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Triathlete Blog

Summer Camp In Session

By August 13, 2009July 13th, 2015No Comments

Get out your anti-itch and head to the bunk house. Summer camp is in session in Lisle.

It was back in March that I was thinking about summer camp. After working directly with Rachelle and Molly in Florida, I realized that I wanted more opportunities to work directly with my out of town athletes. Enter Cat, Andrea and Danni.

I’ve met Cat a few times, trained with her in San Diego. She’s like my sassy doppelganger; like me she was born in Brooklyn, she is witty, verbal, pensive and eager. I met Andrea late last fall while she was visiting local relatives. She lives in Kansas City and just has a lot of passion for the sport. She is driven but laid back. Focused but knows how to keep it all in perspective. She has no idea what a great athlete she is – or could be. Danni is from North Carolina, does most of her training alone so I felt like this would be a great way to connect her to other strong women at the start of her Ironman training. Danni is reserved but there is a fiery streak in her waiting to break out.

On Wednesday, I picked up Danni and Cat from the airport. We hung out on the back porch admiring my damn fine landscaping and waiting for Andrea roll in. Actually, she ran in desperately pleading for the bathroom. She’d been holding it since Iowa City or something like that. Spent some more time chitchatting then drove the hour north to Lake in the Hills.

We made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s to hunt down Cat’s glutenfree-nocarb-lowglycemic-nowheatbuckwheat breakfast cereal and after spitting all of that out at the clerk we learned they don’t carry it. The trip was not wasted, though. I noticed a pot of coffee in the rear of the store, almost took out two carts to get there, poured a small cup that I shot down in one gulp, turned to Andrea and said “that’s so I can keep up with Jen Harrison.”

Yes, Jen Harrison was there and yes, she was wearing pink. Tonight we were swimming 2 big loops in the lake. After agreeing that the lake itself smelled like canned niblet corn and the beach smelled like hamsters, we hopped into the lake. I love to lake swim. I have not done a pool workout in over two months. We all know this but it’s good to hear it: pool swimming is nothing like open water swimming. The open water requires swimming on your edges and pulling water strong. It requires steady state aerobic fitness and strength with no walls to use for free speed.

Right away some guy in a wetsuit hopped on Jen’s feet and spent all of 200 yards overkicking his way into me and slowly away from her while I’m thinking to myself would you kindly get out of the way so I can get on those feet! He fell off quick and then I just kept Jen in my sight. The pace hurt and we were right above my hauling ass pace. But I had two options: fall off pace and then sight for myself or let her do the work. As I learned, it’s much easier to sight on someone’s arms then to find a random boat on the shore where you’re supposed to make a left turn toward the weeping willow tree.


I ended up doing a little over 2.5 miles and I thought to myself – I’ll take this over the pool any day. As a side note, I used my new Garmin 310XT, a toy I got just to see what it was all about. Let me just say that while I give it an F for durability (the face cracked already when I dropped it) I give it an A for accuracy and cool factor. A little hint: when you swim with it, you can’t wear it on your wrist or else it will measure the distance your arm travels with each stroke. That would explain how I swam 4 miles in 45 minutes the other night (I was ready to ship myself directly to Colorado Springs with a sticker on the outside of me that says “Bring me to Phelps. Now.”) Stick it in the back of your suit or in your swim cap for accuracy.

After a dinner seated in the refrigerated section of Noodles, we drove back home and I believe we did one of the twenty loads of laundry we have done so far.

Thursday morning it was oatmeal and coffee. Then, a trip to the track to learn good running form. I had them warm up for 15 minutes and used my iPhone to henpeck some notes about their form. Observations like: weak core, heel strike, tuck the butt, too much dead time, pumping legs but getting nowhere, arms too far forward, you have asthma and probably my most philosophical observation:


My favorite moment on the track was when I told Cat she would do an 800 as hard as she could. Literally spit water out and said “I wasn’t expecting that.” I know! Isn’t it great when your coach is right there and reads your face which is undeniably saying “I really want to do an 800.” Cat would never say that because on Facebook she is Not a Fan of the Track. Each of them did an 800 so I could see what their faster running looked like. Then we taped them running toward me, away and to the side. Reviewed the weaknesses, the videos and then did drills to focus on having the foot fall directly under the body, drive the knees, faster feet and how to minimize the wasted upper body movement.

We headed home with Cat having hot flashes. Andrea said “It’s only 70 degrees out.” Cat’s response? “Yeah, but the heat index must be 75.”

All this from the California girl.

After watching Cat make what I will just call an orgasmic chicken, hummus, taboule and fresh basil wrap, we digested while fitting bicycles. Let me just say hot damn to Danni’s bike skills, she threw out the words “hex wrench” like it was part of her vernacular.

Next up was the pool. Well, really the beach. I can never do it justice in words – it’s just one of those “you have to see it” places. They warmed up in the 50 meter lanes and worked on each of their weaknesses. Danni and I have exchanged video and emails about her swimming – and I have explained the whole swimming over the water concept many times. But it wasn’t until I got into the water and corrected her elbows while swimming that I could see light bulb go off and she made the connection. She got it – finally engaged her lats!

Andrea is a wickedly speedy swimmer who just needs some upper body power. Put some paddles on that girl, had her single arm swimming and she said “I can hear the whooshwhooshwhoosh” now – YES! That is powerful swimming.

Cat is my special swimmy friend. I just love that Cat has chosen a race with a nonstop swim/run/swim/run/swim run format when she probably loves the pool as much as I love….beets. Anyways, the a-ha moment came when I walked next to her in the pool and noticed the pause – the pause in her stroke that is causing her elbow to drop and most of her power to float away. Eliminate the pause and all of a sudden Cat is a fish in the water.

After swimming, we walked over the Starbucks for an afternoon pick me up. Went back home for an easy spin. We rode over to the Arboretum and it was a beautiful run along the tree-lined roads and rolling hills. Danni informed me that they aren’t hills and I’ll take her word for it. But when I rode them up to one of the highest points in the county, at 720 feet above sea level, well, I think we all knew that it’s not every day you climb a mountain.

Back at home it was dinner time. Actually it was bed time. I told myself before today started that I would not still be in workout shorts at 7 pm but I was. I made dinner (chicken coconut curry) which was good for the winter but had us all hot flashing in moments since the house was at 81 degrees.

The real highlight for campers has not been the individualized attention – rather it has been my dog. My dog has slept with 3 different women in the past few weeks. First it was Amy, then Rachelle, and now Cat. He has been eyeing Andrea all evening. I suspect he has found a new victim. Speaking of victim, he apparently murdered Squeaky Carrot this morning. Didn’t even shave it first – went right for the stuffing and then extracted the squeaker.

(I would like to rescind my statement. After making his last potty for the evening, Boss has chosen Danni as his flavor for the night)

It’s 10:30 pm now. I just caught Cat in the kitchen – again – and have renamed her Snack Shop. Girl had her hands full of Bunny Grahams and TLC Crackers. When I do camps with other female athletes, I think one of the most important things that they see (or learn) is how much food you truly need to support all of this activity. Eat often, eat well and never go hungry. And if you are still hungry – EAT MORE!

The house is quiet. I gave Cat a bottle of Tylenol PM and she headed up to bed. I am convinced that even after the LIGHTS OUT call (ha) I’ll find her under the covers pecking away at her iPhone. I thought I was obsessed with mine…then I watched Cat. Boss just finished crazy laps with Danni and Andrea is sleeping in the man cave.

About the man – he actually fled to his parents house yesterday. I’m not sure what was worse in his mind: his house being overridden by 4 women or spending the next 5 days with his parents. While we have oodles of estrogen, they have a cuckoo clock and Popo. I think he drew the unlucky card but only time will tell. I have a feeling he’ll show up on the doorstep tomorrow after being woken at 5 am by 5 hoots and the clanging of pots and pans.

Tomorrow’s workouts: brick at Fermilab/McKee Marsh and trip to Lululemon.

I’m not sure which will be harder.