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.