Last weekend was exactly what I needed.
A cure to my lack of training enthusiasm ended with TriFest. After training with the TriCats for two years, it is hard to get motivated to train and race for myself. With a team atmosphere, you are racing for your school. When you get down, your teammates can pick you up. If you get cocky, there is always someone there to put you back in your place.
Enter TriFest. For the first time, the TriSports team was really encouraged to come out to Tucson (or stay in Tucson I suppose) to meet the rest of the team, enjoy some team training, and get to know the people and company that support us. Most people got into Tucson on Thursday evening, and the group met up on Friday morning for a large group assault on Mt. Lemmon. The ride was mellow to the base as always, with lots of conversation, meeting new people, and trying not to get run over by cars. I met several of my teammates, and people from random places around the country coming out for some warm weather training and to spend some time at TriFest. A quick stop at the base, and then we took off up the mountain. The group shattered immediately (as always), and the strong cyclists and climbers led the way. Given my lack of base training (and I'm not a good climber anyway), I took it fairly mellow and enjoyed the company and scenery. I think it was my first Lemmon climb in almost a year even though I live in Tucson. That will have to change this year! Headed back to the shop for awesome post-ride goodies and lunch.
After a couple hours break, we were off for a group swim. After the climb, I don't think I was the only one nervous about the workout. The first set did not put my mind at ease... Thankfully, the second set was a mix of drill work and various "fun swimming" (an oxymoron?), including swimmer tug-'0'-war. Good times.
Friday evening was the team dinner. We had I think 24 out of 28 team members show up for a catered dinner from Oreganos (one of my favorite Tucson restaurants!). Team introductions really showed the kind of company I was in. Several pros and very impressive age groupers, most with "real" jobs and several with families, ranging in age from 20 to over 65. Then, a quick company history video. TriSports.com literally started in Seton's garage, and his amateur video really tells the story of how things have come to be. The company has come a long way, thanks to what is truly a family atmosphere, and a growing base of customers. This place rocks. Then a tour of the continually expanding and re-organized warehouse and company offices. Everywhere there is evidence of fun. Plasma cars scattered about from the employee races around the warehouse the previous week, Seton talking about the indoor driving range development, etc. They literally have a massage room...a therapist comes in and tends to the employees. Is that cool or what?!
After a late bedtime, up EARLY for the "mystery workout". We all rode together to the Marriott Starr Pass resort for a team sprint triathlon! No open water in Tucson? No problem. Time-trial start down a waterslide into a lazy river, where we swam...backward. Hopped on the bikes for two laps on the rolling hills around the resort, which brought back painful memories of TriCats race-pace repeats... Then finished it off with a super hilly, technical trail run behind the resort. Check out some of the pictures and a recap here. Overall, tons of fun, and in that crowd, I was happy just not to finish dead last ;)
After enjoying some post-"race" snacks, we took to the roads for a cool-down spin, which it turns out was not a cool down at all. It was more of a mixed hill climb/flat-changing clinic/TT back to the shop to get there in time for lunch. Lunch was spectacular of course--I think most food is spectacular when you've finished a longer than expected ride and are near bonking... Then, I took a trip around the expo to visit with the vendors and check out all the new goodies.
Home for a quick shower, then back for the "VIP dinner". Catered food and open bar, a beer mile, and casino night--TriFest traditions. Then, shall we say, the night went on. Limo ride, visits to various other establishments around Tucson, and late-night/early morning Nicos burritos. It was a good night!! And probably my last night out for quite a while.
This epic long weekend brought back my enthusiasm for triathlon--the community is truly unique. When the retail stores, bike/bike parts/wetsuit/shoe companies (including several competitors), distributors, and athletes/customers hang out like family and truly consider each other friends, that is something special.
So, what is the aftermath? Since TriFest, I have signed up for two more races (Vineman 70.3, Phoenix Triathlon) and the TriSports Triathlon Club. I bought a new road bike so that I'll be able to jump back into cycling group rides and hopefully some races. It is going to be a very busy year, but I'm ready to get it done. Here's hoping for another great year with lots of training, racing, and friendship; and hopefully many years to come.
If you're interested in getting to know the community and culture, you need not wait for TriFest 2012. Get your butt in gear and head up to Show Low for the Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival in June!! Be ready to witness the community that is triathlon in Arizona.
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