The Zen of Training Solo

With many of my training partners ready to race super fast at IMC and IM Louisville this weekend, I was left to my own devices in Muskoka where I will be racing IM 70.3 in Sept. My 7 plus hour solo training day up there began with a beautiful swim in Peninsula Lake. There was not a soul around–pretty spectacular to accompany the rock face, the drunken trees–bent on reaching the water’s edge, the encouragement of waves ceding to each armswing. The water temperature was perfect and although the morning air was only 8 degrees, I was warm in my TYR Hurricane. 2 loops of the bike course followed and a short run after that. I LOVE how challenging both the ride and the run courses are, but I admit that it was a bit lonely duking it out in the wind by myself, and windy it was. Like the gaps in the lake between resorts, the backdrop of the bike course is a pulsing Tom Thomson painting, intercepted, of course by the boom of Range Rovers and BMW SUVs on Highway 35, but one must only contend with those for 20ish km before turning on to the more mellow 117. The climbs are not forgiving, but they keep you on your toes so the landscape can’t distract you for too long…this is a race we’ll be doing after all. Harder to ride alone to be sure, but certainly I gained some mental toughness out there that day…which was capped by a short but not too easy run that took me through the hiking trails near Deerhurst as much as possible.

As a New Englander, I didn’t grow up with what is known in Ontario as cottage country and all that entails, but with the beach house instead, and Boston’s south shore has many…simple, very low key, and truly divine summer escapes. Sandy feet, sticky salt sea air that does wonders for your hair (better than any hair product I’ve tried), the scent of brine, and the bellowing, enchanting summoning of fog horn on waves. This is very different from loon calls, and canoes, and the tall, pointed pines of the imagined (or imaginary?) Canada as “great” North. Yet, entering Peninsula Lake at the race swim exit (where I don’t think I was supposed to be), as I stepped into 2 feet of swampy, slushy, though not uncomfortable lake bed, and waist deep weeds, I felt so very Canadian and so perfectly at home in this painted North.

Of course, staying at Deerhurst isn’t by any means cottage like, but the evocation of the surroundings sure are! It seemed in keeping the contemplative nature of my solo training day. I wouldn’t need a lot of these as I love my training partners, but that day was lovely and beautiful and sublime.


3 responses to “The Zen of Training Solo

  1. Loved your description of New England and how it compares to cottage country for you. Makes me equally proud to live here as it makes me want to travel.

  2. Loved your description of Muskoka and the Huntsville/Deerhurst area… though I may be biased as we have a cottage in the area. I was out on South Portage Rd on Sunday… was that part of your ride?

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