And that's a wrap! HJ here, checking in from the conclusion of our first Wattie Ink. Dream Camp. I’ve been coming to Tucson almost every spring since I started racing, and last fall we asked one of our athletes, Chris Bagg, to run a camp utilizing the roads and trails I use to prep for each racing season. Chris, his wife Amy VT, his assistant Molly Balfe, fellow Wattie Ink. pro Rachel McBride led six lucky triathletes through five solid days of training, and Wattie and I couldn't be more stoked with how the camp went for its first year! We are super grateful to the campers who came to Tucson, and went away as our friends—such a big thank you for making the camp go so smoothly. You gave us nothing but positivity, smiles, and enthusiasm, and although it's only been one day Wattie and I are already missing you all. For those interested in coming next year, here is a brief glimpse of what went down.
Campers arrived last Thursday evening, and we began training Friday morning with some threshold pace swim testing and video analysis at the University of Arizona pool. Following the swim, everyone grabbed a quick snack and headed to the River Path (where I do most of my run work in Tucson) for an hour run with moderate 800 meter repeats to challenge the legs but not dig too deep. We just wanted to blow out some of the fatigue of travel and prepare for some harder work over the weekend. From the run we headed to TriSports to experience that Tucson triathlon staple, enjoyed some Bagg-cooked Mac and Cheese, VT-cooked DELICIOUS carrot cake, and chatted surviving big training blocks. Most of us suggested pacing yourself and staying positive—it’s a real gift to be able to even do triathlon, let alone attend training camps!
Saturday morning, we all met at Pima Community College on the west side of Tucson to ride a 100-mile loop that includes an ascent of Madera Canyon, one of my favorite Tucson climbs. Even I forgot how steep the top gets! It was a super-hot day for mid-March in Tucson, and everyone did awesome staying hydrated and surviving the ride. Upon arriving back at PCC, everyone ran a few laps of the bright blue track before heading back to one of the rental houses, dubbed “Base Camp,” to enjoy Bagg's famous coconut curry. That night we chatted about preparing for your A-priority race and what goes into getting the most out of yourself on the big days you’re targeting this season.
We opened Sunday with some threshold swimming at the pool, learning how to use a Tempo Trainer in your swim training, and then we headed out to the east side of Tucson for a ride using Pistol Hill, another local staple. Each fall I do so many of my rides on that loop, which is a 9-mile circuit including some climbing, some fast descending, and some rolling terrain, all buffeted by cross winds. I think it’s the perfect Kona prep circuit—a great mix of rough roads a tough winds. Afterward we rode back to a local trailhead for our runs off the bike: 70.3 or Ironman efforts for mile or 800-meter repeats. That night we ate a delicious homemade risotto and chatted about training and racing nutrition.
Monday morning we met early at Udall Park to roll out for an ascent of Mt. Lemmon, a Tucson favorite. We only had a few campers who had done the climb before, so it was an awesome day for everyone who climbed Lemmon for the first time ever! Everyone got a little downtime that afternoon, and then we met up for dinner and awards at Thunder Canyon Brewery downtown, a sponsor of our camp who graciously provided six growlers each night for our dinners! Thank you again Thunder Canyon!
Our last day, Tuesday, we ended camp with some open-water swimming tips, techniques, and practice at the pool, followed by a long run on the River Path, inserting some tempo efforts to really empty everyone’s tanks.
We are so grateful to all of the sponsors that kicked in some amazing goodies to provide our campers, as well as to Nick and Doug of SagMonkey who were incredible! They supported all of our rides, providing us homemade rice cakes or mini sandwiches or Payday bars, cleaned bikes, provided massages every evening, and just kept everyone smiling and positive. To Bagg and VT and Molly and Rachel who organized everything and ran this camp for us—such a huge thank you from Wattie and I! It was certainly a memorable five days and we are already making plans for next year's camp. Please keep an eye out for announcements from Wattie Ink. regarding future camps we have in the works!
Hope everyone's training is going well and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Oceanside 70.3 in just a few weeks!