Saturday, August 9, 2014

My MTC Camp Experience

(This was originally written as an eNews article for Melbourne Tri Club, not a blog post, but I figured I'd include it here again.)

Last weekend was the MTC camp at Lorne, magnificently organised and run by our training partner Sean Foster from Fluid Movements.  About 60 people came down and there are, inevitably 60 different stories from the weekend.  Judging by the various facebook status updates and blogs that have been posted it certainly looks like everyone a) had a good time and b) got some great training in. I won’t try and capture everyone’s experience but below is a quick rundown of the events from my point of view.

Friday.  Get up early, get car packed, etc ready to head out to work on the west side of Melbourne, early knock-off organised, and I’m already well on the way to Lorne.  Bail out of the office, race to the car and then notice I couldn’t see a bag of news uniforms I’d promised someone I’d bring to camp.  Ring home, yes they are sitting on the kitchen table. 

Drive from Laverton back into Melbourne and start the drive to Lorne all over again: to quote an old Toyota ad – bugger! Get into Lorne about 4pm, weather looks to be closing in a little.  Brace for a wet ride on Saturday.  As I’m checking in Fos and a few others that had been out for a quiet ride start coming in and look really cold – note here – got to admit, I think this is one of the first times I’ve heard Fos say he felt cold, bad sign.  Steve Makin rolled in after battling to fix a puncture with freezing hands not exactly looking happy with the world or his place in it right then.

For the next few hours the weather continued to close in.  Rain came, turned to sleet, turned to the first brief flurries of hail.  Still, dinner time at the pub, so wasn’t going to be stuck in the room.  Lorne Hotel was the venue for dinner and was a great choice.  First it was close, second it seemed like everyone was there, finally the food was excellent.  There were rumours of free beers somewhere along the way but worried about the next mornings ride I didn’t need to chase those to ground.

All night more athletes dribbled into the pub, and each looked increasingly like ship wreck survivors being washed onto the safety of shore.  Tales of wild winds, roads white with hail and signs of snow were being exchanged.  Finally I figured I’d go back to the room and double check I had everything I’d need for the next morning and shouldering my way against the wind and hail went back to the hotel.

I doubt anyone was more relieved that me when the facebook message came through.  Due to weather outlook, Saturday and Sunday programs would swap and we were running tomorrow.  Personally – that was a welcome call.

Saturday.  Other benefit of the swap – sleep in! Yay, didn’t start until after 7 am.  What strange ideas of “sleeping in” we triathletes have!

Anyway, we all gathered in the carpark of the hotel and of course the weather had cleared and, while cold, the worst of last night had passed.  Still, what are you going to do?  Some minor admin issues from swapping schedules were nothing compared to the potential problems of last nights weather so personally I still figured Fos had made a good call.

Basically the run had two courses – a flat run along the Lorne foreshore between the swing bridge and pier or a hill run that headed inshore a few blocks up to teddys lookout, back down, and took in part of the flat course.  We headed off on whichever course our programs dictated or bodies allowed for however long as we had to or could. 

What can I say about the run? Well the hills were clearly great training but I’d be lying if I claimed to actually enjoy running up them.  Man, they were tough!  But two and a quarter hours later, thighs burning and suffering what I was certain was a terminal case of chaffing I was done.  I had so wanted to bail at the 2 hour mark but Fos was there, waggling his finger making it very clear I had 15 minutes and go and so off I went.  I also got a parting message, if I saw Lars make sure he knew he had 2:15 too.  Yeah it hurt but Fos was right, I had that 15 minutes in me.  For me, that’s one of the benefits of a good coach, they can hold you to account when you might let something little slip.  That includes doing the cold water immersion after the run – which I did!  However, I will admit I doubt I did 0.01 seconds more in the frigid stuff than I had too, unlike Katie who appeared to be loving the experience and who I’m pretty sure I saw going for a swim and body surf – that’s just wrong.

Ok, run done – important matters now FOOD!. 

Now I ask you what sort of half baked cafĂ© has an all day breakfast but doesn’t serve eggs?  Apparently there was some sort of power problem but really, its eggs, how hard can it be? come on…..  Anyway, apart from the sad lack of cackleberrys a bunch of us devoured brunch before heading off to shop, rest, recover or just hang out before the afternoons event. 

So what was on in the afternoon – a race!  Ok, to the best of my knowledge no sheepstations were up for grabs but still, the event was going to be short, sharp and fast.  Essentially it was a relay, teams of two, one swimmer doing a 500ish meter swim out to Steve (in a canoe) and back.  The swimmer hands over to a runner who then belts out a quick 2.2 km sprint along the foreshore.  After the morning run I really, really hoped I’d be swimming, and I hate swimming, I didn’t care about the cold, my legs hurt.  But I’m doing a running program and I knew what I should do and sure enough run it was.

Anyway, the event went off really well.  Highlights?  Where to begin, Sean and Steves hilarious double comedy act in getting the kayaks out through the surf was brilliant, I imagine they’d spent hours planning and practicing that.  Sam Maddens expression when he went to try the water certainly made my legs feel a whole lot better.  But I think the real highlight of the swim was Johans non-wetsuit swim.  That was an effort that I will remember for a long time.

To be frank I don’t really remember the run.  My partner Jan came in, tapped my hand and I ran as fast as my sausage like legs would carry me.  Actually that’s not true, there is a bit I remember really well.  As a came wheezing into the finish, bringing up the rear of the field there were dozens of other athletes, friends and partners, many of whom are seriously good athletes who would have finished up some time earlier cheering me and the others down the back on.  This is one of my favourite bits of being in MTC.

After the race it was back to the hotel, rest for a bit, then over to the pub for dinner.  Again, Lorne Hotel did well for food (highly recommend the Pork Ribeye!).   There was a little presentation towards the end of the meal.  Jenny did a great job running a competition to find our ‘hardest’ athletes who won some great prizes from Icebreaker.  These went to Johan or the boys and Rebecca McIntosh for the girls. Lesley Turnbull and Marek Reid picked up prizes from Hammer Nutrition.   The Melbourne Podiatry Clinic provided prize of a free gait analysis for the best male and female runners .  Finally TFM provided a very cool Lazer Wasp TT Helmet helmet for the most consistent trainer on the camp , this went to the very deserving Jan Dean (that helmet is so cool – I think I need one).  After all that some clown stood up, thanked everyone for coming etc and seemed to bring everything to an end.

Sunday.  Ride day!  Again, Fos provided something for everyone.  There were basically two rides, the ‘big ride’ went into the hills.  This ride essentially followed the Amy Gillette gran fondo route from Lorne down to Skene’s creek, then headed inland through Forrest and Deans Marsh before returning to Lorne.  The other ride stuck to the great ocean road and headed south from Lorne down to Apollo Bay before returning.  I’d hesitate to call this a ‘flat’ ride, but it certainly didn’t have the much longer climbs of the first option.  In addition to the two rides there were quasi defined ‘groups’ where riders of similar speed and training status congregated. 

Anyone who’s watched the Tour De France lately (that’s all of us right?) would know the peloton doesn’t stick together in the hills and sure enough we fragmented a fair bit but I don’t recall seeing anyone being dropped and left to their own devices.  A bit of this was simply because that’s how we roll at MTC but also a bit was due to guys like Aaron Keefe actively tracking riders to make sure we are all taken care of.
Cant say much about the great ocean road ride and I’ve probably already said too much about the hill ride on my own blog (here – if you are interested).  Lets just say the rides were tough, rewarding, fun, memorable and I want to do it all over again.

I did stand up someone I had promised to swim with post ride, sorry – I really meant to swim in that freezing ocean, I did, - in the immortal words of Jake Elwood said “I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!”
Unfortunately after the ride I had time for a quick bite then had to pack and head home for domestic duties so I can’t report on the get together for lunch afterwards.

Anyway what I can say is that I thought the camp was a great success, a had fantastic time and look forward to the next one.