Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Camp to Cabo

My rear view mirror... The past 6 months...What a transformation!  Ironman Louisville is a distant memory, leaving behind only scrapes of motivation and passion to power me through the season ahead. The fact that I am even talking about an Ironman racing season is a complete applaud to those who encouraged me and reminded me of my resiliency!  I already praised Chris and Curtis, but I remain so thankful to have both of them in my court.  The baby steps we made together back in Oct-December has since equated to an ability to train without restriction. Now, my thirteenth Ironman awaits. Ironman Los Cabos, less than one week away.

Those who follow me on twitter have undoubtedly picked up on my decision to start working with QT2 Systems.  I approached QT2 founder Jesse Kropelnicki at a time when I was completely happy with my current coach.  Conversations with Jesse continued, and he also put me in touch with his side kick, Tim Snow.  They never tried to sell me on their way, but instead (with complete patience) offered me insight into their QT2 methodology.  Eventually I was ready to take the jump and go all in.  Five months later I can tell you this is one of the best decisions I've made thus far in my pro career.
Taking on an injured athlete is no small task, and WOW has Tim stepped up to the plate.  I'm not always the most patient athlete/person!  Not running for months (or one could argue 12+ due to my reliance on the Alter-G last season) meant I had a lot of fitness to rebuild.  We started completely over, from the ground up.  Before even considering fast running we retrained proper form and resiliency. Much attention has also been given to reconstructing my mental game and confidence. More on this later (as this continues to be a huge piece of the puzzle-and warrants an entire post).

The National Training center served as our base camp.
Every morning started with a swim session.
One of the draws to QT2 was the opportunity to be part of a team. I eagerly awaited immersion into the QT2 squad at our recent pro camp held in Clermont, Florida. I am just now coming up for air (literally!).

It was not easy for me to leave my life for 2 weeks and completely commit to triathlon. I arrived at camp grateful for this opportunity and eager to give it my ALL! The format was completely different from other camps I've been part of. We never knew what was coming next. We were told what time to meet the coaches, and from there often received the workout piecemeal.  Day one Jesse asked each of us to turn the thinking over to them.  They were our brains and we simply needed to execute accordingly.
I dealt with this pretty well until day 16.  My arms were fried when we were told to do 5x300 (swim) descend. After hitting a new 300 PR on number 5 the coaches told us we were doing it again.  Jaws dropped! I think there may have been tears. We were fried.  Don't think, just do. Off we went.  This is where I blew a gasket! Or as Linsey would say: I was SOTB: shot (or s%#%) off the back. They broke me, however this is something that each of us encountered at some point during our time there. Better now than race day, they reminded us.

Use caution when approaching a refrigerator shared by six
QT2 pro athletes! It was a constant battle to fuel and refuel!
Another important of the QT2 system is nutrition. My training nutrition has been revamped, big time!  While at camp I quickly learned that when any of the coaches asked if we "needed/wanted a gel" you don't question them. Open the hatch, take in the nutrition, and brace yourself for what's to come! I've never really struggled with race day nutrition, but have also never had a coach analyze my daily hydration/nutrition this closely.  Shocking considering an ironman is really 4 disciplines: swim, bike, run, nutrition. I have no doubt that this will transpire into more productive training and faster racing.

I applaud the coaches for coming up with workouts that varied substantially from other sessions I've done in the past. Yes, these workouts still rang to the QT2 beat- but they were unique to the camp atmosphere and specific to what they thought we needed. I can't thank Tim, Jesse, John and Tara enough for all the time they put into coaching us for these (long) 17 days. I often wondered who was more tired: coaches or athletes.  They gave us absolutely 100% of themselves. In turn I know this is what enabled us to respond with some pretty epic performances day in and day out. Thank you doesn't do justice for all they did for us during our time at camp. This program is legit, and I am happy to be under their wing.
THANK YOU John (not pictured), Tim, Jesse and Tara!
Having face to face time with Tim was extremely beneficial. I think he saw a little more grit in me, and learned more about how I tick.  I am already looking forward to the next opportunity to train along side my teammates and coaches.  In the end, they are great people and that is what drew me to them.
One our our biggest tests came on a day that would put my old injured self to the ultimate test. Simply running a marathon is something I once thought wouldn't happen again. That, after all, is the reason I finished IM Lville. Think again CG, think again!  We started the day at a dirt road for 13x1 mile at our goal IM race pace. We immediately followed this up with a 6k swim, and a very strong 4 hour ride. As my housemates and I gathered in the kitchen to decide how to gorge ourselves, in an effort to refuel for tomorrow, our phones started dinging. We all looked at each other- that could only mean one thing: another session. Hold the meal, and proceed to a trail head for another run session. Yes, another 13x1 mile descending pace.

(left)Jesse and Tim watch/analyze as we run off for mile repeat #10 of 13.  We finished off the marathon later that evening under the lights of head lamps. Thankfully we weren't attacked by alligators!

This day was a victory for all of us, but in my heart and head I knew exactly what this meant for me. I can do this...I am officially back and completely injury free!

I can't wait to cheer on my teammates this season. By the looks of things at camp, 2014 is bound to be one for the record books for this QT2 pro squad!

Ironman Los Cabos, here I come!