2014 Slowtwitch Womens training camp: part 2

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Day four: After the last couple of three-workout days, it was nice to have just a longish bike ride on the schedule. We planned to do the dam ride from last year, with a couple of ladies adding more miles and a few adding less. But everyone headed out for at least something:

2014camp-GroupRideGail was kind enough to snap some photos of the initial riding, before she and Mindy peeled off. Here’s yours truly climbing the hill:

2014camp-HillclimbWe re-grouped at the top and bid farewell to Gail & Mindy. I took a few photos at the next regroup point. You gotta love riding in the desert:

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At this point, we bid farewell to Susan and Christina, who embarked on some epic climbing (more on that later.) And then there were six… The road out to the dam is rolling and has a bit more traffic than normal, so we spread out a bit more and rode our own pace. There wasn’t quite as much wind as last year, so this section was definitely easier.

Last year, Kristi had to walk a section of the climb up to the dam, but this year she made it up with ease. (In fact, everyone did.) We paused on the top for a picture:

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And then headed in to see if the store was open. It wasn’t, but there was this rad fish statue that I wanted a picture with:

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Which led to a series of silly photos…2014camp-FishMcGee 2014camp-FishMyriam 2014camp-FishKristiAnd some even sillier photos. I think that poor fish is going to need counseling.

2014camp-FishDoubleUpThen it was back out the way we’d come. When we reached our initial turn-off point, we had some decisions to make. We could see a McDonalds on the highway that goes through the valley, so most of us opted for that. Suzanne bid us farewell and headed back to the house. (And then there were five… )

It was a nice quick descent down to the valley floor. Before we knew it, we were pulling into the McDonalds parking lot. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any outdoor tables, so we had a little sidewalk picnic:

2014camp-McDpicnicI’m sure the local denizens were quite surprised to see five females clad in lycra come into the place and order a ton of junk food. We even gained a mascot for the ride home:

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To get back, we had to ride along the highway for a little while, but thankfully, there was a nice wide shoulder. When we turned off, we had a fair amount of false flat (a gradual hill that appears to be flat road and is completely dispiriting to ride). Kristi was flagging and, despite her urging us to go on ahead, I opted to ride with her. I wasn’t feeling particularly ambitious and it was much more fun with company. We regrouped with the other ladies at some point – they opted to add some more riding while we headed back toward the house. The miles went much easier than yesterday without the crazy wind, and we chit-chatted easily as we rode along.

Meanwhile, the other ladies had seen a hilarious sign “Back in, Lights Out” and posed with it. We’re very serious athletes, as you can clearly see:

2014camp-BackInLightsOutWhen we got back to the house, Kristi and I decided to go for a short brick run down the driveway/road, despite the strong temptation of homemade guacamole. Gail and Mindy joined us and we headed out. When we got to the bottom, the other three members of our group were passing by en route to a little more punishment, I mean fun. (Not even the guacamole could deter them!) I had them strike a heroic pose before we bid them adieu:

2014camp-RideReturnThe four of us on foot headed back to the house for a shower and to eat ALL THE THINGS. (Poor guacamole never saw it coming… ) Our heroic trio joined us and we all cleaned up/ate/relaxed. We went and took the bikes apart and got them packed up. Then headed back to the house for dinner. But Susan and Christina were still out on their epic ride. We’d gotten texts from them, so we knew they were okay, but they’d been out for about eight hours at this point. I got the bright idea to head down with a couple of beers to meet them. Gail and I were the first ones out and saw them coming up the road. They looked tired, but were laughing and joking as they walked toward us. Their faces lit up when they saw the beer like a couple of kids at Christmas, so I was pretty pleased that I’d thought of it:

2014camp-RideHerosA group watched Monty’s video of the first Ironman in Kona and I hung out with the conquering heroes to hear about their adventures. (I’ve seen that video a few times already.) The margaritas were already flowing, so Susan had to play a little catch-up. I couldn’t resist getting a picture of her double-fisting it with Monty’s 2.5 year old son, Wyatt in the background:

2014camp-DoubleFistingAfter everyone had a chance to eat and clean up, we got things set up for the gear exchange. This is becoming one of my favorite parts of camp. It’s fun to see what people bring and awesome to have stuff that’s been kicking around your house go to a good home. As I was contemplating the items that were left and musing over whether a tri top from tiny Gail would fit me, the other Michele (aka McGee) pointed out that I had small boobs and it would probably fit me. I, of course, responded with faux outrage and the rest of the group joined in. This led to me putting the tri top on and attempting to take a selfie and then getting someone else to take it, while getting coached on posing to show off the girls. End result = hilarious:

2014camp-NewTopI texted the above picture to T at one point. I’m sure he wondered, yet again, what kind of craziness was happening. But he’s a good sport. There were margaritas aplenty, followed by wine and, of course, lots of laughter and frivolity. There was talk of a margarita dance-off to replace the margarita mile that didn’t happen this year. But in the end, the exertions of the day (combined with the three days prior) had us all heading off to bed before long.

Day five: Most of the girls were planning to do a long run, but I’d promised Heidi that I’d be heading their way in the morning, since I hadn’t seen them on Wednesday. (Not to mention, I was pooped!) So, I bid everyone farewell and hit the road. I had so much fun this year. I wish we could do these camps more than once a year, it would be so much more fun to have a chance to train with these girls more often. Lord knows, I could use the motivation.

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2014 Slowtwitch Womens training camp: part 1

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As longtime readers of this blog know, I have been going to a women’s triathlon training camp for quite some time now. (Off and on since 2007!) This year marked my sixth visit, and the itinerary tends to follow a familiar pattern. So, rather than doing posts for each day, I’m going to try to split everything into two posts with photos and highlights.

2014camp-XantusiaEntranceView from the gate. Photo by Gail

2014camp-CompoundView of the house, from the upper deck.

Day one: This year everyone was arriving on the first day, so I opted to head up to camp directly. I missed getting to spend time with Heidi & the girls, but vacation time was tight this year after the Hawaii trip. My flight was late and clouds were looming, so I hustled to the beautiful Santa Clarita pool to get a swim in before camp. My workout had me doing 30 laps of 50 yards and every time I headed out, I could see a big gray cloud looming on my breathing side. Talk about motivation to hurry! But I made it through my workout before the rain started. Then a quick stop at In&Out and it was off to camp. Got to camp in time to pick my room and join 3/5 of the Chicago contingent for bike assembly.

By the time we finished, most of the other ladies had arrived and we went out for a short easy run from the house. We had a group of ten this year, six returning/four new. Cathy couldn’t make it this year, so yours truly was the grizzled old veteran. 😉 Per usual, there was good food, lots of wine and conversation.

Day two: Swimming was definitely on the agenda today, but that wasn’t until noon. Most of the ladies wanted to ride in the morning, but a small group of us opted for a run/hike beforehand. (I was trying to get more running in this time and the likelihood of skipping an afternoon run was very high.) Monty told us about a new (to us) trail that he and Dan had been doing lately, so we decided to check it out. We’d been planning to run/walk, but the trail we chose started with steep switchbacks, so it became more of a hike. With the altitude and dry desert air, my breathing and heart rate certainly felt like I was running!

The view was definitely different from my typical environment:

2014camp-ThursHikeViewNaturally, I had to take some photos for the social media. Here are my trail buddies Christina (in green) and Myriam:

2014camp-ThursHikeWe saw some cool rock formations while we were out. I love the terrain around here. So beautiful.

2014camp-ThursHike2After we got back, we ate second breakfast and gathered everything for a swim at the glorious Palmdale pool. Once again, Gail was our unofficial camp photographer and had us take a group shot. A few of us coached the others on the best way to model swimwear. Suck it in, ladies!

2014camp-BathingBeautiesHere’s me adjusting my goggles for the 100-millionth time:

2014camp-GogglesIt’s such a treat to swim outdoors in the sunshine. I would be such a great swimmer if I lived near this pool, it’s fantastic.

Afterwards, there was the usual post-swim errands (coffee, drug store, etc.) It took a little while to get back to the house, but a core group of us had committed to an afternoon ride, so off we went:

2014camp-RideGroupWhew! After all of that, it was time for wine and FOOD. So. Much. Food. And of course, lots more lively conversation.

Day three: The agenda was pretty much the same as yesterday. Trail run/hike => Swim => Ride. We made a trek out to Punchbowl for a longer jaunt. The trail starts with 3/4 of a mile of uphill, so we tend to walk it.

Gail got some great pictures of us starting the run portion. How badass is that?!

2014camp-TrailRunStartThe trail looks like this, so I tend to do a mixture of running with walk breaks when my fitness level or klutziness dictate.

2014camp-PunchbowlTrail Gail caught me in a moment of running. I’m still getting used to the hand held bottle.2014camp-MePunchbowlI caught up to the group ahead of me and couldn’t resist photographing the photographers. So meta!

2014camp-PunchbowlPhotoAfterward, Gail had us do a post-run group picture. We had her put her camera on a timer so she could be in the shot as well. I was very impressed by how well it came out:

2014camp-PunchbowlGroupShotThen once again, it was off to the pool for half of us. (The Chicago Five opted for lunch and some chilling out.) As tempting as that was, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to swim in that beautiful pool again. Gail and Suzanne were kind enough to give me some swim tips, which I’m very excited to work on. Then it was back to the house for food and bike ride.

The wind was pretty intense, so the “recovery loop” was not really living up to it’s name. When we left, I wasn’t sure I’d even make it fifteen minutes, Kristi was of the same mindset, so she and I stuck together. Monty had given us a different set of directions than the loop that we typically did, so there was some confusion over which was “the first right-hand turn.” Kristi and I took what we thought it was, but the rest of the group had passed it. We meandered along into the wind, spinning in our easy gears and trying not to worry about the big hill climb ahead.

It felt like the road back had tripled in length and somehow increased the amount of uphill. I had figured the other girls were ahead of us, but when we stopped to stretch before tackling the big hill home, I heard a couple of them coming up the road. We waited in the sunshine for the everyone to regroup and I was gratified to see that all of us were struggling with the wind. (Misery loves company!)

After dinner, Monty’s wife Ashley had put together a trivia game for us about Monty and the ranch. It was fun and we learned some interesting tidbits.

2014camp-GroupTrivia2 2014camp-GroupTriviaI think this makes a good place to end part 1. Stay tuned for tales of our epic biking adventure and many more photos.

 

 

 

Dayum, that was a good ride!

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For the last full day of camp, I really wanted to get a long ride in. Luckily, I had a couple of lovely ladies who had the same thing on their agenda. Before heading out, we had a quick visit from Nelson who is quite the ladies man. I tried to take a picture of the two of us and got accosted:

NelsonKissWe set off on our ride. There were three of us wanting to ride long and we had Meg and Carol joining us for the initial part of the ride, so it was a nice group. We helped Meg adjust her bike fit and had a nice chatty pace going. It’s such a treat for me to have company on these long rides, especially other women riders. As much as I like riding with the boys, the following scenario would never occur with them. We ride our planned route and come to an intersection. In front of us is a crazy climb into the foothills. To the right is the town of Palmdale with more traffic and wind. And to the left is a road with a sign for a dam. With the boys, I’d be dragging my butt up that steep climb nine times out of ten. With the ladies, we went to check out the dam. And then took pictures. Of the dam:

DamRideOf me climbing the stupid steep hill leading up to it:

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8669131587_e7220dc946_h(Coach Cane would be so disappointed in my “backstroke elbows”) But I NEVER have pictures of me riding, so that was a treat. Gail even captured sensible Kristi’s decision to walk up that damn hill (See what I did there?)

8669130575_fc58c8b390_kWe stopped to chat at a little overlook and then rode a bit further to the restrooms. (Score for not having to squat by the side of the road!) There were little stops to chat here and there throughout the ride. Gail was  our official photographer of hill climbs, as she was a much better climber than Kristi or I:

8669109697_3ef497310c_hToward the end of the ride, we were getting low on water and a bit hungry, so we headed down to the highway to find a convenience store. We spied a dodgy gas station across the highway and decided to go for it. Jerry’s Gas Station may have been shifty looking, but they had junk food and plenty of it. I’d love to know what the locals were thinking when three crazy tri girls descended on their store, bought a bunch of food and then devoured it outside on the sidewalk. I made a collage of our adventures for Instagram:

DamRideMontageSnickers bars never taste so good as they do after a long hot ride:

8669121051_8fdf120761_hWe, of course had to commemorate our trip to Jerry’s Gas Station:

8670220264_d2a00719c8_hThen it was time to head home. The last big climb to the house wasn’t fun, but we made it. The ride was a perfect combination of work and play and I’m so glad I had such fun company.

After a lovely shower and some food, it was time to move on to the second event of the evening, the gear exchange:

GiftExchangeThis is rapidly becoming one of my favorite traditions. Not only do I get to clean out my closet, I always score some sweet gear. This year was no exception, there was tons of awesome stuff. And to make things even more fun, there were margaritas:

MargaritasWhich leads to photos like this:

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8670181304_342371274d_hBut everyone scored some awesome stuff, and a good time was had by all:

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8669077447_2f676af05c_hAfter another round of margaritas and some dinner, somehow Sally got us up and moving for the second annual Margarita Mile:

MargaritaMileCanCanThere were only two actual racers this year. Beth took the victory in impressive fashion (drunk and in flip-flops), with Sally coming in for so-so silver behind her:

8670186414_a7e80de890_hAnd ironically, the only injury was the only one not to be drinking margaritas:

8670189840_6451a2e2bb_hMost of us comprised the cheering/walking/silly running section. And the stopping to take cute pictures section:

MM-CathyKristiIt was a lovely last night. We chatted as late as our tired bodies would allow and shared a very nice bottle of wine. Camp was particularly awesome this year and I feel like I’ve kicked off my training cycle in strong fashion. Hopefully, I can keep this momentum rolling back at home where I don’t have all of these awesome ladies for company.

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the tri in tri-camp

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Today was our only day to swim at the local pool, so a number of us were committed to that at noon. So, many of that group opted to run/hike out at Devils Punchbowl beforehand. (The nice thing about training camp is that I turn into an early bird and was up at 6:30.) It was a small, intrepid group:

PunchbowlRunLadiesI love running out at this park, even though the first mile looks like this:

8670333854_7c59bf3cf1_hSo, I walked up the initial hill (which was the equivalent effort of my typical runs.) Between my huffing and puffing, I enjoyed the surrounding scenery:

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DPOnce I reached the top of the hill, I could actually start running. It’s still pretty rolling, but fun:

8669227405_296df527fa_hJenSW and I ran together for a while and marveled at how unSeattle-like it all was. We ran for about half an hour and I took a picture of the view at the turnaround:

DP3We somehow managed to get lost on the way back and had to off-road it a bit to get back on trail. When we made it back to the parking lot, we learned that the local visitor center had these rescued owls. It was incredible to see them so close up. I can’t remember the name they’d given the barn owl, but she was afraid of dogs and dust mops:

DP-BarnOwlThis is the first time I’ve ever seen a Great Horned Owl in person:

8670320006_539c24e239_hThere was also a female Great Horned Owl, named Squinty. She was right up in front of her cage and so beautiful!

SquintyWe all posed for a post-run photo with Squinty:

PunchbowlOwlLadiesWe then headed back to the house for a quick snack/second breakfast and it was off to the pool. It was just as crowded and crappy as the other one:

PalmdalePoolWe all had a lane to ourselves and a lovely swim. After some swimming, there were of course some hijinks:

SwimLadiesWe ran a few errands in town and realized we were hungry. Someone mentioned Mexican, so we consulted Yelp to find the most generically named place nearby (Tacos Baja Mex):

8670291606_0d8462e2f7_hAll it needs is Señor in front of it and a Sombrero and they will have hit all of the highlights. But the food was delicious and we could eat outside:

MexicanFoodI won’t lie, I wasn’t sure the last workout of the day, a bike ride, was going to happen. But after a little digesting time, a small group of us headed out. We did the same loop as yesterday, but in the other (easier) direction. I was surprised to find that my legs actually felt better than they had yesterday. It was a good, solid day of training followed by a ton of food and wine.

Dinner was lively, but afterward everyone was pretty wiped out and the room was pretty quiet. Interspersed with all of the days activities was the crazy news from Boston, so there was a little catching up on current events and then an early, well-deserved bed time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to play with the big girls

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I spent the morning with Heidi and the girls, including a little time at their Mommy & Me class. It was fun to see the girls with their friends, plus meet some of the moms that Heidi is friends with. It was too bad that I had to bid them farewell during an ill-timed fire drill. But it was time to head off to training camp, with a quick side trip to the Santa Clarita pool. As you can see it was super crowded:

SCpoolAfter our gross gym pool, it was heaven to swim in such a beautiful outdoor pool. I am so jealous of the locals who get to swim here. They have no idea how lucky they are. Then a quick stop at In & Out and I was off to camp. As I parked my car, I noticed that Monty had added a fitness equipment graveyard since last year:

FitnessGraveyardI timed my arrival perfectly. Ladies were just getting back from their workouts and ate lunch while I assembled my bike. I added it to the stable out front:

XantusiaThere was a casual ride planned for the afternoon, which was perfect. We stopped to take photos, so I actually had some pictures of me for a change:

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Me-rideThere was a cool old stone house that I had never noticed before.

OldStoneHouseIt was a nice ride, nothing too crazy. The climb back to the house wasn’t nearly as tough as it’s been in years past (though still not what I’d call easy.) On our walk back up to the house, we said hi to the horses:

8670256836_2d1c17dcd1_hThen it was time for some good quality social time.

sunnyLadiesAnd of course dinner with plenty of wine:

SallyWineThere are about nine of us this year and it seems to be an awesome group thus far. I think it’s going to be a really great camp.

 

 

 

Vaya con dios

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Naturally, the last day of tri camp had the nicest weather. We had to say good-bye to a few ladies, but there was a small group of us who were able to go out for one last ride before we packed up and hit the road. Sally proposed a ride up to the prison, which was a six mile climb. I’d been hoping for something a little more low-key for the final ride, but I decided to give it a go. As with yesterday, there were a few stops to regroup/make adjustments/take pictures:

But eventually, it was just all about the climbing.

This early in the season, long climbs like these are just not fun. It’s basically a low-grade sufferfest. I hung in there for a while, but eventually I’d had enough and cut the ride short. I opted to do a little out and back on my own which was far more enjoyable than climbing the final mile of the hill. Some of the other girls gave me a hard time about it and seemed disappointed that I’d quit, but I stand by my decision. All things considered, it was still great to ride out in the sunshine on a largely traffic-free road.

Then it was time to pack up, say my good-byes and hit the road. I’d left my phone charger in Burbank, which meant I got to spend a little more time with my Burbank girls before catching my flight.

Heidi lives very close to the airport, which made for the most pleasant wait for a flight ever. I mean, sitting in a sunny backyard, watching the antics of these two?

Awesome. It was so great to spend a little more time with them and ended my weekend on a nice relaxing note. My flight back was uneventful (which is my favorite kind). It was a fun trip, but also nice to be back home and see the boy. Besides, we had work to do. Lots of boxes to pack before next weekend…

Here comes the sun

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There was still a dusting of snow when we woke up the next morning, but the sun was shining and there weren’t a bunch of black clouds on the horizon so we were feeling optimistic that a bike ride could happen. (I didn’t haul that damn thing all the way down here to not ride it at least once!) One of the ladies had gotten up really early and gone for a sunrise run. I love this picture she captured of Dan’s horses:

After breakfast, we went over to Dan’s side of the compound to attend a lecture he’d offered to give about bike fitting. (For those who are unaware, Dan’s a leading expert on this topic and trains fitters from all over the country, so this was awesome.) We waited in his fit studio for the magic to start:

Dan has a wall full of all sorts of saddles, handlebars, stems and numerous other bike parts. It was impressive, to say the least:

Here’s the man himself:

Dan announced that we’d be talking about road bike fit, which I was visibly excited about. (Ever since I got Slim, I have not been able to get my road bike to get back to be being comfortable once I took the aero bars off of it.) When I made a comment about being excited about this, he offered to let me be the guinea pig that he did the fit on. SCORE! I ran over to get my bike clothes and shoes. The fit process was really interesting. It was a lot like the eye doctor. He’d make an adjustment and then another and ask which one I liked better. (And like the eye doctor, there were times where it was hard to know… )

But at the end of the process, I got a sheet of numbers that I am going to take to a local bike shop and have them help me get my bike set-up. So awesome. After all of that virtual riding, it was time to hit the road for reals. As usual, it took forever to get everyone ready and situated with loaner bikes.

But soon enough, we were ready to hit the road. Gail was leaving camp (she lives on the other side of the foothills and had a race the following day) so she snapped a group shot for us:

(We look cold, don’t we?) Once we got moving, we warmed up pretty quickly. The wind made things a little chilly, but the sunshine was awesome.

And, per usual, there was much picture taking at the rendezvous points:

I was very happy I’d brought Slim. I felt good on the bike and, for once, wasn’t the last person struggling up the hills. Despite this being the second time I’d been on the bike outside. And per usual, it was fun to ride with an awesome group of ladies:

There were a number of stops to take pictures/adjust bike fit/shed layers, which made for a fun day.

Afterward, it was back to the compound for a delicious dinner and some lovely wine. Then a bunch of us brought our wine and kept Kristi and Christina company while they packed up their bikes. Some girls tried out some new saddles and there was general tomfoolery. Mannequins may have been posed with…

It was a pretty fun way to cap off the final night of tri camp…