Bumpy Ride, CEC Pro Camp.

First of all, BIG THANKS to Cliff English for an incredible camp!

It's hard to believe last week happened.  It wasn't pretty, but I did it.
I'm definitely still recovering in more ways than one!  

It's funny, but I'm generally the type of athlete that nails all my workouts, feels good and optimistic heading in and finishes strong with a smile on my face.  Last week I was not that girl.  I've heard most people don't chug along thru training quite so freely, but I didn't fully understand what that would be like.   Until Tucson.

Sunday, March 2, I arrived in sunny Tucson for a week with my coach Cliff English and his Pro Training Camp. Since I haven't taken my pro-card yet, I did feel pretty out of place, but hey, everyone's the newbie once!  I was fresh off our Wattie Ink Training camp in San Diego, so I felt like my fitness was alright, but I was definitely under rested and in kind of a funk, which I assumed would dissipate once training was underway.  

Monday, March 3rd. Day#1. 5k swim, 45 min run.
Since it was the beginning of camp, Cliff wanted to ease us in with a cool 5k swim and a pretty chill 45 min fartlek run around Reid Park.  Somehow I made it through the swim relatively unscathed, and the run felt great!  After trying to nap, I decided to build up my bike and do a quick ride with Jackie. Everything seemed fine, until I started riding and was having a hard time getting it to stay in gear.  No biggie, I thought, probably a quick adjustment.  The shop we were at (TriSports) informed me that my shifter was kaput and I needed a new one, which they did not have.  Finally, 2 hours later at the 3rd bike shop, Fair Wheel in Tucson, they were able to actually FIX the broken springs in my shifter - whew!!!  Off to bed early in preparation for Tuesday.
Present:Heather Jackson, Liz Lyles, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson, Jackie Arendt. Cliff English.

Tuesday, March 4th. Day#2. 4.5k swim, 3.5 hour ride, 25 min run-off.
This day seemed to ease my anxiety a little bit.  The swim was alright, it was a strength focused swim and only about 4.4k - piece of cake!  After the swim, we jumped on our bikes and headed out to Windy Point on Mt. Lemon.  I was feeling pretty good heading up, until about 1/2 way when I got popped and struggled to keep my head into the effort for the remainder of the climb.  Once we reached the top, it was a quick turn around to head back down.  At the bottom, I think I may have actually been the first flat tire of the week!  Wattie and TJ changed it in under 3 minutes and we were on our way back for a 25 min transition run to complete our Tuesday triathlon.  Jackie talked HJ and I into a quick "cool down" swim before showering up and heading to El Charro for a late lunch.  
Over lunch with Jackie (Arendt), Chris (Bagg), Chris (Boudreaux), Liz (Lyles), Heather (Jackson) and Cliff (English), we discussed typical triathlete topics such as doping (PEDs), legalized marijuana and eating disorders. Standard.

Present:Heather Jackson, Liz Lyles, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson, Jackie Arendt, Leanda Cave, Wattie. Cliff English.

Wednesday, March 5th. Day #3. 5k swim, 90 min run, 1 hour ride.
Looked to be a great day on tap, big 5k swim in the morning and an afternoon run sesh in the hot-ish Tucson sun. Yay, run!  In the past year or so, I feel like I've finally found a groove with my run, so I was excited to put it to the test.  Sure 9x800s is a relatively small test, I definitely felt I was up for it.  Until I wasn't.  There's no reason why I wouldn't be able to hold the paces I easily hold in training all the time.  Other than the object resting above and between my two shoulders. The first 6 didn't really feel that great, and though they were supposed to descend 1-3, my paces were pretty much the same.  As long as they weren't getting slower, I was good with it.  Then came #7,8,9 I started to doubt I could finish, question my ability and fitness and pretty much turn what should have been a descent workout into a lapse of self confidence and a moment in self deprecation.  Nice Barkley, pull yourself together.  After that, I spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out how I had gone to that place and how, exactly, I was going to pull myself out of it.  After all, the work had only just begun!

Present:Jackie Arendt, Liz Lyles, Heather Jackson, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson. Cliff English.

Thursday, March 6th. Day #4. 5.5 hour ride, 40 min run.
MONSTER ride!  When the plan said 5-6 hour ride, I had no idea what that really meant.  But I did not, nor have any idea how to, plan for a 110 mile ride with a 13 mile climb...including a total of about 1+ hours of stops for flats, regrouping, etc.  Ride time, about 5.5 hours, nearly 7 hours total.  Needless to say, it did not go well.  Not only had I not fully pulled myself out of the funk from Wednesday, but I also learned about cramping on the bike for the first time. Wonderful. The beginning of the ride seemed to go fine, we rode in a pace line out to the base of Kitt Pass just outside of Tucson.  The climb itself was actually pretty nice, 13 miles pretty steady and great views!  Next to running, climbing is my JAM, something I truly pride myself on.  Not today.  Oh man, when you don't feel good doing the one thing you feel most confident in, it really sucks!  Anyway, physically I made it through, but mentally I was a mess.  We stopped to refuel a bit, I chugged a mini coke and headed back down.  We regrouped and made a quick pit-stop before making our way back to Tucson.  On the way back, I was feeling tired, but pretty sure I'd be able to make it.  I had no idea how much further it would be, and I was running out of fuel in a hurry.  I hit my breaking point with probably about 15-20 miles left in the ride.  I was hot, tired and miserable.  I was so grateful that at that moment the group came past me and help me rally - even though it literally took some pushing to get me caught up and to the finish line.  One quick climb up Gates Pass and the rest was down hill, and thankfully history.  At least I can say it was my longest ride EVER and I learned a lot about fueling, teamwork and, once again, the impact of your mental attitude.  Later that evening I did a relatively light run, and was surprised at how great my legs felt. Whew, I really need to stop questioning my fitness.  
Post run, we headed to grab some yogurt and spend some last few moments with Liz, as it was her last night in town.  Finally, frozen dessert!!  Sadly, it would be our only dessert stop of the week, can't believe I missed out on Frost.  All the more reason to head back!

Present:Heather Jackson, Jackie Arendt, Liz Lyles, Leanda Cave, TJ Tollakson, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, Paul Thomas, Wattie, Ben Hoffman, Maik Twelsiek. Cliff English.

Friday, March 7th. Day #5. 5k swim, yoga.
Today was feet off day!  Swimming is clearly not my strength, but I ever so slowly see progress, which keeps me going and my goals always keep me motivated to stick with it.  My goal for this 5k swim, was to, no matter what, not give up on myself.  To do this, all I allowed myself to focus on was my form and my effort.  Just keep swimming.  Yay!  Mission accomplished.
Next up, Jackie, Chris and I headed to yoga, which was great!  Definitely need to fit yoga back into my routine on the reg. The rest of the day was spent trying to relax.  Optimistically I had been trying to get a nap in all week, and was sure today I could make it happen. Fail. Oh well, at least I had time to search for a pair of bike shorts to get me through Saturday's 100 miler. Success! 

Present: Jackie Arendt, Heather Jackson, Liz Lyles, Rachel McBride, Leanda Cave, TJ Tollakson, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux. Cliff English.

Saturday, March 8. Day #6. 5.5 hour ride, 30 min run-off.
Yes, I said it, another 100 miler. And another climb. Come on Barkley!!  This ride was headed to Madera Canyon, south of Tucson.  This was definitely my most enjoyable ride of the week!  Somehow I was able to hang on to the group, despite nearly getting dropped after taking a pull at the front. Hey, I tried. Madera is a "gradual" 10-11 mile climb with a punchy last couple of miles.  I was doing great until almost mile 7.  Crap. Just keep going, I told myself.  But I struggled to keep my watts up and felt like I was going absolutely no-where.  I managed to keep trudging along, despite finding myself, yet again, defeated. Once I arrived at the top, everyone was there and about to head back down.  A short but aggressive encounter with ranger sent me from feeling OK completely unraveled.  Thankfully Jackie led me safely down the "mountain" and I was able to re-group. Whew. The ride back had a short 20 min gradual climb followed by a FAST return to town.  I knew the effort was "moderate" not "race pace", so I was determined to hang on.  At first I decided to break it up into 10 min segments, but after 2 minutes I decided maybe 5 min segments would be better.  As we approached the end of the last 5 min...I was just starting to worry, and then I saw Cliff and the end of the road - whew!  Great, smooth sailing from here.  More like BUST ASS!  Don't get me wrong, it was totally fun, but far from easy.  I was grateful to make it back, but a little unsure about how my legs would feel on our run.  My assignment was 3x4min efforts at 70.3 race pace...ok, I got this.  Not only did I, but I felt so good I had a hard time slowing down.  Yay!  
Post workouts, Jackie, the Killer B's and I headed downtown to watch a crit, grab a beer and some dinner.  It was fun to get out and socialize a bit on my last night in town, plus I can never turn down a bike race.  Though I know drinking beer the night before a long run is a recipe for disaster, it sounded too good...at least I remembered after my first bite of hot sauce that I needed to stay away from that too! Of everything that happened that night, the thing I remember most was chatting with Chris Boudreaux and him talking about getting to a point in training and/or racing where you need to stop caring about how much it hurts or how crappy you feel and just GO (that's my interpretation, not a quote).
Just like that, I was off to bed and up again before I knew it.

Present: Jackie Arendt, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson, Rachel McBride, Heather Jackson, Leanda Cave, Lisa Ribes, Wattie. Cliff English.

Sunday, March 9. Day #7. 1 hour, 40 min run.
Sunday, runday...funday?  It should have been!  I felt strange all morning, lacking sensation in my arms and legs and just generally feeling a little junky and sleepy.  Precisely how I feel if I drink a beer the night before I run...which I didn't realize until much later that day.  
Anyway, the plan was 30 min w/u and 2 x 4 miles at IM/70.3 pace. I felt alright on the first one, but wasn't in a good place and for some reason found myself in tears during our rest.  I wasn't quite pulled together before we started the 2nd one, but thought it best to not over-think it and just go.  So, I did, but wasn't ever able to relax or find a rhythm. Immediately I found myself in the same hole I had been trying so desperately to crawl out of since Wednesday's run.  It was all I could do to hold what felt like barely a jog for the last effort and dragged my sorry and demoralized self back to the car.  With the help of Jackie, of course!  Jackie was a huge help to me all week!  She's an incredible athlete and amazing person!
It was JUST A RUN, not the end of the world, but I was so disappointed to be back in a state of funk.

Present: Heather Jackson, Jackie Arendt, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, Leanda Cave, TJ Tollakson. Cliff English.

Good thing we headed straight to an amazing brunch at North to celebrate Leanda's birthday and what would be my last outing in Tucson.  The place was perfect, the food was amazing and the company world class!
I was sad to be leaving.  Even though my workouts were far from perfect, I learned a LOT and can't wait to go back.  

Be sure to check out camp videos and wrap-ups from Chris Bagg.