Takeaways from Tucson Camp

March 3, 2013 § 5 Comments

It’s hard to believe that I have been home for almost an entire week….and also hard to believe that in another week I’m going to be thinking about packing up for Mexico! Still a few key workouts to get through before then though. As I’ve taken a few days to recover from the volume and prepare for the last push to Los Cabos, I’ve reflect on a few of the takeaways from camp. The resolution of some are still pending….

-Sugary cereal can’t be alllllll that bad for you. Julie and I stuck to our guns and maintained our cereal + Poptart (and chips and cookies) diets while in Tucson. We still crushed it! Don’t pay attention to rule #4:


-There are no places in Tucson that deliver Chinese food to the ‘burbs. Don’t even bother looking. Just stick with Papa John’s.

-I may have escaped a couple of weeks of Baltimore winter, but the snow did follow me to Tucson!


-Don’t let Hillary get texts in the middle of the 140 mile ride. She might find out that one of her bffs got a new dog and wants to rush home……negative splitting the ride in the process. Your legs will pay the price.

-But, do eat the burritos that come at mile 70 of said ride. Even if they are made in the back of a sketchy truck.

-After that long ride, there is no amount of cheesecake you can’t eat.

-Maik is the best athlete-cook I know. Granted, it may because his meals came perfectly timed after tough workouts, but his waffles, pizza, and  “oven potatoes” meals were the best!


-Little dogs aren’t that bad after all. I always thought I would never entertain the thought of getting a little dog, but after seeing how Missy moo-Princess-Eva was one of the true champs of camp, I would definitely reconsider having a pup like her!


-Trails in the desert are rocky.

-Without fail, seeing a sign for the “Desert Museum” will make me wish it was a “Dessert Museum” and will trigger endless thoughts of ice cream and candy.

-Tumbleweeds do exist.

-Julie doesn’t like to race with paddles, but when I make her do it she will NEVER let me win! (I’m practicing)

-Um, this happened:


-Hillary Biscay is super woman. Getting to see her do it all in person for days on end made me wonder even more where she gets her energy! Love her and am so happy to have her in my life.


C is for cookie, it’s good enough for me!

February 21, 2013 § 5 Comments

It’s not every day that you get to look at a training day and classify it as one of your favorite of all time – but I can do that after Tuesday!

I wasn’t quite sure what all the hype is over Mt. Lemmon here in Tuscon. Coming from where I ride, I had never done a climb over maybe 5 miles at the most before last Saturday’s ride. So while I kept hearing about Mt. Lemmon, it was hard to truly understand what a 25 mile climb was going to be like. I was about to find out though! It’s probably a good thing I didn’t think about it too much and didn’t see an elevation profile beforehand, because I think this may have intimidated me somewhat:


Team HPB headed out to the mountain in style, only to have our eagerness damped by an early flat – tacks on the road! Lucky for us that was the only one on the day. I felt good riding, but heading into the unknown I made sure to pay close attention to how Hillary was riding. If I have learned anything from group rides, it’s that being observant can pay dividends in cycling. When I would hear her shift, I would shift. If she surged a bit, I went with her. She has ridden that mountain many a time so I knew she knows how to do it right, and as long as I had the legs I was going to hold on!

The first half of the mountain flew by. Hillary and I were climbing side by side very evenly. A few times we would come around a bend in the road and were hit head on with some pretty intense winds! While we weren’t taking turns pulling each other on the front, it was really nice to have someone at my side through the sections when the constant grind was getting old.

You can see from the elevation profile that just after mile 20 you get some downhill before the final climb, and that’s where things really started to get fun. Up at 8,000 ft there was plenty of snow, cold and wind — I felt right at home after a winter in Baltimore! Feeling that the end was near, we kept pushing and before I knew it, our final destination was there: The Cookie Cabin! Yes people, I would do that climb every day if this was my reward:


All of  Team HPB rocked the climb, and we had some fun on the descent back to Tucson as well.


We were also blessed with good weather – today there were blizzard warnings at the top of the mountain so that certainly would not have made for ride-able conditions. And I have to say, Mt. Lemmon is a must-do ride if you are in Tucson – even if for no reason other than the cookie at the top!

Welcome to the Dirty T

February 19, 2013 § 3 Comments

It’s hard to believe this is the end of my third day here in Tucson already! I am so lucky to have a coach willing to take in some athletes for a training camp early season and disrupt her life and routine. Being in Tucson has spoiled me a bit with winter weather.  You can see that had I been training in Baltimore the past few days life would have been a little different – or at least I would have been wearing more layers!



So far we have been hitting all of the highlights here for Tucson training:

-A climb up Madera Canyon on Saturday – The last few miles here reminded me of the climb up to Skyline Drive – loved it!!

-100×100 in the University of Arizona pool! It was a very special day to get to do this with Hillary in attendance, PLUS a special guest Sam McGlone! They may or may not have swum their own intervals…….small details.

-A Reid Park long run! At just under 3 miles per loop, this park serves as  a great spot for controlled efforts during a long run. AND proved to be a great day to also get some much needed sun on my pale face.


In addition to all the training, my training partners are also straightening my style out…..within minutes of touchdown they determined I needed an upgrade and we were shopping within the first hour. There is also a lot of recovery time going on in this house – boots, waffles, and quality time with the puppy:

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More updates from camp later this week!

Tea Time

February 11, 2013 § 5 Comments

Five weeks out means that this girl is putting in quality time on her legs and leaving very little energy to type – let alone have to think of something to blog about. But for now I did want to share about something that makes me so happy at the end of a long training day: tea!

First, I have to give credit where credit is due. My love of tea has always existed, but living with Carly last year was what really fostered it and made it grow. Carly gave me carbonated water, tea, Carlyssa bars, and a fast running partner – seriously is there anything amazing she didn’t contribute?

Anyway, Carly gently steered me away from the teabags I had been using, and showed me the light with loose tea and a steeper. I would recommend this one, as it’s easy to clean and perfect for just making a mug for one. I have found tea is perfect for a post-ride warm up (or a pre-ride bev as you get yourself psyched-up to be riding in 25 degree weather!). But, what I use tea the most for is bedtime.

In general, I survive pretty well on very little sleep and have no issue getting right to bed. But, there are some nights when a workout isn’t finished until 9 or 9:30pm….and with a 4:30 or 5am wake-up call the next day, that means I have about 1 hour to get done from my workout, eat and get into bed. With all that scrambling, it’s easy to trick your body into not getting tired – exactly the opposite of what I need. So, chamomile tea is my secret weapon! My favorite is Cha-Cha, from Adagio teas. I also like the rooibos vanilla blend (I mean, it says it tastes like cookies in the description so that was an easy sell.) And I’ve discovered that some of the chocolatey blends are decent substitutes for dessert cravings.

Happy tea-ing!



Pack a Shovel

January 27, 2013 § 11 Comments

“Whoa, that’s early.”

“You know that means a lot of trainer time, right?”

“Sounds more fun for spring break, not a race.”

“That’s my offseason.”


All of the above are a sampling of the responses that I would receive when discussing doing an IM in March. Despite being in Mexico, it seemed that I was in the minority of triathletes who are happy to jump on a new early season option for ironman racing. I knew it was going to be hard. I knew there were going to be many days where I would prefer to be in a build phase where I had flexibility with workouts. But after today, in just 3 words, I can just about sum up the best way to prepare for an early season goal race: Pack a Shovel.

Living in Baltimore, I’m actually very lucky in terms of winter training. With the exception of the winter of 2010, we usually have fairly mild winters (knock on wood). You can assume that 1-2 weeks will be very cold, but otherwise things are bearable and the snow is few and far between. Those 1-2 cold weeks have definitely arrived though. With it we got a sampling of snow, about an inch falling last night. In most places that get a winter, 1 inch wouldn’t phase people. Around here, it’s enough to cause early dismissals from schools, back up traffic for hours, cause people to drive negative miles per hour, and somehow it sticks around for way longer than it needs to. That means that this morning when I woke up hoping to get a long ride in, icy conditions were just dicey enough to make me not willing to go out for a solo ride.

If you know me well you know that I follow my training plans to a T — sometimes that can be my biggest fault because it allows things like unpredictable weather, work, and life stuff stress me out as I try to figure out how to make it all work. But my motto has always been that there is a way to get it done. That is how I knew that I’d be fine preparing for an early season ironman – I always figure out a way. Today was no exception.

Since I wouldn’t be riding, that meant I’d be swapping my run day in today. A double run day, actually – which gives me less leniency on when to start run #1. And run #1 was a track workout. So, I did what (in my mind) anyone would do: packed up my shoes, gloves, and shovel, and headed to the track. Again, I’m very lucky. One inch of powder snow is hardly a burden to shovel. In my head this was going to be a quick 10-15 minute task to run the shovel around the track and then be on my way. This turned out to be slightly optimistic – thirty five minutes later I finished the quarter mile!


So then, with frozen toes and fingers I started my workout.

Do I really enjoy doing absurd things like this? Was it really fun to have to do it? Of course not. But these are the days that will make me stronger. Just because a particular day or workout isn’t fun doesn’t mean that it’s not meaningful. It all goes into the vault and on race day I get to draw on it. Because you know what is fun? When a race goes well. When running the last 10k feels like a 10k and not the end of a 100 miler. And last time I checked, sticking to the plan, finding a way, and getting the work done in the days before the race was the best way to ensure you have fun on race day. So I think for the next 7 weeks I’ll continue to pack a shovel.

In Good Company

January 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

After getting back from Key West this week, I was getting right back into the swing of things…..and in doing so, I noticed that I was still heading to the pool a lot, despite having thought my swim camp block was over. The following is an actual exchange between me and coachie – get excited for a private look into our riveting conversations:

Me: am i not done with swim camp? this amount of swim volume seems awful suspicious.

Coachie: THIS is your last week! Figured we’d need to swim a lot w/half IM recovery so may as well extend it one more wk:)

Me: omggggggggggggg this was like the ultimate false alarm LOL

Coachie: Haaa omg lol

Unfortunately she definitely had the last laugh on that one! But, I did have a light at the end of the tunnel. With a 3 day weekend on the calendar, I had made some plans to swim/bike/ride with Kendra and Leslie (a fellow TeamHPB-er!). Sunday morning I met Leslie at a pool in Arlington — we also ran into Terra Castro getting in her Sunday AM swim. I guess triathletes really aren’t hard to find!

After the swim, Leslie and I headed over to Kendra’s and after some oatmeal and tea, got ready for a few hours on the bike. Lucky for us it was a BEAUTIFUL winter day for riding. I swear we saw 50 other people out on their bikes.

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And to cap off the day Kendra and I did a nice little run down to Roosevelt Island. With so many people out enjoying the beautiful day there was plenty of people watching going on. I really appreciated having such great company during the day – it made the full day of training fly by. And I was done with plenty of time to spare before the Raven’s game!

After all of this and some more time on the bike today, I certainly wasn’t the only one tuckered out tonight:

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January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

“[…] today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”

– Fernández Anaya in The Honesty of the Long Distance Runner