I want to start by thanking everyone for their comments, emails, phone calls and text messages about my post on my fear of flying and panic attacks. I cannot tell you how much it meant for me to be so vulnerable and have it be so graciously received. Each time someone told me I was not alone, I felt better about putting myself out there, and also that I may have helped a few others who struggle with anxiety.
You will be happy to know that I had two good flights in my travels to Florida! I also had the luck (or possibly devine intervention?) of sitting next to a Reiki Master on my flight down and she was tremendously helpful! I could not thank her enough and I will be reaching out to do more Reiki and possibly learn the technique myself. For the locals, Lisa can be found at Serenity Grove Wellness Center in Coventry.
Now let’s get to the good, the bad and the ugly of my first triathlon training camp in Clermont, Florida.
My coach (Becky aka CRS aka Coach Rocket Science) decided to try something new this year with her athletes and planned a winter training camp in sunny Florida. It ended up being just me and fellow teammate Caitlin and a friend of Becky’s to help with logistics. She chose the National Training Center in Clermont, FL because of the state of the art facility. However, it was adjacent to a rehab center and hospital because, Florida, so we were surrounded by elite athletes and the elderly. It gets weirder.
We were not allowed to take pictures inside the facility but Caitlin managed to snap one of the pool before she was properly informed of the rule. This salt water, outdoor pool was the highlight of the trip for me.
Wake up time on Monday was around 6:00am and we were loaded into the van by 7:15am with run and swim stuff. We had no idea how grueling day one would be but, in retrospect, I’m kind of glad I didn’t know!
Everything at the NTC is regulated down to the minute. We were not allowed into or onto any facility until the exact moment of our allotted time and were promptly kicked out when time was up. It was like military school for triathletes.
In a word, my time trial sucked. We warmed up and then ran for 30 minutes as fast as we could. There was a wicked headwind on one side of the track and it was brutal. Not trying to make excuses but that was tough. Also, my head was just not on right. Coach was filming us and later that night she didn’t even want to show me the film because she said “That was not you running out there. You were so tight and tense and it just wasn’t you.” So, we had a lot to work on.
I can say that the 6 foot plus team of what looked like college age men who were warming up while we were sucking wind (literally) around it did not help. In my mind they were thinking “oh look at those cute little white girls trying to run fast!” I also think it was just the thought of a time trial in front of my coach while she was filming me. No pressure.
My average pace was 7:41 for the 30 minutes. I was not happy but there was a lot more to be done.
We headed to the pool for yet another time trial of 1,000 yards which is 40 laps, after a proper warm-up of course. We all know my swim leaves a lot to be desired so the film from the pool that day helped me tremendously! I did so much great work on my stroke and body placement. I can’t tell you how much it helps to have your coach standing over you, watching, answering questions and filming. Once I could actually see myself swimming, it was so much easier to make adjustements!
After lunch it was time to bust out the bikes and do some drills. It was while I was practicing the art of slow turns and ratcheting my pedals that I took a slow motion fall off my bike. I still have a bruise.
At least the atmosphere was lovely at the Lake Louisa state park where we cycled outside and by the lake! It was so freeing (and also kinda weird) to be cycling without watching Grace and Frankie or Shameless. I tried to soak it all in.
Once we got back to the house, we ate, reviewed film and promptly collapsed into bed. It was a long.ass.day and Tuesday would be more of the same!
Once again we were up and out by 7:15am, and once again we were outfitted with swim and run gear. I was more than happy to head to the pool and work on my new techniques. Plus, it was warm and beautiful already…
2,300 yard swim with perfected body position and pull FTW!
We quickly showered and headed to the 10-mile clay loop for our first off-track run. The loop is clay-like dirt and goes for miles in a nice loop with rolling hills. It’s flanked on all sides by orange trees and farmland. And one insane asshole that had a death wish.
Yep. And that video was not the worst of it. We were about a 1/4 mile up the road and had to run like hell back to our van, right before he came back around and almost flipped his truck when he took the corner. We called the cops and we’re pretty sure they caught him. #Florida
After that excitement, we headed back to our place for lunch and then back out for more bike drills. This time, Coach and Caitlin ended up in the bushes on top of each other. Ok, not like that, but they crashed into each other on their bikes. It was interesting. Everyone was ok. We moved on.
Our special treat that night was a private yoga and recovery class and then dinner at Root and Branch (literally the only nice restaurant in a 50 mile radius) for amazing shrimp and grits! And wine. Because recovery.
This was probably my favorite day because we were able to go on a long bike first thing in the morning!
The Van Fleet trail is 20 miles in one direction so, obviously we went to the end and then turned around and came back for a total of 40 miles.
We also saw alligators. Lots of them. Luckily, most of them were far away underneath a bridge where we could watch them from a safe distance. Unluckily for my heart, one was just off the trail in the brush and was HUGE! I may have screamed. I may also have been looking for them frantically for the next 35 miles.
We were supposed to do a 20 minute run off the bike but by the time we ended the ride it was almost 90 degrees! We literally ran about .25 mile and called it. After all, we still had to swim and do yoga!
We managed about 1,600 yards in the pool before we complained to coach that we might just fall asleep under water. She had very little pity but at least let me use a pull buoy and then had us jump out very soon thereafter.
Yoga felt amazing after the swim and we actually made it though dinner without being face down in the beer cheese fondue we ordered. It was quite an accomplishment.
There was so much good and I’m really glad I made the decision to go to camp! It was tough on my husband who had to work and take care of the kids for four days without me. And their school lost power one day and had a two hour delayed opening another. It takes a village. Or two parents. Whatever, we all survived.
- The weather was obviously amazing but I still prefer the snow
- Having tons of time to work on technique, being filmed and having my coach there for all my workouts was tremendously beneficial
- Being out of my comfort zone both on the plane and sharing a house with people I barely knew was definitely good for me
- Being on a triathlon vacation of sorts was a dream come true. I know, but this is who I am.
Florida is not my place. It’s hot, dry, flat and, where we were, devoid of good food and atmosphere. #sorrynotsorry
I have never in all my travels seen more dismal Yelp options then I did in Clermont. The first night we ended up at a place called Rock N Brews where a Great Dane was roaming around aimlessly, smoking was permitted and a very loud drunk sitting next to us was yelling across the table to who appeared to be his in-laws, while his wife was breastfeeding what appeared to be his baby. It was 6:30pm on Sunday. #Florida
This is two-fold because there truly was no “ugly” on this trip but, some things just bummed me out…
- I missed my kids like crazy and the constant reminders of Disney did not help, even though we are not Disney people, those mouse ears get me every time!
- The constant use of styrofoam. I know you thought it was outlawed but, unfortunately for our planet, it’s alive and well in Florida.
- How very quickly I got used to the warm weather and getting by with flip flops and tanks. It was a rude awakening to be deposited at the airport in 30 degrees and have to immediately go to the grocery store.
I can say with 100% certainty that it was well worth the trip and I hope to get to do something similar again next year. If you’re my husband and you’re reading this, I’m just kidding.
How was your week(s)?
Have you ever done a training camp like this? Would you?
Thoughts on Florida?
I’m so glad you did the camp! It sounds like a great learning experience and it’s just fun to do the stuff you enjoy all day for days. I have to agree with you on Florida. It’s not for me. However, I was kicking myself for not booking a trip there during February vacation week. I had some serious FOMO of all our friends being warm. I’d love a day of flip flops and tanks!
Me too! And anywhere warm in the middle of winter is amazing. Book your 2020 winter getaway now!
I’m glad that your flights there and back were good!
The camp sounds like an amazing experience, despite the weather and eating at Rock n Brews, lol
Thank you so much! And yes, it was all pretty amazing 🙂
That sounds like an athlete’s kind of fun! Though tough, too. Face time with a coach is so helpful- especially for things like swimming form. Great idea on her part!
Exactly! It was so beneficial to have a visual in the water. It really changed everything. Thanks Laura.
Wow! That pool looked amazing! You are such a badass! Love reading about all of your hard work training in Florida even though Florida does kind of suck lol.
HAHAHA – exactly! Thanks Sandra 🙂
Sounds like you needed a vacation after working so hard all week! That’s how I always feel after an active vacation. I follow another triathlete, Phaedra Kennedy, who goes to Clermont every winter to train. It’s too bad the area hasn’t caught up with the times. But like you said, #Florida. Heading south myself but I’m going to the beach…
That’s interesting about Phaedra! I’ll have to Google her 🙂 Glad you are getting some sun and beach time. You deserve it woman!
AHEM!!! i live in Florida and I love it! Although I will admit I’ve never been to Clermont- I can see how there wouldn’t be a lot of fine dining options there. It sounds like a great place to train though. I live in Boca Raton and while the training facilities aren’t as ideal is Clermont, I do appreciate the fact that I can run/bike/swim OUTSIDE 365 days of the year!
HAHAHA – I knew this was coming. I mean no disrespect, honestly, it’s just Clermont and I’m a northerner at heart 🙂 And Boca Raton is a dream come true. I was there many moons ago to train with Juan Carlos Santana. I wonder if he is still around? And cycling and swimming outside year round is a definite bonus!
Another Floridian here! While I do love it – the heat, humidity, sun – I miss hilly runs. I haven’t been to the clay loop in Clermont, but there are quite a few running groups that post pictures of it. Looks like a nice place to run. I do admit that there are a lot of “interesting” people down here, though. And at least Tampa and St. Pete offer some great foodie options as opposed to Clermont. Definitely an elderly population up that way. The training center sounds pretty spectacular!
The clay loop has hills so if you can make it happen, I would recommend it! Plus, it was gorgeous, except for the psycho driving around it like a race track. And the National Training Center was amazing! It was definitely worth the trip and I know I will have a better experience when I go to Jupiter in May for a friend’s wedding 🙂
Sounds incredible and fun despite alligators. I can not handle humidity, so there is no way I could live in Florida, but visiting during “colder” months is great. I’m pretty much disappointed by food most of the time when I leave LA. People rave about food in Vegas, but honestly, food in LA is so much better than food in Vegas and cheaper #sorrynotsorry Glad you are home safe with kids.
I couldn’t handle living there year round, but the sun and warmth did feel amazing! And I hear you on the food. Some of the food in Vegas is very good (Giada’s, Rao’s, Mon Ami Gambi) but not if you live in L.A. – LOL!!! Thanks Paria.
Yeah, Florida sounds…interesting. I’m glad you had a fun trip overall! I also am not a fan of flying or heights and have had my occasional panic attack before takeoff. However, I have always been surrounded by nice people and know what helps me calm down. All those workouts sound intense but the fact that you enjoyed them is what matters!
Yes and yes! The people and surrounding were very interesting down there but I was grateful for the sun and warmth. And I’m so grateful for anyone sitting next to me on a plane who is kind. It makes a HUGE difference.
It sounds like such an incredible and fun experience. Glad you enjoyed it! I remember going to Florida and Puerto Rico for our collegiate swim team training trips and it was awesome.
Oh I bet Puerto Rico is amazing for swimming!! Thanks Hollie.
This sounds SOOO intense! Our son swam in high school and for two years in college…and he was a distance swimmer. He got initiated into the 1,000 and 1-mile his freshman year of college, and really enjoyed it. It was painful watching him go back and forth (and back and forth), though. I would have been sinking after the first minute. And a salt water pool? I’m not much of a water person, but I could do salt water 😉 Thanks for joining the link-up!
HAHAHA – I can’t imagine watching all that swimming but how amazing for him!! Long distance in the pool is rough…but the outdoor pool made it infinitely better. Thanks for commenting!
Your training camp sounds like such a fun experience! I’m not a huge fan of FL, especially the heat and alligators. Their winters are about how warm I like my summers!
Yes – exactly! There are some amazing parts of Florida (my husband and I were married in Key West) but this was not one of them – LOL! Thanks Laura.
OMG, that sounds like an amazing experience! I’d do it in a second – minus the swimming part (although, I certainly could use some stroke analysis on my doggie paddle).
On our trip to Tampa this past weekend, souped-up cars kept revving their engines and when I asked my friend why it was a thing, he said, Because it’s Florida.”
OMG it’s so true! Your friend has obviously been living there long enough to know it’s just “Florida.” LOL!! And yes, it was an amazing experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
I am so glad that you had an anxiety free flight! Florida is so hot and humid and I think a hard place to run if you are not used to it. Sounds like you learned a lot this week and got some great feedback on your training. I have not signed up for any tri races yet this year but now I want to!
Thank you!! Yes, the heat and humidity was a smack to the system coming from 20 and 30 degrees of dry cold. And I didn’t know you did triathlons??? You should definitely sign up for one 🙂
this sounds like such a fun, hard, weird and amazing trip. I would have freaked at the alligator. I really would love to go on a vacation like this, only not where I’m critiqued in swimming haha – I have issues with breathing and now, thanks to taking lessons and nearly dying every single week I also have anxiety in open water. Everything comes with good and bad (and sometimes ugly) – and it’s good that you are able to laugh about some of the weirder stuff now (you are able to laugh now, right?? ha!).
Florida has never been my favorite place, but it’s mostly due to extreme humidity. I’m originally from the desert (New Mexico) and it took me about 20 of the 24 years that I’m in the Netherlands to get used to humidity.
Open water anxiety is tough and I have definitely experienced it. I feel better on race day when I’m surrounded by swimmers but it’s hard for me to go out alone or with another person for training. But yes, being able to laugh at the bad and ugly stuff always gets me though 🙂 And the humidity and heat in Florida is something I would never get used to. We have enough here in Connecticut in the summer. And I think you know how I feel about the Netherlands. I would love to live and train there for a year or so…
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