February – life in the desert
I spent a lot of time in the desert this February and while some of it was planned there were many unique experiences that were not planned(adventure) but the end result was the same…and simple. I spent a lot of time wandering in the wilderness this month. I could not help but reflect about how life in the desert can change your perspective, allow you time to unwind some thoughts and get a lot of work done. The desert in the winter is a great place to do work and gain focus. There are few distractions, the weather is usually stable enough to get in consistent training and there is an overwhelming need to simplify. After moving last month and being busy with work and life it was the first time I have really been able to absorb the traveling and changes Monique and I had gone through last year. It was a time for me to return to a focus to what was motivating me before I set the goals for the next round. January help set me up with some good frequency in all three sports and with our move, Monique and I were ready to get back to a routine and return to what OUR goals were for the next year. Not just repeating what we did last year or what we “should” be doing at our age… Returning to mountain biking, camping and quality time with Monique helped set us up to make a good list in February.
“all the roots grow deeper when its dry” ~ David Wilcox
As much as the desert can be a place for focus, reflection and rolling some big volume in the winter there must also be a plan and time to get out. As much as the early part of the year will be pretty unstructured for us, and a little wandering and adventure is fun, too much time in the desert can lead to death. In a few months the desert will be roasting hot and without a plan to the promise land most of the time in the desert will need to be spent inside an air conditioned house or under some rock in the shade.
After focusing on frequency in January, I had planned to keep my running sessions the same going into February but I cut out the speed/track sessions and just focused on keeping the volume and frequency rolling while adding a half iromman in the middle of the month as training. That would be all my running speed work for February until the Endurance Corner Tuscon camp at the end of the month. On the bike, I found myself riding less but when I was riding, I was working hard on the bike. Racing! Most of this was from the mountain bike and getting back on my tri bike for the first time in a while. I was swimming at Nova more than ever when I was home but I was not home much towards the end of February. Still, I learned this month how lucky I was to be part of such a well organized Masters swim team and appreciated how all of our swim sets build towards the end…it gets harder and faster. Maybe part of why I was not making practices as much in the past but something that would get me focused on more Nova in the future…after some dry time in the dirt.
Two weeks into the month, Monique and I joined team Walsh for the desert brick weekend training in Palm Springs. Saturday, we rolled out with a few thousand people for the Palm Springs Century and Sunday we backed it up with a half marathon. Fatigue and fitness go hand and hand. How quickly we ditch fatigue while holding onto the fitness is what makes the training cycles and tapering so unique. Generating as much fatigue as I could going into this weekend was the goal as the events were only training and I wanted to see how much fitness I could hold onto while I dealt with the fatigue. It made a good challenge to try and run a PR half but still allowing enough room to beat that time again at the Cali 70.3 in a few weeks when I would be running of the bike but hopefully with less fatigue. I managed to beat my time (1:24:30) and didn’t get chicked by Beth in the process…and I didn’t realize how close it was until I just looked at the results. Yikes! The course was crazy with more turns than I would expect in a trail race. Check out the map from James review. He went 75min or something…fast!
After hitting it pretty hard for a few weekends in a row we decided to go support some friends the next weekend at the 24 hours of Old Pueblo. I was really looking forward to supporting Keevin and Paul racing solo and we had the about a dozen other friends out racing. The plan was to just relax, support and enjoy a weekend of camping. That was the plan…We headed out early in the week for a photo shoot just east of San Diego and after freezing in partially snow covered trails we made out way out to Arizona. Lesson learned again. Traveling is hard on the body and mind even when it is fun. We scramble up Pichaco Peak for some adventure along the way. Monique was also feeling the fatigue but just stoked about some adventure as you can tell.
are we there yet?
lots of options
When we got to Old Pueblo the goal was to support friends. We were toasted from a few big weeks and had planned some good times and relaxing activities around our camp. However, someone ended up giving Monique and I a two person team entry to RACE. Ellsworth was there to support the solo riders and everyone else (thanks a ton to Dan!) so we decided to work in plenty of laps between supporting friends and just enjoying the course. It is a rad course too and probably the best 24hr loop I have ever seen.
time to RACE
Monique powers up!
Another lesson from wandering… Adventure is fun! Adventure is cool! There is a time and place for it but there is also a time when I need to learn to say no to myself and others. However, for now, February was the time and the desert was the place so we powered up and went for it. The desert can teach you to adjust as needed on the fly. It keeps you on your toes. We would face the heat, rain and even hail on some night laps as the 24 hours of mountain biking unfolded. And that was just the changes in weather. It was hard but looking back it was the challenges along with watching friends suffer (all in good fun of course) is what made the weekend so cool!
Paul asked me to ride with him on the first lap and I set some best power numbers on the bike trying to RACE everyone in the craze of the first lap. At one point, I looked over at Paul (both of us drooling and snot flying while we were desperately clawing for oxygen) and said something like “are you SURE you wan to go this hard on the first lap?”. He was racing solo but never backed down and did not stop until he squeezed out every drop of that 24hr course. That man is a BEAST!
and a rockstar
Paul, Keevin, Adam, Jeff, Glen, Tiffany and Wes all crushed it racing solo. Watching them suck it up was in inspiring and made me not ever want to race a 24hr solo ;-) I broke my rear derailleur sometime in the middle of the night and ended up running a lap and then used Adams spare bike to ride the last lap with Keevin and him the next morning. That was the highlight of the race for me. Keevin crushed some dreams and rolling in the last lap with them in the sunshine is something I never want to forget!
This is a long post…and it was a long month. Before we headed home we got to visit Trevor in Scottsdale. Another lesson for me in about what motivates me. People. I have a lot of notes from this month and the people I learned from and was encouraged by is what it all revolves around. Fatigue stands no chance against such motivation! I could be in the most desolate place in the world but still be filled with laughter when in the presence of good people and really what else matters. We got back in the water with Trevor and then logged some more trail time.
Have you ever noticed how everything looks the same in the desert? It makes simplification easy but navigation tricky. Get rid of excess and liabilities that in time will just slow you down or pull you off course. This has to be balanced with a willingness to make adjustments along the way when weather or something else pops up. What is that goal? What is the destination? Is it your route? Do you desire the results of someone else? Are you willing to make the sacrifices they made? Are you willing to accept the limitations of that person as well? Learning in the lab. Thriving in the desert. Its not about what goes down in the desert but how it sets you up for the promise land. Its simple. Get focused, do what is specific towards your goals and keep repeating (adding motivation & fuel when needed) as you work out your plan. It all starts with knowing exactly WHERE you want to go(and that starts by knowing where YOU are at right now). Get stuck in the desert and you will wander.
For racing, I decided to skip Kona this year and take up a couple (dare I say) “once and a lifetime” opportunities to experience somethings that are at the root of why I love sport and adventure. This may have me skipping any WTC events, some normal progressive training and even somethings in life that go the “normal” route but I am okay with that. Actually, I am planning on not taking the normal route ;-) One thing that will be on my schedule for sure is Ultraman at the end of the year. No change of focus there at all.
That sums up my February but I still was not quite out of the desert. Monique and I headed home for a week before I was off again to Scottsdale with Max to spend some more time with Trevor and the boys before our Endurance Corner camp in Tuscon. . . but that is best left for next month when the adventure begins.