FCA Camp in Tucson Arizona

This past weekend I spent it in Tucson with my first FCA Endurance camp.  I think it was the 8th year for this event, and the 3rd time it has been in Tucson.  I really didn’t know what to expect with the camp.  But the one thing I really wanted to do was meet and network with more like-minded people.  I also was really wanting to have a time before my first race in Panama to really relax, and not have the pressure of work, domestic things to get done before the race, and spend time with friends from Louisville (Larry Gough and Ryan Althaus).

The weather has been anything but expected since we got here.  Due to that, FCA changed their schedule around so those of us that wanted to bike up Mt. Lemmon could do it.  Unfortunately for me, my bike was in shambles when I got to Tucson.  My headset was missing out of my bike box, I found out my wheels weren’t glued, and my fuel box was removed from my frame.  Long story short, a local bike shop over-nighted the headset I needed, since the Scott Plasma Premium uses a different size than other bikes, and I glued my wheels.  However, none of it was ready to go in time to ride up Mt. Lemmon with the group.  After the breakout sessions that I attended, the group went out riding and I stuck around the hotel trying to patiently wait for my bike to get fixed… emphasis on “trying.”  I walked to the pool down the road to get a swim in while waiting, but it was a seasonal pool and was closed.  So I continued to chill at the hotel where the FCA camp was being held.  I eventually just walked to the bike shop and decided to wait there until my bike was fixed.  I walked in and it was waiting for me.  So I changed my clothes and hopped on my bike and rode to the hotel to drop off my backpack.  I attempted to meet the group on the way down from Mt. Lemmon, but managed to make a few wrong turns and decided to just do my own thing.  I ended up riding out to Colossal Cave somewhere on the east end of town.  Which is where I got this photo:

The following day we had breakout groups to help people put their goals in writing… not just race specific goals, but goals to accomplish in training and how to make sure that we keep the sport fun and interesting.  There was also talks on biking efficiency, tapering properly, nutrition, etc.

The afternoon we made a trip to the pool at Arizona State University.  Thanks to a local coach, Brian Grasky, for securing some lanes for us and leading a workout.  He also spent a little time with each athlete to give them some pointers on their stroke to help with efficiency.  From there, we took a trip to a place called Fantasy Island for some trail running.  This place was incredible.  The locals made decorations in the park from old bikes and bike parts, which included a Christmas tree, medals from races hanging from trees, and so much more.  I spent the run with some of my new friends that I met during the trip including Brian Grasky, Heather Gollnick, Barry Edwards, Brad Seng, and Daniel Perkins.

That night, a pastor from California spoke.  Since this was an endurance community, his talk started out with the “firsts” that was have when we get into the sport.  Our first flat, our first crash, and our first bonk.  The main point of the message was that just like while racing and training we need fuel to keep going, we need spiritual food to keep us going spiritually.  Dan did a great job presenting his point in a fun and interesting way while using the scripture to back up his points.

The following day was the final day of the camp.  We started off the day with a Pro Panel Q & A.  I was invited to help answer questions along with Heather Gollnick, Jamie Whitmore, Brian Grasky, and Brad Seng.  I must say that I was truly honored to be bunched together with a group of such amazing athletes.  And to be honest I felt like with all their experience racing professionally and successful careers, I didn’t really deserve to lumped together with such amazing talent.  We answered anything from questions about basic training questions, to nutrition, to how to safely pee on the bike… which I actually have a reputation for during races.  One question a person from the group in charge of Iron Prayer at WTC events, Troy, asked a specific question about starting out on the journey of being a professional athlete.  He was curious about the sacrifices I would have to make.  Although, I don’t consider these sacrifices, I mentioned how I tend to find a campsite and sleep on the ground on an air mattress or find a cheap hostel.  I talked about how I reduced my workload at the hospital to 4 days a pay period from 6 days, started coaching people, and rent out rooms in my house.  Yes, money is tight with all the traveling, but I think it makes it more adventurous to camp before a race or stay in hostel.  I have had some of my best races when sleeping on the ground the night before a race.  And the times I’ve stayed in hostel, I have met some really cool people from all over the world.  If there is one thing I’ve noticed in the last few months since I started reducing my workload over the last couple months, is that my stress levels about training have decreased.  I’m not nearly as tired, I have more of a social life, and feel much more content in life.

The camp wrapped up with some SWAG giveaways provided by some of FCA’s sponsors.  I managed to pick up a new race belt from T1 Pro race belt that is magnetic instead of a plastic clip.  My name was called early on in the drawing, so I took something that most people probably wouldn’t want or was relatively cheap and left some of the other good stuff for other people.  I am excited about trying the new belt since I always struggle to get my belt clipped together while starting on the run.

That afternoon after the camp wrapped up, Larry, Ryan and I decided to bike up Mt. Lemmon since I didn’t get to go up with the group.  However, on the way to the mountain, Larry crashed his bike on a nasty looking speed bump and fractured his clavical.  He insisted on Ryan and I to continue the ride.  I made it to 8000 feet in elevation before I decided to not continue any higher due to really heavy fog that limited vision to about 30 yards.  I only had about 200 feet more of climbing to do since the last 4 miles is basically flat to the ski resort.  That is the highest I’ve been on my bike before, and I was excited to not feel the effects of the elevation.  However, I wasn’t going all out like I would in a race and probably notice then.  It was cold that high… about 40 degrees with a nasty headwind and mist in the air.  Totally worth it though.  A nice since of accomplishment.

Now I have a few days to relax before leaving for Panama City, Panama.  Since it’s been raining again all day today, it’s forced me to be smart and stay inside off my feet, other than the 1 hour swim I got in this morning at a local pool.

I took Larry to the hospital to get a copy of his x-rays to send to his orthopedic back in Louisville.  On the way back, it was pouring rain and then the sun came out and made a double rainbow.  Between those two and the other that I saw on my way to the pool this morning, I saw three rainbows in Tucson.  I wonder if this a good omen, or just climate change (apparently this week broke a record for most amount of rain in Tucson in one week).  Three rainbows… three sports… flying to three races… or is the desert valley of Tucson just going to be underwater this time next year.  I’m not sure, but I hope its a good omen!

And just to make this post longer, here are some more pictures from the weekend: