Run with Eric + workout

2009 GMS Triathlon Training Camp
Halfway up Mt. Lemmon

I was in Tuscon last week for the Gorilla Multisport Winter Training Camp. My original intention was to blog every day while at camp to give the daily update on the experience. But, frankly, I was too tired to manage it. So, now I am typing this from home in San Diego after a few days of recovery and decompression.

I had been looking forward to this for a while... five days of nothing but training, learning and hanging out with some other like-minded triathletes.

We arrived on Tuesday, I'll call it Day 0. After the long drive I was pretty wired, so I went for a quick run before some grub and bed. Our hotel was about 2 miles from the Kino Sports Complex, which is where the Arizona Diamondbacks do their spring training... made for a nice turnaround for the out and back route. Workout #1 in the books.

Day 1 - Wednesday
The other campers were not due to arrive until mid-day, but since we were in town and had some free time, my friend and Gorilla Multisport Coach DeeAnn and I went to a Masters workout at the University of Arizona. They run a nice program over there and the pool is amazing. With the week of heavy training ahead, I was glad to find out that the workout was an easy one. Lots of fast 100's and 50's with lots of rest, along with some technique work. I ended up with just over 3000 yards for the workout. After some coffee, breakfast and a short rest, I headed out for a run out to the Kino Sports Complex again. One of the campers from Florida, Joseph, had arrived, so he joined me. We ended up with just over 4.5 miles of easy jogging. After lunch and "registration", the entire crew convened for the first ride of the camp, Gates Pass. The ride began with a flat stretch through urban Tucson, which was not great due to all the stoplights. But once we were out of town, the scenery was amazing... spectacular views of the desert and endless miles of cactus and beautiful landscapes. The highlight of the ride was the climb up and over Gates Pass, which has a section at the top that rivals some of the steepest roads I've ever climbed on a bike. Out of the saddle in the 39x26, just trying to keep the pedals turning over. After a photo opp at the top, we bombed down the backside and back into town. Total ride was 38 miles. After getting back to the hotel and cleaning up, we were treated to a nutrition presentation from Bob Seebohar (, elite coach and sports nutritionist for the 2008 US Olympic Triathlon Team. I learned a lot about metabolic efficiency and picked up some tips that I will definitely incorporate into my own training.

Day 2 - Thursday
AM - 50 mile ride out to Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Coach Bob and Seton Claggett from joined us for the ride. Both are great guys and strong athletes. Overall, an moderate ride with lots of false flats and gentle inclines. The best part was that all the climbing was in the first 30 miles and the entire 20 mile return trip was a gentle descent. Immediately upon returning, our group headed out for a quick 20 minute transition run. Coach Bob rode and ran with us and gave us some great tips on run cadence. After a quick bite to eat, I put my legs up for an hour to rest up for the afternoon ride.
PM - 38 mile ride, the bottom half of the El Tour de Tucson route. By this time, the day had turned hot and windy... so we were treated to a pretty tough ride, starting out in urban Tucson, than out to some less-traveled roads in the north part of town. As soon as we could get our bikes in the hotel rooms and showered up, we headed over to a strength workout with Coach Bob. We focused on a concept he calls neuromuscular activation... essentially a series of pre and post-workout movements that activate the key muscle groups. Again, I learned a lot... great stuff.

Day 3 - Friday
AM - The Shootout is a regular Saturday hammerfeest that has been taking place in Tucson for over 30 years... its a fairly challenging route famous for attracting the most competitive cyclists and is typically full of attacks and counterattacks. We choose to do The Shootout ride on Friday on our own to get a sample of the route without the blistering pace and a big peleton. Seton Claggett from rode with us again. It started out with an easy 15 miles in town than a long 15 miles of false flat... nearly dead straight... before it finally kicks up with a final short steep climb. I was feeling pretty strong so I kept the pace high on the false flat, but once the hill came Seton dropped me like a rock as he disappeared up the steep incline. The local knowledge proved to be pretty handy! After regrouping, we headed back into town at a pretty good clip (22-24 mph) thanks to the mostly flat and gently descending route.
PM - Late Friday afternoon, I had a swim analysis and video scheduled... but beforehand, for the first time in three days, I had a couple hours to relax. So I napped by the pool. After my nap and a shower, I headed over to TriSports for my swim video. They have a sweet two-lane Endless Pool set-up with underwater and above water cameras. The instructor told me that my stroke was pretty solid (I hope so!), but gave me a few suggestions that I think will be helpful. In particular, one thing that I discovered is that I tend to pull up short with my right arm on the pull. So I need to concentrate on finishing my stroke on that side. Good feedback and something I probably would have never figured out on my own without the video feedback.

Saturday - Day 4
AM - This was the big day. Mt. Lemmon. A 26 mile climb rising from 2500 ft to a peak over 8200 ft. I've ridden San Diego's big climb, Palomar Mountain... which is tough. But the top of Palomar is at just over 5000 ft. When climbing Mt. Lemmon, the 5000 ft mark is not even halfway up the climb. Palomar is steeper, but it is the length of Mt. Lemmon that is killer... over 2 hrs of consistent work going up the mountain. We started the ride with an easy 15 miles of riding through Tucson and regrouped at a coffee shop about 2 miles from the Mile 0 marker at the base of the climb. After some pics and a double shot of espresso, we started up. There were 5 of us (myself, Norm, Manny, Joseph, and Greg) in the group that agreed to ride the whole mountain... the rest of the campers would climb for 90 minutes as far as they could go and then turn around. The summit team (sounds cool, eh?) all exchanged numbers and arranged to text or call each other if for some reason we needed to turn around. Otherwise, we would all meet up at the top. We got going and could see the road twisting up the mountain ahead of us... it was pretty intimidating. About 50 yards past the Mile 0 sign, Norm informed me that my rear tire was flat. Crap. He stayed back to help me get it changed while the rest of the group proceeded ahead. Once I fixed the tire, we proceeded again. The first 5 miles of the climb were tough, there were some killer headwinds that made it tough just to stay upright on the bike. I thought to myself that if the entire climb was this windy, it was going to be a very, very difficult day. Fortunately, as the road twisted and turned up the mountain there was some shelter from the wind and it got easier. I made a concerted effort to keep my HR in high Zone 2 (130-140) and just stayed on my 39x26 gear keeping the cadence high. This netted me a blistering pace of about 10-11 mph. Ha. Every few minutes, I shifted up to my 25 or 23 and climbed out of the saddle to give my hamstrings and lower back a rest. At Mile 7, I caught Manny and Joseph and we all took some pictures from the Seven Cataracts viewpoint. Spectacular. After the short break, I continued up the climb and quickly separated from the other guys. The views up the mountain were simply unbelievable, incredible rock formations and of course, the view of the valley falling further and further away... the closest thing I can relate them to is the Grand Canyon. It's hard to do them justice with words or even pictures. The rest of the climb went pretty well. Every time my legs were screaming for a break, the slope softened a bit and I was able to recover just enough for the next tough stretch ahead. Finally, I got to the first peak at Mile 21 and was treated to a descent. A descent? Wait, I'm not at the top yet! The final few miles of the "climb" were a bowl that drops about 400 ft before re-ascending to 8200 ft at the village of Mt. Lemmon. At the base of the final climb, I caught Greg whom I hadn't seen since I flatted two hours before. We laughed about how tough the climb was, and rolled into town together. A great sense of accomplishment that we indulged by getting some hot chocolate (it was cold!) and huge pieces of banana cream pie. About 10 minutes later, Norm rolled in and about 30 minutes later, Manny arrived. Shortly thereafter, we got a text that Joseph had turned around. So we finished up our good, got some pics and then headed back down the mountain. It was about 30 degrees cooler at the top, so I put on my arm warmers and shoved some loose paper (the cafe to-go menus!) in my jersey front to block the wind. It took about 25 minutes of work to get back out to the first peak, which after the long break and food was tough. But once back to Mile 21, it was literally all downhill from there. The descent is somewhat technical and super-fast. By the time I got to the bottom, my hands were cramping from constantly being the brakes trying to moderate my speed. On several occasions I was touching 40 mph and that was trying to be conservative. Finally, after regrouping again at the bottom, we headed back for the final 15 miles toward home. The full day was 85 miles, about 8000 ft of climbing. A great day on the bike and one that I will remember forever.
PM - Once we rolled back into the hotel at about 3pm, we slammed our (late) lunches and got ready to head over to the University of Arizona pool for a swim workout. I was tempted to bail and just relax, but the idea of splashing around the pool for a drill workout sounded good. Finally at 5pm the tough day was over and we all gathered around the hotel pool for pizza and beer. Good times.

Sunday - Day 5
Final day of camp... no cycling. After four tough days of riding, it was nice not to be getting on the bike first thing in the morning. Besides I was running out of clean cycling clothes. Actually, I ran out of clean stuff on Friday... but was able to make do with some Woolite and the hotel room sink. Anyway, I digress. After a quick breakfast, we piled into the cars and headed out to Saguero National Park for an amazing trail run. There is a 8 mile loop that is simply spectacular. Everyone was on their own to decide how far they wanted to run, we simply had a two hour time limit. Most choose to do one loop. My legs were pretty toasted from the riding, but I wanted a little more than 8 miles. My lower threshold for a "long" run is 12 miles, so I ran one loop and did a 2 mile out and back to bring it up to the requisite dozen. The quads were not happy with me as I climbed back into the van for the 20 minute drive home. After some more breakfast and a shower, we packed up the gear, said our goodbyes and got on the road back to San Diego.

Overall, it was a tremendous few days. Training wise, it was my biggest week ever... with over 270 miles on the bike, 30 miles of running and about 7k of swimming. To think that pros do that every week!! Aside from the training, the other campers were awesome... good people all of them. It was great to spend some time hanging out, we had a blast.

Here are some pics from the rides.

Entrance to Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Joseph, Manny and Me - The Shootout Loop

Heading toward Colossal Cave Mountain Park

The Mt. Lemmon Summit Crew - Manny, Norm, Me, Greg, Joseph... before the climb

At the base of Mt. Lemmon, right before I flatted.

Somewhere near Mile 10 of the Mt. Lemmon climb

Mt. Lemmon - Looking down, around Mile 14.

Banana Cream Pie and Hot Chocolate at the top of Mt. Lemmon - delicious.

Taken while descending at 35+mph. Not recommended.

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2009 GMS Triathlon Training Camp + workout