One of the best choices I made this year was to get involved with the Well Fit Training Center in Chicago. If you haven’t heard, it’s a great facility filled with everything you could and would need to become the best athlete you can be this year. Sure, that’s a shameless plug but folks it’s just a really cool place.
Treadmills, strength equipment, balls, bands, weights, endless pool, computrainers, New Leaf testing equipment (and coaches that know how to interpret your results), showers, bike storage. For an athlete living in the city, it doesn’t get much better than that.
On Tuesday nights, I do my little “commute” to the city around 3 pm to teach a weekly Iron Moo class. That would be a class for those working towards Ironman Wisconsin 2009. At first I wasn’t sure what I would think of the drive. I pride myself in the fact that my commute takes about 20 steps from my bedroom to the kitchen table each morning. But each week I can’t help but get excited when the entire skyline of the city comes into view somewhere along 290 as I drive.
My class doesn’t start until 7 pm so it gives me plenty of time to do whatever I want until then. Sometimes I meet with athletes, sometimes I do my own workout, other times – like yesterday – I talk Jen into riding with me along the lakefront for an easy spin. Lucky for us Sharone invited himself (really, it was lucky because he knew the way to the lakefront) and I felt like a little kid on an urban bike adventure. If you want to improve your bike handling skills, ride through the city. Armed with Sharone’s advice “act like you are a car” we weaved our way around potholes big enough they could swallow a baby, bridges, curbs, cars, 3 lanes of traffic and when we thought we had done and seen it all – Sharone cuts off a bus filled with school children.
Ah, the city.
Anyways, last night was a fun night in class. There are 16 all star athletes in the program. They range from never ridden a bike outside beginner to having done a few Ironmans under their race belts. After just 7 weeks there is great mojo in the class. Like any group of city folk, they go out for recovery food and drink afterwards (note to athletes: best not to text coach photos of your recovery drinks…hahaha), set up a game night and seem to otherwise be forming the connections that we hoped would happen along their iron journey.
They have gotten so connected that some nights I can barely talk over the chatter. I also feel this is what happens when you get a bunch of people training together for Ironman mostly in the aerobic heart rate zones. They have the air to talk! And talk they do. I will probably lose my voice after September but that is ok. I just really enjoy seeing athletes together on the bikes, united with the same mission: IRONMAN and working not harder but smarter to achieve their goal.
Last night we did a strength and bike combo. In the second set of strength when there were a few moans and groans I reminded the IronMoo’ers that they did ask for it. Even as I left, Patrick said “I kind of felt sorry for them.” THEY DID ASK FOR IT! And it’s a good thing they asked – because Ironman is all about strength and muscular endurance.
Not only did we do a special workout last night but we also celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. The athlete dressed most Irishly received a fabulous prize. I served green sports food (you’d be surprised how many brands make a green something) and green sports drink (lemon-lime, close enough). Yes I check IDs! Many came dressed in an Irish disguise. Karin’s beer gloves were great and Donna’s green shoes almost sealed the win. But it was Lore who actually wore her outfit during the entire workout that really pulled ahead for the win.
Here’s Lore, the winner, in a full on Irish cycling kit.
She’s one of 14 children. Yeah, she’s got a little Irish in her blood.
We went through the strength routine 4 times alternating with the bike where we did 4 segments of what I call “fun” on the Ironman Germany course. I am not sure the athletes called it fun but it was all for their good. Still they had energy to go back out and work hard at strength.
Look at them! Hard at work. That is Steve on the Bosu Ball and Mike doing one-legged squats. Dan is perfectly positioned in the middle of a medicine ball crunch up. I’m not sure who the guy on the back extension machine is because that move wasn’t even a part of our class. And then there is Shawn standing in the back. I am not sure what he’s doing but that’s just…Shawn.
Here is Karin doing a reverse sit-up. She had some sweaty ball issues, as you can see. Honestly I don’t blame her. That ball was digusting by the end of the class!
All in all it was a great night of hard work and good times. I’ve got to admit that Tuesday is becoming one of my favorite nights. It reminds me of teaching – whether it was teaching kids about the environment, teaching parents how to help their special needs child, I’ve always been a teacher and can’t think of any better job. It’s the moment when you finally see it clicking and realize you had a part in that. To step back and watch them show up with their sports food, follow their heart rate zones and talk about the upcoming weekend ride. There is no feeling more rewarding than empowering others to knowledge, information and experience.
What a great opportunity and great group of athletes. To all of our IronMoo All Stars: keep working, connecting and enjoying it. That’s part of the fun of Ironman. It’s a journey like no other and when you are surrounded with others that support and share the journey it makes it only better.