I had blog-stalked many of the other campers, so it was nice to meet them in person and put a face to a blog (now I can comment on others' blogs without seeming like a creepy stalker). Everyone at camp was a great athlete and happy to be there. I was hoping I could hold my own - was also hoping I could make it up Mount Lemmon in my 25, since I was lazy and didn't change it to a 27 - had a minor panic attack when I flew into Tucson and saw those hills - yikes!
Day 1: Mount Lemmon (25 miles of UP) and T-run.
What a fantastic bike ride - LOVED it! It's just the type of climbing I like - challenging and steady climb, not too steep, but a climb where you can settle into a gear and power your way up. The views were great and I tried to snap a picture of every elevation marker I passed. One of Jen's Tucson-based athletes was so nice and provided sag support at Mile 14, Windy Point. Sag support complete with pretzels, bananas and NUTELLA - perhaps I died and biked my way to heaven: pretzels + Nutella = Bliss. After Windy Point, it was a short 6.5 more miles of UP before beginning the descent into Summerhaven (home of cookies the size of your face). We all regrouped at the top, took a few photos, enjoyed the sun and cool air, and eventually found the motivation to climb back out of Summerhaven and then descend. I wasn't too nervous about the descent - the road was in good conditions, turns were wide, and no switchbacks. It was so much FUN! I surprised myself by getting into aero here and there and pedaling through some of the turns, and taking some of the turns more aggressively than I normally would. I made it down in one piece and Melissa and I cycled back to the house to begin the T-run. That T-run was HOT. I think I was a bit dehydrated as well - my mouth was dry and I thought about water during the whole run around the neighborhood. I was so happy to get back to the house, I grabbed a big glass of water and jumped into the pool with my clothes on. Four miles in high 90s heat will make you do that. Dinner was at Blanco that night, courtesy of camp - I had a huge burrito and ate my bodyweight in guacamole, which is one of my other most favorite things besides Nutella.
Day 2: Swim, Bike, T-run
We had a bit of a later start because we didn't have the pool until 9ish. Alot of us were on East Coast/midwest time so we were all up with the sun. This allowed for a leisurely breakfast as we packed up our stuff, as we wouldn't be coming back until after the swimbikerun fun extravaganza was over later in the afternoon. We swam in the beautiful sunshine OUTSIDE at the U of A Rec Center. The pool was so, so nice and it was lovely to be out in the sun - even though I was hanging onto the wall, gasping for breath between sets, I really enjoyed the swim. I think I managed over 4000 yds by the end of it. We went to TriSports for a tour of the facility and I had the yummiest veggie sandwich ever for lunch. Then we headed out into the 95+ degree heat for a two hour ride, sagged by TriSports. I actually found that the heat wasn't too bad when you were riding your bike - no humidity and there was a breeze when you were moving. However, the false flat on that ride was NO FUN - I just kept watching my speed slowly dwindle and my heart rate slowly climb - blah. I was in a funk during that part of the ride, but fortunately it passed. I got lost and totally missed the turn I was supposed to take - I ended up a mile or two down the road near a park ranger station in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, when nobody else showed up, I figured out I was lost and turned around and caught back up with the group. We did the Pistol Hill loop a couple of times - a short climb that was rewarded with a nice descent on good roads. The way back to the cars was a challenge - we were hot, our legs were tired, but I pushed it as hard as I could and it was helpful we were going back down the false flat. I only managed to eek out a 2 mile T-run, but the heat was brutal and I was honestly glad it was only two miles. Then it was back to the house, pool time, and most of us just ordered in pizza and called it an early night. I loved going to bed early and waking up early - we were all so tired, it was hard to stay up past 9pm.
Day 3: Sabino Canyon and Lemmon (Again!!)
We were up bright and early to run the Phoneline Trail at Sabino Canyon - a challenging and super pretty trail run. I tried to stick with Jen's husband Jerome, but within the first mile up the trail, my HR was in Zone 5 and I was scrambling over rocks and gasping for breath and wondering how the heck I was going to continue like that for 4 more miles. The trail did start to level out and become a little less technical, my HR went down, and I managed to find a rhythm. Still couldn't catch Jerome, but I did manage to pick up the pace in places and I had a great time on the run! The run back to the car was (mostly) downhill on a paved road - a good cooldown. I was glad we all started early because by the time we were done, it was HOT outside. We went back to the house for a cooloff in the pool and some breakfast. And then... We went back up Mount Lemmon! Not all the way up this time. I rode up to Windy Point and tried (very unsuccessfully) to keep up with Jerome. Riding Lemmon on Day 3 of camp, in the afternoon heat, was a totally different ballgame than riding it on Day 1 with fresh legs in the morning. It was hot, hot, hot out there. I also didn't eat enough and was feeling it by Windy Point. When I got back to the house, I had a beer (well, a quarter of a beer) and sat in the pool in celebration of being done. We did Blanco for dinner again that evening (comment of the night goes to Angelina who correctly observed that Tucson is home to some questionable fashions).
Day 4: Saguro trail running and swimming
Apparently I missed the memo that wild boars and mountain lions are the things to see in Saguro - everyone else some some interesting wildlife - me, I just saw a few rabbits. Boo. The run was hard, my legs were tired, and even though it was only 7am, it was hot. Throw in a looonnngggg false flat that never ended and a run-in with a cactus and that would adequately describe my run. Jerome was being very nice and trying to chat with me during the run (I was running, he was strolling) and all I could really manage were a few gasps and dying animal noises. I just kept counting down the miles and telling myself that I could do it, willing myself not to stop, roll over and die. Sad thing was, it's not like I was running that fast. I'm going to blame it on overall fatigue. When we regrouped, everyone had war stories about seeing wild boars and mountain lions. I, on the other hand, busied myself pulling cactus needles out of my elbow because I accidentally stumbled into a cactus toward the end of my run, oops. The swim was a great way to finish off camp. Jen was nice and didn't have any speed sets in there. Melissa lapped me about a billion times, but I didn't care, as long as I didn't drown, it was a good day. By the end, I had a nice sunburn on my back and the back of my legs - I love outdoor swimming!
I had so much fun that whole week - everyone was super nice, the weather was perfect (a little toasty, but otherwise perfect), and the workouts were a great challenge. This may sound strange, but this was my dream vacation - good weather, no distractions, lots of swimming, biking, running, good food, great company, and sleep. This camp was exactly what I needed to get excited about the 2011 tri season. Good thing too, since my first race is in, ohhh, about a week and a half (are you ready Kate and Bethany?!)!
Thank you to Jen and Jerome for putting on such a great camp - I can't imagine the amount of work that went into planning it and executing it, but I thought it was flawless. Looking forward to next year!
**I have pictures that I will post, but right now I am too lazy to hunt for the cord to my camera. Pictures will have to wait.