Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Camp HTFU, part 1

You might not have heard about it on the news: but, Greenville experienced a tornado over the weekend. Wait, maybe it was a tornado/earthquake combo?! (at this point, the whole tri-world knows Jen Harrison fell during our trail run – damn near shook leaves from the trees on Paris Mtn.)

Really, it does feel like I’m recovering from a tornado encounter. A swirling, loud, vivacious, charged-up, cloud of ENERGY. It swept in via “big momma” on Thursday… girls, bike boxes, and bags tumbled out of a 16 passenger van – and from that moment on, the only quiet my house experience was when Marit was asleep.

Oops, I almost got ahead of myself. Rewind to Thursday afternoon: I was volunteering at packet pick-up for the Reedy River Run. Cell phone close at hand, waiting for notice that HTFU participants made it to Charlotte. (to note: I had emailed specific driving instructions to all – CLT airport to my house in G’ville) JH called to tell me that they were all there, bags in hand, waiting for the rental van.
* 5 minutes later, I get another call:
“Ashley, yeah… uh, we’re lost – how do you get to I85 South?”
Well, obviously they figured it out.

Official introductions were made at a more formal dinner that night at Soby’s. Yeah, the rest of the weekend was spent in spandex/lycra or sweatpants. And if your initials are JH, then you wore MY spandex/lycra sans underwear for 3 days. Sweet.

Somehow we found another girl w/ bike on Main St. – so, we nabbed her (Marit) and the group became 6. Friday was to include a bike ride, and 4 of the girls only had pieces of bikes. While those 4 played with wrenches – Marit and I hit the grocery store… we had a breakfast order to fill.

I’m actually surprised Publix still has oatmeal and bananas… we have to have skewed their inventory numbers for the past few days. Not to mention the now infamous Jazz apples.

Quite a day: Southern touchdown – drive to SC – borderline JH “I’m starving FEED ME” melt down – dinner – bike building in the dining room – decorating the kitchen by hanging HTFU Splish Suits on the cabinet doors… and we crawled into bed. Sorry Jerome, no gusto for pillow fighting that night.

The next morning began like ELF described: coffee & oatmeal (seriously, next year Quaker should sponsor this darn camp). Soon, my house became a flurry of packing; preparing for a swim and ride… and we know what that means: finding goggles, towels, filling water bottles, locating helmets, cycling shoes, extra tubes/ CO2, gloves, arm warmers, sunglasses, gels, bars, etc… etc… x 6.

Surprisingly – we were on our way to the pool right on schedule. I credit Mother Mary with this miracle. This woman can build bikes, fix bikes, pack bikes, and RIDE a bike better than any other woman I’ve seen!

Thankfully, the YMCA was not familiar with the acronym: HTFU – so they let us in. We suited up and strutted out on the deck. Two lanes quickly formed: Marit, Mary, Jen in one – Leslie, Liz, and myself in the other. Can we say “A lane, B lane?!”

Highlight of the swim (other than those beautiful words: “cool down”)… Leslie popping her head out of the water, in full-on mask… trying to catch Jen’s orders for the next set. I will never forget the priceless grin on her face. The positive perma-grin she wore all weekend… it was just funnier when paired with the scuba Steve snorkel mask.
Lowlight of the swim… realizing that I have 8 vacation days for the whole year, and that one of them was being spent covering 4300 yards in a pool. (ok, ok – I’ll admit that training is exactly what I’d do if given the day off, just maybe not a swim workout)

Well, I didn’t drown in the pool; therefore, the ladies were spared their tour guide for at least another workout. The next few hours were spent killing daylight hours… I mean, driving to the bike shop, getting bikes checked over, drinking coffee, shopping, talking. Finally, an embarrassingly long amount of time later, we rolled out.

By this time, the wind/clouds had moved in. Not the gorgeous day I’d hoped for – but no rain, no snow. We pulled through the River Falls neighborhood, down the first hill, up a longer hill… and I had to laugh when, at the top, I heard someone yell, “nice climb.” Oh no, my friends, these are still rollers.

For the next few hours we rode, lost Mary to tire malfunctions, took turns pulling, went down hills, pushed up hills, admired redneck yard ornaments, pissed off men in trucks, listened for junkyard dogs (reference ELF’s favorite 4 words: “it’s on a chain.”), introduced Marit to the small chain ring, and enjoyed watching the road move under our wheels.

After 3 hours and 10 minutes, Liz, Jen, and I were done; Mary was riding alone; and the IM couple (Leslie and Marit) still had some ground to cover (or maybe they wanted to continue the tour of homes “Southern Style” – or the “tour de’trailer park”)?

A brick run requires running shoes, and those shoes were in the locked van, and the keys to the van were in Mary’s jersey, and Mary was riding her bike… so we had a long “transition.”

We had started at the YMCA at 8:30 am – the sun was now beginning to set – and we were starting our brick run. Liz, Jen, and I ran 30 min… and then it hit: invasion of the body snatchers – Jen’s “hunger monster” took over. Scared for our own lives, Liz and I allowed the deranged woman to startup the van and go after Mary. As Jen slowed to 5 mph, we flung open the door, and pulled Mary off the road.

Off to Publix we drove. Appetizers, aisle who knows? I just followed Jen.

After the monster was appeased, Jen returned to her “normal” self… and Marit/Leslie danced a celebration two-step under the moonlight to commemorate their brick run.

Dinner?! Anyone? Still in our running attire, smelling of roses and other fragrant flowers, I directed us to Moe’s (a favorite burrito restaurant of mine – known for their speed/convenience… and casual dress code). Not so much conversation, more stuffing/chewing/swallowing.

When we came home, I learned that Internet is to Liz what Food is to Jen. A life-force, if you will. So, thanks to some atmospheric phenomenon… my living room was graced with an ever-so-small window of access to an unknown connection. This led to blog-geeks writing updates, passing the laptop to another blogger, so that we could read aloud everyone’s updates… even though 6 of the 10 readers were IN the living room, having participated in the activities discussed in the post. Whatever, we know we’re losers. Which is how we lost our H’s.

Off to bed again: Leslie spooning w/ Liz; Jen spooning w/ me; Marit quarantined to her own room (I’m sure that girl talks in her sleep… which warrants her own space); and Mary on my comfy couch.

Saturday morning was a bit more relaxed. The sun poured into my bedroom… and Jen, acting as though she hasn’t seen sunshine since 2007 – oh, wait, that’s right… she hasn’t seen the sun since ’07 – proceeded to run around my house opening every blind. Not to worry, she was fully dressed. However, lets not talk about the Medusa style bed-head.

Hum, what did we have for breakfast? OATMEAL, that’s right. New day, same mush, different toppings: berries, nuts, honey, cinnamon, yogurt, all good stuff. More packing, discussion of gels/nutrition, locating gear… Cycling friend Matt arrives… Mary packs the van for the 12th time… and we’re off to the mountains.

A few months back, I talked with my friend Dustan. It went something like this: “Dustan, I’ve got some awesome ladies coming to town for training. Think you could come up with a hilly 4 hour ride? Climbs? Yes, please, they’re looking for climbing.”
The man, with a devious look in his eyes, grinned and said something about “the Panther” needing fresh blood. I heard the word sacrifice. I got scared.

So on Saturday, Camp HTFU stood and listened to Dustan, aka: Spider Monkey, talk about our ride. Where we were going, the names of the mountains (which included terms like the “birthing canal” and “fallopian tubes.”)

We mounted our rides and followed Dustan (who I am convinced is an unknown relative of Lance Armstrong’s). He said something about the Panther climb start line… and I tried my best (in a 23) to hang on. Liz quickly turned back (and NOT because of fatigue mind you – the ELF was listening to the smart side of her brain). I decided to push the pedals until I tipped over – which happened not too much further up. Jen, Matt, Marit weaved back and forth up the climb. Dustan was probably already at the top finishing a cup of coffee. (picture of Panther Mtn)

I made my way back, hooked up with Leslie (same gearing), and then we found Liz and Mary. The 4 of us tooled around – trying to NOT get busted for breaking and entering a gated community (Liz wins the “best Female Lead” Oscar for the film: Fake Mechanical When Resident Exits Community.)

Finally, Dustan, Matt, Marit, and Jen safely return from the Panther Mtn sacrificial climb. Offerings included a large percentage of quad muscle, Marit’s vomit, and skin from Jen’s fingers.

The sun kept shining. We saw lots of other cyclists out on the roads. I tried my best to keep Liz’s prancing pedals in sight. Dustan probably road an extra 50 miles… as he spent the day riding back and forth, making sure the group stayed “together.” Marit yelled, “CAR BACK” for the 1,000,000th time in 2 days. Matt spent the day in his big ring. Liz not only hammered up the hills, she also hammered down the hills to make up for featherweight decent limitations. Marit, having climbed Panther, continued to kill it up the mountains – AND cheer everyone else on. Jen, a self admitted “flatlander” made the whole thing look too easy. Leslie did it all with a smile and said something about, “not being in Kansas anymore.” Mary faced her downhill anxieties, and had a great ride.

Us non-IM folk finished up a 3:45 ride… and waited for the IM pair to get in some extra miles. Marit might have done Panther Mtn 4 more times had we not told her to “cool it.” So, she and Leslie rode on. Jen and I ate M&M’s. Liz ate peanut butter with her fingers. Mary began packing the van. Matt DJ’d our activities via is car stereo.

M and L returned from their add-on miles… and Jen’s monster began to show its fangs. M&M’s can only quiet the beast for so long. Marit begged for a brick run – Jen (or maybe it was the beast) said “NO!” So, as a compromise, Marit jogged in place for a few minutes.

Once again, clad in sweaty, stinky cycling apparel – the ladies of HTFU ignored all common decency and went straight to a restaurant. This time we graced Barley’s with our presence. I wondered about running into my non-tri friends (of which I have a few ;)… but then remembered, they really wouldn’t think twice about seeing me dressed in spandex – while eating at a downtown establishment. This was not a first for me and will not be a last – no shame.

Exhausted, full, satisfied – we made our way back to home base. More blogging, reading each other’s blog entries, reading blogs written by people not at Camp HTFU, eating peanut butter M&M’s, and rehashing stories from the day, was how we spent the rest of the night.

I waited for JH in bed… and we talked late into the night. Laughing like 2 girls during a slumber party. That’s actually how the whole weekend felt: like a big slumber party. Except instead of playing “light as a feather / stiff as a board” we played pass the massage stick. Instead of watching scary movies, we told scary tales of descending down the mountains. Instead of talking about boys, we talked about bikes. Instead of painting our nails, we dressed our wounds. Instead of gorging on M&M’s… oh, yeah… we did that.

(Sunday - Monday.... To Be Continued.....)


Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

This is GREAT! I miss you so much already! I was reading and laughing and laughin and reading... and muttering under my breath. Nate keeps giving me funny looks and asking about "what's the deal?" - so I'll partially explain and then start laughing again while I'm still reading.... Can't wait to read more (no pressure, though!).

Anonymous said...

HAHA! Love it Ashley! :) Oh, we had too much fun. I am paying for it today - trying to keep up with you 25 year olds! And, you nailed me right on: Feed more or I am miserable and mean. Haha. :) Jen H.

David said...

No pics? How are we to believe it wasn't just M&M scarfing that went on? LOL

I'm getting exhausted just reading about it all. Sounds like a crazy intense weekend, in the most fun way possible.

Train-This said...

well said sister. let's not forget about mary's late night 30 min run. I know.... glory days....
:) Mary

Ashley said...

You're right, Mary. I didn't give you enough "run" credit. The reason we pulled her butt off the road - is because she had a longer run scheduled. Therefore, she made it up by running the streets of G'ville well into the night.

Sally said...

I can't get enough of reading all of your blogs. Love hearing all about it. Now I'm going to Marit's blog looking for photos ! Love you Lots.

Mendy said...

Wow! You girls are very inspring!!! I'm so glad you all had a fantastic time, and I hope they enjoyed our great little town!!!

I really enjoyed reading your report!

BreeWee said...

FUN read, I totally wish I was there... I want to have all those challenges and laughter with you amazing athletes...
Thanks for sharing all the fun with us! Where is next years HTFU camp???

Pedergraham said...

Wonderful! I like the imagery of Marit doing her T Run jogging in place.
P.S. I love how your mom is like the triathlete blog den-mother!