Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Like Moths To A Flame...

Like Moths To A Flame...
Fitbird Fitness Spring Training Camp 2K10

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Hi. My name is Katie, and I have a story to tell you. I have received an honor that to date no one else has received. I am what they call an honorary "Fitbird". You may not understand what this means now, but hopefully by the end of my story, you will grasp the magnitude of this title. With this title comes special privileges and insider knowledge of the intricate mind of the Grand Master of Ceremonies. I am inside the Circle of Trust and my "first string" status allows me insight that others are not privy to. My story of the inaugural Fitbird Fitness Training Camp is unique because I was able to observe it without judgment, to comment on it without fear, and to participate in it fully, but without repercussions. So hear me as I tell you the tale of Training Camp Santa Rosa 2K10...

Hi. My name is Coug, and I’m going to tell you how things really went down at Sufferfest 2K10. I am what you call a “second string” player. I fill in for support when “first string” isn’t available. Unfortunately this position does not have the same perks as the primary one. I occasionally get glimpses behind the curtain, quick views of the methods to the madness, but I am pretty much as in the dark as you are. I, unlike “Honorary Fitbird”, have to be very wary of repercussions from making public comments. I have created turmoil in the past for the team by opening my mouth and inserting my foot. My innocent comments have led to me being told to get my "panties out of a wad" and has brought me harsh criticism.  I will, for this post however, face my fear and tell you how things really went at camp.

First let me give you some history. I live in Florida, and have been a swimmer for 20 years of my life. During my collegiate swimming days I met Wendy Anne Blachford. We became close friends, and even though there was rivalry (she was rather upset when I became team captain my senior year), we still managed to become roommates. Times were crazy back then, and we were young and single and made the most out of life. Eventually, we had to grow up and go our own way but we always remained BFFs, "fwends" (as we like to call each other) forever.

I met Anne a year ago. She’s crazy. I’ve never lived with her, but I’ve gotten to know her quite well in the last 12 months. I've seen more of her than most. She likes Captain Morgan, Grey's Anatomy, and is pretty crafty. I’ve heard her crazy college stories, but I haven’t lived them. Unlike Anne and Katie, my youth was boringly uneventful. I am trying to re-capture that lost youth now that I am forty. Anne is helping me to do that.

Fast forward to Thursday, August 12th, 2010. I have to admit I was very excited to see my old friend. It had been almost a year since the last time we saw each other, and although we frequently talk on the phone, I was thrilled to get to reconnect in person. I knew that the weekend was going to be busy with the training of her "flock", but I knew that we'd still get some laughs in and that I would enjoy meeting the group of girls that she talked about constantly. I was a little anxious to train with them, not because I wasn't fit, but because I hadn't ridden my bike in a few years,  and hadn't really done much swimming since college. I am a runner now, and have spent the last few years focusing more on my family than on training. But I also knew I had a strong fitness background and the spin classes that I taught would carry me through much of the cycling I would do over the weekend.

I have been looking forward to this beach trip since it was first mentioned months ago. Four days sunning in the sand, a bit of swimming, biking, and running and a lot of wine. I rode down with Dr. Liz and Here. I was excited, but really just wanted to sleep. Here forgot to buy the daiquiris for the roadtrip, so we had to settle for food from Raising Canes. Chicken is still protein no matter how you cook it you know. I checked out the back of the SUV and was amazed with how much crap we could fit in Dr. Liz’s vehicle. I wondered if the other cars were loaded down like ours.

After a long seven hour drive from Tampa, I finally reached Santa Rosa and arrived around the time Anne and her friend McCall (who I have met before) arrived at the condo. We hugged excitedly and then got to work.  I noticed they had their vehicle loaded down not only with groceries, but with baskets of gifts, medicine balls, resistance bands, and other miscellaneous gear, including both of their bicycles. Soon after we began unloading I bumped into the next round of Fitbirds that were arriving - Dr. Liz, Coug, and Here. I knew Coug immediately because of her striking beauty that I had been forewarned about ("Don't look Coug in the eyes," they would say..."you may turn to stone".). Quick greetings were exchanged and then we returned to work, as Anne wanted the condo set up just right before the other Fitbirds arrived.

We knew that Anne and Call were already at the condo, so we timed our arrival so we wouldn't have to help unload the hundreds of groceries and gear they brought with them. Who wants to shlep that stuff up to the 12th floor? We saw a car in one of the private parking spots that had a Florida State sticker on it and figured it was Katie. So, “first string” gets special parking too? Sheesh. We saw a young woman get off the elevator when we were on our way up and figured her to be Katie because of her swimmer physique and nice tan. We made our hello’s quick so we could check out the digs.

It was a beautiful three bedroom condo that faced the water and was tastefully decorated - not too beachy, but made you feel warm and cozy. I studied the women as they maneuvered around the condo, trying to ascertain things about them, wondering who I would bond with by the end of the weekend. DL, as they called Dr. Liz, got right to work showing the girls where they could unpack groceries and put their luggage. "Here", aka "Emily", unloaded the bags and looked for things that she could help with. "Call", aka "Dazzle", busied herself with the decorating - putting out candles and hand painted wine glasses that she had made for each girl. I noticed that Coug went right to the massage chair in the corner of the room, sat down, and started playing with the buttons. I tried not to let it affect my first impression of her.

You should have seen this chair! It had a setting that let you massage your back at the same time it massaged your calves! It had a bit of a bounce to it and a vibration noise at times that was a bit distracting for the girls who were unloading everything, but I didn’t mind it too much.

The time moved quickly, and by six o'clock the other Fitbird members started arriving. There was lots of laughter and hugs, and the women genuinely seemed to like each other. I was introduced around and felt accepted by the group. It was interesting watching their reaction to my friend Anne. They seemed nervous around her and a bit anxious over the weekend itinerary that she had posted on the refrigerator.

Woop Woop! Fitbirds in the house! We’ve got how many bottles of wine?? Suuuwwwweeeettttt!!

I have never seen alcohol at a training camp before. It appeared that every Fitbird was a wino. Almost every one of them came bearing three or more bottles of wine. Some skipped the wine and went straight to the vodka, tequila, and Firefly. There was even champagne. I wondered if they had any clue what was heading their way.

Dinner was a homemade, true Italian, spaghetti and meatballs made by Dr. Liz. It was obviously a hit as the girls filled their plates a number of times. Wine was flowing freely and all nervousness seemed to have vanished from the Fitbirds. I spent some time visiting with the different members of the team, and tried to keep from forming any opinions so early on in the weekend.

OMG. Dr. L that spaghetti was to die for. I think I had at least 2 bowls the first night and then ate leftovers the rest of the weekend. Carbo-load baby...

I sat back and watched my fwend work her magic. She was like the David Koresh of Fitbird Fitness. Her magnetic, charismatic leadership qualities drew her flock to her unquestioningly. If only they knew. I snickered to myself. She could lead them right off of a cliff and they would follow. I was proud that she had that kind of power.

David Koresh, Jim Jones, does anyone see a trend here?? “Help yourself to the Kool-Aid, um....I mean Gatorade I brought. I mixed it up special for you in the bath tub.” Gross. And scary.

The opening ceremonies began. The women were instructed to leave their inner "adult" at the door and let their "child" roam free. They were going to run, and play, and train hard, but have fun. At least that's how she presented it to them. They bit. She separated them into three teams - teal, pink, and green. They were instructed to come up with a team name, design a poster, and explain their choices to the group. I became part of the teal team.
Hey, you give me a bandanna and the chance to be a kid and I’m jumping on it. Go Anne-Acondas, Go!

I already mentioned that I have been an athlete pretty much all of my life. I've been to tons of training camps, and have done most of these activities at one time or another. It's common practice to break into smaller groups to help develop relationships, foster healthy competition, and learn group dynamics. In college we would name our teams things that represented speed, strength, and perseverance. I never once thought I would be on a team named the "Teal Ta-Ta's". It was hard to swallow, but it could have been much worse. I could have been on the Pink team. I can't even write what they called themselves. We’ll just say they were “P” liscious. Seriously? That was supposed to bring fear into the hearts of their competition?? I knew that this weekend training camp was going to be like none I had ever been to before.



Okay, THAT was hysterical. Why did you pinkies let Call choose your name? Have you no pride? Didn’t you know she had put down like two bottles of wine already? I can see your menacing catch phrase on your t-shirts now...

I wasn’t sure what to make of these women. Anne kept referring to them as her “girls”, but really I thought they were a bit old for the most part to be called that. Grown women, splayed out on the floor drawing semi-obscene characters on poster boards. They were laughing like school-girls ~ cackling really. 

Some took their bandannas off and turned them into do-rags and started throwing “gang signs” with their pants half-way down. Others drew attention to their risque artwork. I really didn’t know what to make of it all.

Freebird looked really cool in her do-rag. 
We were some Dirty Girls. I mean Bad Girls. Yeah. We Bad.

Anne gifted the teams with embroidered towels, Fitbird flops, personalized binders, and other goodies. It was like Christmas and they were excited. They divided themselves into two condos mostly based on their arrival times. Each team had designated duties as far as meals and clean-up. I was glad things seemed to be running smoothly.

Say what you want, but we all know that the elders were afraid to stay in the main condo. Dr. Liz would have left too if it hadn’t have been her condo.

Before bed, Anne put out a “no-caffeine” challenge for the weekend. I thought the girls were pretty dedicated to take the challenge so seriously.

No caffeine?? Hey Dr. Liz ~ did I hear you say you were going to wake up early so you could sneak to the other condo and get a cup of Joe before everyone woke up? Yeah. Dedicated. And how many Diet Cokes were hidden in the other condo?

Anne and I stayed up for a while talking about old times and the training plans for the weekend. She was excited to get things underway and see how her girls would do with her itinerary. So was I.

Anyone want another glass of wine?

Friday, August 13th, 2010:  DAY ONE

Eggs, bagels, bananas, and toast started off the morning. Once the “girls” made it to the condo, they were quickly ushered down to the pool area for team pictures and a swim lecture. Warm-up consisted of “Fitbird Jacks” which were funny to watch. Considering these women were mostly professionals, you would have thought they could count. Obviously I was wrong on that one.

Okay, I know this is training camp, but my head hurts. I may need to rethink the wine thing tonight. I’m popping an Excedrin Migraine. There’s 20mg caffeine in those.

Enter swim session numero uno. It started off well enough. Warm up consisted of a few hundred meters and then a timed 100 to set a nice slow pace for the main set of 10 x 200m at double their 100 pace. Easy enough. I started my swim and by the time I got to my 4th set, Anne stopped the show because none of the girls were holding their times. I could feel her frustration and knew she was having to remind herself that the girls were not collegiate athletes, but middle aged women for the most part reliving their youth. She adjusted well, and reset the parameters, but started them over from the beginning. There was quite a bit of groaning and a few curse words and mumblings of “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me." Five thousand meters and 3.5 hours later they crawled out of the pool looking completely deflated. Anne sent them for food and a short rest. Before that she gave out two awards: the "Never Surrender Award" which was given to Susan for hanging tough in the pool, and the “Big Girl Panties” Award which was given to Coug for having a “poopy face” in the pool. We headed to the beach to play.

I have NEVER had such a ridiculously long swim in my life. First of all, when you are told to “swim a 100 at a pace that you would swim a 5 mile swim in”, do you really think I have any idea what that feels like? And truly, I am glad Coach changed the paces, because I wasn’t coming close to hitting them, but I still kept trying to convince myself half-way through the second set of 10 that she would let us stop early. Right. Oh, wait. We have more? Great! Let’s race! Poopy face? Let’s see. It’s hot as hell in this indoor pool, I had a bagel over three hours ago, and I’m a little grumpy. Does it show?

Linda and I decided to get some sun while Anne and a few of her girls played in the waves. The swells were huge and the yellow flag indicated that the riptide was strong. I watched as they entered the water and immediately got pulled out and away from shore. Coug went out in it twice but quickly came back, pale and quiet, beaten by the current. The others held their own but ended up 500 yards from where they started. I cringed and thought about my own anxiety as I hadn’t swum in the ocean in years.
Ah, the ocean. It’s so pretty from a distance. And then you walk into it and get sucked away in a riptide and end up in Cuba. I did try it twice. I went out with the girls and quickly realized my mistake. The swells were 5 feet tall and the current was severe. I almost freaked trying to crawl back to shore. So I sat on the sand to regroup and then Anne comes up all “come play with me in the waves”. So stupid me, I try it again. “You’re not going to let me drown, right?” “No,” she says. And then off she swims and leaves me in the abyss. I backward pedal out, sit on the sand, and try not to cry thinking about tomorrows open water swim training. After 15 minutes I decided that when everyone goes to bed I am going to go talk to her and explain why I can’t do it. I know my limits and this is beyond them. Way beyond them.

Two thirty came and everyone met up on the beach for the next team challenge. It was a sand-art challenge and the girls took right to it. With no modesty, they squatted and stretched, digging and piling the sand into shapes that represented their teams. Again, being a Ta-Ta, the consensus was that Shells had to be buried in the sand and “adorned” in ways that would accent her “physique”. I played along, grateful that I wasn’t the one chosen to be buried.

I am so glad I didn’t wear my bikini. I had so much sand up my crack already, and I realized that my hormone patch was in a place that it would have shown.

We finished the challenge and returned to the main condo after everyone freshened up, ready for our mental training exercise. While the girls took some time analyzing their worst race performances, Anne and I took a nap. When they finished the activity they shared their experiences and worked through the negative talk that comes with poor performance. It was interesting to watch the light-bulb turn on for some of them.

Everyone write slowly. Take your time. This may be the only chance we get to rest for a long while. Look focused. Ask a lot of questions.

Anne continued with a lecture on running technique and then moved the girls outside to the clay courts for an hour and a half of drill work. It was wearing for the girls by that point, and some of the group started to struggle with the task, but managed to hang tough with the support of their team.

So as if running at 3 pm on a hot clay tennis court is not hard enough, she wraps us in inner tubes and parachutes and makes us run against resistance. Then she says we look like a bunch of “animals” as we are doing our drills. My headache is getting better though. That’s something.

The run session ended with a 4 mile jog down the beach road, with pickups every quarter mile. I knew the girls were tired at this point, but for the most part they all hung in.

We were dropping like flies out there. The wind was ridiculous. I actually was thinking I would collapse at mile two and say I was having a heat stroke just so I could stop. Luckily I took a Goo about ten minutes before and it seemed to get me through. Others weren’t so lucky. I decided no alcohol for me tonight. I see dead people.

Dinner was delicious again. Beef tips in stroganoff with salad. The women drank wine, but not to the degree that they did the night before. I noticed there was little talking during the meal tonight. These girls have big appetites.

I am starving. I am also afraid that I am going to choke on a beef tip because I don’t have the energy to chew it. Can someone pass me the salt? I am going to over salt my food in hopes that I will feel better. Okay, seriously, I cannot move my left arm. I think my rotator cuff is torn. Where is the Biofreeze? Can someone put some on me? Ice pack??? I’m going to bed. Keep it down out there...

After dinner the elders, as they called themselves, retired after a brief video review of their swims. The rest of the girls sat and visited and shared stories.

No Call, you cannot try out the breast pump. It’s bad enough you want to see it in use. Anne, enough college stories. Please leave Dr. Liz alone, that’s none of our business. Linda, come back...don’t leave me! I’m going to bed. I am feeling my age.

Saturday, August 14th, 2010: DAY TWO

I got a great nights rest after all of that exercise and fresh air. Anne and I discussed the training and stayed up talking again. What a great group of women! They are so inspiring and energetic!

I slept the entire night on my right side with my left arm glued to my side in pain. Gina was running around passing out what she thought was prescription Advil, and no one cared if it wasn’t. People are hoarding the biofreeze. McCall wants me to rub her ass, but I can’t do it with only one hand. If it wasn’t for pure exhaustion I don’t think I would have slept at all. Maybe the rain today will slow the itinerary...

Even though its raining, we found a way to go outside near the pool and have the open water swim lecture. Anne had managed to get the race director of Santa Rosa Tri to come and set up buoys in the Gulf for swim practice. He was so nice to talk to the girls and share his experiences with open water swimming.

So now I have to worry about jellyfish? And dropping dead with a cardiac problem? Anne says its okay to swim in the ocean when its lightning because there is no metal like in a pool. The race director says lightning travels fast and far in the ocean when it strikes. Who would you believe?

I admit I am anxious. I have had a panic attack in the pool before and am not eager to swim in the ocean. I will just do the best I can and hope I stay calm. Anne is counting on me to help because I am a stronger swimmer and there are no kayaks today to help watch the others. At least the race director is here to help too.

I must clear my mind. If I don’t I will think about the fact that there are 14 of us, and three of them. Then I will think about how the water is the “worst case” scenario for race day. This in turn will make me think about how if I am struggling in the ocean, there is no way anyone will get to me in time, mostly because they won’t be able to see me over the swells.

We all swim out for about 50-75 yards to the first buoy and then make the turn, swim another 250 and then head back towards shore. There is a bit of a current, but the girls are doing well. Everyone makes it back with no major issues.

Swim. Just swim. Don’t think. Just do it. I think it helps that my arm hurts so badly I can’t focus on the panic. It is kind of fun to ride the swells. Swim. Just swim.

Relay time! It’s me, Shells, and Call out to the first buoy and back. Wow. The current is unbelievably strong! None of us can get to the buoy! Well at least Anne is going to let the other girls wear their fins. That should help them!

Who is that waving? Hey! I think someone is struggling! (thinking to self: I better go in and help them! Wait!... I suck!) Anne! Katie! Help!!

I am swimming as hard as I can through the breakers and am trying not to panic. What’s wrong Shelly? You’re fine? Then who? Linda? Oh! Her knee is out! Let’s get her to shore Anne!

I’m not going to keep racing! That’s my buddy! Let’s see. We have a pediatrician and two therapists. I’m gonna guess this is more of a therapist fix. Wow. Did you feel that pop back into place Shells? Eeeewwwww. I felt it all the way into her foot!

After all the excitement it was time to return to the room for lunch and a rest. The weather looked like it was turning and the girls were getting hungry again. After watching the weather on TV, Anne decided to skip the cycling lecture and head out to get our ride in while we could.

I am so glad to get on my bike. No more run. No more swim. Just sit and pedal. Hallelujah. Most of us hit the road, but a few decide to try to ride in the sand. It didn’t work very well for them.

I’m a nervous rider since I haven’t been on my bike in years. If ever I have been close to having an anxiety attack it is while thinking about being on the bike. Automobiles make me nervous, and riding 3 inches behind other cyclists make me nervous. It didn’t help the cause when we started to ride in a pace line and I almost caused a 12 bike pile up by slowing down when I was at the front. I got berated by Anne. Even I wasn’t immune to her thrashings this time. I decided after that that I would stay close to Coug and no other cyclist when on my bike.

So we are riding in a reverse pace line on our 12 mile trip to Navarre beach, and it’s my turn to pull up front. I speed up and pull into place and look behind me to see a wide berth between myself and Katie, the second in line. Next thing I know Coach Anne is flying to the front all in a tizzy screaming something about how I almost caused a mass wreck by slowing down. I have no idea what she is talking about, but Katie steps up to the plate and says she is the one who put on the brakes. Now she’s my hero. To throw herself under the figurative bus like that, knowing the repercussions, well, that gives her bonus points in my book. Next thing I know Coach is impersonating some random movie no one has seen and is screaming at us, “C'mon you bitches, get your asses in gear,” or something like that. Whatever it was it seemed to get us moving again.

I am now a nervous wreck. I’ve almost killed everyone, the wind is knocking me around the road, and I’m fighting a full-blown panic attack. I am so grateful when we get to the turnaround to rest. I figure Anne must be thirsty because she is asking everyone if they have money on them so she can go in the Quickie Mart to get a drink. Finally DL offers up some cash, and a few minutes later Anne returns with some ice cold beverages. We are told that each team of four must race to consume six cans of this drink. Winner of the team challenge gets the points. I pony up and take 2 and a half without flinching. We still lose.

I have never burped liquid and shot it through my nose before. That burns. And then listening to Gina’s ginormous belch got me laughing so hard I had to put my beverage down. Team Anne-Aconda couldn’t pull out the win. Of course, to no one’s surprise, The Pink P----licious Team, pulled out the victory. Kinda unfair considering they had professionals on their team.

Off again down the road, but this time the wind is coming straight at us and our 25+ mph speeds have turned into 12mph, then 10, then 8. We stop along the road for a few minutes while Shells decides to lay down with her bike in the sand. I think Stephanie took another rest with her bike too. I can tell Anne is getting frustrated that she can’t organize us to ride together. The plan is to run a double pace line, but it’s not working. While we wait for our fallen comrades, she sends some of the group ahead and says we will catch up with them soon. By the time we get organized, they are too far ahead to pull into our pace line. She spends a few miles trying to get us to come together, but people keep dropping off due to fatigue and the wind. Coug drops back to pick up some of the stragglers.

This is so frustrating. We are one big fragmented group. Three are too far ahead to catch, the middle pack is disjointed, and even Coach can’t seem to get us to pace correctly, and then there are still those who have fallen off the train. Coach instructs me to drop back and pick up the three we see. I pull in two and decide to leave Emily to catch up on her own, because I think Stephanie and Linda are still behind us and don't want them out there alone. As I disappear around the bend I suddenly wonder if I am wrong and think for a moment that I am riding alone. Then I see about six Fitbirds round the bend in the road, slow and disorganized, fighting the headwinds. I try to rally them into a pace line, but to no avail, everyone is exhausted. We trudge along at 8mph, weaving in and out, trying to avoid the construction cones in the road. No ones talking. Everyone is breathing hard. I can feel their frustration and the end seems so far away. I am afraid they feel like they have been left behind by the rest of the group, but having just come from ahead of them I know the struggle the entire group was having and the challenge it presented to Coach. The only choice was for her to organize each group as best she could, then move on to the next one. Everyone was feeling the effects of a long training weekend, poor nutrition, and wind.

Finally we all made it back to Portofino. As the last cyclist pulled into the entrance way, there was evidence that the Fitbirds were near, as bikes and gear littered the grass, and laughing could be heard in the nearby pool area. We dropped our bikes and joined in with the rest, cannon-balling each other with our sweaty cycling clothes still on our bodies. Everyone’s faces were beat red and we all acknowledged that the one thing everyone forgot was to apply sunscreen. No one thought a short 24 mile ride would take over 2 hours. We were all raw.

As much as I was tired of swimming, the water felt awesome. Cool. Refreshing. We played, and the life started to return to us. Those most beaten down by the ride managed a small grin occasionally. We had survived.

Anne instructs the girls to clean up and return to the main condo in an hour. There is still time for more “sessions”. The mood is tense and everyone is tired and grumpy. When the girls rejoin each other they are met with a lecture on cycling skills, techniques, and rules of the road. A lot, a little too late. Anne reads the mood of the group well and acquiesces her scheduled boot-camp. Her girls need a break or they may revolt. Joy re-enters the room when a reprieve from training is announced and permission to get the blenders out is given.

Woop Woop! It’s Mexican Night! Fiesta! Margaritas! Double layer tacos! I feel a twinge of energy again. We eat like burros. The blender is on overdrive. We made it through another day.
Her team made it through another day. Anne leads the girls in another team building activity. Everyone writes something the others don’t know about them and we have to guess who wrote it. It was funny to hear the unknown!

Okay, so we have a knitter, a singer, a marksman, some band members, a NASA worker, an ex Wendy’s employee, and a Fitbird who can turn herself into a pretzel. Who knew?

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

It's a beautiful morning. There's some fog and humidity, but overall the sunrise is lovely. The girls are awake but seem to be moving kind of slowly today. Anne and I hurry down to get set up to do yoga outside. Where is everyone?

Has anyone seen my brain this morning? Okay, I need my bike, my goggles, what else? Did I say my bike? Where are my shoes? Do I need shoes? Am I supposed to eat? What are we doing? Where do we put our stuff? What are we supposed to take again? What the hell is wrong with me?

Most of the girls made it to yoga, and once everyone came together we headed out to ride to the sound. It was only four miles, and not nearly as strenuous as the last bike ride. We didn't bother with a pace line, and the girls stayed relatively close together.

I am wondering what she's got in store for us this morning. I hope this open water swim is not too stressful considering we are doing it with people who call themselves "Mere Mortals". I can't believe today is the last day. Kind of nice to breathe a bit again.

When we arrive at the beach it looks like the beginning of a triathlon. There are bike racks loaded and gear set out in transition. We check in and find a spot for our bikes. There are a good sixty or so swimmers waiting to go into the water for a practice loop around the buoys. The water is much calmer than it was yesterday.

The mostly men that are getting ready to swim are not paying attention to the water, but to the 14 fitbirds that just arrived on their shore. I'm a bit uncomfortable at all the staring going on. Again, I try not to think today. Just swim. We go in a mass and surprisingly we all are able to hang towards the front to middle of the group. I think I am having what some might!

The girls practice their dolphin dives and the entrance and exit from the water onto the beach. They run across the beach as if going to transition. Once in transition, Anne has them practice going from swim to bike.

Okay. I may be slow in the water, and you all may beat me on the bike and run, but gosh-darn-it...I will get my shoes on faster than you!

My impersonation of Linda "Freebird" Adams...

It is just a matter of time and the final bike home is over. The sessions are complete, and training is coming to a close. Anne directs the girls to clean up and return to the nest when they are ready for closing ceremonies. 

Champagne is in the fridge! As Kristy says, "We crossed the finish line!". There were no significant injuries, minimal crying, and overall tired but happy athletes. What an awesome experience!

Lessons Learned:

20. Everyone struggles sometimes. The strength of a team comes from helping each other through their struggles.

19. Going without caffeine is a challenge I choose not to partake in again.

18. Algae can actually lodge in your teeth, as well as every crevice in your body.

17. No matter the chronological age, women tend to revert easily back to childhood when given the 

16. Breast pumps and massage chairs sound surprisingly similar at times.

15. Freebird's mantra for the green team is true wisdom: "Life begins where the comfort zone ends". You definitely live large with Coach Canada!

14. Road bikes do not make forward progress in the sand. You WILL fall over if your front wheel runs off the paved road.

13. Aleve is essential after a day at camp if a FitBird wants to sleep.

12. Jellyfish are a possibility, so if you feel a sting, do not freak out. Jellyfish are the horseflies of the ocean open water swim; a pain in the ass, but not worth a freak out in the water.

11. Salty Gatorade is not the beverage of choice after a salt water open swim.

10. A 4500 meter swim is a LONG swim, but not an impossible swim! Trust the Mama Bird, our own fearless Canadian Goose. There is method to her madness...

9. When running a long distance, it's okay to occasionally walk BRISKLY. A quick-paced walk is FASTER than a slow jog.

8. When swimming in the ocean, conquer the waves with dolphin dives & do a breaststroke kick to stabilize yourself. Let the waves be your friends on the way back & body surf with them to the shore!

7. Pack an extra pair of goggles AND contacts in your transition bag, just in case you decide to frantically tear off your own goggles and throw them out to sea thinking that the loose strap was an octopus or jellyfish tentacle!! Just Sayin'.........

6. Run with short steps & quick feet through the sand to the transition area so that you don't fall flat on your face, only to be chewing sand the rest of the race! Once in transition, step outside of your personal transition zone and rinse the salt off with a bottle of fresh water. Think of this as your own refreshing bird bath!

5. Don't be a DODO bird: Apply sunscreen even if you think the sun is not shining. It's daytime, and the sun IS out!

4. To protect the bird brain from becoming "loony", take salt pills regularly (q 30 min). Speaking of bird food - GU Chocolate Mint Chip gel is yummy!!

3. We cannot judge other birds by their body prints, piercings, or other personal artificial enhancements!! God created all birds equally, & we are all at different stages in the great journey of life.

2. When traveling with "Cougars", keep your valuables safe & protected, especially your pigeon homing devices (AKA Garmins), which can easily become her, I mean their, prey!!

1. Training & staying fit with the FitBirds can amazingly relieve stress! This is an incredible flock of birds - from the wisest owls to the fledgling chickadees. I love flying with them & migrating toward our 2040 Sanctuary!!

Girls ~ thanks for an awesome training camp experience. Every one of you made it special and inspired me in one way or another. I treasure our friendships and can't wait for the next one! 

Coach ~ you continue to amaze me with your knowledge and coaching talent. Thanks for putting on an incredible camp and for taking the time to make it special for all of us. 

Katie ~ thanks for being a good sport, being an "honorary" Fitbird, and being a great friend to my great friend! Can't wait to see you at the race!


  1. You are amazing Panie. I tend to see this Camp a different way ;)

  2. I see a book in your future. Keep writing!!! Lightbulb!! Maybe a column in a local paper!!!!!!!!! Why not submit??

  3. Who would have ever thought you can make pain and suffering sound like so much fun!! Congrats on making it through and keep up the good work!!

  4. I hope what Coach meant is that she sees this Camp in a GOOD different way, and not in a BAD different way...uh-oh..
    Once again, Cougalicious, you done good. Your insight is amazing. And thanks to all who helped me change my first flat tire!