A few weeks ago, I returned to Boston after co-hosting the first-ever IRACELIKEAGIRL training camp in Clermont, Florida. It was an epic weekend to say the least. Here’s my summary of experience and the months leading up to it.
How it all started
One year ago, Angela Naeth and I flew down to Florida for a set of QT2 Training Camps. At the time, we didn’t know each other very well… She was there helping out with the age group camp I was attending and was staying down for her own elite camp take place shortly after. I had just started my informal role of supporting outreach and development for the IRACELIKEAGIRL community, a group Angela had founded just 2 years prior, and was loving everything about it.
A few weeks later, we were exchanging emails about some blogs I’d been working on when Angela wrote to me,
I want to do a camp for the team. I think we could crush it. Is that something you’d want to help out with?
Let me think about that for a moment… Co-organize a women-specific training camp with one of the top professional athletes in the world? In sunny Florida? With some other awesome IRACELIKEAGIRL athletes?
HECK YES! SIGN ME UP!
The planning process
Once the wheels were in motion, there really was no turning back. We shared spreadsheets and outlines over Google Drive, we met coffee, we had monthly planning calls. It was important to us that this camp to be different than others we had both attended. We knew that for many ladies attending, it would likely their training camp…they’d be taking time off work and from their families to attend and spending good money to even get down to Florida from all over the country.
So our first camp couldn’t just be good… it needed to be freakin’ awesome.
In September, we launched the official invite to IRACELIKEAGIRL team members at a discounted rate…. and it sold out a matter of days. We never even had a chance to open it to the public. Sixteen awesome women put down deposits and many others were added to the waitlist. Damn! We were stoked.
As January grew nearer, everything started coming together. There were a ton of details to keep track of but if you think Angela is a beast on the bike, you should see this chick knock tasks off a to-do list. We were constantly ahead of schedule in the project plan I kept for us… so much so that I’d check it compulsively, figuring I must be missing something.
I recruited my mom, who just happens to be an expert yoga instructor, to come down and offer yoga and additional stretching as a part of the camp… and also SAG for us on our bike rides. Angela went to town reaching out to sponsors to support the camp. We booked and confirmed (and confirmed again) our reservations, meal orders, gym times, etc.
Before I knew it, the day had a arrived and we were on a plane down to Orlando.
T-Minus 1 Day
When we arrived down to our Florida hotel, the receptionist greeted us with a knowing smile and said, “Angela Naeth…Yes, we have a few packages here for you”.
A few was a understatement….More like dozens! Brown boxes literally filled out room. Our sponsors came through for us a huge way for us and we were stoked.
- 2 complete systems from Normatec to help ladies #recoverfaster during camp
- Enough fuel to host an Ironman (not really… but it was a lot!): EFS Pro, Ultragen and water bottles from First Endurance and an amazing amount of performance bars and energy chews from Bonk Breaker. The team relied on these products heavily to get us through back to back training sessions down there.
- Custom IRLAG Greeper Laces for everyone attending the camp
- Cases on cases of Red Bull – necessary when you see our itinerary #givesyouwings Wahoo KickRs for bike demoes and if the weather turns (thankfully it did not)
- Hot pink Pearl Izumi arm sleeves for cooler morning temps and to #beseen.
- Sports psychology journals based on the research of Dr. Craig Manning and his book, The Fearless Mind
- Pull buoys from Eney Jones, A.K.A. The Mermaid.
- Bluerub anti-chafe rub
On top of all of this, we learned just a few weeks before camp that the local Velofix teams (Velofix Orlando and Velofix Space Coast) would be fully supporting us throughout the camp. THIS WAS HUGE and took a lot of pressure off Angela, my mom and I in terms of bike maintenance or mechanical issues and freed us up to focus on the other 2,903 things going on at once.
In our shared hotel room, Angela and I tore through the all boxes and laid everything all out like we were kids viewing our presents on Christmas morning. “Damn,” I said, “These ladies are going to get some dope-ass goodie bags.”
We went to bed our first night feeling stoked and ready to do this thing… and do it right.
Camp Kick Off
Thursday – Team Arrival
Thursday was the arrival day for many. Angela, my mom and I, and a few others arrived a day earlier. We convened after dinner to kick off the camp with introductions, review the itinerary, and heard from everyone what their goals for the camp were. Many were just excited to be there and meet in person personalities that only previously known from social media. We knew right away we got lucky with an awesome group of women.
Ladies from all across North America were there: from Canada to SoCal, from recent grads to grandmothers, from seasoned Ironman finishers to tri-newbies. It was AWESOME. I wrote down everyone’s goal as we went around the room that night and despite these different backgrounds, everyone was there for mostly the same reasons: to learn new skills, to kickstart their fitness, to meet new people and have fun.
Friday – Day 1
We wanted to start camp off in an epic way. Take advantage of everyone’s energy and excitement… and kick their butts with a super tough training day right from the get-go. Here was the first day itinerary:
- 7:30 – Sunrise yoga on the pool deck with Robin – a nice stretch to get the body
ready for training after travel.
- 8:15 – Swim time trials and swim analysis. My breath holding and GoPro skills were really tested here. The National Training Center pool was set up in long course (i.e. 50 meters), which is awesome… but challenging.
- 12:30 – Set out for the long ride. If you’ve never ridden in Clermont, Florida you might be surprised to learn that it’s incredibly hilly down there. No joke: the riding is tough. Many athletes hadn’t ridden their bikes outside for months… so as you can imagine, we had a few technical issues and were incredibly lucky to have Velofix
vans tailing our two groups throughout the duration of the ride.
- 3:30 – Run off the bike solo or in small groups. For the tri-newbies this first run off a big, hard bike ride is always tough and fun to be a part
- 5:30 – Restorative yoga with Robin
- 6:30 – Dinner and fueling / nutrition talk
It was an epic day… and everyone absolutely crushed it.
Saturday – Day 2
Strength and technique. No backing down yet.
- 7:30 – Breakfast and overview of Yin yoga principles and finding balance in training with Robin
- 8:30 – Yoga flow at the pool deck Robin
- 9:30 – Swim. Drill-focused swimming with individual feedback from Angela. Still in the long course. This was a breakthrough day for several athletes with their swims!
- 12:30 – Bike hill repeats. There’s a right way and a wrong way to climb hills, and Angela told us all about it. But first we had to ride our way out to the infamous Sugarloaf Mountain. Velofix met us other there for mechanical support (and a team photo) and Robin had the extra fuel and hydration… with temperatures approaching 80 degrees, we needed it!
- 3:30 – Short run off bike and then… run drills! This was a session that I actually got to lead given my background as a college sprinter. The ladies were great sports in trying out new drills that must have felt extra silly with such tired legs.
- 5:30 – Team dinner
- 7:00 – Optional evening yoga
Sunday – Day 3
Since everyone’s legs could use a little break, today we had plans for two of our of sponsors to stop by over lunch for little mini-expo.
- 8:30 – Swim at the NTC. Putting into practice everything we’d learn over the past two days.
- 10:00 – Strength and pre-hab at the NTC gym. Note: “pre-hab” exercises are the stuff you do so you don’t get injured / need rehab.
- 12:00 – SPONSOR DROP IN. We were very excited to have Topo Athletic and Caliloko Compression Gear arrive at our camp for ladies to demo their shoes and gear. They even let us take them to the clay trails…
- 1:30 – Run drills and long run at the infamous Clay Trails…. where it was windy AF that day! New kicks and compression gear go a long way in helping re-motivate a tired body out there. As was becoming normal, the gang crushed it!
- 4:00 – Yin yoga back at the hotel. Our bodies needed this!!
- 6:00 – Dinner out at Carraba’s Restaurant up the road. It was awesome to have time to unwind and really connect with the other women during this dinner. So many of us have very full lives outside of triathlon that we don’t always get to hear about when we’re training. I’m really happy we did this on our last night together as a group.
Monday – Departure Day
On Monday the temperatures started to really drop. The NTC actually postponed the opening of the pool (it’s outdoors) due to the cold temps. A group of us still swam, while some of us got in another strength day. We packed up our bikes, hugged goodbye and shared rides to the airport.
As we said goodbye to the amazing athletes, Angela and I proudly reflected on the weekend. We were both exhausted but had an amazing time. It seemed like everyone who attended enjoyed the experience….It seemed like most everyone was appropriately challenge physically… that they learned new skill, met new people, HAD FUN…. just like they’d hoped to? It seemed that way to us but we were eager to hear the honest feedback in the post-camp questionnaire.
A few weeks later: What the critics are saying
How’d we do? Don’t take it from us. Here’s what our campers said.
This was my first triathlon camp and it was an amazing experience. I learned so much about myself and took home so much information. It fed my joy and got me really excited. I can’t wait for the next one.
Meeting all the other campers and connecting with them was so powerful. We are all connected by a sport that brings so much joy and fills out hearts. I haven’t been surrounded with this energy in a really long time. The overall support was incredible.
I had been to other training weekend camps before but the IRLAG camp was like being a VIP! It was a great opportunity to learn from Angela along with other teammates with a variety of experience. I learned some new swim drills to focus on which I plan on introducing into my regular workouts and got in some great group workouts on the bike and on the track. I really appreciated the focus on the whole picture of training, including nutrition, strength, swim/bike/run, to recovery techniques. What an excellent way to kick off the training season!
For a first-time camp it was amazingly well done, with barely a hitch. I was so impressed at how seamlessly all abilities, strengths, and levels of fitness were accommodated in all of our activities. Support was fantastic, and I came away with a new energy to face the coming season!
The camp was just a surreal experience! I am still in shock how much I learned in just a few days. Angela was so hands on, giving us live feedback and ways to improve. I loved not only all the swim, bike and run training, but also the yoga, the talks, the sponsors and the amazing bike support by Velofix. Everything about the camp was amazing! The group of ladies I met was incredible. It was sad saying goodbye to everybody cause we all had such an amazing connection. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to connect with Angela and everybody again.
Camp was great. Perfect balance of activities and good level split. I loved the opportunity to train in the warmth and meet members of the team.
The inaugural IRaceLikeAGirl camp was exactly what I was looking for. It was fun, challenging and very inclusive for all the athletes of varying levels of abilities.
I appreciated the culture of inclusivity. With triathlon, you frequently run into type A personalities that are not patient with or accepting of different abilities and backgrounds. I think we had an amazing group of women who were respectful, welcoming and cohesive; everyone there was genuinely nice! I feel like I will have a bond with all of these women for many years even though we are scattered across the country.
I appreciate that Angela and Kalyn were able to design a program that allowed us to train and work out together despite our differing levels of experience. We were all out there as a group, every day, and we looked amazing!
Best training camp experience ever. Angela’s expertise is invaluable and her willingness to share her knowledge is appreciated. I learned so much and was sufficiently challenged. Angela, Kalyn and Robin did a great job coordinating activities, meals and presentations. The location was great and the camaraderie was awesome.
I don’t think it’s too crazy to say… WE CRUSHED IT!
We were warned (many times, by many “industry experts”) going into the camp that hosting something like this was probably too much for just 2-3 people to orchestrate successfully. After all, we’d never done this before!
Even I, at times, throughout our planning would share these concerns with Angela… who was always quick to kindly dismiss them with the reminder,
“Yeah, but we’re really awesome so we’re just going to nail it”.
She was totally right and this confidence and enthusiasm is what I love and admire most about her.
Of course, in a many areas, we got lucky.
(1) The weather was kind to us for most of camp. It could have been cold and rainy, which could have really made things unpleasant.
(2) We had top-notch professional support from Velofix on our bike rides. Seriously, this saved us and we just can’t thank these guys, Pearl Izumi, and all of our amazing enough for their support over the weekend.
And (3) we had a seriously awesome group of ladies. With a sport like triathlon, there are a lot big personalities, that are almost sure to clash from time-to-time. But they didn’t. Everyone treated each other with respect and encouragement, which I think is largely a testament to the power and camaraderie of the IRLAG team.
To summarize, co-organizing the first ever IRACELIKEAGIRL Training Camp with my now close friend and triathlon legend, Angela Naeth, was a dream come true, and a journey I’m honored to have been a part of.
You can view the full album of pictures here and stay tuned more details on camp #2 to held in beautiful Boulder, Colorado!