I am a little behind in writing about camp because, frankly, last week was just too soon to relive it. One week later, I can look back and think…now, that wasn’t too painful, was it?!? I’m sure it was but just like those that go through child birth (I’m taking some liberty here since I’ve never actually given birth), once it’s over and a little time has passed, you forget how you felt in the moments that you wondered how the hell you had gotten yourself here to begin with.
I’ll give it to you in a nutshell. August. In Ardmore, Oklahoma. Hell isn’t even as hot. I’m sure of it.
I left at 8 AM Thursday morning, drove 8 hours and checked into my hotel just in time for our first camp meeting. We had some dinner, talked about what was coming our way over the next couple of days and then took a little 1/2 mile jog down to our running route for Saturday – did some running drills – ran 1/2 mile back to our hotel and called it a night.
Friday morning we headed out to Lake Murray for a little fun in the sun.
And by that I mean 30 minutes of swimming drills in the lake followed by a little 1.2 mile open water swim.
Being that it was only my 2nd open water swim – in my life – and those were both shorter distances, in races, in a wetsuit, I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous. Ok, I was a lot nervous. But I was excited to get started so that I would be a little closer to finishing. I needed to know that I could do this swim without the help of a wetsuit. And I did it. I got it done and it felt pretty frickin’ awesome.
Next stop, a little bike and run, hill repeat session. At high noon. Lucky for us, we were doing this on the hottest day of the year. It was 103 degrees with a 112 heat index. Did I mention our start time was 12 noon? I made sure to fill up my tires before we took off, you know, before it got too too hot.
And off we went, riding about 12 miles until reaching our little 2 mile climb to get to the top of the hill where we would then dismount from our bike, put on our running shoes, do a little 1/2 mile down and back and then jump back on the bike to head back down the hill to turn around and do it all over again. As many times as our little hearts desired.
On our way up the hill the first time, I hit a rock, felt like I was going down, unclipped just in time to fall in the opposite direction of the unclipped foot. So, now I’m sweating bullets, my eyes are burning from the sunscreen dripping in them, my knee is bleeding, my elbow is stinging a bit and I’m doing my best to shake it off and keep going. Which I did.
I finally got to the top of the hill after my long slow climb, got bandaged up by our fantastic SAG support, had ice water poured on my head, ice poured down my shirt and my pants and took a little breather.
After a few of those, we headed back down the hill and back to the hotel. On the side of “the hill” read “Lazy Ranch”. Someone had a real sense of humor or that someone never went up that hill on a bike or on foot.
The happiness of heading “home” was met with the very hot, wind-in-the-face ride back. We were met every couple of miles by our support team to give us water, ice, coke, etc. to keep us going. 3 1/2 hours, some running and 31 miles later, we were done!
We had a little time to shower and then meet back downstairs for pizza and lessons on nutrition, bike changing, effective transitions, etc. I was tired and a bit sore and the pizza didn’t sit too well but I just figured it was the heat from the day and didn’t think too much about it. I got in my magic compression boots, rested and went to sleep early to be ready for our 55 mile ride in the morning – followed by a 4 mile run.
I woke up the next morning, got dressed and forced down some oatmeal. I wasn’t feeling great but chalked it up to nerves. About 5 minutes after eating, I got really sick and the oatmeal came right back up. And I got sick again. And again. And then got the chills and felt a little bit like I might want to die. I grabbed a cold wash cloth and put it on my face, laid back in bed, still in my cycle gear and curled up under the covers trying not to be nauseous. About 10 minutes later, I pulled myself out of bed to see if I could will myself to feel better for the day and got sick again. It was getting close to the time to meet downstairs to head out so I texted my coach and he came up to the room. Apparently, there is such a thing as delayed heat exhaustion and he was pretty sure that’s what was hitting me. I told him that I was going to see if I felt better in a bit and if I did, I would drive to meet them with my bike to get at least some of the miles in. This was 6 AM. I continued to get sick until almost 1 PM. Despite my efforts to get out of bed and try and put on my clothes to attempt to think about meeting up with them, it wasn’t happening. I got sick every time I tried moving around.
And just in case you were wondering if it was any cooler for those guys out there on this day, it wasn’t. A little glimpse into what it looks like to be on the verge of passing out after cycling and running. Although this looks like he’s having a little fun and joking around, he’s not. It was really THAT hot.
Sunday, still not feeling 100% but determined to end the trip on a high note with a 6 mile trail run.
What goes down, must come up. Or something like that.
And running into this big ugly spider made me feel like I was back at home at Chicot. Only thing missing was my girl.
6 trail miles. 1 fall. 1 spider. And…..camp comes to an end.
Although I missed a day of camp, the things that I took away from my time there were invaluable. It was unbearably hot. Unpredictable things happened. I learned mental and physical lessons. Each person gave me a little nugget to put in my back pocket to pull out at some point in training or on race day.
I tackled some “firsts”, earned every mile that I rode or ran and have an unbelievable appreciation for the effort it takes to push when you want to quit. To smile when you want to cry. To move when you think you can’t. And to tackle 2 more miles when you thought you only had 1 left in you.
The fleeting momentary pain will all be forgotten once that finish line is in sight. That’s what I keep thinking about. That’s what I’m going after. That’s what I can’t wait for.
42 days until show time. Let’s work.