Monday, September 22, 2014

What State Is This?

Lately I've been playing a little game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.  (Am I dating myself here or does anyone else remember that awesome game?  Anyone??)

First, starting back in mid August, I went to Milwaukee, WI for a USAT coaching clinic.  I was home from Wisconsin for a few days before driving to Canada for Ironman Mont Tremblant.  After Tremblant, I was home for about a week and a half before I went Bristol, NH where I joined some of my QT2 Systems teammates for Pro Camp. camp.  I LOVE camp and this one was no exception.  Although a much smaller group than our camp in Florida (10 vs 30 pros) and therefore a much different dynamic, it was still an awesome opportunity to train and be pushed by my teammates, under the watchful eyes of our coaches.  Having just done an Ironman 2 weeks before, I came into the NH camp needing a bit more recovery but I still got a lot of good, hard work done!

All of our swimming in NH was in a lake.  This was INVALUABLE to me because I struggle in open water and don't get a ton of opportunity to practice elsewhere.  Of course, of the pros that came to camp, they all belonged in the "A-Team" swim club and therefore I got crushed.  Daily.  I might have cried in my goggles more than once.  But there is only one way up, right?  It was good and humbling and hard and cold.  Yep, that water was cold.  I took a lot of scolding hot showers and drank a lot of really hot tea.

Exhibit A: cold lake.  It looks harmless but now I know better.

Cycling in NH is pretty awesome.  Much like home, it's quite hilly, which I love because it's one (very fast) way to make the body strong.  And riding long (and sometimes very hard) with teammates is much better than going it alone.

The running was also spectacular, of course.  And then there was "the hike".  One of my favorite workouts, we drove north into the White Mountains for a 2 day overnight adventure.  This included a 2.4+ mi TT swim, a 95 mile ride with tons of long, sustained climbing and an hour run, followed the next day by a sunrise-ish 4+ hour hike in the mountains.  I had never been hiking before (like "real" hiking where you are scrambling up and down rocks all day) and it was a BLAST!  Of course it also made me more sore than I ever remember being, but the views atop the mountain were well worth it.  Later, after the hike, a swim, a ride, and more running back in Bristol.  Yep, that's QT2 camp for ya!

I came home from camp fitter and smarter - I always learn so much from my teammates, not just in training but from living with them, recovering with them, eating with them, etc...  It's like no other experience and I'm truly thankful for our coaches who give of their time to make these camps happen.

I also came home from camp ready for one last BIG week of training.  It was probably the most challenging week of training I've ever seen - not the biggest volume wise, but nonetheless, filled with workouts that really made me dig deep.  That's my favorite kind of training.  And did I mention I finished the last 3 days of this tough week in Kona?!  Yep, I had this past Thursday off training so that I could fly to Hawaii and spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday re-learning what Kona is all about.  Indeed, it was a good (very hot) way to finish the heaviest load of training.

So here we are, in Hawaii!  It's pretty awesome to be out here this early and to have the opportunity to acclimate to the heat and humidity, the time difference, the course, etc... well before the race.  I feel so thankful and spoiled all at the same time!

In many senses, the last 6 weeks of travel for racing and training have seemed surreal.  It was not long ago that I was just like most people, working from 9-5 with a long commute, trying to fit in training around work, counting my vacation days to see how many I could use to get to each race.  How I got to this point, I'm not exactly sure!  What I do know is, there have been many people that I have helped me get here.  Add to that some hard work and a ton of passion and perhaps you really do get to live your dream.

Not to say it is all rainbows and lolly pops though.  For me, the very real struggle is being away from Oscar for so long.  Of the 22 days that have already happened in September, I was home with him and Roxy for 5 of those.  Skype is awesome, but I still miss my best friend terribly.  And unfortunately I won't see him until October 14 (so yeah, that's 5 days of being together in the span of 44 days!)!  This is certainly one of the hardest "sacrifices" for me in sport.  Yet I have found that I can use it as very good motivation to make the VERY most I can of the training and racing opportunities.  When the going got tough out on the Queen K on Saturday's long/hard ride, I reminded myself that I needed to make it happen, make it count and make the sacrifice worth it.

Not only is this water amazingly beautiful, but it's also not cold.  No hot showers/hot tea required!

So right now, Carmen Sandiego is on an island in the Pacific.  Just a little less than 3 weeks.  HERE. WE. GO!!!