5 Ways to Exhaust Yourself in Arizona

Last week I returned to my old somewhat stomping ground for the Cycling House staff retreat. We spent a week at the Bespoke Inn, an incredible B&B in downtown Scottsdale, with a facilitator, bikes and running shoes. Overall it was an amazing week, but the go-go-go pace kept building upon itself so by the end of the week my energy reserves were completely exhausted. So if you're looking for a way to wear yourself out during a week in the Valley of the Sun, here's a sure fire 5 step process:

Cap off your week by sitting in the Bozeman airport for 6 hours
1. Spend four days in intensive group sessions focusing on defining the values of your business and discussing where you see the company going. Burt, our facilitator, did and amazing job getting ten very athletic people to sit and mentally focus for hours at a time. I think as a group we did a great job engaging with each other and sharing ideas, but it takes a certain amount of effort to do this day after day.

2. During those four days go on bike rides immediately after lunch with riders much faster and stronger than you, and try to keep up. For the last month there may or may not have been a lot of strategic planning among the office staff on how we could attack the field staff. In theory this sounded great, in practice it turned in to a series of vicious attacks on hills, straight roads, and red lights that left my quads battered and the group riding away from me.

3. Instead of retiring at a decent hour to ensure waking up refreshed and ready to go, recover from your long days of mental focus and tough bike rides by staying up late. In four nights we had a Christmas Party and two birthday parties. The other night we went to a bar. Thus, we spent a lot of time imbibing and laughing, instead of recovering.

4. Why make up for a late night by sleeping in when you can get up and run before the program for the day begins? We all got up every morning for a 6:30 run from the B&B. Initially I had hoped this was a way I could take the legs out of some of the guys to make the biking easier, but instead it just added to a sense of overall fatigue. We did go on a gorgeous run up Camelback Mountain, though that made the early mornings worth while. Thursday morning we awoke to the mythical phenomenon in the Phoenix area called fog and drove over to the base of Camelback Mountain. Despite the very slippery rocks and rain, we made it to the top and John actually set the KOM for saddle to the top (although he has to do it again to get gps data on it). On top we were in the middle of a fog bank, which made for a very different scene from the last time I was up there in 85 degree sunny heat.
Ian cruising Fountain Hills

5. In case you weren't exhausted enough from the four days of the official retreat, cap of your last two days in town with a 50 mile ride and 10 mile trail race.

Friday after the retreat ended Ian and I journeyed over to Fountain Hills, took out the bikes, and set out for an "easy spin just to shake out our legs." This turned into a 50 mile ride because it was such great riding weather. The sun was out, there was no wind, and the lightly trafficked roads had huge shoulders that made riding pleasant. At the time it seemed worth it.

By mile three in the race the next morning, though, I was regretting that ride. Ian and I both competed in the Aravaipa Running McDowell Mountain Trail Frenzy 10mile in McDowell Mtn Regional Park. My parents came down from Flagstaff and provided us with a base camp in there spiffy new retro trailer, but even that couldn't save my legs.

I opened up a comfortable early lead although my first couple splits were slower than the last two years. Around the three mile mark I saw that Ian had dropped the guy that was clinging to him and he was starting to gain on me. At the same time we started up a gradual hill and the monkey, elephant, and every other zoo animal jumped on my back. Right then I knew I didn't have what it would take to shake Ian if it came down to it.

He finished closing the gap on me and we ran together for the next few miles. The trail in the park is incredibly fun to run because of the undulations through various arroyos and sweeping banked turns. We passed a lot of people from the 25k that had started early so this kept me somewhat motivated to keep the pace higher, even though it became more and more of a struggle.

Team TCH 1-2 at the McDowell Mtn Trail Frenzy
Just after 6.5 miles Ian threw in a monster move to take the lead. I tried to hang for a bit, but couldn't match his strength. I ran the rest of the race alternating looking behind me to make sure I didn't get caught and then getting mad at myself for settling before picking it up again. I finished the 10.3 mile course just over 65 minutes for my slowest time there ever. Ian was just under 63 minutes for the second fastest time run on that course. Fortunately he was still a couple minutes off my course record so I still have some hope of getting him at our next race.

So if you want to exhaust yourself over the course of a week in Phoenix, this is a guaranteed 5 step way to do it. Add in an 14 hour travel day home due to too much fog in Missoula for a safe landing, and you can be sure you'll have a great case of the Mondays to start out your next work week.

Now that I've had a week to recover it's time to get back into the routine of training. My next big race won't be until the end of January when I look to qualify for snowshoe nationals. Until then I'm continually hoping for more snow!

TRF Pro at XC Club Nats - Photo courtesy of @teamrunflag_pro
In other news, Team Run Flagstaff Pro placed 5th today in a very very competitive Club Cross Country Nationals. Congratulations!