Camp #NoSightNoLimits – 1/20 – 1/25/17

This all happened because I didn’t understand the rules. Yes, I know that’s an odd way to start a blog post, especially when I know a USAT/ITU official will most likely read it. But it’s the honest truth.

As a brief explanation for those of you who haven’t read the historical Triathlon blogs, what I mean is this. When I decided to do Triathlons, Terri was my intended guide. I thought the USAT rules about guide gender would throw a wrench into all sorts of plans, so I went looking for male guides. This eventually led me to several wonderful Facebook groups. What I found in the long-run was that I didn’t entirely know the rules. Meaning that for Regionals and above, the USAT set is inflexible; but for the smaller races there are some rules that Race Directors have latitude on (guide gender being one).

So even though it was unnecessary to have gone through all that at that point, it was good for the long-run. If I hadn’t expended the effort, I wouldn’t have met Amy Dixon, I wouldn’t have known about Camp #NoSightNoLimits, and I would have missed out on an AMAZING opportunity.

Since receiving my Golden Ticket the day before Thanksgiving, I had been getting things together for camp. Not just the material things (gear, nutrition, etc.), but also the physical base. Several workout sessions on the bike with clips proved to be frustrating but still a good step forward. And after scrambling around the week prior to camp, I left for San Diego ready to learn and get stronger, faster and better.

To say that there were bumps getting to San Diego would be an understatement. It started with my dad severely bruising or tearing a tendon in his arm as we tried to get the bike box in the car. The next hiccup was when I got to O’Hare and was told the bike fee wasn’t waived. Apparently the reservations people didn’t put their notes in. Once that was fixed by the supervisor, I made my way to the gate. I have been traveling alone for many years as my sight declined and have never seen a terminal so dark or struggled so much because of it. The best analogy I can give is that the power’s gone out and you’re powering things at 40% off of generators.

Having finally found the gate, I was able to get help with pre-boarding and thought it was smooth sailing ahead to San Diego. Unfortunately, I was wrong again. While I don’t know this as a fact, I am pretty sure that two of the engines momentarily cut out somewhere over Oklahoma. I say that because I felt the plane going downwards and then heard noises like a helicopter starting up. I was only a couple rows in front of the wings which is why I was able to hear it so well. Coming down out of the clouds in San Diego wasn’t much fun either. In turbulent weather, it was like the huge roller coaster drops.

While the trip to San Diego didn’t go as smoothly as planned, things did once I arrived. United’s ground crew helped to make sure that I got from the plane to a taxi with my bike/bags, and I made it to the hotel without incident.

As we didn’t need to be at camp until noon the next day, Luke and I went swimming at a local YMCA. In the outdoor pool, I did a little more than a mile before we heded back to get breakfast and get ready to head to Chula Vista. Upon arriving at the Olympic Training Center (OTC), we had a chance to meet other campers during lunch and then unpack while bikes were built by Mike.

The first workout was a 16 mile bike ride (8 out and 8 back). I had spent time working on clipping in/out and pedaling while clipped, so I was looking forward to getting out on the bike. Unfortunately things didn’t go as well as I had hoped – clipping in was a struggle and a real safety issue. The shoe/clip issue is one of the many tweaks that came out of camp and will make things better in the long run. Because of the safety concerns, I was on flat pedals for the rest of the camp.

After an entertaining evening in the room, the second day started in the pool. After doing warm ups and some open water drills, Coach Ray spent time helping me with stroke and breathing mechanics. That was a huge help, and something that I was very grateful for. We also figured out a better way to tether at the leg instead of the waist. This will help going forward so that I’m not hitting one of my arms during the stroke.

The afternoon found us on the lawn, on bikes and ready for an interesting bike skills workout. It had been raining for two days before and throughout. There was wet grass and mud – I’ll let you use your imagination as to how things worked out. We did get in a lot of good control drills, and I found something else to tweak on the bike. The seat seems to be too long and at one point it caught and tore the outer layer of the kit. We finished up the day on the track with all sorts of different running drills.

The next day started in the pool again since it had been raining. We were told that you have to wait 72 hours after it rains before you can go into the ocean. Knowing that there was a small window before leaving and a long bus ride, I packed my bag the night before. I was certain that I put my tri kit into the bag, but when we got there I couldn’t find it. Thankfully, Luke had an extra pair of shorts and I was able to be in the pool. Coach Ray helped more with the technique and breathing throughout the session, and it went well. Ending the session in a hot tub was a nice benefit.

Once back, we did some work on the track and then a transition clinic. Up to this point, it had been raining pretty much every time we’d been outside. This time Mother Nature decided to add insult to injury and added hail during it. We had to run for cover, but still did the clinic once it let up. I learned several things that will help going forward.

The fourth day started like the previous two in the pool. While it was a familiar place to start the day, the drills, format and focus were different. Doing hypoxic drills when you know it’s X strokes to a breath is bad enough. Doing them where you’re focused on not breathing for yards/meters is even worse. There were a couple of other drills that worked really well and will get incorporated as I continue training.

In the afternoon, we were out on the Criterion course. It’s a course built with hills, curves, ups-and-downs and more to test your skills. After several loops around, we did different drills (180s, starts/stops, and more), finishing with the slowest race on earth. At some point during the drills, I cut up my leg. I saw it and that was bleeding but just kept going. Minor injuries / hurdles will happen during a race; you deal with what’s an emergency and push through the rest. The evening finished with an opportunity to thank those who had helped make this experience possible after time in the weight room.

While I’ve talked about the workouts, that was only one piece of camp. Another was getting to meet and talk with the other athletes and their guides. Take a look at the NBC video to see and learn a little about some of them. Yet another was learning sessions. We learned about nutrition, guiding, rules and so much more from amazing and spectacular coaches. I learned a tremendous amount during these sessions that will help as I go forward. I’m not going to go into detail about these though – you had to be there.

Even though there were a few challenges, it was an amazing experience. Five days of being pushed to and then beyond your limits to continue getting better and stronger. I am so extremely grateful to everyone who made this possible – family, friends & CAF for providing support, Amy, Debbie and all of the coaches for camp and all of the amazing experiences/learning; Luke for being my guide/pilot and United for all of their assistance.

You can see a small snapshot of camp by viewing the NBC video!

I had an opportunity to spend time with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 20 years before heading home and family during a stopover. I was glad to make it back home, and am focusing on the next steps towards improvement for 2017!

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