Monday, January 21, 2013

Santa Monica Mountains Training Camp Day#1

Well, Day 1 has come and gone here in Westlake Village, California. It started bright and early at 5:30am (8:30am in Toronto though, love the time change!). I woke up, grabbed my swim stuff and headed to the Calabasas Swim and Tennis club for a short swim. The pool there is a 25 yards, 8 lanes and, the best part is that it's outdoors! Even though the outside temp was just 10 degrees C, the water temp was in the mid-20s, so it was perfect for swimming. I felt great in the water...I could have swam forever, but I stuck to my coach's plan which called for some speed work. My main set was 2x(8x50@1')...although I have nothing to compare today's times to since I never swim yards I figured holding 31 and 32 seconds per 50 was pretty good...I think it converts to about 34-35" for 50m? Not bad for an endurance swimmer. Best part of the swim, I left the pool with lots more energy...so I was happy.



It was a quick transition from the pool to the bike...in less than an hour I had to shower, drive home, eat breakfast, change into cycling gear, ride 6km to meet the group I would be biking with. Of course, with my keen sense of direction, I biked a whole 3km past the group's meeting point! So, after realizing this, I turned around and barely met up with them before we departed on our first ride. What a great first impression! :(

Well, we started the ride and the first thing I noticed was that my bike was handling beautifully...I had taken it to Enduro Sport to have a tune-up before I left and I must say that I have never gotten better service! Not only was the bike shifting perfectly, but they cleaned the chain, the rear cassette, the front rings...it was nice that I didn't have to worry about whether my bike could handle the hills...all I had to worry about was whether I could handle the hills! There were 10 cyclists in the camp. We all rode as a group to the first climb, then a group of 6 took off ahead on the first climb. Having spent the past 3 months on the computrainer I had no idea where my legs would be and decided to pace myself. I didn't want to kill myself on the first climb so I hung back a bit. I was happy holding my steady power at around 200W and maintaining my 90rpm. Pete Oyler would be proud :) Of course, me riding on my own is never a good thing when you factor in my navigation skills, and at the very first turn I went in the wrong direction! Luckily I only went about 1km off the route before I looked at the map and realized my mistake. Unfortunately, this meant that the lead group of 5 riders were leaving the first stop (called a SAG station) as I was arriving. I contemplated just going with them without a break, but decided I should get some fuel and pee! I left the SAG station with two fellow riders to start the descent. I am a VERY timid descender and the hairpin turns made me extra cautious...so very soon I was on my own again as I watched them head down the hill in front of me. I tried to enjoy the scenery on the descent...the beaches and the water in the far distance, the beautiful mountains surrounding me on all sides, the clear blue sky, and CAMELS on a camel farm...it was such a magical experience...well, apart from the fact that I was fearing for my life as I descended! Soon I was climbing again...a 12 mile climb back up the mountains, with grades of about 6 - 8% I think I would have enjoyed this climb a little bit more if the road was a less rough. It was riddled with potholes and the last thing my legs wanted was that unexpected bump when they were already burning from effort. I caught up with the 2 riders again...this point was when I earned the nickname "Mountain Goat". I like it! But it felt like ages before I would reach the summit...and it seemed that just as the hill got really steep, more potholes were present and a strong wind gust would come along adding insult to injury. There were even some flat sections on the way to the top, that were teasing me, making me think I was finally there! Finally, I made it and then...more descending! I was on my way back down to the Pacific Coast Highway and then back up the mountains for the final big climb of the day. This climb was shorter than the last, but the grade was between 6-14%, so much steeper. I didn't know how my legs would handle it...but this was my favourite climb of the day. Yes, it was steep and my legs burned and I was thirsty...but the roads were super smooth and it was over pretty quick. All I had was a few more small climbs and a VERY SCARY descent back down to Westlake Village. I know that I eventually need to learn how to descend hills quickly, but not when I am riding alone and not while I'm in another country and it is only Day 1 of training...the consequences of a fall would far outweigh the benefits of me improving my skills.





110km after the start of my ride I was back at the hotel to...RUN! Yes, 30' run in Zone 2 to finish off the day. I wanted to keep it nice and flat, but I don't think that's possible in this part of California...so I ran up hills and down, up and down for 6.5km at an easy pace of 4:40/km. It was very nice not to have to run in -12 degree temperatures :)

I was very happy with my first day of cycling. I have definitely brushed aside any disbeleifs I have ever had in the effectiveness of training indoors...3 months of computrainer and rollers at WattsUp and I was able to climb more than 2300 meters with no problem at all. In fact, I just realized that as I type this, there are about 20 riders at WattsUp racing it out in Race #2 of the Indoor Race series! Now that's effective training! Perhaps, the only issue with indoor riding might be that I don't get to work on my sense of direction.

Anyway, the rest of the day I spent EATING :) I made a yummy fajita with chicken, avocado, goat cheese and sauteed red peppers for lunch. Then had another snack. Then made dinner...pasta with meatsauce (my mom's recipe!). Now I will go sit in the hot tub, stretch and roll and watch my new favourite TV show before heading to bed and repeating today all over again! Wish me luck :)

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