Friday, March 27, 2009

Hammers and Nails

I’ve been writing this blog in my head ever since camp ended. All the elevation changes and climbing had me speaking monosyllabically by the end of the week, so I figured it would be a good idea to wait till my thoughts and speech were clear enough to expand on the camp experience. I won’t really go into too much detail of how much we did, what type of work we did, etc. For those who do wanna know the numbers, camp ran from Sunday March 15th to the 22nd. In that span, we swam 32,000 yards, rode about 328 miles, and ran about 52 miles. That comes to about 36 hours of play time out on the roads, trails, and in the pools of Tucson. While the numbers are there, they don’t tell half the story. There are stories a’ plenty of mountain climbing, scary descents, running out of food/water on the ride, rattlesnakes, wild boars checking out Lauren, bath water pools and superstar triathlon sightings that are better told over some Guinness and burgers.
To say I felt like a poser at this camp was an understatement. I mean, you had Will Ronco (5th at Ironman Lake Placid ’08), Marky V (usually 1st guy out of the water and off the bike at every race he does), Jacqui Gordon (5th at IM Lake Placid AND 7th at IM Louisville, all in the span of a few weeks in ’08, and soon to be top 3 at IM South Africa….you heard it hear first), and Danny Montoya (this guy has a standing reservation with a condo company in Kona, yeah he’s that fast). Oh, and for good measure, the 70.3 age-group world champ Lauren Harrison was flying in Tuesday ready to shred. Then there was me, the winner of…., well, I won a pool swim triathlon once. From the first training session we did, I could see that there was a big difference in this group and the training that I was normally used to doing.
There was no hammering the session, no test of wills to establish pecking order, no racing in training. The group got the session from Paulo, the Portuguese doctor of pain (Doutor portugu√™s da dor), went out the door and got the work done. No extra, no less, no argument. Just do the work he says and wait for the next workout. Over the course of the week I started to understand the Posse’s (Paulo’s team name) motto, HTFU (Harden the F$&K up). Just get the work done. I finally turned off my brain and stopped trying to understand why we were doing what we were, or when I thought we would end a session. It was around Wednesday or Thursday that I just shut my mouth and took my beating (I mean completed my workout). There were only a few monster sessions throughout the week, but mostly it was just a healthy dose of swim, bike and run with some super fast, super cool, super humble people. We all suffered together, and it was so cool to get encouragement from the Posse’ when they were hurting just as much as I was.
It took a while for me to get what the camp was about. The best way I can sum up camp is that it was a first hand view that there are no short cuts, no genetic freak talent (except for Marky V’s 1:46 200 swim at the end of camp. That’s not human), and no luck involved. Just hard ass work. Either do it, or don’t; it’s up to you. And to be truly successful, like the 5 guys and girls I was in camp with, you gotta be nails. Anyone can be a hammer, and smack one or two workouts here or there. But the true bad asses, the real contenders are nails. They can take and execute any workout in any order, with any amount of work that you can throw at them. And they can do it day after day after day. That’s nails.
So thanks to the Posse’ for letting me roll with ya’ll in Tucson. And thanks to Paulo for opening my eyes to the work that needs to be done. Here’s to my new goal: Being Nails in ’09.

Still Livin’ the dream….

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Days compressed

Sorry for not updating yesterday. Life has been relatively simple here; wake up, eat, workout, eat, workout, eat, workout, eat, sleep. It's a great life for removing all the real responsibilities of adulthood and just work really hard. Anyway, I won't bore you with the workout specifics. Instead, I'll show you some of the photos from the last couple of days:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 2

So Day 2 is in the books. It was funny and ironic at the same time. The 1st workout of the day was a hard ass run. It went something like 20 minutes warmup, 40x(30 seconds HARD/30 seconds ez). The funny thing is that this run took place on a soccer field. Halfway through, I kinda laughed internally how this run could possibly be punishment for a past lifetime in soccer. I couldn't laugh out loud cause I was in between bouts of gasping for air and spitting on myself. We got a quick bite to eat, then it was a fun 5k swim. And when I say fun, I mean that as not fun at all. And after the swim, they inform me that Sam McGlone was swimming 2 lanes over (IM 70.3 champ and IM Hawaii 2nd place). Uh, yeah. To answer your question, i got it handed to me in the pool. We then wrecked shop at Chipotle. We got home in time to apply sunscreen, sit on the couch and cry for 5 minutes. Then, it was out for an "easy" zone 2, 1.5 hour aerobic ride. The thing about Paulo is that I still think he is joking when he's serious, and think he's serious when he is joking. So I thought he was kidding when he said to "do the ride up Mt. Lemmon" for an hour, then descend back into town and wrap it up. Well, he was very serious, and nothing about climbing Mt. Lemmon is zone 2 aerobic. I was best friends with the 27 cassette on that ride. And the descent, well it wasn't exactly an overpass downhill. So in short, I'm a bit shelled and it's only day 2. I'm working on pics of this place, as it's awesome!  It's hard work, but it sure beats workin' (at least for a week).

Livin' the dream....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 1

Whoa Nelly! Today was the 1st day of the HTFU Tucson camp. We got rolling at 8am for a 4 hour "aerobic" Z2 ride. Uh, yeah. It was basically a don't get dropped ride. Overall a pretty solid ride, and the people here at camp are really cool. We got back, and then swam 4k in a boiling pot of a pool. Finished it up with a 50min run with some strides. Kinda ironic that the strides were on a soccer field. Ah, distant memories from a different life. So in all, the first day wasn't too bad. Except now I gotta back it up for 8 more days. Sounds pretty fun!! Oh, and the quote of the day heard on the way home, "They call them speed humps in Arizona. But it's a dry hump."

Saturday, March 14, 2009


First off, I must apologize for the ridiculously long delay since my last posting. Life has truly shifted around from squeezing in training where it would (or would BARELY) fit and focusing on coaching soccer back to full bore training again.  For the first time in a VERY long time, I am not in charge of my schedule. And by that, I don’t mean that I’m married and the ole’ ball and chain tells me where to be and what to do. I finally surrendered to the notion that I don’t know what it takes to be any faster than I currently am. So I hired a coach, Paulo Sousa, in November to see how far I can take this triathlon thing. The blog title is one I’ve been meaning to write since January, as it’s pretty much aimed at what has gone on in my mind and body since the shift from being a self-coached schmoe to a schmoe that can no longer think for himself when it comes to setting up the training.

First thing that I noticed is that people are creatures of habit, me especially. I did my long run on Thursday, swam 3 times a week (including masters’ swim class), and I rode my damn bike a lot. I refused to ride the trainer (Hey, I’m single with few responsibilities. That means I can ride outside!), and the winter was made for easy cruisin’.   Running was all aerobic chatty Kathy runs 3 or 4 times a week max. If I ran at lunch, or after a ride, it was 30-40 minutes max. And I was CERTAIN that I was training enough. Well, Paulo said no. Within 2 weeks of his schedule, I was at my breaking point. I couldn’t complete the training with soccer. There was no possible way to fit it all in. I failed for the 3rd or so weekend in a row, and tried to tell him that I couldn’t do all of the training he required. He didn’t accept my attempt at a break-up. He said I needed to re-evaluate, and shift my thinking. Finally a weird thing happened, I just accepted what he sent me. No more looking down the road on training for the weekend, or 2 days from now to adjust and fit it all in. Just look at today, and get it done. If that meant getting up at 4am and running, then that’s what it was. If that meant swimming while all my buddies were riding, it was time to smell like chlorine. I had to shift my habits, and either accept the training or not. There was no picking and choosing of what I did, or melding his schedule with what my established order was. I had to accept that maybe I didn’t know best, and just shut my mouth and do what was on the paper. This meant riding on the trainer, swimming so much that I smelled like the pool when I sweat, and running volume that I only saw during most of my heaviest Ironman buildup. The funny thing was that there were no epic sessions on tap. Just a healthy dose of work to do every day. The healthy dose of daily work came with a choice; either shut it and do the work, or  bitch out and don’t do it.

There were a few times this winter where I bitched out because I was so shelled, and just slept like 14-15 hours on Saturday or Sunday. But that’s all part of the shift, I guess. I’m finally fully accepting of what is before me, and really excited about the 2009 season. Paulo had an interesting quote on his website that he jacked from a Starbucks cup of all places, and it summed up the shift and commiting to this training pretty well. Here it is:

“The irony of commitment is that it is deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life".

I’m on a plane right now to Tuscon, Arizona for a triathlon training camp with Paulo and all the professional triathletes he coaches. There is a little apprehension, as the people I’ll be training with do this for their livelihood. But I’m looking forward to booking a seat on the pain train, and hopefully absorbing as much as I can from these guys. I’m going to try and keep the blog updated throughout camp for two reasons. First, so you can follow along at home, and  second when I am old and grumpy and play shuffleboard, I can read back and remember the time I went to Tuscon. To find out how good I was, what it took to get better and some guidance on what I’ll need to do to be invited to Hawaii in October. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s gonna be a killer journey. That is all based on the hope, of course, that someone actually comes to pick me up from the Tuscon airport….

Livin’ the Dream!