Lessons from Camp

While at Ironman Lake Placid training camp this past weekend I learned A LOT about what it takes to train for and finish an Ironman. For those who are not familiar with Ironman, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run that must all be completed under 17:00 hours. It’s no small feat. It takes a lot of training and heart for the better part of a year to complete an Ironman. Most “normal” people think your crazy. See video below:

Here are a few of the lessons that I have learned. I should warn you that one of them may or may not be gross.

1. 100+ mile rides on the bike is not for the weak crotch. My previous longest ride ever was 70 miles with lots of stopping on my road bike. This past weekend I rode 101 miles of Friday and then another 40 on Saturday. My crotch was NOT happy with me. I’m not one to use Chamois Butter or HooHa Ride Glide, although I know women who swear by the stuff. Secretly, I think they all get off on the tingling sensation. Not my style. Of course, being triathletes discussing such things as a sore crotch at dinner was normal. I think we all concluded that women have it worse than men. My advice, make sure you invest in a good saddle and a quality pair of bike shorts and spend some quality bonding time on that saddle. Who said becoming an Ironman was easy and pain free? If it was then we would all be Ironmen. See this wonderful post from The Mediocre Athlete about her crotch problems while training for an Ironman!

2. Training for an Ironman is a year long process. It’s not something that you can get out of bed one day and decide I’m going to do an Ironman in 5 months. Well, you can, but it won’t be pretty! While at camp I remember hearing Kurt saying something along the lines as 80% of people out on course during IMLP will either be undertrained or overtrained with injuries. The remaining 20% will be in good shape (probably because they work with a coach and listen to their bodies!). I found this article by Lindsay Hyman a Pro Triathlon coach for Carmichael Training Systems very interesting and very similar to my beliefs on training. Last fall I was asked by a couple people if I wanted to do the REV3 Cedar Point Full (140.6) race this coming September. Of course, I wanted too. And I wanted too badly. But, I knew my body wasn’t ready. I know I could have completed the distance, but I actually want to be competitive when I do an Ironman. I know I won’t win my age group or anything, but I would like to at least place in the top half of age group. I also knew that I need to get another year of base training under my belt to ensure my body was ready for the time and work committment that it takes to train for an Ironman. It was one of the main reasons I choice to hire a coach for this race season. I wanted to improve and build a strong base for the future and my coach has guided me in doing just that. It was the best decision I have made thus far in my triathlon “career.” I look at my Ironman training as a two-year plan. I’m currently working on building my endurance and strength for next year when I will actually do the Ironman race. Most people only focus on their short-term goals, but it’s really the long-term goals that matter.

3. Lighter is better. I hate to say it, but IMLP is a course that you want to be lighter. If you have a few extra pounds then you may want to consider a flatter course such as Florida or Arizona. I’m not saying that if your heavy that you can’t do IMLP, but it is a tough and hilly course.

IMLP Bike Course has close to 5000 feet of climbing over the course of 112 miles

Of course, being triathletes we did a lot of talking about body composition and race weight. Kurt mentioned at one point that for about every pound of weight you drop you can gain 3 seconds per mile during the run. According to Runner’s World, a five pound weight loss can lead to two-minutes off your half-marathon time. That’s free time! Also, less weight can reduce injury and improve your biomechanics. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was last year and I definitely notice the difference in my running and cycling. I definitely hope to be a little lighter for IMLP next year too.

4. Recover is key! I’ve always known this, but it was definitely reinforced at camp. After workouts everyone was either taking an ice bath and/or wearing some sort of compression tights/sleeves/socks. There is some research and people out there who don’t think that compression wear works, but I believe they do. Perhaps it’s the placebo effect, but I like my various compression tights, sleeves, and socks. Remember, recovery and rest is the time when your body adapts and repairs itself from workouts. It’s not the workouts that make you stronger, it’s the recovery time! Train hard and recovery harder!

~ Happy Training! 

Weekend Rap-Up: Lake Placid Training Camp Edition

This past weekend I was able to go to Lake Placid Ironman Training Camp with TriMoxie Coaching (my coach) and Personal Best Multisport in beautiful Lake Placid, New York where I got to pretend I was training for an Ironman. There were about 20 or so of us there to train for the long weekend. I was one of two who were not actually doing IMLP in a few short weeks. I was there mainly for fun (yes, I think training for an Ironman is fun… perhaps I should check my sanity?) and also to determine if I really do want to commit to doing the race next year.


Thursday began with a lovely six hour drive from Maine to New York through rural New Hampshire and Vermont. The drive was uneventful and long with some lovely road construction stops in Vermont. I decided to take the ferry across Lake Champlain to New York because it was a beautiful summer day and I want to get out of the car to stretch!

From the Ferry

I was chatting with a gentleman on the ferry who asked me where I was going. I told him I was heading to Lake Placid to train for the Ironman and he told me he thought I looked like I was going to be doing something crazy. He also thought I was Canadian.

I finally reached our house for the weekend around 4pm only to unload my car and jet off to Mirror Lake for an hour swim on the course! My wetsuit is too big for me so Mary was nice enough to let me borrow her old suit. Luckily I was able to squeeze myself into it! Mirror Lake is much smaller than I thought it was and had canoe racing lanes set up in the middle of the lake. The swim was kind of fun because all you had to do was follow the underwater cables across the lake almost like a swim lane! Now, the real race day course doesn’t exactly follow the cables, but it’s nice to spot off of those instead of trees, houses, etc. I definitely thought I was cheating at times though… The water was super warm too. IMLP is definitely not going to be wetsuit legal unless it it miraculously snows 10 feet in July to cool the lake down. I highly doubt it will happen, but who knows… the USA did win the gold medal in hockey there in 1980! 😉


Friday was the long bike ride day. People will say that Lake Placid is one of the harder Ironman courses because it’s hilly. So I expected there to be some giant hills like Mooseman style! There are three notorious hills on the courses commonly referred to as the Three Bears (Mama Bear, Baby Bear, and Papa Bear). I’ve heard people say they are hard so I was picturing them to be steep and hard. IMLP bike course is a two loop course. You start from in town and then begin a long climb out of town followed by a crazy fast 6 mile descend into the town of Keene. Once into Keene you take a left and follow a long flat-ish section into the town of Jay that is relatively fast. In Jay there is a 11 mile out and back then a sharp right to begin climbing into Wilmington. Personally, I thought this was the hardest section of the course. It’s a long gradual hill and you just had to be patient while climbing. If you pound the hill then you will definitely be in trouble on the second loop of the course and then for the marathon after the bike. Once into the town of Wilmington you take a left onto Route 86. This section is the slow section. It’s only about 12 miles back into Lake Placid, but you are constantly climbing whether you realize it or not. The climb is more of a stage climb. It’s never steep. Just long and gradual. Sometimes it flattens out, but it’s more or a false flat. The road conditions also suck. It’s very scenic however with the river and views of Whiteface Mountain. The Three Bears come at the end. They are not super steep like I thought they would be. I was pleasantly surprised! You just have to spin up the hills. Slow but steady. Be patient and don’t blow all your matches!

I had a good ride. I rode with three other girls who were riding at my similar pace so it worked out nicely. My coach had given me my power zones previously before beginning to ride so I knew what I should target power-wise. I did my best to keep a low VI, but that didn’t really happen. I got a bit sloppy on the end of the second loop, but I was hurting. Riding 101 miles in one day without many stops does a wonder to one’s crotch! Ouch! The weather was also perfect for riding. It was partly cloudy and in the 70s. I was pretty happy with my ride. It was slow, but I didn’t kill myself either. I learned that I need to be PATIENT on this course. You can’t go out and hammer the course because you will kill your run afterwards. The worse part of the ride was the ride back to the house. It involved a massive hill climb al la Mooseman style! It sucked. At this point we were all about 100 miles into the ride and just wanted to be done, but he had to climb this half mile hill that probably averaged at least a 6% grade. Not fun, but I made it up the hill without falling over! Nutritionally I felt pretty good on the bike. Except around the 12:30-1pm mark when my stomach decided it wanted food. Like real food, not gels or sports drink. It made me realized that I should start incorporating a bar of some sorts into my bike nutrition. I will start experimenting with that on my rides. After the ride was a 20 minute transition run off the bike in the hot sun. I got attacked by horseflies. It was great. It never felt so good to be done with a workout!


Saturday began with an early morning 2 mile swim TT in Mirror Lake. The course wasn’t quite the full 4000 yards, but we were pretty darn close. I had a great swim! I was able to draft off one of the other camper’s feet for a majority of the swim. We finished in 58 minutes! It makes me a little bummed to see my time and realized that I won’t be doing Peaks to Portland this year. My goal for that race was to swim a sub-hour. I definitely think it was doable with the ocean currents and my current swim fitness. But such is life!

Saturday afternoon was a recovery ride. We planned to do one loop of the course without the out and back section, so about 45-50 miles including the few extra miles to get home. However, Mother Nature decided to have some fun with us. We got rained on and some others got hailed on! The thunderstorms were chasing us the whole ride, which was not fun. We climbed the big hill into Wilmington in the pouring rain! Luckily, the fast guys that started before came around and picked all of us up before the lighting struck. Although, our chance of getting struck was probably slim to none. But I willingly took a ride in Kurt’s man van. I finished the ride with 40 miles. The first five miles from the house were very painful. My crotch was hurting from the previously day, even in super nice bike shorts. As it started to rain I forgot about the pain and started focusing on finishing the damn ride. I was actually having a super good and strong ride on Route 86 before Kurt saved the day. I was pretty happy with the ride overall!

We are completely soaked from the several rain “showers” we rode through! Whiteface Mountain is in the background.


Sunday was the long run day. Most of the athletes were running between 16-20 miles. Since I was not training for a marathon I only did 7 miles. I got to see some of the run course and also get a good run in. I was worried all weekend that I would not be able to run after all the riding and swimming from previous days, but my legs actually felt pretty fresh. I was quite surprised and relieved to be able to put one foot in front of the other without falling over or hobbling 7 miles! The miles were rather uneventful for me; however, our cooler we left water and gels in on River Road was stolen by some rude people leaving a few of the other athletes without water and nutrition! So not cool!

Before Saturday’s dinner. I was still freezing from the wet ride and thus wearing about 10 layers on clothes!

After the run I packed my stuff and headed home. I had a very good weekend. I met some amazing athletes whom I can’t wait to watch cross the finish line in few short weeks! And, I definitely plan on signing up for 2013! 🙂

~Happy Training! 

Mooseman: The Aftermath

My body is still pretty beat up from Sunday. I take this as a good sign because it means that I pushed my body hard during the race. I had a massage by my favorite sports massage therapist in town which definitely helped alleviate some of the soreness in my body, especially the left side. My right hip and gastrocnemius (calf muscle) have been continuously sore. I see my chiropractor tonight luckily because I’m about 95% sure that my pelvis is out again. But, after that course, I would be seriously impressed if my hips weren’t out of whack!

On Wednesday evenings I lead a women’s all-abilities road ride from the best bike shop in Southern Maine, Allspeed Cyclery & Snow! My ride last night was pretty rough. Luckily, there were a couple new riders who were riding at a slower pace so I didn’t get left in the dust in my own ride! I made sure to take a route as flat as possible because my quads were screaming at me at every little incline or hill. I’m sure every car who drove by me in the opposite direction got a good laugh at the faces of pain I had and also my fabulously mis-matched outfit last night. Generally, my cycling kits match each other. I have taken styling tips from Bike Shop Boy who must match his entire kit to his bicycle (including the socks). He would have disowned me last night. I was a hot mess. I was wearing my baby blue and black PVC shorts, pink & black Giordana team jersey, gray arm warmers, and my new black, white, and red 110% compression socks. Too bad I didn’t take a picture…

Seriously, the best compression socks! I have been living in them since Tuesday when they came in the mail!

So what’s next? I will be embarking on a long ass drive to Lake Placid in 3 weeks for the PBM Coaching/TriMoxie Coaching IMLP camp! I just got my training plan from my coach for camp last night and I’m super excited for the long weekend! I have a feeling that my body will be beat to shit by the end of the weekend, but it will be cool nonetheless. I met a couple other athletes who will be at camp this past weekend, but I’ll be super excited to meet some more crazy souls. Perhaps I’m a bit bias, but triathletes are definitely the coolest people around! Who doesn’t love talking about compression wear, powermeters, peeing on your bike, taking a big poo before races, etc.?

My next big race is REV3 OOB, which isn’t till the end of August. I’m super excited about that race because I believe the course is best suited for my strengths. My goal is to go sub-6:00 and I believe that it is fully possible as long as I don’t have any mechanical or nutritional troubles. I also plan to swim Peaks to Portland again, although I haven’t officially signed up for the race. After that race, I will be quickly showering the salty water and pee off of me and hopping in my car for a 6+ hour drive to Lake Placid to volunteer on race day so I can secure one of those coveted spots for 2013!

Other than that, I don’t have any other races planned. I have to drop $650 on July 23rd so my race budget is very tight. Tuesday night I sat at my computer with my credit card in hand staring at the registration for Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island, but I resisted. I think I will probably sign up for the Norway Tri in July. I’d like to do another sprint this summer just to redeem myself from Tri for the Y last month. The Pirate Tri is this Sunday at Camp Sebago and I’m sad that I’m not racing it this year. It was the first triathlon I did three years ago and I have done it the past two years. I love the race, but my body is not ready to race again. I have a bunch of friends doing it plus a couple other TriMoxie athletes are doing it so I’ll go cheer everyone on! And then spend the afternoon riding a newly cleaned and tuned Azul!

~ Happy Training!