We have successfully escaped the dreary, cold remnants of winter in Chicago.
And I heard that it was 60 degrees there today.
Last night after what felt like the world’s longest flight (it took 8 magazines, two bars and an entire playlist) we finally landed in Tucson at 11 pm. Nearly every exit on the expressway was under construction so we took the long long long way to our hotel before finally checking in around 12:30 am. And by 1 am I announced we would be changing hotels in the morning. Yes, I had my Miss Daisy moment. Trust me, I can rough it. I’ve spent 6 weeks of summers on Ragbrai sweating balls (you sweat them even when you don’t have them) in a tent surrounded by corn and 15 sweaty drunk released into the wild for one week away from their married lives men. But as I get older when I am in a hotel I will not rough it. It needs to be clean, not smell like a casino and be located far from the noise of a highway.
In the morning we kicked off with bagels and coffee then found our Sherpa. He hasn’t changed. He claims he is unfit but then again – he always claims this. Our first task together was to find a new home for the next 4 days. Hey, here’s something you can try. When we arrived at the Residence Inn and the clerk said it would be $169 a night I said no thanks, we’ll just go somewhere up the road. When she came back with “well, how much are you looking to pay” before I could even do a double take (did she just ask that?), Thomas chimed in with $99 a night and that is how we ended up with a deeply discounted penthouse suite that is nicer than our own house.
After settling into our new home we put together bikes. Imagine my surprise when Chris opened my bike box and I noticed two wheels….the surprising part was that one was a 700 and the other was a 650. Yes, he packed two rear wheels plus one was the wrong size. Normally I would flip out but for some reason I’m in a good mood today. I’d say it’s the fact that it is above 20 degrees and the sun is shining. I laughed it off only saying that it provided yet even more proof that he indeed lost the mailbox key. He first denied it in the airport right after he said to me “have you seen my driver’s license” while it was in his own bag. I didn’t believe him then, and don’t believe him now! He lost the key!
We headed over the Sabino Canyon for a 90 minute run. Several friends recommended the Phoneline Trail so we gave it a go. I love to run trails but in Illinois a trail is a crushed limestone path about 6 feet wide. In Arizona, trail means climb 600 feet in ½ mile over rocks. About 15 minutes into the run I was finding myself nearing LT and watching Thomas and Chris pull away. Many times I had to stop, walk and gather myself. I just laughed. At least I was outside. But after 3 months of treadmill running, finding my footing on the rocks was harder than my breathing. Which by the way had turned into full on wheezing. About 20 minutes into the trail, I was at a fork. At this point, Thomas and Chris were so far ahead of me – when I last saw them they were talking like schoolgirls while I was waiting for the vultures to start circling. I made a wrong turn at the fork which took me down the hill (mountain?) we had just climbed and running down that was ok until I nearly sent myself head over rock and decided to just walk.
I could see the road as I got lower on the trail but realized there was a creek between me and the road. A couple was actually standing on the rocks in the middle of the creek trying to find their way over it. All I wanted was pavement so I literally climb around them then use the man for a hand in footing, make it to the other side and shout to them IT CAN BE DONE! The woman, not so amused, said to me – of course, you are half my age! Probably not….but I am in the middle of my long run so I’m kind of in a hurry!
The road winded through the canyon itself. Finally I was alone and where I wanted to be. I’m not such a big fan of running with anyone else. Inevitably it requires a small amount of small talk that no matter what you talk about always seems so strained. Also it becomes a game of keeping up. I don’t run to keep up, I run because I just freakin’ love to run. Running alone surrounded by the tall saguaros and a limitless sky my mind finally quiets and empties. There are no thoughts. No worries. There is just the run. I could care less how far I go or my mile pace. I just love to run.
Along the way I crossed a series of beautiful bridges with water rushing over the rocks in the creek. It was amazing – desert wildflowers were blooming and it was so peacefully quiet. Still there was noise in my legs as the next 3 miles were entirely uphill. A slow, steady climb but a climb nonetheless. Turned around, cruised back down the hill all the way to the visitor center where I saw Chris and Thomas. Still talking like schoolgirls. Did anyone else leave zone 1 today except me!?!?!
Afterwards we headed over to TriSports.com to borrow me a set of wheels. Imagine my delight (but later horror) when the clerk said I could borrow a set of demo wheels. Zipp wheels. Zip 404’s. Super. Excited at first I later realized this would only make me even more aerodynamic while descending Mt. Lemmon.
I am not really interested in aerodynamics while descending.
We went for an easy spin. Well, I called it an easy spin. And easy spin is not going over 23 mph. An easy spin is not surging at over 300 watts to bridge the gap between me and the boys at a stoplight. An easy spin is not the big ring. An easy spin……it was like I was off the back before I was anywhere near the front! Last month in Florida training with the girls I thought to myself “I am so fit!” Today training with the boys I thought to myself “I am so f*cked!” And you know you’re giving a bad show when Thomas pulls alongside you and says “is this your first time riding outside.”
!*&#@&&@(*&!!!!!!&%*&(*&(*$&(*%&)*****&#$#$!!!! It’s supposed to be an EASY RIDE!
We got ready for dinner and I had my moment in the shower where I thought WHAT in the world am I doing here. I am going to spend an entire weekend suffering in the back of the Thomas/Chris pack wondering how I got so out of shape. But then I realized something – last year we would do these training trips and I was always in front, working hard and super fit. And then last year my season was over in April. So this year I’m hoping to delay the peak in my season by about….oh 6 months. So feeling a little unfit, out of shape and in over my head right now is not such a bad place to be.
We went to dinner and on the way down the stairs noticed a certain world champion triathlete and her husband making burgers for a big group. Turns out that Sam McGlone is here with her camp. We thought about throwing our pro cards at her but then realized we should exercise some constraint with our amount of ballsyness. Because we are climbing Mt. Lemmon tomorrow. And will need every ounce of ballsy we can get.
A trip to Trader Joe’s and Thomas bought a tub of peanut butter cups. I don’t believe that you can eat this entire thing he said at the checkout. I can’t believe he doubts me? If you are going to give me a challenge you’re going to have to do better than that. Ask me to eat two tubs in one sitting. Heck, I know I can do that – raise it to three. You see, this year I am serious about the chow. Last year I never ate enough and I was always hungry. When you are always hungry your body is telling you something = EAT! When you ignore it, you end up digging yourself in a hole and never recovering. I’ve realized the key to these training camps is to eat well and eat often. I cannot believe some days how much I eat! And how many peanut butter cups will soon be in my belly!
Actually Thomas is throwing out all sorts of sass tonight. I’m not sure what has gotten into him. Come to think of it, I watched him drink two glasses of mountain dew at dinner. He’ll either wet his bed tonight or get a really early start to climbing Mt. Lemmon – like go and do it then come back to get us before 7 am. He said to me “Liz, are you fit right now?” I almost threw peanut butter cups at him as a response.
I asked him what kind of question that was and he said he wanted to know what kind of ride we are in for tomorrow. Fit or not it’s going to hurt like heck! He says we should race up to a certain point of the climb and that person has to eat a Sonoran Hot Dog. Then he threw a magazine at me with the page open to a picture of the Sonoran Hot Dog. Yuck! If that’s the prize then I am doing what it takes to climb that mountain unfit.
So, if you see someone climbing at 2 mph tomorrow grinding at 60 rpms that will be me in all of my superior unfitness. But the joke is really on Chris and Thomas ahead of me. Because when we get back I’m opening up to page 108 in the magazine and saying I win. Onions, jalapeno sauce, bacon, pinto beans and mayonnaise after a long ride?
Don’t know about you but I’d rather eat another bar than that.