Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tucson Training Camp: Day 5 and 6

After a mid week recovery day, we were ready to push the next few days a little bit harder. It takes a few days to get your body wound up and used to doing this much daily training. After the initial adaptation occurs, you go into combat mode and you are able to take it a bit further.

After a few cups of coffee, I was in a better mood

We awoke early on Wednesday morning. It was going to be a long day so we got our run in. Sean and I ran a brisk 50-minute tempo run on the trails of Canyon Ranch at sunrise. We were flying at a 6:00/ mile pace at times. Dana ran on her own. The sun was coming up and reflecting different shades of orange and purple shadows off the mountains. The sky was a pastel blue. My legs felt a bit loaded at the start of the run, but were revved up and ready to roll for the rest of the day by the time we finished.

Owen went all out to make us huge pancakes!

After the run, we had another wonderful cycling house breakfast then loaded the bikes onto the Hammer van for the trek across town to the Pima Community College parking lot. The plan was to start on the west side of town and ride up and over Gates pass, then ride loops on the other side of the Rincon mountain chain. I hadn’t ridden over there before, so it would be some new scenery. These roads were familiar because they were in the movie "The Wraith" with Charlie Sheen. I was living out here in the 80’s when they filmed that awful movie. Anyway, we hit a few 15 to 20 minute threshold efforts up Gates Pass, and then we did some longer tempo efforts on the way back. We rolled it back to the house to complete our 4 hours in the saddle.

Sean and Brendan power over Gates pass with Matt and I a few yards back

Dana was so strong that she bent her chain! Here's the link Owen removed.
After the ride, we were led in another core session then packed up our bags and made our way to the Catalina High School for another swim. I managed to get in 3000 yards in with a decent set of 10x100, but most of us used it as a recovery session.

When we returned, a nutritious meal was prepared and waiting for us. It was a full day of training from sunrise to sunset. This would have been impossible to do without the support from the cycling house and the support crew.

That evening we downloaded data, talked about the day, kicked back, and watched the movie documentary ”Overcoming” There is nothing like watching the pain that pro cyclists go through day to day to toughen you up.

Geeking out over the day's data
Day 6 was set to be one of the toughest days on the schedule. The plan was to leave the house, which is located in Sabino Canyon, then ride to Saguaro Monument East, then through Vail, down to Green Valley and up to Madera Canyon. Madera Canyon is a steady climb to 5400 ft. The last 3 miles pitch up to a 20 percent grade, so there is a steady tightening of the screws as you move further into the ride. It ended up being 70 miles and taking 4 hours.

After the ride, we did a trail run to the top of the mountain, tacking on another 3000 feet. The slope of the trail was unrelenting on rocky terrain that soon turned to ice and snow as we climbed further. I felt stiff at the start but I soon started to feel euphoric as the air became thinner and colder. It was a great way to end the camp and it put an exclamation point on what we had done this week. It was reminiscent of last years “Epic Camp” when we did the triathlon to the top of the mountain.

This kind of finish is something that builds confidence and pushes you to a new level. On the run, I started a little slow then caught some of the younger guys, Matt and Sean, walking. I overheard them saying “I’m Cracked” I ran on ahead alone. On the way down, I ran into Sean. He had regrouped and had started running again. I told him” Never tell yourself that you have cracked. No negative thoughts!” Sean has a deep well of untapped talent; he had a great camp and has pushed his game up a few notches this week, as did everyone else.

After the run, we had a picnic lunch then drove back to the house with the bikes on top of the van. Everyone was tired, but felt a sense of accomplishment.
When we returned we had another data download sharing session, then it was time again for another wonderful cycling house meal. The task that I wasn’t looking forward to was packing up everything.
Below is a shot of Madera Canyon and Doug Leib finishing strong. We had a great meal when we returned.

On the final day, Lisa and Dana went on a final run while I rested. I had a 48-hour call weekend ahead of me when I returned and I anticipate that it might be more brutal than this camp. Matt, Sean, and Doug’s plane left later in the day so they got in an extra ride. Some folks just cant get enough.
It was a successful camp as evidenced my WKO cycling performance manager chart. Take a look at this!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tucson Camp Day 3 and 4

On Monday, all of us took on the mighty Mt. Lemmon. The climb is 27 miles in length and the grade averages 6 to 8 %. The girls got a head start and we steadily climbed from cacti and the warmth of the high Sonoran desert to pine trees and snow and ice at the top of the mountain. Brendan, one of the cycling house staffers was in the van to provide us with food and water and access to our warmer clothes.

Everyone did great. Personally, I over geared and was out of the saddle a bit more than I would have liked. A few years ago, I spun up at 10-12 miles per hour. On this day, I was only managing to hold 8-10 on this climb. It really makes a difference when you use the correct gearing. It was a great strength workout.

This is a great mountain to train on and I saw quite a few professionals and folks from other triathlon camps out there. If I lived here, the ultimate weekly workout for me would be to climb this mountain at threshold with jumps above threshold and occasionally and see how far I could get each week before I blew up. It’s kind of like an over under workout on a mountain.

I guess the best thing I have next to this in Oklahoma is wind and, of course my, Computrainer.

Doug Leib, pictured above, has an altimeter on his watch. Here is a photo of his polar down load. It’s quite impressive. The ride time was between 4 and 5 hours for the group. The pools were closed, so we were unable to get in a swim, but some of us got in a run.

A massage therapist came by that evening and I got a wonderful one-hour massage. Sean Stevens said I looked “worked” after it. It was good.

On Tuesday, Brendan, a former high school runner, took us on a run on the Sabino canyon trails. The dude is smooth. Toby and Sean enjoyed the trail running dodging rocks, while I preferred some half-mile intervals on the flat fine sand horse trails. Here's some of the "Cycling House" special pancakes.

After the run we went for a two and a half hour recovery ride then stopped at “Le Buzz“, a coffee shop, and put the finishing touches on our recovery. On the way back, we saw an old man fall in his driveway. He wasn’t able to get up, so we helped him up. He was out measuring the square footage around his driveway to buy some gravel. Toby and Sean did that for him then we took an easy ride back to the house. He and his wife were thankful. We did our good deed for the day.
After a 15-minute core session, our final workout of the day was a swim. I upped the main set of my workout to 6 x 400’s on the 6:00. A guy got in my lane and shared the other half. He was keeping pace with my 1:05-1:10/100 pace. After talking with him after my workout, it turned out that he swam for Dartmouth and was a distance guy that swam a 15:40 for the 1500. That’s smoking fast. He said that I pushed him, and was glad that I was there. If I had known that, I would have let him lead then I could have circled with him.

When we returned from our workout the boys had our dinner ready, which was delicious. Dana was super hungry.
Tomorrow, it’s another day of swim, bike and run. We are headed to Gates pass and ride on the west side of town. Until then……

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tucson Camp Day 1 and 2

The first official day of the Tucson Camp started with a 4-hour ride to a point southeast of town called “Pistol Hill”, it is close to Saguaro National Monument and Colossal Cave. Our ride out involved steady false flat terrain that allowed us to keep a steady power output for an hour of tempo intervals. After the meat of the ride was completed, we rode a loop around the Cactus Forest. It’s a beautiful place and it’s purely Arizona.
When we arrived home, lunch was waiting for us. After that settled, we took the Hammer bus to the community pool and just took over. It’s important to establish “lane dominance“. The locals were wondering who we were. I managed to get in a set of 5 x 400’s as my main set.
Following the swim, there was an optional run which Toby and Dee took advantage of while the rest of us took part in a killer core workout that was lead by Jen. My abs are still sore from that one.
We were then treated to an awesome meal by the cycling house staff. I can’t rave more about the food here. It is fantastic. The best thing is that we don’t have to prepare anything. It’s all taken care of.

Day 2 started with a 1:30 run up to the Sabino Canyon recreational area. Toby, Sean, Doug and I ran up on the trails deep into the canyons until our progress was halted by a couple of washes that had actually turned into rivers. They were impassable. We backtracked a bit and ran a few hardish efforts, and then we headed back.

I am familiar with the area and thought I could show the group a short cut back to the house. To make a long story short, I lead the group on a run through some heinous brush, burs, cactus, and a few washes that, again, were actually rivers. Despite some wet running shoes, we made it back to the house with only a few scratches from the cactus we ran into.

The girls avoided this, and went on a shorter run and longer ride.

After the run was a nice 2-hour active recovery spin that involved carrying our bikes through sand then riding across a wash. Some folks got a little wet on that one. The Tour of Tucson runs through that wash, and the thought of thousands of cyclists hauling ass through there at the same time seems pretty crazy.

To complete the workout for the day we loaded up the van and headed back to the community pool. This time the community had established “lane dominance” . We eventually got in a good workout with some top end 100’s. I found the swim refreshing.

When we returned we were treated to another great meal then kicked back and visited.

Andy and Sam returned from the 24-hour race, which they won. They had some good stories.

Tomorrow we are going on a 5-hour ride and summit Mt. Lemmon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Training Camp Is On At The Cycling House

This week I won’t be inside hammering out intervals on my computrainer surrounded by a pool of sweat. Why not? Dana, I, and a group of 6 other fitness minded Tulsans have traveled to Tucson, AZ for a week long training camp. Dana and I came here twice in 2007 and the fitness we gained from that week carried us through to great performances that year.

We are staying at a unique place called "The Cycling House". Dana and I stayed here in 2007. This place caters to the fitness minded athletic camper in every way. As a guest here, you get the “pro athlete” treatment.

We shipped our bikes to the house and when we arrived, they were assembled and ready to ride. A nutritious lunch was also prepared and waiting for us. Within an hour, we were out on the roads enjoying the sunshine and the hills.
It is such a pleasure to just train, and have everything else taken care of. All you have to do is train and relax. The rides are supported by a sag and they provide a guide to ride with us to make sure that we don’t get lost. The support riders aren’t slouches either. They all come from a professional cycling background.

I’m a Hammer Nutrition guy, so I find it nice that there is a pantry filled with all the products I need for my long rides and recovery needs. Dana and I only brought one small bag with us on the plane, which was nice. I think I had more crap with me the last time I flew when I did Escape from Alcatraz. Now that was an adventure.

Last night after everyone arrived we had a nicely prepared salmon and saladfor dinner. Yum! All the food here is great. It was my birthday, so a surprise cake with candles and the traditional birthday song was for desert.

Yesterday we managed to get in a 20 mile bike ride and a 5.5 mile run with some tempo intervals. The official start of the camp is today and we are planning on a 4 hour ride with some intervals followed by a swim and a run. The outline is on the grease board.

Breakfast at the cycling house. Today was oatmeal and awesome pancakes with fruit.
Andy and Sam are getting ready to leave for a 24 hr mountain bike race called "24 hrs of old pueblo"

I will try to update daily since I will have tons of time on my hands.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2009 Gets Off To A Good Start

These past few weekends some of my coached folks and my wife and kids have started the year off with a little competition and racing.

Toby Smith and Kara Cassel both took 3rd overall in the men’s and woman’s elite division of the St.John indoor triathlon. The event consisted of a 500-yard swim, 12-mile stationary bike, and a 3-mile indoor track run. Both athletes have been hitting it hard in training, and were pleased with their results.

My wife Dana, Michael Krupka, and Eric Lundt traveled to Austin Texas for the 3M half marathon on January 25th, while Dana ran well; she wasn’t pleased with her race. Both Michael and Eric ran PR times for the distance and were happy. Both are building for Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in April. I cut back on their volume this year and focused more on speed and it appears to be yielding good results.

Paige and I traveled to Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Age Group Swimming Championship. Swimmers had to qualify for the event that consisted of prelims and finals. There were some fast swimmers at the meet and it was fun to watch. There were 12-year-old girls there who could smoke me. Now that was humbling.

The parents in the stands are just unbelievable……. Too serious for a kids meet. They carry clipboards with all their kids’ times and yell like drunken sailors in the stands. “They can’t hear you”

All I care is that Paige has a good experience and develops a lifetime fitness attitude. She had fun and won a bronze in the 200 free relay. She just missed the finals in 2 events. Her times were off her best. This was probably because we had to get up at 4:30 am both days to drive to Oklahoma City to make the 7 am warm up time. She was tired and so was I. It was good fun though.

Payton took part in the Krafft Gymnastics Friendship cup gymnastic meet in Tulsa. Dana and I tag teamed the events. While I took Paige to the swim meet, Dana took Payton to the gymnastic event and was a concession volunteer on her 40th birthday. Prior to that, she did a birthday set of 40x100 in the pool with a group of her buddies on the 1:40 send off.

Payton wasn’t happy with her performance. She fell on the beam, which is rare for her. These gymnastics kids are such perfectionists!! Payton had another Gymnastics meet in Oklahoma City, the Dynamo Classic, and this weekend and had better results. She placed 4th in the floor for the Level 7’s with a 9.4.

Braden ended up 3rd with his science experiment at the school science fair. I asked him if he was upset that he didn’t win. He said “Dad, it’s not about winning it’s just about taking part and having fun” Who told you that??? “No one” Wise kid.

It was good fun and a busy few weekends. We are currently gearing up for our Tucson training camp February 13th-20th. A large group of motivated Tulsans will be joining us for a week of fun in the sun at The Cycling House. It will be nice to just train and not have to deal with other life responsibilities. I will update our daily camp happenings on this blog. Until then….