Wednesday, June 2, 2010

camp CHICago

i've spent the past six days in triathlon heaven!

a few months back elizabeth asked me if i would be able to come out to chicago because she and jennifer were hosting a triathlon camp for 13 women and by the time the camp rolled around, she would be in her 8th month of pregnancy and need of some extra hands ... and legs.

don't get me wrong, there is nothing this pregnant woman can't do, but riding on a triathlon bike for hours on end, on roads with car traffic just wasn't gonna happen.

liz doing side plank -- see what i mean? awesome!
(photo by molly)

i started coaching about 8 months ago myself, so the opportunity to go out and work with two women i really like and admire sounded fantastic!

as always, liz and her husband chris made me feel right at home as soon as i arrived ... even allowing me to co-opt their dog's attention and steal him as my bed mate each night. i was here a little less than a year ago and it was great to be back and enjoy all the green, green, green outdoors they have. trails that go on forever and air that changes in both smell and weight as the day moves along. i miss that.

liz and chris' infamous dog, "boss"

the first night of camp we all had dinner together. it was a nice relaxed time before all the intensity began and it was a good chance to learn a little about everyone. the 13 women were of varying ages and exposure to triathlon, but all were clearly dedicated, focused and wanting to be pushed.

first night of camp ... gettin' the low down for the weekend

day one started with open water swimming, including drills and race technique. then a long bike ride through the most gorgeous farm land. it was HOT and windy, but all of the women sucked it up and challenged themselves. after the ride everyone did a short, hilly run off the bike. then it was refuelrefuelrefuel and on to yoga.

on our ride - beautiful illinois countryside
(photo by molly)

during the yoga session, liz and i took the opportunity to get in a swim ourselves and ohmygod, it was everything i love about open water swimming without any of the stuff i don't love (rip tides, angry surf, difficult sighting). we traversed back and forth across the lake for about 45 minutes and i felt such peace and rhythm. i came out of the water feeling refreshed and reconnected (it was my first open water swim so far this season).

"lake in the hills"

that night we all had a great dinner together and then it was off to prepare for day 2!

a tired, but awesome bunch of women
(photo by molly, via our waiter)

day 2 started with jen leading a swim workout and one by one liz videotaping and giving feedback to each athlete. i was able to join liz for part of this and giving some feedback felt really great. i was thrilled to see that all the hands on work, reading, watching, learning i've done has really paid off. i was able to identify some challenges people were having and suggest things for them to work on. oh man, is that gratifying!

after the swim everyone met in what was now the baking sun and we headed off to a nearby hill for some repeats. each woman again rose to the occasion and gave the hill what they had. afterward, liz lead the group in run drills and it seemed like everyone had great take aways from that.

run drills!!

next up half of the group did strength and stretching with me and liz while the other half had a TRX session with kate and then the groups switched. i had not done TRX before and liz generously offered me the opportunity to join in. it's very cool and i can see how it would be beneficial to my overall strength as well as my swim, bike, run.

i took a lot of grief for this photo, but i think it's kinda badass (photo by molly)

molly's been doing TRX for a few months now ... she's really good at it!
(photo by jen)

as if all that wasn't challenge enough for one day ... liz's athletes then came down to her part of town and we all rode through my most favorite arboretum. this place is heaven and if i lived here i would ride and run in it all spring/summer/fall long. that night we had a chance to hang out a socialize again while liz's husband made an impressive dinner that we SCARFED like savages after two long days of training.

day 3, the women had signed up for the elgin fox trot - 10 miler and 5k. WOW! they all showed up and did what i'm not so sure i'd be willing to do after putting all those miles on my legs. to say it was hot and muggy would be an understatement. it was the kind of humid that makes you feel like your lungs are wrapped in saran wrap. i hyperventilate just thinking about it! but they all went out, got their run on and had a blast.

and then, BAM ... camp was over (and a massive rain, thunder, lightening storm rolled in).

at the conclusion of camp each of the athletes had an opportunity to tell the group what they had learned over the weekend. the coaches didn't share, but i couldn't help but reflect upon my time and feel like i came away with so much more knowledge.

post-race, camp conclusion chit-chat

both jennifer and liz are phenomenal athletes. they have each participated in the sport for years, they've each qualified for and raced kona, multiples times. they have accolades a mile long. they've coached for years and have impressive rosters of athletes. and for all of the similar accomplishments they have, they are very different both on the exterior and interior. jen is tall, blonde, chatty. liz is small, dark and reserved. they each process and present information in different ways.

jennifer, post-race

elizabeth, pre-pregnancy

i think their similar love for the sport and different ways of sharing that love was a real benefit to all of the campers. everyone learns differently and you never know when the way one person says something will generate that a-ha! moment. i know, for me, as a newer coach, seeing two pros each share in their unique way, created a robust experience beyond compare.

i came to help and am leaving having been helped.

i'm ready to head home, but i'm sad to go.

thanks CHICago!



Beth said...

What a great experience for everyone!! And I didn't know you are a coach Cat - how awesome!! Best of luck with your business - you have lots of great role models to learn from! I know you will be awesome!

ADC said...

That is such an awesome summary of the camp. I am so glad you had a blast.

Charisa said...

Looks like a great training camp!

M said...

That looks crazy awesome!! I need to get on that for next year for sure!

I am so glad you had a great experience - it sounds like you brought a lot of good coaching to the table, and that all the ladies really benefitted from the weekend. I can't believe they raced after all that training! That's super badass!

Michelle Simmons said...

Sounds like everybody learned something over the weekend. Awesome!! Sounds fun!

Kristi said...

Great wrap up....had a blast at camp and it was great to meet you!

JV said...

It was great to meet you! It is great to hear that you enjoy our lakes, parks and weather. Chicagoans always complain (especially in February!), but it is pretty beautiful out here when everything is green.

Jennifer Harrison said...

GREAT recap, Cat!We could not have done this camp w/o your great help, patience and awesome attitude, thank you!

And I could not have been MORE nausous or HOT and wet in that 'ohsolovely' pic of me post race. ick! haha :))

TriGirl Kate O said...

Oh, how I wish I could've gone!

I am still hoping you'll join us in wine country next month.

Alili said...

I want to go to camp next summer!!!!