Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Camp HTFU, part 2

On Sunday morning, we woke up to the birds chirping (remember that Spring sound – huh, Jen?) I stayed under the covers and flexed my legs. Still there, intact? Yes. Ok, good – trail run, bring on Paris Mountain!

Insert some clever comment about the 97th bowl of oatmeal cooked in my microwave in 3 days.

Endurance Mike, trail running guru, and I had done a test run the prior weekend. Satisfied with our route, we planned to meet up for the run at 8:00. Another SUNNY day of training in the Carolina Hills.

Paris Mtn State Park is a fantastic “outdoor playground” practically in my back yard. There were mountain bikers, hikers, runners, and rednecks out fishing (no offence Vaughn)…. All taking advantage of the gorgeous day. Evidently, this is also where Luke Wilson hangs out on the weekends.
I love the simplicity of running: shoes – and go! Well, unless you’re Marit… and then you need gels, salt tabs, bars, a camera, water, etc… ;) So we decided to brave the trails (rather than just running on the park road). Off we went like a troupe of hardcore girl scouts.

Approximately 3 minutes into the run, before we’d really gotten on the trail, at the base of the climb… I heard a THUD behind me. We all stopped to see Jen curled up on the ground clutching her arm. To be honest the thoughts that flashed through my head included the following:
“ohmygosh, please be OK!!”
“You have got to be kidding me – the girl climbs Panther Mtn on a TT bike, descends like a champ, and bites the dust after tripping on an acorn?!”
After she gets up, brushes off the dirt, picks rocks out from under the skin on her palm, and shows us the bruise already forming on her hip... she's ready to keep going:
“Jen you are the epitome of HTFU!”

We continue on our way. For awhile the trail just rolls along. Hopping over roots, leaping over rocks, sidestepping branches… and then it goes up. Since I’d run the route once before, I knew how long we’d be climbing. Liz, on the other hand, had no idea. Spunky just took off and bounded upward. I saw her ascend… and I put my head down, pumped my arms, and focused all energy into staying on her heals. Liz pounded the mountain, while Marit and I followed.

Finally, after feeling like we’d run to the Mt. Everest base camp, we crested the climb. Gorgeous view… what a reward. A second to catch our breath, and off to trail loop #2. This one got more technical. That’s one thing that stinks about trail running: you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery, but the moment you look up to take in the sights… your foot catches a root. Remembering JH’s position on the trail earlier in the run – I took extra care in my footing and tried to pick my feet up.

Soon we were done with the trail. The way back to the car was downhill via the road. I could have had us go by way of the trail – but, come on, we’re triathletes. I’m not even good at running down stairs. So, we opened up our stride and lunged down the hill. There’s one way to feel fast: Spend over an hour climbing your way up a mountain on a tricky trail – then run down the mountain on a paved road. Who-hoo flying!

Again, the non-IM-slackers (or as I like to call us: SMART), finished up an hour and a half. Marit sped off into the woods still yelling “root,” and other words of caution; Mary and Leslie continued as well. We waited for everyone to finish up… can’t really remember what Liz, Jen, and I talked about. It did strike me that a coffee shop would be an excellent addition to the State Park.

The weather had turned stellar, we’d just finished an amazing run, and we were within a few miles of the Atlanta Bread Company. Life was good.

Coffee, bagels, soup, sandwiches, and Vemma (Thanks Leslie!!!). It hit us – Camp was coming to a close. A wave of sadness spread over me, no… not because everyone was leaving… but because we still had a swim workout planned. Long course meters.

I’ve never wanted to go shopping so badly in my life!
We begged, we pleaded with Jen… Leslie got louder than I’d heard her all weekend. Marit yelled, “Car Back” as Mary veered big momma into the right lane. Liz finally justified our swim by saying, “if we don’t do it today, then we’ll have to do it tomorrow.” Fine, fine – bring on the 50 meter stretch of water.

However, before we could go to the pool, everyone needed to pack up. I’d talked Marit into saying an extra night… in an attempt to wean myself off the camp. Somehow, I’d gotten used to the 5 extra people living in my home.

Yet again, Mary was schlepping bikes/wheels/boxes into the van. As quickly as the tornado had swept in – bags were packed and flung from the house. Since the pool was (North) on the way to Charlotte, I needed to drive my car to the pool. A battle broke out about who would ride shotgun in my car – making it quite obvious that HTFU wanted a final van trip. NO worries ladies, I can ride alone ;)

Back to the YMCA locker room. I opened my bag… and, OOPS – no suit!

Just kidding (but, that would have been a great plan)

We all put on our suits and headed out onto the deck, minus the peppy zip I’d noticed on Day 1. The lifeguard took an HTFU Splish Suit photo (front and back). Mary decided to do a 3,000 pull (huh?! Crazy lady) The rest of us got into a lane together. True to form, Marit took off like an 8 year old at a water park. We all began to swim… 50 meters has never felt so long. We did 200’s, some swimming, some stroke, some drill. Jen made Marit swim with her legs crossed, he he he.

And then I heard Jen say, “only a few hundred more.”
Ah, relief.
And then she said, “Waffle House.”
Oh, this is getting even better.
And then Mary stopped swimming and suggested Waffle House.
And I pushed off the wall to get in my 200 cool down (which was probably faster than any of the other 200’s I’d done that day).

Showers, a visit to the sauna, dressed, and ready – down the street to the Big W.H. And we had the place to ourselves! Camp HTFU with a personal waitress and chef… ready to batter, smother, cover, grease, flip, scramble us some GRUB.

We ordered waffles, eggs, raisin toast, apple butter, grits, hash browns, and of course: coffee. Liz impressed me by ordering in diner lingo (who knew ELF spoke “greasy spoon?”). Leslie braved the Southern hit of butter. Jen spilled a spoonful of grits on her pants, but didn’t even miss a beat – scooped ‘em off her lap and kept going. We found the 131st thing Marit’s never experienced: a meal at Waffle House. Mary tried to get a souvenir mug. We took pictures for Bree. The average bill was around $3.20.

Sniff, tear – we had to say goodbye.
Queue the music: “these are days, to remember.”
I think Marit cried.

We parted ways on 85: Marit and I went South, while big momma maxed out at 69 mph and headed North.

Alright from 6 to 2. And… the 2 kiddies: Marit and I are 26/27. We began to make plans. Movie, sushi, wine, s’mores. She truly is my Soul Sister. We went to a matinee showing of “The Other Boleyn Sister.” Good movie, and history lesson in one (thanks Marit… can’t say I usually like people talking through a movie, but I did learn some valuable European history).

Next it was back to Publix. Marit approached a guy in the produce section – trying to find me a date. We got sushi and ingredients for a crab dip I’ve been known to mix up from time to time (crab meat + fat free cream cheese + cocktail sauce…. Mix and serve with crackers or whole wheat pita bread).

That night Marit and I plopped down on the couch. We had the TV on… but were much more interested in our food selections, wine, and conversation. It was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve spent in a long time. We talked a little about triathlons, but the conversation quickly turned to jobs, politics, friends, guys, etc… it was great. And we put down some serious s’mores.

By 11:00 I was D.O.N.E. Reality was going to hit hard, and I could already feel it. We set our alarms for 6:45 for a 7:00 am run. It was to be 45 minutes of EASY.

I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew, the alarm was going off. Groan, moan, get vertical. Thank goodness Marit was with me on this one. We headed out the backdoor and established a comfortable “conversation” pace. Uphill toward downtown. As we took a left onto Main St, I noticed another woman running the same direction – on the other side of the road. She was going fast, was obviously in great shape, and I had no idea who she was. G’ville isn’t too big and I’m usually able to recognize the serious runners. Marit asked me about her.

Before we headed down the stairs to Falls Park, the mystery phenom runner crossed the street toward us. “Hey, do you guys know where the ‘rails to trails’ path is?” she asked.
“Oh, wow, are you Heather Gollnick?!” asked Marit.
“yeah, I am” she responded.
I jumped in, “well, how far do you need to run?”
“I’ve got an hour left. Could I just run with you guys?”
*Now at this moment, I know Marit and I were thinking the same thing… so much for 45 minutes of easy. We were going to run an hour with Heather, and it wasn’t going to be at a recovery pace.
“Sure, let’s go this way.” I said.
“Hey, are you girls here for the girls triathlon training camp?” she asked.

We were talking, running, describing the HTFU weekend. Marit did a great job of asking open-ended questions… well, someone needed to keep Heather talking if we were going to survive this run. I decided to add on the McDaniel hill. Well, since both Marit and Heather train in Florida, I knew they were not looking for a flat run.

I have no idea how I/we made it through that run. Longer & faster than we were planning, by far. But, it was awesome. Somehow the weekend had surpassed all my expectations, and a run with Heather Gollnick was the perfect way to cap it off. Seriously, when an IM champ crosses your path – and asks to join you on a run – HTFU and pick up your pace!

So, getting to work on time was going to be a challenge. Marit cleaned up the kitchen while I showered and put on makeup (first time in about 4 days). This might have also been the first time in 4 days that I’d put on underwear. Ah, the beauty of training camp.

I hated saying goodbye to Marit. As much as I razzed her about talking/jumping around/yelling… I knew I was going to miss the energy she brought to training. And just like that, I got in my car and drove to the office. Exhausted, exhilarated, changed, motivated, and already making plans for Camp HTFU 2009.

Ladies, I already miss you all.
I'll begin working on a "things learned during Camp" report...
as well as an 2009 Camp HTFU Application


Sally said...

I love it!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Oh Ashley - I'm tearing up with laughter just reading it. GREAT recap - just about shat my pants (can I say that???) on the run with Heather. But you're right.. .open ended questions and HTFU and RUN. Loved our Sunday night "date". Hope the hottie from Publix gets his act together... ;) the movie was fun (will send yuou the books on the subject - that's what you get for befriending a chatty history major!), LOVED our conversations... truly you are my SC soul sister! Miss you so much!

E.L.F. said...

I almost blew coffee all over my computer when I read this:

"We found the 131st thing Marit’s never experienced: a meal at Waffle House."

Where did we find this girl?

So Heather knew about HTFU? Still, I think she should have to apply for next year. We don't accept just anyone - no matter how many IM titles they have to their name......

Anonymous said...

Seriously..I am getting emails about HTFU camp 2009. YEAHHH! My thoughts: WE ARE HIRING people to sag the rides and we are hiring a cook. I am NOT kidding. Food and safety, in that order. We can't get too big...but we will do it the same weekend next year - last weekend in keep it open. And, I was cracking up about lovely marit never being to a WH....especially living in redneck FL. :) Glad you ran w/ Heather - not sure I could have SHUFFLED on Monday morning. :) Jen H.

Train-This said...

I hope I am back in for HTFU 2009! I can teach descending 101~

Sally said...

Ash honey, Can you put in a good word with Jen and Liz .... I want to be a part of the HTFU II! I'll ride, scout, sag ... do just about anything (they probably don't want me cooking or making coffee) ... but I'm pretty good at some other stuff ! Love you All ... and especially you Ashley! Love,

Mendy said...

Ashley! Sounds like so much fun. I'm happy you had such a remarkable weekend with some great friends!