That evening we had a group dinner, where Tara-Lee shared lots of stories from winning Ironmans and other shenanigans, and a guest speaker talked about mental focus and motivation. It gave me a chance to meet the group, many of whom train together on the mainland, and have some yummy food while relaxing in the shade at Skaha Beach.
Saturday morning we were in for an early start - we met at Okanagan Lake at 6am for a swim. It started with Tara-Lee giving some open water swimming tips, then we hit the water. I led the group, and hit the beach first after over 3km of swimming. I got a bit cold waiting, so I swam back out to the other swimmers and swam back in with them. Little did I know that later that day we would be in an inferno, or perhaps I would have enjoyed shivering on the beach a bit more.
As soon as our swim was done, we changed into cycling clothes and were divided into 3 groups, with the slowest heading out first onto the 180km Challenge Penticton bike course. I was in the middle group, so had some breakfast and waited around for our roll-out. Our group was about 5 guys and me, and we chatted for the first 60km to Osoyoos, which were flat and scenic. We were all still having fun at that point! Some of the early group turned around there and rode back, and one rider met us there to start his ride. The fast group caught us there too. Since we had a couple of sag vehicles, that was our first stop for fluids, and the temperature was climbing... it was in the mid-30's Celsius!
|Rolling out of town|
Osoyoos marks the end of the "easy" part of the course, and then you head straight up Richter Pass for an 11km climb. We all rode that on our own, and the sag vehicles met us at the top with more fluids. At this point it was crazy hot, high 30's and it was still morning so only going to get hotter from there. Descending Richter's felt like I was riding straight into a hair dryer - windy and hot. I lost count on how many times I refilled my bottles, and the ice that Tara-Lee would dump in them melted in 10 minutes. From Cawston to Keremeos (where it actually hit 43 degrees C - apparently a record), I drank two bottles in 30 minutes. Usually here on the coast I have to work at drinking a bottle an hour.
|Climbing Richter Pass|
|Tara-Lee and I at the summit -|
does it look hot out yet? :)
The heat and wind were taking it's toll. We stopped at a fruit stand in Keremeos for cokes, and the sag vehicles had to get more fluids as we'd already drank them all. Some of the riders called it quit there, and the rest of us headed up the Yellow Lakes climb. Two guys were in front of me at that point, and another guy decided to go straight back to town at the summit instead of taking the "new" race course down (and up!) Twin Lakes Road (I was really tempted to go with him!). Everyone behind me had called it quits on that climb and got into the sag vehicles. I kept going, and really suffered those final 40km of climbs, descents, and headwinds back to town. Turns out the two guys in front of me got picked up in OK Falls, so I ended up being the only one to do the whole course. I really wanted to quit a bunch of times - the heat and wind made it one of the hardest rides I'd ever done - but I'm glad I kept going. Having that in the bank will make a difference for Ironman Louisville for sure.
|What 7 hours on the bike in 40+ C temps looks like|
We had another dinner that evening, where - no lie - some of the athletes fell asleep while eating! We had another guest speaker, this time on nutrition. I think most of us were focused on how we were going to get through the next day of training after being whacked so hard that day.
Sunday morning we didn't meet until 7 at the Peach, where we started our long runs. I wasn't running as long as most of them - I was only doing 1.5 hours and the rest were either doing 21 or 28 km. Which meant I had a bit of relaxing at the beach before our final swim. I skipped the wetsuit for this one, and we swam from the Peach to the Sicamous and back, a nice swim to end the camp.
It was a really tough weekend, but I know that some training days are way harder than race day - and mentally it gives you the toughness you need to get through Ironman. Not to mention the training benefits - coaches there in person, groups pushing you, and doing longer workouts than on your own - training camps are hugely beneficial.