- 1.5km swim in Lac de Montriond
- 28km bike with climb of Col de la Joux Verte
- 9km run around Lac de Montriond
HOW I FEEL
Wait, camp is over after today? No. That can't be right... Surprisingly body feels pretty decent. With no intensity yesterday, I've had a chance to recover a bit physically. That said, after 10 days at camp I'm pretty smoked mentally. I'm tired of living out of a suitcase. (I've totally given up on keeping things organized.) My massive bag of almonds is tapped. (Though my 3lb bag of quinoa is still unopened. I've lugged this around since day one in case I found myself in dire straights, but have yet to need it.) I'm out of my travel-sized EMJ body wash and now I'm using hand wash as shower gel — the horror! I have two TME bars left; strong rationing on my part. All this and I'm still not ready for camp to be over. I like the routine, the focus on training, the people, and yes, France! I don't think I could stomach another 6+ hour ride over multiple Cols, but I am a bit sad that camp is nearly over. It's been a hell of a lot of fun and it's gone by quickly.
With John's massive day yesterday and Adam's consistently ridiculous volume and intensity at camp, I felt pretty good about my chances in today's tri. Then, I learned that the 28km ride (17.5 miles) would essentially be straight up, then down. A test of both climbing and descending skillz. Not totally my forte (hey, another French word I know!). That said, I wanted to give today everything and hopefully it would put me near the top. No more "I'm holding back" excuses for me.
After racking our bikes on the near side of Lac de Montriond (and posing for that killer pic above), we got our wetsuits and caught a ride to the far side of said Lac. Once over there, we suited up and waded into the water for our final swim. It would be a straight shot across the lake, about 1.5km (just under a mile) in total. With little formality, we were off. It was just after 9:50am.
I started on Shannon's feet, but wasn't the only person vying for this position. I was edged out by someone else and soon lost their feet. I was on my own, but seemed to be going fairly well. I felt a bit flat (likely due to yesterday's 100x100) but the other strong swimmers seemed to be in the same boat. After 19 minutes and change (the swim was likely closer to 1.2km), I got out and sprinted for transition. John and Shannon were setting out on the bike, Adam was soon to do the same, and Charlsey (!) was jogging into transition with me. (Charlsey, an Epic Camp vet with amazing stories on everything from Epic Camp to Kona to Greg Norman, was a very strong triathlete in his day. Now a bit older in age, he's put his competitive days largely behind him.) It was great seeing Charlsey drill the swim like that, showing that he's still got speed.
As soon as we pulled out of transition, we were climbing Col de la Joux Verte. It would be 11km (6.8 miles) up at an average grade of 6%. My goal was to push as hard as I could for the climb, knowing that the rest of the ride was mostly descending and would require less energy.
I got out of the saddle and started to push up the climb. At this point, John, Adam, and Shannon were already out of sight, but Phil and Walter were less than a minute behind me. With each switchback, I could see that both were pushing hard on the bike, which motivated me to dig a bit deeper — more out of solidarity than competition. That said, if I could keep Phil and Walter behind me on the climb, I was going well. (I knew I'd inevitably blow by Walter on the descent — he goes up faster than he comes down, while Phil would blow by me.)
The three of us pushed up, ticking off Ks all within 30 seconds or so of one another. I was out of the saddle for a huge chunk of this. The only time I really remember sitting down was to steady myself when I reached out to pet a goat. For good luck of course... (We encountered a few goats hanging on the side of the road as we climbed through the cluster of homes up to the town of Avoriaz. Gotta love seeing animals like this roaming around town.)
With about 2 km left in the climb, Walter finally came by me. I tried to stick with him, but after a K I lost him. By the time I reached the top, he had put maybe 45 seconds into me. Phil was likely a minute back from me.
My time to the top was just under 42 minutes. I started down the mountain with Walter 400m up the road and soon passed him. While I was going as fast as I could, this was a technical descent with numerous hairpin turns. Each time I slowed to go around a bend, I'd look back up the mountain expecting to see Phil buzzing down. About 2 minutes into the descent he came by. (He later told me that he kept saying Where the hell is Rob? while descending for the first couple Ks, and had taken some risks to catch up more quickly. At one point he even hit the guardrail going around a bend too hot.)
Photos: It's tough to relate how fast some guys on camp were descending, but here are some pictures that show these guys getting horizontal while zipping through hairpin turns. Phil, Jules, and John from left to right.
Phil was out of sight in few seconds. I was now on my own, which was not ideal since I wasn't quite sure of the route through town and back to the lake. Shannon, who was still ahead at this point, is a great climber but slow descender. I figured I'd catch her before the bottom. I hoped I'd catch her with very little descending left, so I wouldn't have to slow down to stick with her. But, before long I caught up to her and started riding the breaks. Time lost descending would be a lot less than on a wrong turn through town.
After another minute or two descending, we were cruising through town and then making our way back up to the lake. As Shannon and I came into transition, and I got word that Phil was a minute up with John and Adam several minutes up on him.
FOR THE GEEKS: My normal power on the 42min climb was 246watts. My normal power for the 1hr 11min ride was 231watts. TrainingPeaks Link.
Despite the ride being a tough one at the outset, the descent allowed for a good recovery and I was feeling good while throwing on my run shoes. This was it for camp and I wanted to end on a high note. I set out at 5:40 min/mi pace and looked to hold my pace there or thereabouts for the 9km (5.7mi) run, which was two laps of the Lac de Montriond. The route was mostly flat and on a trail, both helpful.
I was through the first 2 miles holding that same pace and soon caught Phil at the start of the second lap. Phil, always the good sport, gave me encouragement as I came by. I did the same. Just 24 hours prior Phil had been down and out with a stomach bug, so his high-level of racing today was even more impressive. He'd later go on to do a 3-hour ride post race to make up for the missed day and get camp completion.
As I continued to push, it was pretty clear that John and Adam were a good bit up and that I wouldn't be catching either despite the hard running. With that realization, I had trouble holding on to the pace — it hurt like hell — and I slowed a bit. After a mile of letting up, I could see the finish up ahead and the support crew were cheering. I picked up the pace for this last quarter mile and made sure that I was hurting as I came across the line. Would have been a sin to end Epic Camp any other way. My time for the 9km run was 33min 35sec, an average pace of 5:56 min/mile.
I again finished 3rd in the camp's 3rd triathlon race. I was pretty happy with the result, but was most pleased with my riding. Above all, I was super impressed by John and Adam's race. (Adam edged out John, taking 1st in the race.) These two had been crushing themselves day after day, yet still were able to race fast on the final day. Crazy.