SMASH Camp 2015: Day 3-5

SMASH Camp 2015: Day 3-5

Day 3: March 7, 2015

Of all the possible reasons/sessions to be anxious about with camp, the 100×100 swim that was awaiting us on Day #3 was what I was fearing most. My longest swim to-date was 100×75 back in January, in which I managed to screw up my shoulder. Since then, it’s been a mix of PT and slowly working back into swimming. So preparing to swim 2,500 yards more than I ever had after an unexpected dip in volume was nerve racking. However, I knew that I was going to have some partners to swim with, so all that I could do was put my head down, push off the wall and try to make all the intervals. IMG_1272Oh, and we were tackling this session in the University of Arizona pool that was outdoors and probably the best pool I’ve ever been in…cool and clear!

I made the mistake of not taking a picture of our session, so I’m not going to be able to recount the specifics of each interval/set. But to summarize, we were doing mostly straight swimming, mixed with some pulling and kicking. Things started off well, and I was surprised with the intervals I was hitting (likely a product of swimming behind several others and getting the drafting benefit). One of the last sets involved faster intervals with PBB (paddles, buoy and band). Half-way through this set my shoulder started screaming, and I had to drop the paddles and just swim as hard as I could. What was supposed to be 100s turned into a straight swim for me, as I was touching the wall as the others were leaving…a quick breathe and off again. Other than the shoulder issue, this was a really great session to be able to say I’ve done. I know it’s going to come up again, and I welcome the challenge!

Like most of the other days, we had a little bit of time fuel up before re-grouping with the team for a recovery ride up and over Gates Pass. We were specifically instructed to stay behind the leader and use this as time to recoup. The Gates ride was 25 miles, including a longer, not-so-steep climb followed by a steep, 12-14% decline. We then did a flat loop before heading back up the steep side of the Pass and down the other.

Training done for the day, it was time for more food!

Day 4: March 8, 2015

Day #4 didn’t dawn nearly in the way I wanted it to. The shoulder issue that reared it’s ugly head during the 100×100 swim kept waking me up during the night with waves of excruciating pain. Our training day consisted of a short, technique/form-focused swim followed by the iconic Mt. Lemmon bike ride. From the moment I woke up, I knew that swimming was going to be questionable at best, which sucked because I was really looking forward to having my stroke analyzed and suggestions made for improvement. Since starting triathlon, I haven’t had any swim instruction and have just managed to figure it out as I go. But as soon as I started attempting to rotate my shoulder, I knew my time in the pool was going to be restricted. I was able to get a few lengths in, and Alyssa did recommend that I start working on bilateral breathing to balance out my stroke. There was a lot of side-to-side movement happening that was having a big impact on my efficiency. The plan was to put in lots of 25-50 yard intervals in the pool in the coming months to work on getting my stroke perfected. Yay for pool time!!!

Fortunately, the shoulder had no impact on my ability to ride. I’ve heard a lot about the Mt. Lemmon climb, and I was very excited to experience this. We all met at a coffee shop a few miles for the start of the climb, mounted our machines and started approaching the beast. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated as we started getting closer and I was starting to see some of the switchbacks we would shortly be tackling. Alyssa’s suggestion for the ride was to take the first half at an effort that would make sure I wouldn’t blow up. From there, I had freedom to take it as hard as I wanted. I settled into the middle of the pack during the 5ish miles to the base, but once the road started heading up, I moved to the front with a couple of the super strong girls in the group. IMG_5635The climb was anything but boring, and it seemed that every time I started really getting tired and my legs were really screaming, I’d get a glimpse of scenery that took my mind off the pain. It was truly one of the most beautiful environments I’ve ever been in. We were met with everything from sheer rock faces to Evergreen forests to mountain streams.

After 20+ miles of climbing, there’s a short descent before starting up the final section to the Cookie Cabin. Knowing that descending was a fear of mine and that I’d have to do 20 miles of it on the way back down, I decided to really push this descent and get more comfortable with going fast down a mountain. I broke away from my climbing partners and pushed hard until I got to the top. I even managed to catch the back-end of one of the groups that headed up before us! Getting to the top was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had in sport! I felt strong all the way and managed my nutrition and exertion appropriately! After a cookie, coffee, coke and various Powerbar products, it was right back to work for the descent. After some instruction from Hillary, I put my fears behind me and started down. To my surprise, I had a lot more fun than I thought I would! There was a sense of freedom knowing that there were only a certain amount of variables that I could control. If something crazy happened, it was meant to be.

After getting back to the parking lot, the plan was to make a quick transition and head out on a 4-mile progressive run. I wanted to make sure that my first mile was comfortable, but about 1/2 mile in Maik Twelsiek came up next to me. He claims that I was pushing the pace, but I say he was pushing it :). We did our first mile in 6:45, second in 6:15ish and then it was off to the races. In the heat of the day and after climbing Mt. Lemmon, we managed to click off our final two miles at 5:45 pace. If I wasn’t tired enough after getting to the bottom of the mountain, I was now completely spent. But I was perfectly okay with that! We had done a lot of hard work and now it was time to play. On deck for the evening was a group dinner at Hillary and Maik’s house, at which I managed to stuff my face as much as possible. Quality time with new friends, a few cold drinks and some time in Recovery Pump boots was exactly what was needed. It was also here that the idea got thrown out for me to change up my schedule and tackle IM Couer d’Alene and push for a Kona spot yet this year (long story short, the trip started to get planned and then I pulled back on the reins due to a quickly rising stress level). With just one more day with this group, it was hard to say goodnight, but the body was pleading for sleep.

Day 5: March 9, 2015

The final day of camp…definitely bitter sweet. The only sweet part was that our training was an easy-pace, long trail run. I was assigned a group with Maik and several other stellar athletes, and we embarked on a very scenic, enjoyable run. Several people were headed straight out of town, so after everyone returned some goodbyes were said and that was the end of camp. Fortunately, there was a group that wasn’t leaving till the morning, including myself, so all those left met up at the resort hotel for one final gathering. Looking out over Tucson, roasting s’mores over an open fire was the perfect way to end the trip.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make Smash Camp an annual event, but I will definitely make every attempt to get down to Tucson in March as often as possible!