Thursday and Friday
The plan for Thursday was a long ride and a 1 hr run. The weather was in the low 80’s w/ sun and a bit of cloud cover. After the 95 degree temps earlier in the week, the air upon leaving on the bikes felt cool. The weather at this camp could not have been better. Sure it was really hot the first few days but we didn’t experience one drop of rain the whole week, and we never needed even arm warmers or a vest on the bike. I received maybe 30 emails from people beginning with “Arizona sounds great, I’m so jealous!” – and you know what, they should have been jealous because the weather was ideal. I have to say that the campers coming from cold climates really did well handling the heat for the most part. It’s really challenging to come from a winter of sub 30 degree weather and step off a plane into bright, strong sunshine and 95 degrees and be told by your unsympathetic coach that you are riding in this heat up Mt. Lemmon on day two.
Back to Thursday; we rolled out in three groups with the plan of each group riding either more or less than the others so that we all reached the top of Gates Pass, a fun, steep climb, at the same time. My group stayed together and the pace was easy as we spun along two abreast, talking with the rider next to us. About 90 minutes in, we began the two to three mile ascent up Gates Pass and the attacks came. Waiting at the top were the two other groups who had arrived just shortly before us making the timing perfect. We descended down the back side of gates and entered Madera Canyon. I wanted to open it up for a bit and have my group do some threshold intensity, so the pace through this national park was fast and furious. Anyway, enough of the blow by blow description. My group did great. They stayed together during the spin out and the ride back in, and regrouped after the harder tempo efforts. It made for a fun, quality long ride.
I’m constantly observing at camp. I observe each person, what they eat, how they respond to the demands of the weeks workload, how often they are drinking on the bike, how their mood is each day, … Obviously one of the main reasons for observing is to gain insight towards seeing if the campers are adapting or if we need to adjust. The ride today was evidence that this group of campers really took to heart the very initial discussion where I mentioned that they needed to build into the week. Everyone seemed to be getting stronger as the week went on. I’m certainly not saying they weren’t tired. Everyone also walked around in between training like they had just undergone hip and knee replacement, and they all had the glazed eyed look that signifies they’ve been working and are tired. Yet, when they asked their bodies to perform again in a training session, their bodies responded and responded well. That is, until the Thursday night run:)
Around 4 pm, I drove everyone in the van over to Saguaro National Park for a 1 hr run on road and trail. There is a nine mile loop of freshly paved road around this beautiful park, with a trail winding it’s way through the middle and back third. We did this run earlier in the week and ran it clockwise, making the initial paved section mostly downhills. The instructions I gave this time were that we were to do it counterclockwise. As we started, you could not only feel the fatigue from the days long ride, but also the cumulative effect of a busy, long week. Gus and Kerri once again asserted themselves at the front. The three of us ran over the initial couple of rolling miles on pavement not talking, but rather just concentrating on running and trying to relax and take in the scenery around. We hit the trail and I kept the pace steady. We exited the trail back onto the road to take us back to the parking area. Man, this road seemed to go on for ever and it had steep rollers that went mostly up. I was at the van gasping for a breath and downing water, as Kerri ran in yelling “Man, there are going to be a lot of people that hate you after this run!” Everyone finished strong however, and this was, in my opinion, the most solid day of training at the camp.
We walked to the Italian place down the street for dinner that I renamed “Spinner’s” since he loved the place. The food was really good, and the conversation was as well. This was “The Last Supper” at this camp and the group had bonded as though they had known each other for months if not years. Dessert was once again gelato from Frost, the gelato place that Molson, Gus and I hit every single night while at camp after dinner, with the exception of Wednesday.
The plan for Friday morning was to either join the Trifest bike parade as they did part of Lemmon, or, if you had an early flight, join me back at Sabino Canyon for one last 90 min run over the phoneline trail, done in reverse. It was a beautiful morning for running in Sabino, and as we did, I tallied the weekly numbers in my head: Four hours of swimming, 15.5 to 18.5 hrs of riding, and 6 to 7.5 hrs of running done over the six days. Not bad!
This was my third camp in Tucson with Brian, and they keep getting better. Sure, we had a bit of luck with the weather, but the training we did was not only with point, it was on the best courses that we have done to date. The agenda worked out really well although we did miss a few strength and core sessions – there is only so much you can fit in a day. A camp like this is an accelerated learning process of not only physical conditioning, but also individual personalities. Spend a week like this with a group and you will know that persons true personality better than probably many of their long time acquaintances. Training hard all day for a number of days with someone, you can tell an awful lot about how that person handles themselves in life in general. Some of my key memories of the week:
* 6:10 to Yuma red eye runs in the morning (Thanks Annmarie!)
*Watching 64 year old Canadian Steve perform as though he were 34 day in and day out.
*Also watching Steve jump out the restaurant window one night instead of bothering the people seated to his sides to move while they were eating so that he could go use the rest room.
*The first run of the camp over the phoneline trail. Brian (not Grasky) from Tucson has never even done this run. It’s an amazing way to begin the week.
*Riding up Lemmon on day two of camp in 95 degree heat after the two previous years where we needed jackets, full gloves, tights, … It was 90 degrees on top of the mountain!
*Descending the 26 miles of Lemmon – man, what a rush!
*Dinners with the group. This is a key element to camp. They were fun, relaxing, filled with good food and lots of laughs.
*Leo staying in his RV in the hotel parking lot. The RV looked like the one from “Meet The Fockers”, and I thought he was joking when he said that it was his and that’s where he was staying. He lives like a mile and a half away!
*The run up Seven Falls! Sometimes getting lost makes things that much more fun. Plus the switchback trail at the end where you actually get to see the seven falls was unreal. By far, the best run of the camp.
*Soaking in the cold flowing water in Sabino Canyon on a 90+ degree day.
*Molson making me laugh not only every day, but just about every hour.
*Running and chatting in Sabino Canyon with Frosty for the last official camp workout.
*The outdoor pool in Oro Valley with the mountains as it’s backdrop.
*Spinner telling Molson he reminds him of Walter Matheau?! WTF?
*Getting to know all the campers was great. I wish all my athletes would take advantage of a training camp. There is a lot to be gained although I think sometimes people fear of being able to “perform” holds them back from moving ahead. Don’t tell that to my new main man Canada Steve!
See you hopefully at the CT or LP camp.