"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."
- John Wooden
A year has gone by since my first purplepatch pro camp and I can't help but say that this Wooden quote describes every emotion I feel right now.
Last year I came into camp a complete deer in headlights. I was eager, naive, enthusiastic, and nervous. Everyday I was pushed physically and emotionally and, even on the easy days, I felt like I might die. I was, quite literally, on the brink of tears after every session. I couldn't even finish the camp as I got injured. But I tried to keep a smile on my face and take every challenge on without a thought on the last. I barely survived.
This year as camp approached I had feelings of excitement as well as anxiety - "oh man, how am I going to handle it again". But, I reminded myself that I had been working hard all year, had many more miles in me, and had started to transform as an athlete. I vowed to myself that I would be smarter this year around: i.e. not pull the group on easy rides, run my pace instead of someone else's, etc.
So...How'd I do?
Well, now that camp is over I can report back and tell you that guess what...camp was AWESOME.
Through the last year of coaching by Matt Dixon of purplepatch fitness and bike guru Paul Buick I saw such incredible gains. All the little things we worked on - bike position, run technique, etc - were so apparent at camp. I wasn't returning from sessions completely wasted wondering how I would get through the next. Instead, I was completing sessions as planned rather than hanging on for dear life. I felt like a professional athlete and I acted like one. I am by no stretch of the imagination a "complete" professional but I'm getting there - steadily and eagerly.
That being said camp was not easy. We had tough sessions: a day with an 8,000 yard swim followed by a 10-mile track session then a solid bike ride to finish it up, a 100 mile bike ride with hard efforts followed by a 30 minute brick run (in 95+ heat), and intervals on the Queen K/hill repeats in the mountains where you could taste the blood in your mouth. It was incredible - and I say that for two reasons.
1) The purplepatch group is beyond a team. We are a family. We push each other, laugh with each other, and bring the best out of each other. For example, the last two minutes into an "as hard as possible" 10 minute hill effort (with 6 previous ones in the bank) Sarah Cameto passed me on the bike. Two seconds later Matt Dixon rode up next to me on his scooter and said "Don't let her get away".
My body was on fire but I pushed and with 1:40 to go I re-passed her gritting my teeth finding a new gear I didn't think I had. 30 seconds later she passed me back Matt egging her on. I pushed as hard as I could (the most obscure grunts and noises coming out of my mouth!) and tried to keep the distance minimal. Unfortunately a gap did emerge...but at the end of the effort I was so stoked. We both got better that day and we pushed each other to a new level. Camp was filled with those moments and I am so incredibly grateful to be part of this amazing team. I'm extremely lucky to be an amateur immersed with the pros learning day in and day out from their experience and ability.
2) I saw how much I had evolved as an athlete and saw how much more I can improve. As I said previously, last year's camp was a struggle and I returned home proud but a bit defeated. Today, as we wrapped up camp on the island, I couldn't help but smile and think "I did it and I did it well". On the flip side, I also saw how much more I can develop and it makes me so excited. I am nowhere near perfect in any discipline and with the continued purplepatch support I know that slowly but surely I will continue to evolve and become the triathlete I have always envisioned myself becoming.
It's important to note that my year between these two camps was far from perfect. I had some highs and lows (as reflected on my previous blogs) but through it all I was able to keep the big picture in mind. All the little things I did really paid off. For example, I had a 15 minute PR on a huge climb mainly because I spent the year focusing on the details of my pedal stroke to make it more efficient. The little details...that is the key to success.
Matt preaches that it is the journey that counts and it is easy to nod your head and agree. But, when "shit hits the fan" it can be tough as an athlete to remember that big picture. These camps are amazing because they give you that excuse to compare yourself from one year to the next with the feedback from Matt Dixon, Paul Buick, and Gerry Rodriguez of Tower 26. It's evident if you've taken their advice and worked on it and even more evident if you've just been going through the motions. I strongly encourage you to join one of the numerous purplepatch camps. You'll grow as an individual and meet groups of athletes that will support you throughout your triathlon career. Believe me, they are 100% worth your time.
With that I leave you an evolved athlete. I'm excited to continue morphing and learning every day, every workout, every race. There's lots to work on which makes me so excited. Huge thanks to Sean for taking care of us out on the road all the time, Paul Matt and Gerry for all the coaching help/encouragement/direction, and all my teammates - Kevin Collington, Drew Scott, Laura Siddall, Sarah Piampiano, Sarah Cameto, Sam Appleton, Davide Giardini, Brett King, Holly Lawrence - for the encouragement, butt kicking, and plain awesome times. It's going to be a great year.
La vie est belle my friends!