Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Total Immersion Ironman Camp..Melbourne style..

"Team Wess" is in the "Iron Tired" phase of training now. I feel like all I do is train, eat, train, sleep, eat train...that's the sign I am on the home stretch before the big day March 23rd. Funny, I do not remember how tiring training for this kind of endurance event is. Kind of like pregnancy, until I am right up against it the last month of training my memories are blocked from the previous race buildup. A very familiar sense of fatigue that only the daily grind of the run, bike, swim is in play, as I build my endurance muscles for the big day. The hunger is unreal. I will eat a meal, be hungry an hour The words insatiable appetite come to mind!

The weather seems to have mostly cooperated so far. We took a "Maxi taxi" to Williamstown (a community across the bay) last Saturday at 6:00 AM, bike lights and all to meet up with the "TEAM". The plan was to go biking on a stretch of road that had virtually no traffic lights for a couple of hours. We kept up with the fast kids' pace for a good hour and a half, after which boom! H had a flat tire, which one of the coaches helped us fix. Then they were off to a higher pace and we headed out on our pace (this was the plan). Heading back to Melbourne we were on a pretty busy highway with a huge shoulder but somewhat scary at times with cars/trucks whizzing by. We had a map which my coach had given us but after we made the turnaround back to port Melbourne, we couldn't quite find the point at which we get off the highway and head back from Williamstown (a good 8 miles from home). We met a very nice guy (shocker), who told us how to get back to the city via a bike trail, which at the time seemed like a good idea. There were some twists and turns to this trail and all the maps in the world including google maps (which doesn't seem to recognize bike trails at all) could not save us from the slow and go trip back. I am so sick of maps!! So the return was a bit frustrating, I am the "map person" in Team Wess and more than once I wanted to call in a Maxi Taxi to get us back home. Finally, we made it to some familiar territory in Docklands, north of Port Melbourne. A few days before we had been there looking like 2 lost Amercian puppies, when a fellow on a bike came up and asked us if we were it that obvious? I thought, map in hand with a thoroughly frustrated look on my face. We said yes and he guided us to the trail back home. He was a local but we chatted a bit and found out he had just gone to America. Not only that, he had visited New Mexico.Which is really wierd because most Australians, heck don't even know where NM is in the US! This guy went there because of Breaking Bad, which apparently has been popular even over here. I told him about our daughter and son-in-law's Biking Bad tour at their bike rental and tours shop in ABQ . We wished he knew about them on his recent trip..

After this short conversation last week, we found our way home and said goodbye to the lovely stranger who had helped us get out of the fray of the city and on our way. Again on Saturday we were in the same exact place, having the same exact bewildered look on our face when we saw the same guy again! He said are these the folks from Albuquerque. Are you lost again? I was somewhat embarrassed that we were but so grateful we had found our guardian angel of Melbourne to point us in the right direction again.. We conversed again for a couple of minutes..said our thanks and finally made it home after a long day on the bike. An almost perfect day minus the getting lost part, which seems to be a regular occurrence these days but it is all part of the adventure. Almost 80 miles on the bike..done..After a short run off the bike, we were off to our favorite sport these days-eating!!

Imagine our surprise when we got an email from our daughter from their bike rental store in ABQ. She had received an email from Adrian, our guardian angel, who remembered the story of their business and wanted to get together to show us around the city on our bikes. Wow! Can these Australians be any more friendly and gracious? Long story short, we did hook up with Adrian and yesterday he took us on a lovely ride around the city perimeter mostly on bike trails. It was so amazing and beautiful and the best part? There were no maps involved! On the way, Adrian took us to his charming house in north Melbourne,which was built in the 1800s, an amazing piece of Victorian architecture. We enjoyed his homemade fruitcake, which was delicious! In spite of 2 flat tires (this seems to be our curse this week) and an unplanned trip to a bike store, it was another great adventure in the land of Oz!

After our Melbourne tour ride, I headed to the pool and had a swim lesson yesterday from "Craig" a recommended swim instructor who also owns a local swim shop. He was awesome! He gave me some positive feedback (at last I feel like I am not the slowest kid in the neighborhood!), some great tips on Ironman swimming and staying efficient in the water. I actually worked my ass off in the pool, walked away tired and happy. I googled "Craig Percival" when I got home and damn! This guy actually competed in Ultraman Canada (think double the distances of an Ironman only more) in August and was in first place after the first 2 legs of the race. Craig set a record in the 10k swim. He was so down to earth, who knew I was learning swim tips from such a(nother) amazing athlete! Another brush with greatness, I feel so lucky to meet such knowledgeable athletes here.

We also talked to a nutrition expert this week, who gave suggestions on how I could prevent the nagging "runner's trots", which is exactly like it sounds in the experience. It happens mostly on long runs, but can attack me on even shorter runs when I am training this much. Several trips to the porta potties or bushes while running down Beach road trail is NOT my idea of a good training day at all!! So I will be trying a new nutrition plan for Ironman. More direct electrolytes (no Gator Aid) and a different gel for calories. Take G.I. Distress!! Shotz Nutrition is my new plan..Darryl, who invented the product is yet another fountain of knowledge we were privileged to tap into before the big race.

I am exhausted today. Our 2nd run to the gym was more like a death March for me today. For the first time in weeks, I begged off strength training and laid on the gym couch watching the Winter Olympics, women's figure skating. Up until then I was like what Olympics? I have been WAY out of that loop this year. I hope to at least catch the figure skating. TV here is a bit limited but they are showing the new American Idol-a real treat when I manage to stay up to watch it!

Another big weekend of biking and running after a much needed day off tomorrow, is approaching. Today, the wind was so strong I was almost blown off the bike. Monday we did an open water swim in the choppy seas-this is all "character building" preparation for Ironman Melbourne.

That's OK-bring it!!

PS We are going to be on Australian TV this Sunday! The notorious "Geelong 70.3" race 2 weeks ago In which they did several interviews of us, is apparently part of a one hour " triathlon special" on local TV. The show is at 2:30 on 7Mate TV. Only our Aussie friends will be able to watch but I will try and obtain a copy of the program for our friends and family at home. It may be only a 2 minute spot for us but we will count it as our 15 minutes of fame!