As we researched the Norseman course, Dawn and I quickly noticed that the first 25 miles of the bike is uphill. "Hey, that sounds just like Mt. Lemmon..." and the idea was born. Let's go to Tucson, AZ for some epic training for Norseman!
I've been to Tucson twice for grand coachie Hillary Biscay's awesome training camp, and while it's challenging, I loved climbing Mt. Lemmon both times. Starting in the desert among the saguaro cactus, the scenic Catalina Highway winds 25 miles up the mountain through beautiful rock formations and then through pine trees that smell delicious to a cute little town called Summerhaven, where cookies and pizza await you at the Cookie Cabin. I looked forward to two Mt. Lemmon climbs on this trip, plus some trail running and some swimming and pro triathlete star spotting at the University of Arizona pool.
We left on Thursday for our 4-day training adventure: 2 coaches (Dawn, of course, and Chris Aarhus - her former coach - an extremely knowledgeable guy and a GREAT teacher) and Tri-Belief teammate Trent (who will be crushing dreams at BSLT in a few weeks). I was certainly the weakest link in this group as far as riding and running go - and without the safety net of my girls and Shelly in particular, I was more than a little apprehensive about how the weekend's training would go.
Of course it went great. It went better than great. It went so well that I can't even find words to describe it - so I'll just present a photo gallery of some of the fun.
|A trip to Arizona with Dawn would not have been complete without some car trouble. Flat tire changed in 21 minutes - of course we timed it.|
|And of course the trip would also not be complete without the use of fabulous recovery boots. We didn't use them in the car this time though...|
|We drove 12 hours to Tucson and then went for a ride that evening. Gates Pass/McCain Loop - omg still my favorite.|
|Day 1 on Mt. Lemmon - smiley smiley matchy matchy in new Smash Sunrise kit.|
|This guy taught me to ride my bike. I am not even joking.|
|A birthday cookie for Coachie!|
|Day 2, Mt. Lemmon: after a cold, rainy climb, we prepared thoroughly for the descent - plastic gloves held on with electrical tape to keep our hands warm - and plastic garbage bags down our shirts.|
|...and then the sun immediately came out, so we stopped halfway down to take all that plastic stuff off and took some fun photos.|
|I mean, look at this. Gorgeous! I have learned to love trail running. Yep, I just put that in writing.|
|Super fun pool shenanigans. We got to swim here twice. The most beautiful pool I've ever been to! Coachie put the hurt on us in the last workout of the trip - when we were done I couldn't move my legs and could barely drag myself out of the pool.|
During one of the more challenging times on the mountain, as Dawn and I climbed for hours in cold rain and then screamed with joy in unison as the sun peeked out, Dawn mentioned something that she learned at Ironman Texas last week (while qualifying for Kona, no less). She said it's really important to have happy anchors to turn to during a long race like that (think Happy Gilmore's happy place), and that I needed to start building a library of them - maybe I could start with the feeling I was experiencing at that very moment? Yes! Mt. Lemmon climb - a happy thought to carry with me while racing Norseman (and beyond). And countless others from this trip.
Thank you to Dawn for making this happen and to Dawn and Chris for the expert coaching and advice, and to Trent for the encouragement throughout the weekend. And after today's training ride I can say that I'm already feeling the gains made in Tucson! Best Trip Ever. :)