21 January 2007

Epic NZ 2007 - Epilogue

Epic NZ 2007 – Epilogue

Saturday (January 20) had some of the crew taking part in Challenge Wanaka. Even Dwan and Micheala teamed up for a relay. David Craig, Brandon, Bevan and Mark P all had very decent swim/bike efforts and Johnno did every one proud by finishing 4th over-all and earning a nice check. He really hasn’t had a proper taper for this race. Far from it as he’s been looking after us a ton on the camp and I think his marathon being near 3 hours shows he’s got a lot better results to come in the future

Lou and G-Man did just the swim in the race and finished around 51 minutes and that was a big PB for Lou who had a huge day yesterday including a 6km swim session! Perhaps the guy is finally getting in shape! Or perhaps he’s just learning how hard he can go. Regardless of why or how I know he’ll go home with a lot more confidence in his abilities than he arrived with 2 weeks ago.

Gordo and I agree that the average strength and ability of the guys on this camp was the best yet. We didn’t have any one way out of their depth. Having 8 returnees certainly helps. There are 3 guys here who will be racing pro for the first time in 2007 (Brandon, Montgomery and Bevan) and Albert, Scott and Mark are 40+ guys who are looking at somewhere near 9 hours for an IM in the near future, and racing to win some of the races they enter. Actually, Albert already wins races over-all and did it on back-to-back days in September. Add in G-Man, Johnno and Toby (9:25IM PB) and that’s a very strong group up front.

I hope to get the final points total up at some point, but I know the top of the order:
Mike Montgomery
Brandon Del Campo
Toby Radcliffe
Louis Di Guiseppe

Andrew was trying to give me a few pointers this morning (Sunday) about how I might go about contending for the yellow jersey in the future. He said I should have tacked on here or there….. etc. I had to remind him how a few guys blew themselves to bits in one way or another and that I did make my s/b/r for 11 of the days goal. I told him I did all I could to gain max points possible for me and paced myself through the camp without collapsing or injuring myself to such a degree that I had to miss sessions. If I can continue to do that for the next few years I’ll be thrilled. If I had to run one more day then I wasn’t sure I could. My right knee is in a pretty sorry state.

About the camp environment and ethos……….
I’ve always viewed one of my main roles in these camps as a guy who tries to keep us all on the same page in our attitudes towards co-operation in taking on a major challenge.
I want every one here to count on each other for help in getting through each day and pushing themselves to the limit.
We’re competing against each other every for points and pride every day, but it’s a helpful competitive spirit. We’re our own little “cell” of athletes here and we all chip in to get every last ounce of effort from each person.
I would hope that every camper would be thankful for guys like Montgomery and Brandon who are out there using the incentive of the yellow jersey to go absolutely bananas. That makes every one continually ask themselves how much they’re willing to do. Viewed this way competition is a very positive thing.

When I was a pro I had to compete against my best friends for $$$ most week-ends.
Of the 250 races I did as a pro Tinley and I raced each other for cash approximately 85 times over the years knowing that one of us would come home with considerably more cash than the other. That certainly could have strained our relationship but we realized very early in our friendship that if we trained and worked together that it was very likely that we’d be fighting for finish positions 1 & 2 instead of further down the pack if we trained separately.
Same for Mark Allen. When I moved to San Diego in the end of ’82 he was also trying to find out what he was capable of and we used to gauge our progress against each other nearly every day. Our Tuesday runs and Wednesday rides were monsters in those days and there was always an open invitation to others to tag along and help push the pace. Most times there were guys at my harder sessions there that were “shaved and tapered” to try and hammer us and I viewed them as absolutely necessary to my improvement. During most of my hard sessions back then all I needed to do was to hang on to the front pack and I would get a great work-out and improve.
The main things I viewed as the most positive aspects of setting up my training like this were:
1) I always thought I needed to save my huge psychological efforts for race day
2) I enjoy my friends company. I’m happier when being entertained by my funny friends. I train more and better when laughing often.
3) It always boosted my fitness and confidence when I could respond to the challenges my training partners gave me.

Its much more common now for athletes to spend more time alone with their Hrate monitors and power meters so there’s less group training, but I feel very strongly that there’s still an important place for competitive training in the week/month/year of any athlete trying to reach their potential.
During these camps every one has to react to situations where they are way out of their comfort zone and that builds character and race readiness in a significant way that is unique to this type of environment.

Back in 2002 when I thought of the type of athlete I wanted to attract to these camps its these kinda folks I had in mind, so its very satisfying for me to have them here and returning for more than one camp.

In planning future camps Gordo and I think it may be a good idea to move to a slightly shorter format of 8-9 days so people don’t have to take off more than 2 weeks of work to attend. Other than that possibility, I don’t envisage any big changes to the way we’re going about running the camps. I will try to make an effort in scoping out the accommodation prior to the camps. Although places like the High Country Sheep Station in Aussie and the Haast Holiday Park on this camp are very memorable!!! we all need a good nights sleep every night to get through the camps and zillions of bugs or no air conditioning in sweltering conditions make the nights too damn miserable.
Having the large communal areas to gather and eat adds a lot to the camps so we’ll continue to look for accommodation that allows us to spread out and take over the commercial kitchen area.
Gordo already has a tentative schedule for New Zealand 2008 so I’ll get him to post that.

At this moment in time the plans for future camps still include New Zealand in January and northern hemisphere spring/summer camps in Italy, Spain and back to Colorado. Scott Davis now has a house in Granada, Spain and will be there a lot this year training. I’m looking forward to hearing his ideas on routes for that camp.
We’ll do another survey after this camp to see what these guys would like to see in future and the answers to those questions will largely dictate the where, how and when of future camps.

We’ll continue to use the jerseys and the points system to add a little spice to the camps and tinker with the points system from camp to camp.. This camp I built in a few more incentives to swim faster and harder and the guys really stepped it up in that department to meet the challenge. The long bike TT was a nice change for us too.
Some geographical locations lend themselves easily to more emphasis on KOM and I’ll continue to try and include varied races as part of the camps. Its nice to be out mixing it up with fresh competitors too. Its probably not a good idea in this specific Epic environment to put too much priority on very hard running as that’s the hardest thing to recover from. We had 2 very hard aquathons in this camp and I think that’s about the max amount of hard running we should try.

Thank you to the families of the campers for allowing them to attend the camp. I know my family misses me a great deal when I’m away and I’m sure there are some real sacrifices that are made back home so these folks can do this stuff.

Thank you to our generous sponsors - HED (Steve and Annie), Coffees of Hawaii (Albert), Blue Seventy (Steve), Pro 4 (Matt) and Oomph (Chris) – a very big thank you for your support.

Our support crew – Michaela Rees, Dave Dwan, Josh Moatt, Darren Leslie, John Ellis – a very big Thank You. You’ve been fantastic and generous and great company.

A special mention, hug and kisses to Kari Davis for all of your help, humor, great company, keeping your nutty husband from being totally insane, your support and also all of your time and energy to get great photos so we have a record of this trip.

I’d like to give a sincere thanks to all you athletes who shared this camp with me. Its been huge and its been a blast and I speak for John and G-Man in saying that.
Till the next one,

Train Hard
Satiate the Need