Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pura Vida in Costa Rica: Training camps for the win!

Hello 2016 and my 16th season of competing in triathlon! Where did the time go? I cannot express enough gratitude to the sport of triathlon and how it has helped me discover so many new and interesting things... friendships, partners, health, wellbeing, entrepreneurship, daring, competition, drive, travel... not to mention a ton of fun and laughs over the years. 

I don't take any of it for granted. After 16 years, it's still exciting and fresh to plan for another new season of racing with dreams of where I might go and what I might achieve. I should probably restate that in the plural form since Blanco is always along for the ride!

The role of triathlon in my life was further underscored yesterday with a message from a Bristol University friend who just signed up for her first triathlon, crediting me with the inspiration! Given that she lives in Noosa Australia, I am sure that there are plenty of influencing factors besides me that spurred the decision... but it was a nice reminder that by sharing my passion and putting myself out there, I can help to bring others along for the ride!

For many of the past 10 years, I've invested in a training camp in the February-March time-frame to help kick-start the season's training in a focused environment and to continue my learning in the sport from fellow athletes. More often than not I have visited Tucson, AZ to train with a variety of coaches but I've also traveled to Ojai, CA and Kona, HI. This year Blanco and I decided to add an international training camp to the plan.

Given that our race schedule would be confined to the US (3x California 70.3 races and Ironman Hawaii), when friends Beth Gerdes and Luke McKenzie announced a camp with RaceQuest Travel in Costa Rica, I jumped at the chance to sign up. Costa Rica had been a bucket list destination for a long time so the idea of combining swim, bike and run training with great friends in an exciting, tropical locale was a no-brainer!

Cycling group on day 1 - Four Seasons Resort
 The camp was only 4.5 days long but we were busy from pre-dawn to dusk as we would set off early on the bikes to escape the heat and traffic, both of which would build as the day wore on. The roads were remarkably well maintained for Central America with pavement no worse than San Francisco and Marin County cycling. The terrain was rolling with the occasional very steep hill which was fine with my 11-28 cassette but I was definitely out of the saddle, all of my weight forward on a number of occasions! Apparently, I was also ahead of Blanco ;)

Out of the saddle! 2min power of 285w 
Green hills in spite of the Costa Rican dry season.
Steeper than it looks! 1min power >300w
Running included some sandy trails, beach runs and loops of the local neighborhood as well as some parking lot drills that speedster coach Beth put us through! What's more is that Beth and Luke were very open about their training plans and what works for them and the athletes they coach. As an athlete and coach (to Blanco and a few others), I love to bounce ideas around with coaches to compare notes and understand what works for different folks.
Dusty trails in the zip lining eco-park 
Run group
While we were lacking a lap pool in the Ocotal area where we were staying, a local resort did have a 33m pool which was perfect for a technique session led by Luke... it was also just right for splashing around with Wynne McKenzie as well :) However, you don't really need a lap pool when the Pacific Ocean is just a few hundred yards from your condo door. On the last day of camp, we took a boat trip two miles around the coastline from where we were staying... with the sole purpose of jumping off and swimming back home! Fatigue had caught up with me by this point in the camp so it was not my best swim but I did make it to shore safely, in spite of many tiny jelly fish stings. Ouch!

Blanco practicing "crocodile eyes"
33 meter resort pool
Open water point-to-point swim - Beth on the SUP
The days flew by and by the time we had to pack up to head home, I was kicking myself that I didn't tack on an extra day at the end of the camp to see a little bit more of Costa Rica. I know Blanco would have loved a visit to the surf beaches of Tamarindo... and I would have been happy to sit on the beach and watch him surf!

Zip lining group at Diamante Eco-park
2x Superman - Beth & Luke tackle the 1mile zipline
Now I'm back home in San Francisco and my body and mind are absorbing the camp experience and appreciating the value of spending time in a new environment while investing in my swim, bike and run skills. 16 years into the sport and I continue to learn lots about myself and my body on the triathlon journey.

I have one more training camp planned for the first half of my triathlon season and it will be here in San Francisco and Marin County. purplepatch fitness is repeating its successful women's camp from 2015 with a 3 day triathlon camp based in the Bay Area on April 22nd-24th. While we will be swimming and running, this camp is particularly good for anyone wanting to work on their cycling skills in a gorgeous place to ride bikes. The camp also includes nutrition and health seminars focused specifically on women... Check out the details here or message me with any questions!