dip in the lake to “cool off.” (Jason: “You know he actually went to wash off the boogers you flung all over him.”)

The cherry on top of my horrible pit stop at Yellow Lake was when, in a final effort to get the burning sweat and salt out of my eyes and off my face, I opened the cooler, grabbed my bottle that was full of water, and started splashing it all over my head. It felt cold but sticky and had a faint hint of lemon lime. Confused, I kept squirting and tasted a little bit of the bottle contents. At that point I realized two things:

  1. This wasn’t my water bottle.
  2. This wasn’t water.

I had splashed someone else’s contents of Powerbar Perform all over my face, thus doing exactly what I didn’t want to do when I was climbing up Yellow Lake half-blind. FML.

Tired, irritated, sticky, and raw-eyed, I cleaned up as best I could with some water before pulling out of Yellow Lake to descend to the highway that would take me back to town. It had been a while since I had ridden the somewhat intimidating descent, but I figured, “Hey, I’m a stronger rider now and have more confidence on the bike, so maybe this won’t be as pants-crappingly scary as I remember it.”

I was wrong.

The descent from Yellow Lake back to the highway is pretty much a straight shot, but the shoulder is mostly comprised of shitty gravel so cyclists can’t ride on it; instead, you have to bomb down on the road while cars shoot by you going 60 mph (or whatever the kilometric equivalent is). I was more concerned about safety than speed since this was just a training ride (and because the descent is way less scary on race day since traffic is controlled, certain roads are closed, and locals mostly know to stay away from the bike course) so I wasn’t pushing it too hard and mostly concentrated on staying straight and clear-headed.

And then a little brown beater Honda that had “I’m a meth addict” written all over it honked at me angrily and, no joke, came less than a foot from smacking into me as it whipped past me. I struggled to swallow my heart back down into my chest as I pumped my brakes, slowing down to a crawl. That was the closest call I’d ever had when riding my bike so it very much scared the absolute shit out of me. I couldn’t exactly pull over and start crying and waiting for the support car to pick up my hysterical ass, though–I needed to get myself down to the highway somehow. So I just kept going, putting faith in the fact that everyone else on the road will be more considerate and won’t try to murder me (they were).

Once I made it to the bottom, I waited for my teammate Kirsten and we took the final descent back to town together. Bill caught up to us at Skaha Lake and we rode back to town together, where I nearly got taken out by the lone speed bump in our hotel’s parking lot. I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought about the fact that I survived 110 miles that included a near-blinding and a near-collision, only to barely avoid eating pavement from a speed bump thirty feet in front of my hotel room.

I dropped off my bike stuff and took off for my brick run. Most of my teammates were pretty pooped from the ride and weren’t thrilled about running. I felt great for the first 15 minutes but as soon as I turned around, I felt as if the temperature went up by 30 degrees and my stomach started to feel a bit sour. I managed to plod back to the hotel and rewarded myself with a not-very-cold ice bath in the lake.

I have no idea what's going on here.

All in all, despite the atrocious climb up Yellow Lake and the pants-crappingly scary descent, I had a good first day at training camp. I rode the course six minutes faster than I did when I practiced it back in 2010, which was pretty encouraging. My eyes were raw all weekend long, though, which served as a reminder to carry water at all times so that I’d have enough to drink along with my Perform and so I’d have something to clean the sweat off my face.

Stay tuned for Ironman Canada Training Camp Day 2: Hollandaise Was a Bad Choice (it’s exactly what it sounds like).

4 Responses to “ “Ironman Canada Training Camp 2012 Day 1: Blinded by the Climb”

  1. Jacqueline M. says:

    Hilarious post! I giggled all the way through it, with a few “ewww”s as well. I’d think you could use a puffy sweatband on your forehead a la 1980s Olivia Newton John?

  2. teresa says:

    I forgot about the sugar water in your face….ha!!!!

  3. LC says:

    My husband uses a Sweat GUTR (search Amazon) when he rides and swears by it. It’s this plastic headband that funnels the sweat off your forehead and down the back of your head. I almost died from the ridiculousness of it the first time I saw it and then borrowed it for a long, hot ride a few weeks ago. Yep, just ordered my own. It’s a contacts/sunscreen/sweat miracle.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I get some great laughs and good info on fitness stuff here. Like the GUTR and MyFitnessPal app.

    Here’s one back, in case you’ve not seen it: BANa “IV in a bottle”

    Hoping it’s useful! Keep up the racing and blogging!

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