Gordon Walker wrote an article in Multi Sport magazine a couple of years ago detailing a 2 week training camp he had been on in the Gold Coast. For most that attended this camp it was preparation for the Hawaiian Ironman, for Gordon it was leading up to the Motu Challenge here in NZ. In that article he referred to Cam Brown as "Jake the Muss" (for those of you outside of NZ and haven't seen "Once were Warriors" think instead of the roughest, toughest movie character you can think of). Last week I learnt that this description of Cam in relation to triathlon training was very apt!
The camp was to be 5 days, the top dogs were Cam Brown and Gordon Walker with myself, Andy MacKay, James Bowstead, Jaime Whyte and Wayne Oxenham along in an attempt to keep them honest. All in all we covered over 600km on the bike, Auckland to Whangamata (155km) on the first day, the infamous K2 cycle race course (192km) and the return ride to Auckland were the 3 biggies. We ran around 90km, most of which was off road and had 2 swim sessions.
One of the standout sessions was the first day, following the grueling ride down we had a 55min run, I thought this would have been fairly moderately paced but this was the session that would set the precedent for the rest of the week! We started out steadily and then turned off the road into a forest trail. This trail went up, and up, and up and up some more. After 15 mins of climbing, Cameron casually informed us that there was 5 mins of climbing left. At this stage we were blowing and the elastic was stretched to the limit! Andy and I hung in for 2 more mins before dropping and Cam, Gordy and James trotted off up ahead. I was close to redlining and with 4 more days of punishment left to go decided to save a bit over. Once at the top we admired the views of Whangamata below and then it was a rapid descent back to sea level stopping at a stream along the way to soak our hats in, as the temperature was over 30 degrees. We all met up at the bottom and ran back to town as a group, thankfully Jaime who had dropped on the ride was just getting out of the shower so it was pleasing to see he had made it safely (he called it a day after the next session laid up with a virus).
Following a quality run on the 2nd day we finished at the end of a Peninsular across the harbour inlet from town. There are 2 ways to get back into town, either run back the way we came, or swim in full running kit complete with fuel belts and sunnies across the channel to the harbour. Given we were already 10 mins over time on our run, the 2nd option was taken, it was a great way to finish and I recommend it to anyone (who can swim of course:)), the water was beautiful and it helped us all forget the pounding we had just taken trying to keep up with Cam on the 100 min run!
The last day had us retracing our steps from the 1st day. This was the 3rd time we summited the Kopu Hikuai, a 15km climb from bottom to top. I had dropped from Cam and James on the 2nd ascent during our K2 loop so was keen to hold them today. I managed this and as we went over the top the group was down to Cam, James and Me, not a bad effort given I'm lugging 13kg more body weight than both of them! Once home we had a short easy run of the bike to do, or so I thought. It was full noise for me, at times on the flat Andy (who had a Garmin watch to show our running pace) said we were running 3min 40s kms. To be doing this at the end of such a tough week and solid ride, in what was 30 degree plus weather was great. Awesome for me to push the limits some more and create some more mental toughness to use in IMNZ in 6 weeks.
We all collapsed into Brownie's neighbours' swimming pool with bottles of Electrolyte and water to cool off and reflect on what was a great week. Training with Cam and Gordy really showed me what it takes to be the best. Absolute commitment and follow through on every session is critical and the need to push the limits from time to time prepares them mentally and physically for the ardures of race day. Cam never dropped from any of the sessions and never showed weakness. The old adage of "if you haven't been there in training, you are not going to handle it come race day" fits well. This training approach for IM is new to me but it is clear that combined with rest strategies and periodisation, it is what is required if I want to develop as an athlete.
We have another 3 day version this weekend with "..the Muss" after a couple of easy days, I'm looking forward to it already and will update you all next week on what happens there.