Monday, April 21, 2008

A successful camp

C + C Triathlete Factory was a success. Three days of intense training, informational sessions, good food, and comrodery. It was a great experience, not only for our campers, but for me too. I enjoyed absolutely everything about this past weekend. Thank you to my wife Sloan, all of Chris Sweet's family, and to Stan Watkins for pitching in and helping us make this camp work. NONE of it would have happened without you.

Chris and I started Friday out with shopping for some last minute menu items to make sure we had fresh food for meals and to ensure we had enough food for everyone. This is one area we did not want to come up short. Camp Wocanda was a superb location. The big lodge was perfect for our central meeting point. We were able to store our bikes, cook and eat our meals with tons of space, have access to clean bathrooms, and it just had a great rustic feel. It was pretty exciting to meet each and every person as they trickled in on Friday afternoon. I recorded every one's name on the chalkboard as they arrived and handed out the small binder of material we collected as reference material along with a goodie bag from Hammer Nutrition with gels, bars, and Recoverite. All in all we had 14 campers which would turn out to be just perfect.

The weekend forecast was not looking that great. I had the laptop open showing the weather radar and forecast for the weekend. Rain and thunderstorms, just great. We all thought positive and hoped it would blow over. In the end it did. It turned out to be a great Spring weekend weather-wise.

I'll go over our schedule briefly (I hope), as I could write for hours about the details that swirl delightfully around in my head. Friday evening we headed out for a short 40-45min trail run around the camp to loosen up. Much like everyone else, I didn't really know what to expect. I hoped our organization skill would not fail us. Sweet had camped here a number of times so he knew all about the winding trails, sharp hills, and challenging terrain. I tried to lay back and make sure everyone was able to keep site of our direction. As we turned back toward camp, some ended up running a bit longer than others but we were able to corral everyone and head back to the lodge for some dinner.

After a hefty spaghetti dinner we put on a tire changing clinic and made sure most everyone changed at least one tube on their bike to ensure they got the hang of it. Another good exercise was just removing and reinstalling the rear wheel which proved a bit tricky for some. This clinic would prove essential as we had some unfortunate flats during the weekend.

Our sleeping arrangements were two cabins, one for the women, and one for the men. They both had bunk beds and our group was small enough that nobody had to sleep on top. It was great extra space for our belongings. Lights out, a good nights sleep, and everybody up early with great enthusiasm.

The radar for Saturday morning looked pretty clear so we went ahead and made the call to go ahead and ride outside. After some breakfast we all loaded up our bikes and headed across the river to a better location than leaving from camp. On the way there, it looked a bit iffy as the rain was coming down pretty steady. By the time we got to our location, the rain had stopped and never restarted. Based on the information everyone provided regarding cycling pace, we divided up into two groups. Andy and I would head up one group and Chris and Stan Watkins (USA Cycling coach for Vision Quest Coaching) teamed up with the others. The roads were a bit wet but nothing too bad. Plenty of worms on the road too, which ended up on everyones frame. The route we took was pretty challenging for everyone. Some good climbs and some good descents, but nobody had any problems tackling the terrain. I think we were all pretty psyched to be outside riding since none of us had been able to get out much because of the strange weather we'd been having.

After we got back from the ride, we ate lunch at the lodge and got cleaned up a bit. We put together a nutrition seminar which lasted about an hour. This is one topic that people had plenty of good questions and we probably could have taken twice as much time. Hammer Nutrition was nice enough to provide plenty of sample products like gels, bars, and Recoverite, and some additional product info they could refer to. I mixed up a 5 gallon cooler of HEED to fill water bottles and also had a second tub of powder mix so they could mix their own.

Our post lunch workout was a nice trail run at Detwiler Park just a few miles down the road. This is the same park the IHSA puts on the state cross county meet every year. Great open fields sections where we could run the perimeter. This workout would be self paced and we wanted everyone to challenge themselves rather than just running easy for 1 hour. 20 min warm up/20 min tempo/20 min cooldown. Back to the camp to change clothes and take a short break before heading out to the pool.

Chris Sweet found a great pool to use in Chilicothe, the Park Community Center. It was just 10 min away and we were able to rent the place out after hours. Chris did a fantastic job by outlining the Total Immersion swimming technique (which I have been using for the past 4-5 yrs). It feels like you are doing a bunch of nonsense drilling but you are actually breaking your stroke and assembling it into something that will make you more efficient in the water. Key is PATIENCE. A few people had a hard time getting this idea down. But in the end, it started clicking. Chris' wife Cara came to the pool to assist and started videotaping each swimmer to review for later. Two hours in the pool and everyone was pretty wiped out. It was nice to have clean warm showers to use before returning for camp.

After eating another great meal, Chris reviewed the video of each swimmer and offered constructive criticism and advice on what thing to work on. This was a great tool that everyone seemed to get a lot out of. By the time we were done reviewing video, it was about 9:30pm and most people were heading back to the cabins for some much needed rest. I didn't hear a peep all night : )

I woke up a bit early on Sunday. I heard some watch alarms go off in the cabin thinking it was 6am but in reality it was 5am!! Should have figured that out when nobody, even Chris down at the lodge, was awake or moving around. I (rudely) woke Chris up and started making coffee, put a few food items out, and did a quick check of the weather on my laptop. It was going to be a great day, 72 and sunny!! We planned to hit the pool before Breakfast and have everyone work on that swim stroke. Chris put together a more structured swim workout and we joined in for a good workout.

Back to camp for an awesome breakfast. Our volunteers worked their tails off getting the meals ready for everyone. It was so great to have everything ready when we got back from a workout. They did an excellent job.

Our final workout for Sunday was to head back to Detwiler Park and do some transition tips and let everyone practice doing them a few times to get them thinking about what time improvements they could be getting in T1 and T2. Chris and I demonstrated a couple different techniques we prefer in our transitions and then everyone was able to practice a few times.

We had been talking about the "Hill Brick of Death" for the afternoon workout and even posted it that on the chalk board. The hills at Detwiler are very steep and it would be a big challenge for some but very do-able. We wanted the campers to judge how their weekend had been going, and if they felt like they still had some extra left in the tank, then we challenged them to ride a number of hill repeats and then get off the bike and run a few hills. If they felt like they had gotten enough training in thus far, we at least wanted them to try one or two hills and a short run to finish up. Everyone went at their own pace and it seemed to work out great. A few of us, Mike, Terri, Tamara, Chris, and I rode down to Skyline Drive to do some repeats on a very scenic, winding, hilly road.

After returning to camp again, Chris fired up the grill and started cooking some burgers and chicken for a nice cookout to finish the day. I mingled with some of the campers to get some feedback from the weekend. We all finished up by sitting out on the front porch and doing a little training Q&A and just talking in general about planning our tri-season. We came up with some quick awards for the weekend and did some giveaways. It was a nice way to end the day.

I think this experience was incredible and I hope I was able to make a difference in a few if not all of our campers in some way or another. I also learned a little about myself and how I need to interact with others in that kind of setting. I think I need to spend more time focusing on the campers, spending one-on-one time, analyzing their form or technique during workouts, and just offering more feedback. I really like spending time with others in a training setting and hope to do more in the future. Chris and I are thinking of offering this camp again next year and I believe it could work. It really gives everyone a great jump start to the season.

Now back to the grind...

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