Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I DARE You - QT2 Professional Camp "Day Two"

“Dare to be brave, dare to give your best, dare to dream beyond your wildest expectations.  Dare…to be Great!”

I posted this on twitter after day two of QT2 pro camp in Clermont, Florida and one of the more challenging days of training I’ve had this year.  Sure, the numbers on paper made it look challenging in itself.

4400 meter swim
4.5 hour bike with strength / low cadence work mixed in
1 hr run / TRX strength session

This is also known as a seven hour training day.  It doesn’t include any time prepping bottles, eating, changing clothes, showering, stretching, and using my NormaTec boots. 

The swim went well and I was optimistic as I headed out on the bike.  Every day is a surprise here.  We don’t know what we are doing that day, most of the time, until the moment we are partaking in the workout.  For us type-A personalities, at times this spells anxiety, but I’m learning to roll with it.  After meeting the group at our meeting place we were given our instructions. 

Roomies: Stephanie, Jacqui and I
Photo Credit: Jacqui Gordon

The weather had brought decent temps in the high 50’s and a very healthy dose of wind (15+mph).  We rolled out our very first chance to see what the hours of time spent on the trainer in previous months would bring in comparison to the other professional athletes.  I kept repeating to myself to work “my plan”, just as we do in racing, to achieve the goals for the day.  We weren’t allowed to draft for the first section of the workout so I was left to many of my own thoughts and devices.  One worry was not being overly familiar with the route.  We had ridden it yesterday as a group but while chit-chatting it was easy to not make mental notes about where to make turns etc.
Things started to unfold and low and behold I was feeling great.   The legs were there and even though at many points there were no other athletes in sight, I felt fairly confident that I was holding my own and doing a good job following the route.  At about 1 hr 30 mins in things began to unravel and fast. 

Four words / Two insects: Yellow Jacket & Fire Ants

You may wonder how those two things can come together, oh but when they do, watch out!  One second your riding along and the next your head feels like someone punched a thumb tack into it as you feel the little guy wiggling around trying to get out.  He hook, line and sinkered right into one of my helmet air openings and with fairly heavy traffic to my left on a major highway the thing NOT to do is swerve around like a dang fool and get yourself killed!  I managed to slow down, whip the helmet off and rub my hand over my hairline to make sure he was not continuing to sting, but when I looked in the helmet there he was.  The bugger wouldn’t let go.  Thank heavens Tim Snow, Cait’s husband, came upon me dancing around and swinging my helmet like I doing some kind of rain dance to calm me down and handle removing the culprit.  I stood by patiently but twenty seconds later my right ankle was being pricked by hundreds of needles.  What the?!!  I look down to see fire ants crawling up my shoe and all over my ankle.  Now I’m whipping my shoe off and sock off as fast as humanly possible while shouting a few choice words.  Other riders are whipping by us on the narrow space between the shoulder and road.   After managing to finally remove most of the ants, Tim hands me back my helmet and wishes me luck on the rest of the workout and he’s gone.

Now I’m last and I feel only about 70% sure of where I’m going.  Taking a minute to compose myself I’m back on the bike and striving to keep Tim in sight.  Pedaling, Pedaling, Pedaling.. I catch a glimpse of his jersey, but he’s moving farther and farther away.  There’s a turn up ahead, but where?

He’s gone and I’m out on some highway knowing I’ve missed a turn.  I call coach Jesse and get some road directions.  Gutting it out on my own, my mental attitude starts turning from bad to worse.  Finally, I see coach’s car and he gives me the next instructions in hopes of meeting up with a group on Sugarloaf Mountain.  “This can still go well” I tell myself.  My power numbers are looking somewhat good, in fact, better than normal, surprisingly. 

Making the turn toward the hills I see my friend & teammate Jacqui going the other way and I take a glance behind me and see a group of three pro men and other teammate Jessie Donovan with them coming like a freight train.  In my gut I know one thing, and one thing only, it’s decision time.  Do I turn around and ride with the athletes I see coming the other way or try to hang with this strong group coming my way.

I now have permission from coach to work into harder zones, so that can’t be used as an excuse.
"Blue Pill or Red Pill.  Blue Pill or Red Pill"  My mind races.. 

Dang it.  Red Pill, let’s do this.  Gearing down I start cranking up my speed getting ready for what’s to come.  “This is going to hurt, but Jessie is doing it.  She’s one of the strongest cyclists I know, but pay that no attention, let’s go!” I tell myself.

They engulf me and in one swift move I’m on the back.  I swerve onto Jessie’s wheel and we ride up and down rollers.  My heart rate soars, my legs burn, but I’m hanging on.  Finally, we head out of the hilly section and we’re headed back to home.  I decide to try to maintain my distance for the non-drafting section home between Jessie and I even though I’m somewhat cooked. 

Somehow, some way, I’m staying with her.  Low and behold I look down at my power to find the highest numbers I’ve ever held for the last 28 miles and I can tell by the time it’s about to turn over.  Hold it Kim – HOLD IT!!  You can bank this!!  Renewed in spirit, my energy starts welling back up again.  A new milestone set as the Garmin beeps and resets to the next 28 mile split. 
Following Jessie gets a bit easier as time goes on, but never allows for loss of focus.  She’s my best chance of getting home and knowing where I am for sure so letting her go really isn’t an option.  Finally, she waits up once we are allowed to ride together again for our trip back to the complex.  I breath a huge sigh of relief.

When we finally pull in, I’m feeling wind burned, emotionally spent and happy as hell.  The day brought a full range of emotions and at certain times I didn’t think I could turn it around and somehow, I did. 

Sometimes we have to be brave.  Sometimes we have to get out of our way so that we can take on a challenge that we didn’t think we were capable of overcoming.  Sometimes we have to not think and JUST DO (Jessie Donvan quote!).   Sometimes we surprise ourselves with what we are capable of after all.  I know I did that day.

Coach’s theme for the day was “strength” and it took some time for me to pull it out, but at some point I finally did and I’m thankful for that.  Each day here will be hard for different reasons.  I'm learning so much about myself and what I really am capable of both mentally and physically and I am just so grateful for the opportunity to be here.  I don't take it lightly.  Kyle's made sacrifices beyond belief so that I can give this a shot and live my dreams.   My athletes are having to be a bit more lenient because I'm not my usual self with coaching getting back to them on email within 4 hours.

That's why I have to give every single day my best.  Even my recovery days have to be perfect because the hard days will be almost impossible without it.  For the first time, I feel like I'm living the "real" life of a pro and it's really really cool.

I'm thankful to my sponsors who are supporting me through great coaching, gear and even emotional support (like my silent "gas" sponsor who helped me get Florida!)!  I could not do it without you!

Stay tuned!  This should be interesting & even on those hard days, those really hard days, know that a great swim, ride or run is still possible even when EVERYTHING is falling apart, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable.  DON'T GIVE UP.  If you don't believe in you, no one else will.  It all starts inside our heart and with a willingness to dream!

GO for it! 

1 comment:

Katie said...

LOVE this post. Thought of it while I was really struggling on my running intervals this AM and it helped me keep the pace. You got this lady :)