Saturday, March 24, 2007

Go out with a bang


Thursday was more of a recovery day for everyone. We did a good swim session, an easy bike ride that turned into a lot of stop and go due to eight flat tires!, and an easy 40 min run. Brian and Jill were kind enough to invite us all over their house for dinner. Jill cooked an amazing lasagna. Amy, Jerry’s wife baked a bunch of delicious chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Peter and Jeff got the MVP awards. Peter has been doing really well at camp and swam great this morning. On the ride, a storm was coming in and a few of us hammered back to the hotel to try to avoid getting wet and Peter road well. Jeff did a 1 hr 10 min run first thing this morning, followed by another hr in the afternoon. He is prepping for the Boston marathon and has put in 7+ hrs of running since Monday, along with the bike sessions. And we have a 90 min run planned for tomorrow morning!


We headed over to Sabino (sp?) canyon at 6:30am to run. There was a lot of rain last night for Tucson, and it was still cloudy this morning. We headed down a dirt road, which led to a paved road. There was a river across the paved road from the rain. When it rains in Tucson, the ground doesn’t absorb the water which leads to easy flooding. As everyone searched for a dry route across this river, I ran through it. No one hesitated in following. We have a very solid group of people here, all with adventurous spirits. We entered a single track trail that took us up and up and up. We ran up hill for the next 15 minute on a cool trail with sweeping switchbacks and amazing views. I thought of Big Rock’s, who has a fear of heights when traversing, as we ran along a small trail with steep drop offs on one edge. By now, the clouds had passed and the sun was shining. The run down the other side was just as amazing, with its switchbacks and views. We turned around at a dried up river bed and headed back up over the climb. At the top, Gus and I stopped to take in views of mountain ranges, and valleys, and even the city of Tucson. When we hit the bottom on the other side, we continued on a rolling trail through a canyon that had some water flowing through. The views were, again, spectacular. We finished up by crossing the river again and ended back at the park entrance in 1 hr 40 min. This was one of the visually best runs I have ever done.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped off to refuel. You need to eat quite a bit during these camps to replenish depleted energy stores and to have energy for the next session. We had Jamba Juices and Brueggers. Gus was asking about what route we would be riding this afternoon, and he suggested going back to Kitt’s Peak and riding to the top of the climb where the observatory is. We only made it just past the 7 mile mark on Monday due to time constraints and lack of fuel and hydration on that 90 degree day. This was a great idea, and we decided to drive closer so that we could all make the summit.

We parked at a little convenient store in the middle of no where called “Coyote’s”. This would be our starting and finishing location for this ride. Coyote’s actually had fire balls, which I stocked up on to hand out during the ride when the athletes need a pick me up. We did an easy warm-up to the base of the climb. The warm-up was up a constant grade! Kitt’s Peak is a 12 mile climb up an average 8% grade. I rode steady up the first 5 miles then turned around and rode back downhill to spend some time riding with each athlete. I rode with Spinner who was taking it a bit easier today, then went up to ride with Mike. We talked about cycling form and his pedal stroke and I mentioned to him to stay relaxed with his upper body. One thing that many noticed during this trip was that their upper bodies would be sore the day after a long ride. This was because they were pulling aggressively on their bars when climbing, rocking their upper bodies back and forth. I went onward to catch Bruce who was taking a quick break to put on some booties (it was getting cold as we rose in elevation). We took in the views, and then I went on to reel in Peter. He was working it. Peter is a strong rider. His first triathlon was in 1984! Next up was Jeff. Jeff also is becoming quite a strong cyclist. We chatted for a bit and he said that Gus was the only one up ahead and I had to try to bridge up to him. So I forged ahead, hunting down Gus. Man, is he riding strong – especially for March and coming off of just base training. I was working hard and finally got him in site around the 9 mile mark. It started to hail a bit on the mountain, but this passed through quickly. The views were, once again, incredible. I caught Gus at the 10 mile mark and rode his wheel to recover. He was in the zone, listening to his ipod and climbing strong. I pulled alongside at the 11 mile mark and he didn’t even know that I was behind him, riding his wheel for a mile. We finished strong at the peak where the observatory is. This climb had better scenery than Mt. Lemmon. We took a few photo’s and waited for everyone else to summit, then put on whatever extra clothing we brought up and started to descend. It was so cold on the descent that my bike was jumping all over the place because I was shaking. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet and braking was hard. I went by Bruce who was pulled over on the side of the road with his hands down his shorts. He said he was trying to warm them up, but I don’t know if I’m buying it. Most pulled over at some point or another just to warm-up. We rolled back to the Coyote under some awesome skies of storm clouds and sun breaking through. The rain held off on us, and once again, we had another stellar ride!

We hustled back to the hotel to pack up before dinner. On the drive back, I reminded everyone of what they did this week. Then we headed out for our last meal here, followed up by blizzards from DQ. Bill and Gus received MVP’s. Bill went out and rode Lemmon all by himself today, which I suggested that he do since he missed it on Wednesday due to feeling ill. Gus deserved it as well – he had a great showing at camp.

The first day of camp, I mentioned to everyone that I wanted them to challenge themselves throughout the week. To not go and blow it all out on the first day, but to see what they could do to raise the bar a bit by the end of the week. They all did great.

Bruce is ready for a breakthrough race at IMA in three weeks. He is physically ready to set a huge pr, if he believes it mentally. Sarah will be racing there also and this will be her first IM. She impressed the hell out of me and everyone there at camp. She was the youngest, and the only female and she more than held her own on some pretty grueling workouts. She is a swimming stud, but she can bike and run as well. She’ll have no problem in three weeks if she rests now and paces herself right on race day. Her attitude and energy at camp was infectious and I appreciate that.

One of the main things I took away personally from another camp is that most athletes that attend these are insecure about their ability. They are much stronger than they give themselves credit for.

We were delayed on my flight home as I finish this up. I’m sitting next to Jewel (the singer) at the moment on my flight from Dallas to Laguardia.

Thanks everyone, for making the first Tucson camp a very successful one. Thanks Brian and Jill for your hospitality, energy, knowledge and assistance. I’ll be back next year. I found my winter camp location.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mt. Lemmon

I’m polishing off a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food as I type this. As a matter of fact, I had a huge piece of apple pie today as well, but more on that later. One of the benefits of training days like we had today is that I still think after all the calories I took in today, I’m still in caloric debt.

We decided to do the famous Mt. Lemmon ride today. We left the hotel at 8 am and spun an hour and 15 minutes through the city to get to the base of the climb. This climb is 27 miles! It’s not climb 5 miles, then descend a bit, then 2 more miles of climbing, then some descending... No, it’s 27 miles of climbing, with the exception of some downhill from the 22 to 25 mile point. In Connecticut, we have lots of climbing, but nothing that goes for more than 15 minutes. We were climbing for over two hours! My plan was for Brian and I to ride up a bit and let everyone do the first nine miles solo, finding their own rhythm, so that we didn’t dictate their pace. Then, we’d ride back a bit and spend some time riding with each person. Brian turned at the 5 mile mark to take a quick pee break and ride with a few of the campers. I continued onward. The wind started really blowing on the mountain and the weather was changing. At nine miles, it was getting chilly, and all that I had on was a pair of bib shorts and a sleeveless jersey. I turned and road back a bit and saw Jerry and Gus coming up. I continued on with them. We were all getting a bit chilled and I turned at the twelve mile mark to see that I was alone. The sag wagon was back at the nine mile mark, and I didn’t want to turn back to ride downhill and chill more, so I soldiered onward. The ride was gorgeous. One road that swept through the mountain side with spectacular scenery. I maintained a steady effort and the wind kept picking up and the temperature kept dropping. I road into town at the 25 mile mark and headed up the ski road to the 27 mile high point at 9000 feet altitude. I was freezing at this point.

I descended back to town from the ski area, and we all met at this small little restaurant that supposedly has amazing pie. We all had some pie and lot’s of coffee (and the pie was quite amazing) and then put on every bit of clothing we could muster from the sag vehicle. Most put their bikes on the sag vehicle and caught a ride down to the 12 mile mark and descended from there. I had to ride down this mountain! The climb up was incredible but the ride down was absolutely awesome! The scenery was even better heading down. I had my ipod on and felt relaxed and warm again from both the three mile climb out of town at the top of the mountain and because we we’re descending. Because of this, I was gliding through the turns, reading the lines very easily. It was such a cool experience. In fact, this was one of the coolest rides I’ve ever been on! Where else do you get an opportunity to climb 27 miles and then descend it?

After regrouping at the bottom, we road back to the hotel easily. Another six hour day in the saddle. We followed this up with a one hour brick run.

Everyone did really, really well today. Jerry from Arizona had ridden 35 miles further than he ever had before on Monday. Then he came back two days later and did it again! He and Bruce had minor accidents today on the mountain but they are both fine. Bruce is racing IM Arizona in three weeks and is in unbelievable shape. He was cruising on the brick run today, as was Jeff. Sarah, Peter, Mike and Jim all had huge days as well today, and they smiled while doing it! Gus – he is setting himself up well for a breakthrough year. Brian and Jill have unbelievable training grounds here.

More and more food is being consumed at dinner each night. We went to another great Mexican place tonight and everyone, even Bruce, was chowing down!

OK, that’s all for now. Today was one of those training days though that’ll go in the memory books.



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Day 3 in the books

Started the day with a 2 hr run in a beautiful national park here. It was in the foothills of a mountain range. There was an 8 mile newly paved road loop within the park. There wasn't one car on the road!

We started out on the road and Jeff and I detoured off onto a dirt road, which led to some single track trail. We stopped in the trail to check out a huge rattle snake, that was hanging out in a bush about 5 feet away from us. Bruce came up on us and the three of us continued on our adventure on the single track. Once again, not a cloud in the sky.

The park was gorgeous in a bizarre way. It's desert so there's cacti everywhere and no shade whatsoever. The path was hard packed dirt and was just great, great trail running. It was quite hilly as well and also hot in there.

I had Jeff and Bruce stop on a few occasions to take in the incredible views. We had some good conversations and solved the worlds problems as we ran.

On the way back from the run, we all stopped to get smoothies, then showered quickly and headed off to Trisports, or the newly named "candy shop" for some shopping. They had a two lane endless pool in the shop that the campers used to try out wetsuits. With the underwater camera set up, we were able to see their stroke up close on the flat screen. Pretty cool! Bruce, Jeff and Sarah made some new wetsuit purchases from their tryings.

We stayed at trisports for quite a bit and everyone was famished so we stopped off for some sandwhiches on the way back. It was getting late so we opted to skip the easy recovery ride and instead did assisted stretching, core work and had a nutrition discussion. There have been lots of nutrition questions on this trip, to say the least. seems like this the area where triathletes are most confused.

I went off on a bit of a rant discussing motivation as well and how most are more talented then their race times depict but their heads get in their way.

Everyone is bonding well and having fun. They are a bit tired so the afternoon off did some good. Besides, tomorrow we have a 6+ hour ride planned with a 27 mile climb up Mt Lemmon followed by a 1 hr brick! Should be fun.



Kitt's Peak

Wow! Big day today. We started with a swim again and got in a nice session, ending with some relays. The losing team of the last relay had to do a 2 minute plank.

Next came breakfast, then we got dressed to ride. We waited a bit for Jeff to get here. What a trooper he is – he took the 6am flight out of Hartford, was here in Tucson by 10am, and on his bike a bit after 11am in the 90 degree heat! We joked that he wore his eh uniform under his clothing on the plane like superman.

The ride: First, todays ride once again proved my cumulative base combined with quality winter computrainer sessions pays off. My longest ride this winter were two 90 minute sessions I did on the computrainer. Most of my ct rides were 1 hr in duration. Today, we rode over 6 hours including a ton of climbing, and I felt very solid.

Brian planned one excellent ride. We headed out of Tucson on one road towards . This road is a gradual uphill and was into a serious headwind for 40 miles. After 20 miles, I had everyone ride a pace line, taking one minute pulls at the front so they could experience the wind. The pace line was going great for about 15 miles and then the headwind and climbing caught up with some and the line was blown apart. Peter and Jim turned around 90 minutes into the ride, opting for an easier day today while still acclimating to the heat. We regrouped at the base of Kitt's Peak. I sent Jeff back, since he was in for a solid 4 hour and 30 minute ride and I didn’t want him too fried on day one. The rest of us started up the 12 mile climb of Kitt's Peak with an 8% average grade. The climb was beautiful, with switchbacks overlooking valleys. I stopped at the 5 mile mark and waited for everyone to regroup. I wanted to send the majority back at this point. We were already 3+ hours into the ride, it was really hot, and it was getting late. I didn’t want everyone spent by day two. I had Gus and Jerry wait with me to continue up for a bit more. Jerry turned at mile six, and headed back down the fun descent. Gus and I went past 7 miles when we both ran out of fluids. Realizing that if we soldiered on, it would be a suicide mission, so we turned and blasted downwards. We caught up with Jerry and turned back on the 40 mile road back to Tucson. Jerry let out a yell of excitement. We finally had a nice tailwind. In fact, we covered the next 26 miles in 1 hr. The three of us stopped at the one lonely convenience shop and scoffed down snickers ice cream bars and a bottle of coke.

A lot of salt tablets have been downed thus far by the campers. In fact, at the pool this morning, they were all holding out their hands like junkies!

It was a great training day, followed up with a nice Mexican dinner and I’m tired so I’m crashing now. We have a 90 minute to 2 hr run planned first thing in the morning and I need some sleep!



Sunday, March 18, 2007

first day of Tucson camp

hate to rub it in to everyone back it east, but it was 90 degrees here today and not a cloud in the sky!

We started the day with a swim at the outdoor pool at 7am. We put the campers through a nice 90 minute session while simultaneously working with each person on their form/stroke.

We then had a big breakfast before getting ready to ride. It felt so good to ride outside - and without taking 45 minutes to get dressed and worrying about skin being exposed to severe wind chill. We did a 3.5 hr ride through a park out here that was really cool. We did some decent climbing including an out and back jaunt up a set of switch backs that included pitches at 17%. The group, although advised to take today easy, started out a bit aggresive. I think the anxiousness of riding and in such great weather left most a bit jumpy initially. However, as the heat and distance increased, the pace decreased. Many salt caked athletes by the end of the ride.

I took my new Cannondale System Six out for it's maiden voyage today, and I can honestly say that it's the best road bike I've ever ridden. The system integration is the real deal. The bike performs as a whole unit, instead of a frame with components. Sounds like bunk, but anyone that's ridden one will understand what I'm talking about.

We headed out for an interesting 45 minute brick run. We headed south on a trail along a dried up river bed. On the return trip, we ran in the river bed which was thick sand - a great strength builder which everyone seemed to enjoy:) I was a bit up ahead and could hear this crackling sound. I turned to see a huge fire in teh brush behind me. Brian and Jerry ran up the side of the river bank to call the fire department. The dryness of this climate combined with the windy day had this thing spreading incredibly fast. We finished the run and took a dip in the pool to cool off. Then we headed off for pizza and a few Guiness.

All in all, a great day! We have a really nice and fun cast of characters attending this camp. Everyone is sticking to one of the main rules which is to have a sense of humor. Sarah, the lone woman, won the mvp today. she'll be reporting something on my site within the next day. She was a collegiate swimmer and cruised through the swim session. She was nervous about the ride and more than held her own - and this was after making huge adjustments to her bike position yesterday afternoon!

OK, I'm going to bed now, but I'll send some pipctures to Alan tomorrow to post.



Thursday, March 08, 2007

Spoke Too Soon!

So I thought my back was 100% and pushed a bit too much and had a small setback. It’s been quite humbling to say the least. I came back from my travels to a small snow storm, and shoveled the bottom of my driveway out. It was that thick, heavy ice and snow that the town plow dumps at the foot of your driveway. Then, I built a snowman with the kids. We made a mega-snowman, and the middle snowball, I guess this would classify as the snowman’s torso, weighed over 100 pounds. Later that day, my back began to ache. The next couple of days it was sore. Nothing like it was before, but enough to let me know that I’m still not fully healed yet, and to be smarter.

I’m not used to this injury bullshit, but, it happens. I was in seeing Paul Moyse, my chiropractor, when he mentioned to me that I may be susceptible to SI pulls now, and I cut him off with a “I’m not buying that Paul”, which lead to a fun debate. My philosophy is that there is an imbalance that is making me susceptible to this, and I’ll correct that imbalance and be healthy again. I feel too many settle for this diagnosis that they may be susceptible to certain injuries since one may have occurred initially. The injuries keep reoccurring because either they aren’t healed yet, and/or they haven’t corrected the imbalance.

I iced a bunch and kept training, but kept the intensity easy, and it began to get better again quickly. Then I did a hilly long run on Sunday and hill repeats on Tuesday and, guess what? Yes, it’s aching again. So from now until Tucson camp on March 17th, I will keep the intensity of my training on the easy side.

I’m looking forward to the Tucson camp. I’ve never been there before but the area looks very cool, and like a training paradise. I am bringing out my new road bike to try – my new Cannondale System Six. It should be fun. It’s the same one I’ll be riding in France this summer. My wife is up for “wife of the year”. She’s taking me to France for my fortieth birthday. We will be following the last 10 days of the Tour. I will get to ride the stages each morning, since the stages don’t start until noon or one o’clock. I’ll be riding up many of the climbs made famous by this amazing race. We will see the finish in Paris before flying home. This trip was on my list of “five trips to do before I die”, and Lisa didn’t even know this since I made this list over ten years ago and tucked it away.

Back to the Tucson camp; I’ll be blogging quite often, and I’ll try to post pictures daily on my site as well. We have a very busy agenda – without giving too much away, we’ll be riding about 26 hours in seven days! I’ll try to get some of my tired campers to post some stories or journals as well.

A few more movies I’ve been viewing during my ct rides: Babel – good flick. Everyone compares it to Crash, and in my opinion, Crash blows it away. Babel is a tough one to concentrate on when your heart rate is at 140 bpm. However, the movie with Kevin Costner and the skinny kid from “That 70’s Show” – Mr. Demi Moore, about rescue swimmers was a decent training ride movie. Mr. Demim Moore is really a terrible actor, but the ocean rescue scenes were cool and intense.