Triathlon Camp: Adapt or Die

During our hard ride Ken Glah told me the IMGP4743motto of the camp: “Adapt or Die”.  Yeah, right. On day 5, with a 71 mile bike ride in almost 100 degree temperature I sure didn’t feel like I was adapting, but thanks to a very wonderfully rejuvenating fresh strawberry sundae at mile 35 death was also not on the cards. 


Day 5 – Bike 71 miles; Run 1 mile

Today we only had myself, Ken and Stacy so Ken decided we would do a hard ride of just over 70 miles.  We went over similar roads to the previous day, but did fast pace line work with gentle to moderate rolling hills.

We saw a lot of Amish today and it was interesting to see how they straddle the old and the new. They use draught animals to tow their farming equipment, but are spraying what looked to be a chemical. They will not ride a bicycle, but they will use a self-propelled scooter. At the petrol station they loaded up on fuel for small motors at the farm, but drive horse drawn carriages. Ken explained that the key is simplicity, and they do seem to succeed with that.


On Tuesday evenings in D.C. I go for a fast group ride where we do pace line work, rotating the leader to keep the speed up. Today, Ken just took the lead and pulled myself and Stacy for 71 miles. He was incredible. Especially when we had a strong headwind.  What an engine he has. At one point after a long ride I asked everyone their heart rates: I was 148 beats/min; Stacy 156; and Ken, who had been pulling us along, 113. He calls it his diesel engine. I call it amazing. As was the scenery—prosperous farms as far as the eye can see.


After a water stop we reached our turnaround point—an ice cream parlour. Now this is my way of having a protein hit during a hot ride. It was a great old time parlour with delicious ice cream. Ken and I had these great fresh strawberry sundaes while Stacy showed a bit more restraint. Then it was back on the bikes home again.


We were very hot when we got back to the car and fortunately there was a stream near by. It was just what we needed.

After we made it back to Ken’s place him and I did a short session in his endless pool to look at my technique—or lack thereof—before another good night’s sleep. Lots to be said for fresh air, sunshine and riding my bike.

Day 6 – 15 mile run; 2 hour nap

We were joined today by Tim who is also a temporary resident of D.C. and Susie came along as well. The plan was for a 15 mile run, then a 30 mile bike ride and a swim. After six days of hard work I decided for a nap instead of the bike ride ad swim. Good call.

Ken has trained in this area for 20+ years and so knows all the routes. He has also placed water bottles at some 2.5 mile intervals which was helpful given how hot it was.

We broke into two groups, with myself and Ken having the goal of 15 miles at an 8 minute pace and the others 10 or so miles a bit slower. Since there were a few turns on the route we ran ahead and then doubled back for the others.

Even though I had run the Boston Marathon three months ago at this pace, I found it very hard going today. A reflection of the cumulative effects of all the training. Ken was amazing, carrying on a regular banter as if he wasn’t working while I was fighting all the way. The water stops couldn’t come too soon … What an athlete.

He trashed me by mile 12 but I managed to keep up by breaking the run down into 1/4 mile segments: each of these is one lap of a track.  It is far easier to have to run 12 laps of the track than three miles—at least psychologically! I told Ken of a lecture Lis and I went to at National Geographic where they discussed people who should have died in the wilderness but survived. A common theme was the breaking down of an insurmountable problem into small chunks. I’ve used this approach many times…

We eventually made it back to the cars IMGP4749where I had a well earned hit of my asthma inhailer. And to think not only do I do this for fun, but I paid money for the experience. A psychologist would have a field day.  But at least we were at the same place as yesterday which meant that we could go cool down in the river. I needed that badly.



Thanks to Lis’ waterproof camera I was able to grab some action shots. What a great way to end the run.

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We went back to Ken’s place for brunch and then I came back and had a nap while the others went for the ride/swim. One thing I’ve learned as I approach 50 is to listen to my body, and it is pretty trashed right now, and there are still another four days of training, including two long rides. Oh well, that which does not kill you makes you stronger. Perhaps Ken was right, ‘adapt or die’.

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