by: Kim Kendra, camper (front & center above)
KYAH Florida Training Camp Recap: This was my first triathlon camp. I really had no idea what to expect or what I was in for. As per the Ridgewood Triathlete website KYAH (pronounced KAI-Ya!) stands for Kick Your A$$ Hard! It’s heavy volume multi-day training in swimming, biking and running where campers come away with increased confidence in training and racing potential. Sounds good, right?!
I’ll keep it simple-ish and break things down into accommodations and travel, training/workouts/lectures, fun factor and overall KYAH Triathlon Training Camp experience. I’ll rate each part 1 to 5 with 5 being the best experience.
As an added option to the KYAH Training Camp registration, I had my bike, fully assembled, driven down to Florida and back with my coaches. This was great and made traveling super easy and stress free. I’ll be honest here. I’m a little clueless when it comes to my bike and all the attention it requires. The thought of disassembling and dragging around a big box around the airport, fingers crossed that nothing was damaged in flight… really did not sound appealing. So, this was a perfect option for me. A few days before I arrived in sunny Pompano Beach, FL and my bike was at the house. I got a friendly email from my coach saying all bikes arrived safely at the house. My bike was looked over before our first ride, tires pumped, ready to rock and roll!
Travel to and from the airport, grocery store and pool was via personal car provided by RTA Coaches Elizabeth and Chris. This worked out swimmingly well, all 13 of us campers, shuffled from car to car to get around town on time from point A to point B.
The original plan was to get two hotel suites for everyone in camp. I was ok with this… I really didn’t know how many campers there were or who was going so I just go with the flow. A few days before departing for my trip, campers got a heads-up email saying KYAH was going to be in a house instead of the hotel. A email from Elizabeth and Chris with reminders and a packing checklist before I left NY, said the house was amazing! Huge house, with back yard deck, dock (not including yacht), garage, laundry, big kitchen to fit all us hungry campers, a bunch of bedrooms and bathrooms. Location. Location. Location! The house was a block away from the beach, the 2 restaurants where we had dinner, close to a convenience store, was right off of route A1A which made it really easy to find for us navigationally challenged athletes, and my personal favorite… close to the ice cream shop. Great change in plans! The house made it uber easy to get to know everyone, since you couldn’t really escape them (not that I tried) at breakfast, lunch or lounging around during the day.
Rating for Accommodations and Travel : 5 out of 5
We had a whiteboard in the house with entire weekend schedule on it and for the most part we followed it precisely. Chris and Elizabeth Kaplanis had every swim-bike-run workout planned and ready for us when we arrived and when they give a 5 minute warning you know it’s go time. Workouts were based off of current experience level and the events that athletes were training for. So, for cycling workouts there were various groups that went out. For example, group 1 went out for a 5 hour ride, group 2 went out for a 4 hour ride, group 3 went out for a 3 hour ride one of the days. Running workouts/ bricks were at your own pace and this was an opportunity to go run with a friend or venture out and explore on your own. Swim workouts were detailed sets that we did in groups. Each lane was a different pace group and distance so there was no bumping and crashing into others. Side note, the 50 meter outdoor pool was awesome! Double the distance of what I usually swim in, half the counting, no forgetting! I want one.
Day 1: Whirlwind and busy, busy is the best way to describe it! Ready… go! Land in FL, pile everyone and their luggage into the car, get groceries, jump on our bikes for a short and fun 1 hour get to know route A1A ride with all the campers. At this point, I hadn’t been riding my bike outside in months or in traffic so this was when I relearned to ride a bike, feet clipped in, don’t fall over at stop lights or with the crosswinds which I’d never experienced before, watch for cars, what does that hand signal mean kind of ride. Actually, an absolutely necessary ride, regardless of the nervousness I was failing miserably at hiding, where I learned a lot about myself and riding with a group in traffic. It turned out to be a great afternoon, familiarizing myself with the area, the flatness of FL except for bridges, and midday sweltering heat. After the ride, we went right back out for a 1 hour run to the beach, through residential areas and back to the house. In the evening a storm rolled in, so swim plans at the outdoor pool got cancelled.
Day 2: We woke up early when it’s still dark out and a little chilly. Once the sun was up, we headed out with our bikes for a long ride (3 or 4 hours) in our different pace groups. We followed the same route as the day before, but this day there was a headwind… in both directions making the ride both enjoyable and more challenging. We transitioned to an interval race pace run off of the bike, back out to the beach, swerving though beachgoers, and to park that I was familiar with. The run felt much easier after staying hydrated and fueled and with much less heat. In the afternoon, we headed to the pool for a 3000 or 4500 yard swim that was a mix swimming and kicking which made the time fly by pretty quickly.
Day 3: Up and at ‘em! Full group picture in RTA gear before we head out for the longest planned ride. We looked real good! My group started out for a 4 hour tour (to mimic race day distance for my 70.3) and there was also the options to ride for 3 or 5 hours. We stopped a few times to take a fun group picture overlooking the ocean, pick up for water and nutrition (and for me who was getting a little hangry and running low on fuel for the reminder of the ride I picked up a Snickers and Kind bar. Don’t judge me! :-P). We returned back to the house for lunch where we scarfed down food and in the afternoon, we headed back to the pool for a shorter 2500 or 3000 yard swim with drills sprinkled in.
Day 4: Late night on Sunday, but everyone got up on time for a long 2 hour run. I went out on my own a littler earlier than a few other campers to try and beat the heat. Not much to report other than a log of waving to friendly RTA faces for the first hour, a funny tap on the shoulder to get moving from Liz half way through as I was walking, a couple funny police officers who agreed that I needed to keep moving!
On the first night, Coaches Elizabeth and Chris Kaplanis gave a lecture on strategies to for maintaining fueling on long workouts and races. They reviewed different ways to take in nutrition, stressed hydration and electrolyte balance, described what works for them and gave recommendations (and samples from PowerBar and Ucan!).
On the last night, Dennis gave a thorough demonstration on how to correctly and efficiently fix a flat on the road. After the demonstration, we were given the opportunity to try a mock “fix a flat” on our own bikes to practice what we learned. Uh well at least I know what to do now… actually doing it may take me an hour or two. Just kidding. Maybe just an hour. I thought this was invaluable information since I haven’t dealt with a flat on the road yet.
I thought each day was extremely well thought out and planned. The workouts fit my ability and race distance perfectly. Even though there was high volume in the workouts, I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point and I seemed to fit in with everyone very quickly. I really, really liked the group swim and bike workouts since the time went by so quickly and effortlessly. Going into KYAH Triathlon Training Camp, the swim and bike were my weaknesses so having a weekend to focus on them really worked out! I loved the outdoor 50 meter pool! Getting in the skill work and endurance for swimming has really helped me feel more confident going into my early race season.
My only wish was that we didn’t get the opportunity to swim in the ocean for an open water swim. Yellow caution flags scattered on the beach.
Rating for Training/Workouts/Lectures: 5 out of 5
Workouts – the swims, bike rides, and runs were social and fun. This made the time fly.
Dinners out at Stingers and The Briny were optional but for the most part everyone went. I’m really happy I did. It was an opportunity to relax, hang out, and talk shop. The atmosphere at both restaurants were casual and fun. Food was really good!
There was some free time to venture out and shop, hit up the beach, and explore on our own depending on the workouts we were doing. After dinner one night, I went out for ice cream before heading back to the house. Cookies and cream in a waffle cone. Delicious decision. On the last night, we had a sunset deck pizza party with music, new friends, chilling by the water, and some wicked dance moves. It was awesome! Good times!
Rating for Fun Factor: 5 out of 5
Overall KYAH Experience
So, what did I think? KYAH Florida delivered! It seriously delivered! Honestly, I couldn’t have had a better first time triathlon camp experience! RTA Coaches Elizabeth and Chris Kaplanis are top notch!
I came home with invaluable training time, met all my major milestone distances for my 70.3, started making smart nutrition decisions… don’t knock the Snickers bar!, kept up with my hydration, and could probably fixing a flat if I needed to. A+ for a super fun weekend of hard workouts and fun.
My totals over the long weekend were: over 5000 yards swimming, about 120 miles biking, and about 22 miles running. So what did I get out of KYAH? New connections with some awesome athletes! Training alone for my first year of triathlons last year made keeping my momentum going difficult. All the campers left a great impression on me, and inspire me to be better.
KYAH showed me that long bike rides don’t have to be so serious. I could get saddle time in and still have it be enjoyable. I also learned I can swim! My longest swim at that point was the 3000 yard workout in camp. My anxiety about this sport, with hard and continuous work, seems to have paid off.
I’ve been training with Coach Elizabeth Kaplanis for a few weeks now and signed up for a swim One-on-One and triathlon coaching with her. Swimming was my weakest sport hands down. It was only a few short months ago that I literally could not swim more than a few lengths. I was crying and feeling helpless, quitting before I started laps, and at camp I was able to swim continuously for 2 hours! Did I mention how much I loved the 50 meter pool?! Hmm I wonder if I’ll like open water swimming as much as that pool?
After KYAH Training Camp, I feel 100% prepared to finish my first 70.3 race even if I get a flat! So, would I recommend KYAH? Heck yes! I think just about anyone who has any interest in triathlons from first timers who aren’t sure about how much they love swimming biking and running, haven’t committed to a race yet, to seasoned athletes serious about getting PRs would fit in and feel completely comfortable, challenged and satisfied with the mix of workouts and fun atmosphere. There were times I forgot it was training weekend. True story. I’m so happy I went.
Thanks to all the campers, Elizabeth and Chris for making KYAH my best one yet! I can’t wait for the next one! Will you be there?
For more information on KYAH Triathlon Training Camps please click HERE.