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Triathlon ups and downs

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Wow, where do I start? The last week has been fairly triathlon dominated, starting with a training camp on the Gold Coast, centred around the concept of “holistic endurance”. Unfortunately my definition of holistic endurance and the event organisers ideas were wildly different and although the camp was supposed to run for 3 days, I lasted just the one. My dissatisfaction started when I walked from outdoors, where temperatures were in the high 30s into our accommodation where temperatures remained the same due to lack of air-conditioning. I was hoping that the weather gods would convene in our favour, but as the coaches slept in air conditioned comfort and pontificated the need for good sleep and recovery for performance benefits, I started feeling a little bit stabby. There was no sleep forthcoming and the next morning before our long ride,I found the menu options were less than appealing. Coconut water, kale, celery and eggs (for smoothies only) were the order of the day and although I’m not particularly fussy, a slice of toast and vegemite goes a long way for me as a kickstart. There was no toast in sight, only gluten free bread, catering for the one coeliac on the entire camp of 25. I felt relieved that I had packed some Hot Cross buns from Coles and judging by the desperate looks from two of the girls in my bedroom, I could tell that my buns were going to become contraband in no uncertain terms.

After 90kms where I spent the lion’s share of the ride on the front doing all the work, it was time for a run in the forty degree heat. Charming. Following the run it was time for my recovery smoothie. I was ravenous. Where was the food? I managed to scavenge a few lonely frozen berries. Where were the promised bananas? The esky that was provided was full of kale, celery and spinach. Whilst I don’t mind a decent green smoothie, the thought of kale after a four hour hit out was rather sucking arse. Things were not looking promising in the liquid department either – almond milk or coconut water. Desperate, I managed to snaffle a banana from a fellow triathlete that had been sensible enough to pack some carbohydrate. I prayed to the triathlete gods that my hangry (aka hungry plus angry) vibe would not cause me to commit a culpable homicide.
We practised yoga on concrete in the shade. I felt sorry for the yoga instructor as she’d been dealt a rotten hand with the surroundings and the heat but she was actually very good – the right blend of Eastern philosophy mixed with a few Western cues here and there. I started to feel calmer. Until I prepared the lunch I had ordered. I had ordered one of the meals offered by the Paleo Cafe, which had irritated me from the beginning as I cannot stand Paleo, the quacks that promote it as the be all and end all and who seem to think they have insider knowledge on what we ate in the Palaeolithic era..gah! We had been promised that the meals were a decent size and for somebody that hadn’t just done a four hour ride and a run, it would have been fine. However, it just didn’t cut the mustard. I was so desperate I even tried the chia pudding for dessert – that was a bad move – they look good, but the consistency is gelatinous and the taste is non existent – and my gut started complaining almost immediately.

Still hangry, I crammed myself into the common room with no air-conditioning for a discussion with the physiotherapist. She spoke well, however there was little room to actually execute any of the pilates style exercises she recommended and every time I moved, the puddle of sweat at my feet got a little bit bigger. Finally it was time for a swim.

“How bad could a swim be?” I thought, as I love swimming.

We started by practising holding our breath, then blowing bubbles. I wondered if anyone would notice my rear end bubbles as a result of consuming that chia pudding. Then we held our breath over three strokes. Then five. Then seven. I was beginning to feel not only hangry, but dizzy and disoriented.

“It’s hypoxic training!” exclaimed one of the coaches.

“What’s the purpose of such torture,” I thought, making a mental note to ask my swim coaches at UQ about it.

After the swim session was over, it was time for another run. I excused myself from running, explaining that I had decided to check into a hotel for the night so that I could get some sleep and that I would come back later. It was an honest delight to pack my gear and my beloved Bianchi and toddle off down the road via Coles for some well earned carb loading – some fruit, some yoghurt and a fresh hot cross bun. Then I checked into my hotel. I was exhausted – not so much from the training, but the lack of sleep. It was then I decided that as a nearly 47 year old grown woman that I had enough and I contacted the coaches to inform them I would not be back, citing the accommodation as being a potential OHS breach and deal breaker. I also wrote them a fairly robust letter surrounding the provided food as they had mentioned phrases like “fat adapted” (as an exercise scientist, I know there are a few ways to skin that cat and eating chia puddings isn’t one of them for me) and clean eating (for someone in diet recovery mode, this is a real red flag).

After sleeping for several hours, it was time for this grumpy triathlete in training to go home. I had planned to do the Raby Bay Tri the next day and must admit to not feeling the love.

“I don’t know if I even like triathlons,” I whinged to Mr Lucy as my body protested against the 4am wake up call. After arriving at my destination, I ran into my fellow swim squad buddy, Marion. She’s been swimming like a champ and encouraging me to go to squad more often which has been appreciated. As we were both in what I coin the “Old Ducks Wave” that started late, we had time to sit, reflect and become apprehensive about the journey that was ahead of us.

The horn went off and we were away. Marion had positioned herself away from me in the swim and I wondered how she was travelling. I didn’t have to wonder for too long as suddenly she was right beside me and swimming strongly. I tucked in at her elbow and put my head down and paddled. We rounded the first bouy. I looked up, to sight the next point and realised that we didn’t have many in front of us. In fact it was looking quite clear! I gave myself some positive talk telling myself that as the distance became longer, I would get better and I was right – I was able to share the load with Marion and give her some draft. We were delighted to bounce out of the water together, Marion passing me in transition. I was just excited that I’d found my bike this time round and soon I was off on the course thinking “smooth pedal stroke, consistent, consistent, consistent!” I was delighted to pass Marion on the downhill back into the transition area on the first loop and suddenly I found myself just behind the leader of my age group. I wasn’t quite able to close the gap and then two lovely ladies passed me again in transition. Forgetting about whether I liked triathlon or not, I decided that I needed to learn how to improve my transition and before I knew it, I was out on the run course. Run-walk, keep trying – it was tough. However the biggest delight was finishing – 4th in the swim, 4th on the bike and 8th overall after the run – in my age group. Marion kicked butt and came 3rd in her age group – passing me during the run and encouraging me to keep going. Thanks Marion, it was fun – wait did I just say doing a triathlon was fun? Look out Mooloolaba, here I come!

13 thoughts on “Triathlon ups and downs

  1. Holy shit! A training camp and THEY GAVE YOU KALE AND COCONUT WATER? I wish I’d been a fly on the wall, I can imagine your face. 😂

    Seriously, what a load of utter bollocks. Paleo and clean eating for athletes? Ridiculous.

  2. Seeing you powering away from me on the bike I can only concur, watch out mooloolaba!!! more apt, we keep up the swimming and you make haste slowly with the run and Noosa doesn’t stand a chance

  3. Ridiculous! Giving all that fibre to endurance athletes has got to be disastrous. And the lack of carbs – WTF? We need carbs for fuel. What were they thinking?

  4. Liz, I cannot believe they fed athletes this. Did they consult a dietician regarding what they should feed you? Very unprofessional. Were they trying to starve everyone? Not the sort of food that true athletes should be eating. Performance would definitely be affected, as your muscles would be depleted of glycogen.
    I hope they asked for feedback and take it on board.

  5. Liz
    I don’t believe kale was in the menu at all. Maybe you were in your own make believe world at this camp??

  6. oh and you certainly did not spend the ‘lions share of the ride’ on the front of the group you rode with. You may like to portray it that way, but for the record it certainly didn’t occur that way. Along with a lot of other things you state. Back to the real world lady! Including portraying yourself like you are. Someone who comes across as a bully.

  7. Liz, your comments about the camp were pretty spot on.

    I just want to set the record straight “Happy Camper”, Kale was on the menu, complete list below:
    Breakfast items we will supply include:
    – Bananas, selection of fruit
    – Selection of seeds/nuts
    – Rice Malt Syrup
    – Selection of greens (celery, kale, spinach, avocado etc)
    – Mixed berries
    – Coconut Milk / Almond Milk / Dairy Milk
    – Natural Peanut/Nut Butter
    – GF Bread
    – Eggs (for smoothies only)
    – Paleo Cafe Chia Puddings
    – Plunger coffee (sorry no ‘real’ coffee machine available)

    I was not shown any of this upon arrival and there was no information given about what to do and what to use to make the smoothies etc. I had one Chia pudding because I was hungry but it was pretty ordinary……could be a little more palatable 🙂 To be honest the amount of food there was pretty poor considering the number of women there.

    Liz was up the front a lot of the ride but that was due to the fact that she was a pretty strong rider.

    Liz was spot on about the accommodation, it was unbearable.

    I gave what I hope was constructive feedback as that was my intention. I believe the people involved had very good intentions but hope they take on board the feedback everyone provided.

    I had never met Liz before the camp. I had a few conversations and found her to be lovely. Happy Camper, not sure how you could the term “bully” to describe Liz. Liz was an assertive woman speaking her mind. How wonderful.

    Great article Liz.

    1. Thank you Another Unhappy Camper. I am glad to know that I am not alone. I simply wanted to give constructive feedback at the beginning because I thought the camp was a wonderful idea. What a great place to meet other like minded women who loved triathlon. I certainly don’t mind listening to an alternative point of view, particularly if there’s evidence to back up such a position. This is how we evolve and grow. I have to also add that the women I met on the camp were lovely and it was a shame I didn’t get to know all of you better. Thank you xx

  8. Just from another unhappy campers view point…..I couldn’t agree more with both of your comments.

    Lack food supplied, which was promised. Actually there wasn’t any food left when I went to get something each morning.

    Accommodation and the facilities were the pits.

    Sessions were not coached at all. I found this to be a big let down.

    I found Liz to be a lovely pleasant lady, ‘bully’ – I don’t think so.

    I gave my feedback onto the ladies, however I’m not convinced how much penetrated.

    Great idea for a camp just needs some fine tuning and listening to your paying customers.

    1. Thanks Unhappy Camper #2! I really value your feedback and so glad that you agree with the points I raised. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought they were starving to death. lol. I’ll keep sharing my message. Hopefully it will sink in, sooner rather than later.

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