Friday, February 9, 2007

Tri Camp - Day 0

Sometimes, it's all about the people. And let me tell you, the folks here running this camp are all amazing with great stories.

The first person I met was Steve Katai who picked me up to take me to the wind tunnel testing. Steve has a great story in that he was just your average everyday guy, lifting weights in the gym when he came across an ad in the paper...the Degree Everyman Ironman Challenge. Basically, Degree wants to prove that anyone can be an ironman (given the right training and motivation of course) and to prove it, they'll take an average joe(sephine) off the street and turn them into an Ironman. Well, Steve sent in his application, was selected and 5 MONTHS later after training like and with the pros in San Diego goes on to compete in AND finish his first triathlon...the Ironman! Wow! (And I'm doing all this agonizing on stepping up to a half! oy.)

The coaching staff including Paul Huddle, Roch Frey, Jimmie Riccitello, Paula Newby-Frasier and Heather Fuhr are staples in the past, current and future history of the sport of triathlon. Between them they have astonishing accomplishments like 24 time Ironman Winner, years and years of professional competition at the ironman level, race directors, head of officials, authors, commentators, XTERRA world champions, Professional Sportswoman of the Year, Ironman World Record Holders...and many more accolades. (You can check them out at!) Let's just say, these guys are good! And the most amazing thing about them is that they are all super cool! They are so excited that other people are into the sport like they are...they are so interested in helping you out and reaching your goals. Not pretentious or pompous...just fun and fiesty when they need to be. :)

So Day 0 and the first part of Day 1 goes something like this...arrive, set up, test, test, test. Great.

Prior to coming to camp, you had to fill out this athletic history where they ask you things like: how many triathlons have you done? Longest race? What was your time and distance? Have you ever done an ironman? Best half ironman distance and time? etc.

Day 0: Find out who lied on their history!
First we get looked over on our bikes by some of the best bike fitters in the nation. MANY MANY kudos go out to the guys at Jack and Adams ( , especially Jack - since he did my bike fitting, because Paul and Jimmy thought my setup and fit on my bike was really great. So if any of you haven't been recently fit on your bike, I highly recommend you go see the guys at Jack and Adams...they rock and there's a lot of to see at the store! We made a few minor adjustments and then I was cleared for my first set of testing....Anaerobic Threshold (AT) Heart rate test on the bike.

Similar to the heart rate tests we've done with Rogue (like the 8-mile time trial and then take your max heart rate), the goal here is to find your threshold heart rate so that you can then find the appropriate heart rate zones to be training in based upon the workout goals (endurance vs strength, etc). The multisport guys describe it as "the level where breathing becomes labored but maintainable. If you continue to raise this pace, you soon will hit VO2 max, beyond which, you will reach failure (puking and bleeding from your lungs." It is the rate that you perceive as being "very hard" and about the pace you should be racing an Olympic Distance Triathlon. (Note: they consider the Sprint distance pace should be perceived as "very, very hard" just shy of puking. Whereas the Ironman distance pace should be somewhat hard at 70-80% of your max heart rate.)

In this case for the test, they hook your bike up to a bike trainer that has a computer on it that measures your power, resistance, speed, etc. After a brief warm up, and going at about 18 mph they start applying resistance to your wheel (workload) starting at 100 watts. They note your heart rate (bpm) and you tell them a perceived exertion level (7 being the easiest 20 the hardest --I'm about to puke). Then every 90 seconds they increase the resistance by 20 watts and note your stats again. The idea is to keep going up 20 watts until you can't go anymore or puke...which ever comes first.

So I start out feeling good at about a 9. Each increasing interval I evaluate my perceived exertion level at probably one higher level....until about the 4th interval. I'm suddenly breathing hard, having to really concentrate on keeping my cadence up and speed at 18mph. "One more?" Paul Huddle asks..."let's go" I reply. Now my perceived exertion is jumping by twos! I'm up to 15. "One more?"...."let's go". Ugh. "What's your PE?" Huddle asks....I look at the chart...the numbers are swimming and its hard to focus and read..."17?"..."Ok...looking good about one more?"... I think to myself, please don't let me embarrass myself...I think about the fact I'm wearing a Rogue Training shirt...I want to represent Rogue proudly..."Ok" I reply. Head is down, quads are burning, sweat is pouring off my head, running down the bridge of my nose. I see a drop pausing at the tip before it falls to the ground. I glance over at the speedometer...17.8mph..."Pick it up cowboy" I think to myself. 18.1 mph. good. How long the hell is 90 secs anyway..shit. I swear I can feel my own pulse on my neck...who needs a heartrate monitor anyway...he should be able to count the beats from 10 feet away! OY!

"OK..we're good!" Phew, it's over...I wonder how I did... "Alright, good work down for about 5 minutes and then you can hop off." A very non-commital response. While it is in fact a "test", Paul assures me that my numbers are exactly that...MY numbers...there is no right or wrong, pass or fail..they are just my own.

I get my bike off the trainer and return it to my room. I come back and hang out with some of the other athletes that are arriving and getting tested. I casually overhear Huddle talking with some of the other coaches who are administering the tests. "We're doing 90sec intervals with 20 watt increase. If you think they are weaker, do it in 5 or 10 watt increments." least by appearances I mustn't look weak since he did me at 20 watts. phew. Of course appearances can be deceiving.....

Some of the other campers and I hop a shuttle going to the bike shop to pick up some extra gear. It's pretty chilly in San Diego for this time of year. We will be riding in the early morning and I'm in need of some full fingered gloves and some spare tubes. The last thing I want is to be out on the road looking like an amateur and freezing to death.

It feels like it has already been a long day...between the wind tunnel testing and the AT test, I'm just hoping I'm ready for the real craziness that begins tomorrow. So what better way to prepare than by going next door to the bar after dinner and throwing back a couple of Capt. Morgans with some new friends??? :)

Afterwards I head back, do some email and head to bed saying a quick prayer, "Please let me be decent tomorrow."

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