My tri camp experience had some very high exciting moments and some very low discouraging moments.
Superstars Jen Harrison and her husband Jerome held triathlon camp in Tucson AZ last week. For the most part I had an amazing time meeting new people, training, and spending time with Mary and Ange.
We arrived Wednesday after learning first how to disassemble our bikes. The reassembly would left up to God. This was a lesson I was more than happy to be taught. I think it's really important to know your bike inside and out and how all the parts work and fit together.
Lesson #1 - I now know how to dissemble and reassemble my bike.
Thursday kicked of our bike ride up Mount Lemmon. I have run up a mountain in Hawaii before but I have never biked up a mountain and was unsure of what to expect. It was a grind the entire ride. There were a few points of forgiveness from the mountain but for the most part it was grind grind grind. I was so relieved to get to the top. This was a high point! I wished I had my camera for the beautiful views on the way up but it was too big to fit in my bento box.
Lesson #2 - Purchase a bigger Bento Box like Ange's!
The decent was fast and furious. My hands were killing me from gripping my abbreviated handle bars on my new TT bike. Not only are the downs short and stubby but my bar tape had also fallen off that week and I had not had time to reinstall. This made for an uncomfortable grip.
Lesson #3 - When biking unusual terrain or very long rides take the road bike and leave the TT bike home
After this ride we did a short, quick transition run of about 3 miles. I just had this "I'm training hard" attitude for the entire trip and tried to do everything with more gusto. I guess being around other athletes has this effect on me and I think it's cool.
Friday we had a workout in the pool doing drills and main sets. That was GREAT because I finally got some real input on my stroke. Seems I'm dropping my shoulders and upper arm, not looking forward, rolling my chin too much, and not entering my hand in a bent, flat fashion. I have A LOT to work on. At least now I know WHAT to work on. I am elated to know which adjustments I need to make on my stroke.
Lesson #4 - Look forward when swimming (this keeps me from rolling to much), keep upper arm up as if you are about to lift yourself up, bend and flatten hand upon entry.
After the swim we took a nice break for coffee before embarking upon a very difficult technical run up Sabino Canyon's telephone line. This was a highlight! I took a few steps up the path and had to ask, "is it all like this"? "YES!" was the response. OKAY! Here we go. We ran up 1 hour on a skinny, rocky path with a cliff on the left side. It was an adventure to say the least. There were several hikers who were kinda and patient as they stood aside for me. I found myself by myself for half of the run. After the bike ride the day before I was pumped to do some running. I slipped twice and landed on my hands. I had some deep cuts and had to keep licking my wounds. I didn't want to have blood dripping all over myself. I kept thinking I could fall off this cliff at any moment and be dead. That thought is what made the run more exhilarating.
Lesson #5 - When description of run says "off road or aggressive" bring trail shoes!!
On Saturday (our last day of training) the PLAN was to drive approximately 30 minutes in our rented minivan, park in the lot of Safeway, and bike around Gates Pass for 50-60 miles. This was the day that provided me with a couple of very low points of the trip.
I was already to go with BIKE SHOES on and miscellaneous items in a bag. I quickly realized just before leaving that we were running our T run from the minivan and not from the home. I scrambled to get my running shoes and running clothes. Without hesitation we were off. Parked the van, got out of the van, then, suddenly realized a huge F - up. I forgot my bike shoes right where I had put on my running shoes. OH ya. I think I cursed several times. I even shed a tear I think. I was devastated really. This was key learning ride for me as I have yet to ride in a pack.
After a while Kari and the others helped me hatch a plan to drive home, pick up lonely shoes, drive back and ride the course backwards in order to meet up with missing pack of riders. This worked well and provided for me a chance to feel quite confident navigating my way to and fro.
Lesson # 6 - Re-read the plan the night before so you are not scrambling and making huge mistakes.
Once riding, things were going well for a short time. Up Sabino Canyon we went. Another rather steep ride. That was OK with me. I was just happy to be biking. About 3/4 of the way to the turn around we were riding single file on a part of the road which had a narrow shoulder and a huge rut like groove in the road. Unfortunately my front wheel got caught and stopped me short. Over to the left side I went. Into the road. I found myself lying down in the street and took a quick look behind me. The cars were right there behind me. Not a good feeling. I got the wind knocked out of me and my mood suddenly changed to " this is the worst day of my life".
Jen was there behind me, thankfully, and helped me gather myself. I think I shed another tear at the point. But soon I was telling Jen I wanted to get to the top of the effing hill since we were just about there! Off we went.
Lesson # 6 - Learn better handling skills!
Although I didn't suffer any real injuries (again, thankfully) my road rash and bruises must have looked worse than they felt. Everyone was very concerned and wanted to take good care of me. Especially Sharon, Kate and Julia. Sharon had the all important meds and Julia knew just what to buy to clean the road rash. Thanks Guys! This day took away some of my confidence and caused me to question my decisions to train hard and whether or not I should just go back to being a long distance runner.
At night we all went out to dinner in a group. That was cool because we got to trade war stories and all kinds of banter. Everyone had some excellent points of view of which I inhaled in order to expand my limited biking knowledge.
In the end this experience was really just what I needed if I am to become a better triathlete. I realized while there that I have a lot to learn still! I'm in my 2ND year of acting like a triathlete. Being around the more experienced triathletes made me feel like I'm still really just a runner by trade. Sooooo.
Last Lesson of all #7 - Hard days are sure to come. Possibly even harder than the one I had last Saturday. Triathlon training takes all you have. You have to be tough and willing to overcome anything that gets in your way to become a better triathlete. You can't lose sight of your goals. Eventually you will see the payoff. It takes time, a lot of effort, determination, and a willingness to follow your dreams even when you feel uncomfortable, pissed off, hungry and tired.
Here are a few photos from Tri Camp. Happy training!