A huge weekend!
Off to Berry with the Crew for a Tri Camp Weekend. Big Gazza and I arrived last and yet we live closest to Berry. But we had to finish watching the Tour DF climb the Col De Ventoux. Well worth it. It was bucketing rain when we arrived and as always Gazza set me up inside and then did the return trips to the car bringing all of our gear. I love that man!
We chatted, opened a bottle of wine, had dinner and settled in. Over 20 athletes and friends and even a couple out of towners. Coach called a Crew talk and Gazza and I disappeared quickly into the bedroom before returning wearing our onseys. We got some odd looks, and a few laughs. It can't all be serious. Coach told us the plan for the weekend and then we headed off to bed. What a fantastic venue. We had a queen size bed with ensuite; luxury.
Saturday morning was freezing. We dressed ready for a big day on the bikes. We headed off and a huge group gathered in the middle of Berry. It was an amazing feeling being part of such a huge bunch of riders. We stopped for the obligatory photo and then headed off in our respective groups towards Robertson. The aim was to go up Berry mountain into Kangaroo Valley, climb up the other side of the valley before following the escarpment to Fitzroy falls to Robertson, before hitting Kanagloon loop and returning the way we had come. This would be a 100-110km ride.
Most of the Crew had never ridden this route before. Neither had I, but I know the road extremely well having driven it with a horse float on the back several times in a previous life when I rode eventers. I know the grade of the mountain climbs and I knew I was going to struggle as the week before I had finally taken the 27 'granny gear' off the cassette and gone down to a 25, what was I thinking? Anyway, we headed up the mountain. I was in the second group with Skip, Lil Dog, Gazza, Bangers, and a few others. I was feeling ok, but a little apprehensive. We hit the climb and dialled the legs into churn. However, before long I realised that the 25 was a bad choice and I immediately regretted not taking 5 mins to swap it back to the 27. I had to dig in deep and actually thought at one point the brakes had got stuck on the back wheel. I dropped out of the second group thinking I might be better in the third group. Before long though I was working bloody hard, wheezing up the hills and sweating profusely through the layers I had put on and was falling out of the back of the third group. I rounded a sharp bend following Gazza's line out wide and stood up on the peddles and dug in deep. I couldn't breathe. I heard Simmo say 'why aren't you singing Sammi?' Singing? I was having trouble breathing let alone sing as well.
Pain shot through my chest and my lungs were screaming. My head kicked in, 'this isn't right!' I called to Megs 'I'm coming over.' She made room and I rolled into the gap and onto the verge. I came to a stop halfway up the climb. Pain in my chest. I took a minute to recompose myself and get my breathing back in check. Hill start, great. I got going again, but not far. I found a driveway and once again rolled to a stop. Gazza, Roche and Doc Vince were there with me. Doc started diagnosing me....how old are you? 47. Any history of heart issues? and so on. Well, he said, if I were you I would go back, or are you going to be one of those stoic people who carry on and then drop dead on the ride? I wouldn't let you go back to training without a stress test. GREAT! Gazza took lead and demanded we turn back. I tried to tell them it was just because I had a very tight crop top on. I took it off and felt a lot better. But no good. We rolled back down the hill defeated. We reached town and I insisted that I was fine, so much so we rode on and did a further 25kms on a flat course.
By the time the Crew rolled in from, what I later found out was an incredibly hard, freezing cold, wind driven rainy ride, Gazza and I had made lunch and lifted our status to short term heroes. After lunch we rolled out in convoy to the local pool. The wind had picked up and I was very pleased and relieved when the call went up that there were 3 lanes booked for us in the indoor pool. Whew! We did the set, but while we swam I kept one goggled eye on Bazza. He is one of the best open water swimmers in Aus. The guy doesn't kick! What the! His action is effortless and he slips through the water. I immediately wanted to stop kicking too. ok, maybe there is some more work to do as I sank to the bottom of the pool. But the image is in my mind and the drills Coach is setting are helping.
A night at the pub was a chance to talk to Jono. He is an amazingly inspiring athlete who is also legally blind. Not only did he ride with the boys (he has no periphery vision) but he swam with us too. He is heading for the Olympics in Rio. I have added his facebook page www.facebook.com/JonathansRoadToRio. After a lively chat, he left me with some parting words. He said Sammi....'Swim to stay in it, bike to be in it, run to win it!' Thanks Jono and all the best for Rio. Before bed, we once again gathered to have a team chat. So chuffed when Coach rolled into the room in his Onsey! woohooo.
An early morning start again on Sunday was a run set. Again I was apprehensive as the itb hadn't been tried off road since Ironman. I am happy to say that they (and I) made the session through without issue. Though the fitness has gone badly south as far as running is concerned. No real instruction from Coach on the day, so I figure there wasn't much with the form to correct. It was more about seeing how far the itb could get me.
A final question and answer session and it was time for home. Good times peeps, good times!