So the race is only a week away and I have been at boot camp for two weeks as well as trying to get out running and on my bike. I am not one for blaming my tools, but since upgrading to my new Specialized Stunt Jumper I have been sailing up and down obstacles that last season seemed impossible.The snow has finally cleared from some of the Whistler trails and it’s with great enthusiasm that I put my snowboard away for the season and get out on my bike. Lost Lake is my favorite trail system. I am still fairly new to cross-country biking and the gradation of trails around the lake are perfect for building both skills and confidence. But it’s not all about the biking, training for the Mind Over Mountain Race is more complicated than you’d think. With three different disciplines over unknown distances you better be well-rounded.
My team mate and I were advised to try ‘brick’ training where you run, then bike, then kayak, then run – you get the idea. Your legs often turn to jelly on a transition so at least you’ll be used to that feeling if you tried it a few times. My team mate and I lugged an old double kayak down to Alta Lake and attempted to work on our paddle technique. What I hadn’t realized is that the rudder was broken and we ended up paddling everywhere but where we wanted to go. Slightly disheartened, cold, and miserable we traipsed back home. On the bright side though, we’re renting our boat so we can only get better from now on!
Boot Camp is helping too. It’s a full body work out, and designed to be pretty intense. We start a 6.30am sharp and finish just before 8am three days a week, it’s great when the hardest part of your day is over before you’ve had breakfast! At the moment we are located at the Quarry at the bottom of Lorimer Road, but we’ll be moving operations to Lost Lake by the end of the month. We start each session with 12 minutes of lapping the hilly Quarry. This certainly gets the blood pumping. We go through what Cat calls ‘the basics’ which are at least 100 push ups and sit ups. Then it’s a combination of drills which change each session – it might be ‘hell hills’, lunges, squats, kicks, burpees – whatever Cat conjures up you know it’s going to hurt the next day. People often comment to me that they don’t like the idea of boot camp, but I think they have a pre-conceived idea of what it actually entails. Even though it’s a little stricter than your average fitness class at the gym, there’s a feeling of camaraderie with the people in the group and with the trainer. Cat wants us to push ourselves hard, and in the end it will only ever benefit ourselves – no one else.
Another part of the MOMAR is that you have to know how to read a map. Again, not a strong point of mine. We decide to opt for one of the training clinics and head to North Vancouver, near Mt. Seymour. Over five hours we go over what to pack for a race, and how to pack it smartly. Tips; Leave the things you need for the bike on the bike. Record how much water you usually drink and assess how much you’ll need for the race, it’s heavy so think about where the water stations will be. Have food in easy to reach pockets. Make sure your bag fits as snug as it can, and always train with it on.
We then look at the maps and go over compass bearings, scale, and observations. Then we are let loose in the forest to find some makers. The main things I’ve taken from this course is the need to look at the scale, if you know you’ve got to take a left turn you also need to know at what distance. It’s also good to set up boundaries, for example;
We are looking for a left turn in approx 200 meters, there will be a large boulder on the right, and the ground slopes off to the left, we should be running down hill, and if we reach a fence we’ve gone too far.
You need to be vocal. My team mate and I are a team of two, so one will hold the map while the other one runs slightly ahead and is looking for the things the navigator is relaying. Another important sharing of duties is that one person should be in-charge of letting the team know when to eat and drink. Really this should be every 10-15 minutes as you burn through a lot of calories when racing.
So with a week to go, I have a bike and kayak combo for today and then rest for the few days before the race (boot camp on Wednesday and Friday however!). I will be packing peanut butter and banana sandwiches, shock blocks, and candied fruit for the 4-6hrs of racing. Another tip someone gave me was that in the morning you should eat what you usually eat. If you suddenly start eating things you’ve never eater before you wont know how your body is going to react – and that’s not great for race day.
One thing I have at the top of my mind though is this – I am here to have fun. I can’t wait to get out in the wilderness and run around with my teammate, and I certainly can’t wait to celebrate after. It’s not really about check points and time cut offs, it’s about the thrill of the day and exploring somewhere new.
Wish us luck!