XC Ottawa’s second training camp of the year took place this past weekend. Our first camp attracted only two hardy members of the crew (myself and Karl), and was an on-snow adventure in May. This camp was pure dry-land, and attracted the majority of the team, one notable exception being Wayne Dustin, who took the weekend to qualify for Ironman Wisconsin.
Dirk and Claudia Van Wijk, who own both OWL Rafting and Madawaska Kanu Centre, are a huge part of the Ottawa-Gatineau ski community, and have hosted our team over the past several years. We held this year’s camp at OWL Rafting, a river-rafting adventure company located on the Ottawa River slightly over an hour west of Ottawa. The location is ideal; nice roads to rollerski on and great trails to run on, but more than that: a beautiful spot to camp, and a lake-like section of the Ottawa River to cool down in after workouts. And the facilities and staff at OWL are incredible; huge meals three times a day, and staff always willing to accommodate any crazy training idea we might have had.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, set up camp, and went for a rollerski. The roads by OWL are in farm country, and are mostly gently rolling; a nice change of scenery from the beloved but relentlessly hilly Gatineau Park. We had planned for a 2-hour session, but Karl,Craig and I decided to ski a loop through the gorgeous towns of Foresters Falls and Beachburg, which took us 2.5 hours. Our late return upset our Captain, Megan, who set out to find us in her car and drove over her skiboots. They were fine; just like Megan, they get bruised and busted, but they keep right on going. A sumptuous outdoors steak dinner followed, and we went to bed to a night of violent thunder and torrential rain. I think most of us slept a bit.
Saturday began with a ½ hour run, followed by a filling breakfast. After breakfast, we set off on a rollerski, including some longer zone 3 intervals up a nice gradual incline. I felt great for these intervals; the heart-rate was right in the target zone, the pace was nice, and my new rollerskis were super-smooth. After lunch on Saturday, we went for a 1.5 hour run followed by a half-hour core and stabilizer strength session. I should note that the temperature heated up enormously for Saturday afternoon, and I was in a cranky mood because I had to leave a great nap to go for a run. Therefore, should any team-mates complain that I was ‘whining’ about running for so long, I feel very justified. In my personal and honest opinion, that run sucked. My life would be happier right now not having gone for that run. I don’t dispute the value of training lots of hours (assuming enough time for recovery, which is another matter we’ll leave aside) – but that one, individual, particular run sucked. The strength was great. Our after-dinner entertainment on Saturday was hanging out at Dirk and Claudia’s gorgeous cottage.
Sunday dawned and we were ready for our long ‘combo workout’. Dirk and the staff set up a schedule so that we would rollerski to a rafting put-in, raft and kayak to the take-out, and run from there back to the OWL base camp. The rollerski was hot, classic, and just under an hour. As planned, the sportyaks (small two-person rafts) were ready at the raft put-in, and the next 1.5 hours was a great, adrenaline-filled workout of big waves. The 1.5 hour run back to the camp was slightly longer than we had thought – it seems we all forgot the length from the previous year. After this workout and a long, loooong dip in the lake, we grabbed some late lunch, said our goodbyes to the Van Wijks, and headed out.
One key highlight of the camp was Sheila’s son Evan, seven, who joined us for the duration. He paraded around in his red one-piece sunsuit, took some rollerskiing pictures, and generally made us laugh at appropriate times. Thanks Evan!
And thanks so much to Dirk, Claudia, and everyone at OWL Rafting. They are a professional outfit that does an outstanding job with every aspect of the rafting and camping experience, to the smallest detail. Dirk and Claudia’s support of our team is incredible, and we cannot thank them enough.