I have to be honest, when I signed up for a third visit to Hillary Biscay's Tucson tri camp, I wasn't sure what I'd get out of it. In 2012, when Shelly and I attended our first-ever camp, my longest ride up to that point was 60 miles and we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. That year was about surviving all the workouts (we did). I was super excited to go back in 2013 with Aixa, Linda, and Herb to do all the same rides/runs/swims. I wanted to see how much I had improved since the year before (I had - a lot). I didn't go to camp last year, but I did go to Tucson twice to train for the mountains I'd be climbing at Norseman. What more could I learn from training in Tucson? As teammate Chris and I drove towards Arizona last Wednesday, I wondered if I'd get enough out of the experience to make it worth the money and a week of vacation from work.
|This year's San Antonio Tri-Belief crew - Chris, me, Dawn, and Kelley|
My main takeaway from camp was not at all what I expected, and it is this: sometimes, you're supposed to go EASY.
On the third day of camp, before a 25 mile ride from Starr Pass over Gates Pass and around the famed McCain Loop, Hillary told us that we were going to ride easy. She explained that there's a benefit to doing easy workouts, and that we were going to learn how to do it. Going easy on easy days means you can really go hard on hard days, and that's how you improve. I would guess that many age groupers, like me, tend to try to go hard every day - which means you really go "medium" every day, and that doesn't help you. It just puts you in a "grey zone" where you end up not having the capacity to ever go really hard, Hillary explained.
I was skeptical about how "easy" this easy ride would be. There's some steady climbing for about 8 miles until a huge descent...then a gorgeous rolling loop through a valley filled with Saguaro cactus, then an enormous half-mile climb before a fun descent back to the start. I've done this ride 4 times, and even when it was described as an "easy shakeout ride," it Was Not Easy.
I was assigned to ride with Maik (Twelsiek). The instructions were to stay behind him at all times. The athletes in my group looked at each other and almost laughed - yeah, we'd have no problem staying behind Maik. This is the guy we'd all watched on TV last October as he absolutely CRUSHED the bike at Kona. It might be an easy ride for him, but there's no way it would be easy for me.
|Maik and his campers at the Gates Pass scenic overlook.|
My legs weren't tired, my breathing wasn't labored, and we were climbing easy up towards Gates Pass. And around McCain Loop. And even though it took some work to get back up the other side, that part only lasted a minute or so, and it was back to easy spinning and flying back down to the start without even pedaling. A truly Easy Ride.
|Right before the climb back over Gates Pass.|
Of course, I also realized that there's always something new to learn. So...see you next year, Tucson tri camp.
|Chris checked Facebook on a gorgeous, sunny morning, and we congratulated ourselves for not having to ride in the rain like the folks doing the Castroville time trial that day. The weather in Tucson was perfect this time of year!|
|Coaches Emily Cocks and Hillary Biscay providing life-changing instruction (well, swim-changing, anyway) at the technique-focus swim on Sunday.|
|A trail run with Hillary wouldn't be complete without getting lost - this time we ended up climbing through a barb-wire fence trying to find our way back to the trail.|
|Super happy fun times on the trail at Starr Pass (before we got lost).|
|Camp isn't camp without a visit to Frog and Firkin afterwards to celebrate.|