Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Summer Tri-cation with Multisport Performance Institute

The idea for a tri-cation to Pensacola Beach, FL initially came about a few months ago because I was looking for a summer adventure with the kids and I'd heard about Portofino Island Resort through my work for the coaches of Multisport Performance Institute (their Facebook page is here) My kids love Florida and love the beach and I figured that by July I could use a mid-season triathlon pick-me-up. So why not head to a family-friendly resort that just so happened to be a spectacular triathlon training ground AND offered a super sprint race too?

My plan was to make it a win-win trip for both the kids and for me by filling early mornings with training, before the kids were up, and then spending the rest of the day focused on playing with the kids. Coach Jim filled in my training schedule around my pre-planned activities and travel. Here's how my five day make-your-own triathlon camp went down:

Wednesday, July 17

Second day of driving/arrival. Settling in, grocery shopping (even on vacation!), and play day with kids. We swam and took sea kayaks out on the Gulf side, which was a workout unto itself to paddle through the surf.

Thursday, July 18

7:00 am - 1 mile open water swim. This was a weekly group open water swim in the Santa Rosa Sound near the bridge, about 3.5 miles from the Portofino Island Resort. More than 30 triathletes of all ages turned out on this day, including my friend Kristin from NC who was staying across the street, totally by coincidence. We did the mile as two out-and-backs regrouping at the end of each length. Coach John Murray announced our times so we could compare our four lengths. He and the leading pack were so fast even in what seemed like pretty choppy water. Oh, and what is it with coaches -- they cannot resist messing with your feet to see how you will react!!

with Kristin!

8:00 am - 20 mile post-swim bike ride. Coach John said that usually a few folks ride after the swim and sure enough, as I asked around, I was invited to ride with Angela. She's also a mom and an accomplished triathlete and teaches for Fitness Onboard that utilizes paddleboards for all their classes. We had a beautiful ride, which she capped off with a four mile run, and I capped off with second breakfast of baked egg in avocado.

6:30 pm - Portofino Sunset Tri Race - blog post on that here!

Friday, July 19

6:00 am - Master's Swim. I joined in my first ever master's swim session. It's nice that it was just a three minute walk from the condo to the indoor pool.

 indoor pool (thru windows), outdoor pools (beyond windows), and sound are all just
right there at Portofino. I took this pic from the second floor of our condo tower.

Coach John, who directs the swims, said it would be an easier session because the group had been working really hard. One thing that was really fun and different for me was the "snake swim" in which we did something different in each of the lanes and had to get in and out of the pool each time at the ends to switch lanes. It was tougher than I thought to push up out of the pool quickly and so many times. I discovered in this session that I lagged behind pretty bad on the kick sets so that is something I want to work on.

We concluded the session with an obstacle course at the resort's water park. We paired off and had to sprint out to the equipment, climb up, slide down, negotiate the trampolines and climbing apparatus, and sprint back. We were partnered up and I'm proud to say Peter and I are the reigning obstacle course champions. What a great motivator to work on some fast swimming!!

the water park at Portofino

8:30 am - Swim Video Analysis. After a short break to refuel and dry off I met Coach John for a swim video analysis. We began by talking through the stroke, how he breaks it down and thinks about it, and what is important and why. I had read a lot of what he'd written about swimming but to hear it in person and see him demonstrating elements really brought it to life. He captured video and and analyzed as we watched. We went through frame by frame to see how many were a propulsive phase and how many other frames were not but should/could be and how. He began to prioritize corrections and we worked through some in the water. We arranged to meet again on Monday for a follow-up. This was time well spent!!

 with Coach John

I received my video on cute!!

Saturday, July 20

7:00 am - 52 mile bike ride. This was a scheduled 50 mile ride and although Coach Jim gave me a bit of a "vacation out" to shorten it if needed there was no way I'd take it. I had wanted to start at 5:45 am but I awoke to storming and lightning. By 6:45 it was only raining and not storming, so I headed out. My plan was to go the west tip of the island, Fort Pickens, and then as far east through the Gulf Islands National Seashore to get to 50 miles or so. About 10 miles in the rain thankfully stopped and I had a great first half of the ride, even having the chance to "race" and beat a speed limit sign (briefly) along the way!

On the west side of the island, waves were crashing less than 50' from the road!

The second half of the ride I was buffeted by strong cross-winds that kept me on the handlebars and off the aerobars and it was a bit of a slow, soggy, windy grind. Fortunately it was beautiful even with the storm and I knew this was good training for me. Bring on the adversity in training, then come what may on race day...I will be ready! It was an awesome ride of about 52 miles.

3:00 pm - Standup Paddleboarding. This was my first time and I really enjoyed it. I paddled past the waterpark and picked up each kid and gave them a ride on the front of the board. Then Grant took a Sea Kayak out and we headed out together. What a playground at Portofino!

5:00 pm - 1 mile open water swim. Coach Jim had said something about getting as much open water swimming in as I could so I did this on my own, swimming from the resort's beach to a sandy point east and back again, plus a few laps around the water park.

Sunday, July 21

7:00 am - 8 mile run. Per Coach Jim. I headed west on the running path from Portofino Island Resort to the Portofino Boardwalk area and back. The coolest part of this was that I saw a group of triathletes cycling by-- onesies, twosies, small groups -- the entire time I was running! I knew there was a group of area triathletes that met Sunday mornings to train -- the Mere Mortals and indeed it was them. I recognized some of them from the Portofino Sunset Tri race and I waved and said Good Morning to every single one of the 50 or so that I saw. That made my run so much fun!

Monday, July 22

This was the day we would start the drive back to Virginia but only after our appointment to sail at 10:30. Which was after I needed to return the condo key by 10. Which was after my appointment to meet Coach John from 8:30 - 9:30 which was after I'd do the master's swim session at 6 am. It was going to be a very, very busy morning!

6:00 am - Master's Swim. Oh this was so much fun! I did some new things like swimming with paddles, but only holding them with my fingers only by the straps, and fist drill with tennis balls. Then we did a set of fast 50's and it definitely pushed me to share a lane with a faster swimmer. We did a second set of fast 50's and Coach John said if we could knock a second off our fastest time from the previous set on the first lap, we could stop at one instead of four. That was all the motivation we needed to do so. After that he announced a change of plans. We were headed outside to do a "quick mile swim."!!

We left the dock and headed west, sighting off a boat, a dock, and a building. I wasn't too sure so I found another swimmer I could keep up with and I stayed close to him. We regrouped with Coach John a half mile down the shore and then headed back for the dock. Halfway back a big storm kicked up, the chop grew, the water became dark, and a driving rain hit us. For a moment I was nervous but then I let it go and just thought about how cool it was to be swimming in that! I chalked it up to another great training experience and thought how awesome it was to have had so many open water swims during my short stay in Pensacola.

View north from our balcony - we swam from the dock that is off-photo
to the lower right, to beyond the dock in the photo.

I hope the triathletes in that area appreciate how fortunate they are to have a coached, motivating, and fun triathlon-specific master's swim program and such easy open water access!

8:30 am - Swim Drills. I met coach John for one final swim session to go through swim drills to grow my tool kit and to be sure I was doing each correctly. One by one we went through them. I had a pretty good A-HA moment during...of all things...a doggy paddle drill! I was really able to feel when I had a good catch of the water versus when my arm was just speeding through without that good catch. It's not just about arm speed, it's truly about that "feel" that I finally "felt!"

In summary I have to say this trip was truly awesome for the kids (another blog/post to come) and for me. Most of the time the kids were just waking up as I returned to the condo each morning so their vacation was not too impacted by the tri-cation part of it all. Still, in just five days, I got in two master's swim sessions, two individual coached swim sessions, three open water swims (four if you count the race), 80 miles of biking, almost 10 miles of running, and a race!

While I may be a little worn out physically from all that plus 1500 miles of driving, mentally I feel very refreshed and rejuvenated. It was such a treat to experience the welcoming triathlon community and vibe in another part of the country. It was tough to leave, but I'm happy to be home in my Appalachian Mountains! The kids are already asking if we can go back next year!! (I'm hoping YES!)