Endurance Nation Camp

This weekend was the Madison Endurance Nation training camp.  A friend and Geargrinder teammate, Jeremy Angle, stayed with me for the weekend so we could attend the camp and train together.  

 It was a free 3-day camp that included plenty of training opportunities as well as talks led by Endurance Nation founder, Rich Strauss.  I didn't quite know what to expect of the camp, and I admit I was a tad disappointed.  I was hoping for a little more structure and group training.  I thought we would head out as a group each day, and have a planned workout which you could modify it was more volume than you were ready to do.  It turned out to be a little more of a free for all.  I got in a lot of great training, but it was all with Jeremy and I was hoping we might be able to meet a few people at the camp who are training at a similar speed as us so we could get some decent group rides/runs going.  It didn't really happen like that.  But, like I said, I did get in a great weekend of training, so the camp was definitely worth it.  It just wasn't what I was expecting.

Day 1 - Friday:  Brick

The ride started at the Clarion hotel, which is really close to the IMWI start.  We rolled out at 7:30 am and rode the stick out to the Verona loop, did 2 loops and then rode back to the hotel where we did a 6 mile run.  All total, we got in 107 miles on the bike and 6 miles of running in a little over 6 hours.  It was a great workout, and the changes to my nutrition strategy worked out great (I'm back to using Perpeteum and I increased my sodium intake).  The run was good, but the temp was in the upper 80s and there was very little cloud cover all day so we were definitely feeling it.  We held an 8 minute pace despite the heat, which is my IM goal pace so I was really happy with that. 

Day 2 - Saturday: Long Ride (+ drama)

We rolled out at 7 am from the hotel.  Jeremy wanted to do the stick, one loop, the stick and a short run.  I just wanted some big bike mileage so we split up after the first loop.  That's when I turned around and rode the loop backwards.  With several camps going on over the weekend and the great weather (mid 80s and sunny again) there were tons of triathletes out on the course.  It was fun to ride it backwards and watch everyone training.

After my second loop I headed out to Paoli to tack on a little more mileage.  On my way home I had an opportunity to 'pay it forward' and help out a fellow cyclist.  Last Tuesday I was out on a recovery ride and my tire blew up (literally) so a new tube wasn't going to remedy the situation.  A cyclist stopped, saw my tire and went home to get his car to give me a ride home.  When he dropped me off, I told him I would repay the favor if I ever had the chance and he said that's what he was doing because he had a cyclist help him out on a ride a few weeks earlier.

As I was rounding the corner from Seminole onto Lacy, I saw a cyclist standing on the side of the road next to a woman holding his helmet.  I asked if he was okay, more out of politeness than anything because I was 115 miles into my ride and was anxious to get home.  He shook his head no.  I admit I didn't want to, but I turned around to help.

The woman had hit him with her car and he most likely had a broken wrist.  He claimed to be okay and said he was going to ride home.  I told him to call the police and file a police report.  I'm not going to go into all the details, but the situation turned ridiculous.  She called her asshole husband and when he showed up it was clear that she was his Russian mail order bride.  He shows up in his 1970s weight lifting shoes making smartass remarks about cyclists and claiming the cyclist didn't stop at the stop sign even though he didn't see anything and that's when I lost it and went off.  I can't remember exactly what I said, but he turned to me and said, 'that's a double negative!'  'No, it's not.'  'Yes, it is.  I'm an English teacher.'  'I was an English major and that wasn't a double negative.'  'Don't mess with me.'

I was on the verge of telling that old man that even though I just rode 115 miles I'll still kick his ass right there on the side of the road, and that's when I realized how ridiculous the whole situation was.  Kevin, the cyclist is laying in the grass with a broken wrist, the Russian mail order bride keeps reminding everyone she doesn't know what happened and me and her husband are arguing about double negatives.  Luckily, the cops showed up soon enough, and I headed home.  119 miles total for the day and more drama than I care for.

For the record, it wasn't a double negative.

Day 3 - Sunday: Long run

We started our run at 7 am at the start of the Ironman run.  I haven't run the IMWI run course since '08 so I was looking forward to checking it out again. I've been playing around with the run/walk method and decided to make some changes since there were a few things I didn't like about it.  I was doing 9 minutes of running and one minute of walking, and in order to make up the time spent walking I had to run faster than I wanted and the run felt a little like doing intervals.  It wasn't bad, but I wasn't convinced it was the way to go for Ironman.  So I decided to try 9:30 running and 30 seconds of walking. This would allow me to run a little slower, and I had been noticing that my pace on walk breaks always slowed after 30 seconds so this should help speed up my walk pace.  By shortening the walk breaks, I thought I would close the gap between my run pace and walk pace and smooth the transition a bit. 

My goal was race pace, meaning an 8 minute average or a little better.  The change I made to the run/walk was perfect.  The walk breaks were enough to bring my heart rate down and give me time to eat and drink, but it wasn't long enough to get me out of run mode.  So when I started running again I got back into my running pace/rhythm very easily and quickly.  And I didn't have to run quite as fast so I was more comfortable the whole time, and it actually didn't feel like the run/walk like the runs I did with a longer walk break.  It felt like a run where I slowed down occasionally to take drink.  If you're curious, I ran a 7:40-7:50 pace and walked an 11:30-12:30 pace. 

I did the entire loop and then tacked on a few more miles to end with 16 miles at a 7:52 average pace.  My average heart rate was only 140, which was perfect.  I typically shoot for a 148 on a long run because that's 80% of max and that's what I like to run at for a long run.  So to do race pace after two days of high bike mileage and have my heart rate below 80% is very encouraging.  I feel like maybe, just maybe, I stand a fighting chance at a Kona slot.

So even though the camp wasn't quite what I expected, I got in some killer training and the weekend ended on a very encouraging note.  I got in 226 bike miles and 22 run miles in 3 days.  So now I'm on a recovery week (with very tired legs) and starting to prepare for my last race before Ironman - the Door County Half Ironman. 

After that, it's my final Ironman build.  I'm not gonna lie.  I'm starting to get nervous.


Patrick McCrann said...

Mike -

Great blog post and recap. I loved the story about the mail order bride, the weightlifting shoes and the double negative...totally not unawesome. :)

That said, we'd love more feedback from you on how we can improve these weekends. They are free, so there's a limit to the resources we can bring to bear, but your feedback could help.

Please shoot me a message via email patrick [at] endurancenation [dot] us and I can pick your brain.

Thanks again!

Mike said...

Will do, Patrick. One thing I didn't really mention was the talks. I listen to the EN podcast and have dug though the EN website so a lot of the concepts weren't new to me, but it was great to go over them again so close to race day. The talks were definitely quality.

For any first time ironmans out there (or anyone who tends to melt down on the run), you absolutely must read EN's keys to Ironman execution. It's great stuff and there's no denying their bike strategy works. It's a tough strategy to execute because it requires a lot of patience, but it all pays off about mile 90 when everyone who passed you on a hill at mile 10 is struggling and you're still at the same pace you set at mile 10.

So even though I said I was a little disappointed in the camp, that was only because I was hoping for more group training opportunities and the camp wasn't structured like that. As far as what Endurance Nation brings to the table in terms of long course triathlon coaching and race strategy, it's quality and well worth it. Overall the camp was good, just different from what I was expecting.