Hurt So Good: Camp CHICAgo

A lot has been happening around these parts. I’ve done two indoor triathlons, a half marathon, and a duathlon that I never wrote about. Oops. The good news is I’ve been getting stronger. I PR’d in the half marathon. I survived my du… which is really all I was hoping to do!

But I spent this holiday weekend doing arguably the most difficult endurance event I’ve ever done. Camp CHICAgo, led by the fabulous Jen Harrison and Elizabeth Waterstraat. When I signed up many months ago, it sounded simple enough. I’d work really hard in the off season to get ready for an intense weekend surrounded by some amazing women athletes. Then I spent my off season nursing ulcerative colitis flare-ups, H1N1, and a kidney stone. Not quite the intense winter and spring I’d planned. Still, I jumped into camp a bundle of nerves and excitement, ready to see what was in store for me.

Friday night was simple enough: eat food, talk to the other women there, and hear all about what was in store for us during the weekend. I knew I was in for an intense weekend, but in really good hands. I went home and packed all my bags for the next day — wetsuit, towel, goggles, swim cap: check — bike shorts, sports bra, cycling jersey, cycling shoes, socks, gloves, helmet: check — running shoes: check. Packing things helped me relax and get ready for the day ahead. I drank lots of water and setted in to watch 17 Again. Before Zac Effron could even settle in to his old high school, I was out like a light.

I woke up an immense bundle of nerves. My first open water swim! A quick drive over to Lake in the Hills and it was time to zip on my wetsuit (which I rented for the weekend, but fully intend to purchase now). I think it really helped to be in such experienced company. Not wanting to totally flip out during our first weekend workout, I just went for it. I ran right into the water and started drills. I loved it. I’m still not a strong swimmer, but I love being in the water. It felt like being on vacation and going for a swim. I managed to swim across LITH and back before our time in the water was over.

After a short breakfast, we were on our way for a bike ride. I rode 32 miles, my longest ride to date, alongside Cat Griffin. I also found out that my rear brakes were rubbing on my tire, and causing me to work harder and ride slower. Fantastic. My bike (I think it’s about time I named her) is heading to the bike shop this week. It was a tough ride. I fell three times. More importantly, I got back up each time and kept going. I even got some awesome battle wounds along the way. Off the bike, it was time to run. I didn’t run too far — about 20 minutes or so — but I did get a little run in. After eating a LOT of food, we did an hour of yoga and I was spent.

After working us hard all day long, Jen and Elizabeth treated us to dinner at Pinstripes. We devoured the food as soon as they put it on the table. Much to my dismay, Jen informed me that it would not be polite to put my head down on my plate and take a nap. Apparently that’s not ladylike. So I made it through dinner awake and headed home to pack my bags for another busy day. Once packed, I settled in with High School Musical. Apparently camp made me want to watch lots and lots of Zac Effron.

Day two may have been the easier of the two days on paper, but it kicked my butt just as hard. 90 minutes in the pool working on drills and I finally figured out two things I’ve been wondering for months. Why do I get so out of breath when I swim? Apparently I’m running in the water! My feet were kicking like crazy and I wasn’t getting enough power from my hips. Slowing down my kicking instantly made me feel more relaxed and like swimming was more sustainable. Score! As if that wasn’t enough, I finally found out why I’m constantly nursing a foot cramp at the edge of the pool: pointed toes. I guess ballerina feet aren’t necessary to swim freestyle. Who knew?

Our janut in the pool was followed by hill repeats and running drills. At this point, I let myself go to a bad place in my head. My GI tract was getting a little mad about all of the Gatorade, Powerbars, Clif bars, and lack of normal food. I found myself slowing way behind everyone else… even in the run. Now, I understood I was in some pretty incredible company. But despite how slow I am, running is my “thing.” I had hoped to at least not be the very last one. And oh, the last one I was. I started to wonder why I was there, what I was thinking, and how I could ever think about doing triathlon. About the time I was beating myself up, Coach Jen came over to chat and jog with me for a bit. Her being there distracted me from my self-loathing long enough to get me in a better place.

After a break for lunch, Sunday ended with 90 minutes of strength training. 45 minutes of that was on TRX, which promptly kicked my butt. I went home totally spent and climbed in my very first ice bath. Brrrrr! So cold, but I’m sure my muscles appreciated it. As sore as they were today, I’m sure they would have been even worse without it. After another intense day of workouts, what’s a girl to do? Watch High School Musical 2, of course. Oh, and eat. Non-stop.

Camp ended this morning with the Elgin Fox Trot 5k. It was muggy, hot, and every single muscle in my body was begging me to just stay in bed. But after a little warm-up, I hit the start line ready to go. I don’t really remember much of the race, but my watch time was 32:46. I was actually pretty shocked. My 5k PR is 32:14. I still find it hard to believe I was so close to my PR time after such an intense weekend. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to set a new PR in a few weeks at the Skirt Chaser 5k.

All in all, Camp CHICAgo was an amazing weekend, and easily the best money I’ve ever spent on running or triathlon. But I probably should have taken the week off to recover. :)



Filed under Training, Triathlon

3 responses to “Hurt So Good: Camp CHICAgo

  1. Jenn

    Great Job, Lauren. You did awesome. Way to work through everything. I am glad you had such an incredible experience. It will make you stronger!

  2. Molly

    You will DEFINITELY set a new PR with proper rest! You did fantastic this weekend – I know it was hard (and I’ve so been there on being the newest person on the block) but it was such good stuff for you and pushing the boundaries of what you thought you could do. So proud of you!!!!!

  3. We loved having you at camp, Lauren! You did so great and left camp stronger, smarter and faster! :)

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