Thursday, March 29, 2012

Training Camp (it's Cuba....)

I rang in the New Year in NYC extremely excited at the idea of a training camp in Cuba with a group of Canadian athletes.  While New Year’s Day allowed for a hassle free border crossing, the strict baggage weight limits at the airport did not! After about 2 hours of hassling with the Sunwing representative about our Cuban bound baggage allowance and still exhausted from my hasty packing spree and US exit the day before, I quickly fell asleep as soon as the plane was airborne. What had begun as a treacherous journey turned into a quick and smooth flight. Upon landing, we were hurried through a quick transfer to the hotel and a late night check in followed by a snack, of course. Finally, it was off to bed to start the routine of resting, training, eating, training, napping, training, and eating. I would conveniently press the reset button every evening and get ready for the same thing the next day, over and over again for the following 2 weeks.

On the first day it was clear I was in the Caribbean, obvious by the fact of the unpredictable weather that seems to happen any time I seem to be in the area (no need for weather channel cause even they can’t seem to forecast it correctly). The first couple of days were a test of patients with everyone on a high from being on a warm than Canada weather and being out on the road rather than at the studio most seem to be antsy and just wanting to go pedal to the metal every time we hit the asphalt. Our first brick and tempo session went great hitting our times perfectly and the intensity worked perfectly into the program to level out all that extra energy we had from the being outside. 

Our first weekend promised to be an exciting adventure and it didn’t disappoint. With a ride to Havana from Varadero while being accompanied by the national girls team and their Head Coach. We were sharply pick up at 8h30 by the time we finished with introduction and loading the pickup with all our bags and gears we were out on the road by 9h00 and what a beautiful day it was to ride, even though the tail wind we had been hoping for was nonexistent, which made the trip that much longer than anticipated. We were able to sightsee a bit, crossing on of Cuba’s tallest bridge and a couple of pit stop thanks to some unexpected mechanical issues (slash tires). Spirits were high for most of the ride but it was unfortunate that communication between the group wasn’t able to happen, neither spoke each other’s language and weren’t able to find a common on either and the fun of sign language quickly wore out, so eventually 5hrs into the ride people started losing it a bit and so the pace was hasten to finish the exhausting trip.  It was a good thing we took the sightseeing route into Havana, a local boat ride and a rode through a local neighborhoods, made everyone pretty happy but once that was done it was back to the “are we there yet?” feeling.  Luckily our host was kind enough to have a couple of large pizzas waiting for us and even though they were on the cold side, since the ETA of 5hrs ride became 6hrs30, we were still happy to chow down something other than energy bars, gel, gummy and energy drinks. 

After analyzing and comparing out new cycling tan lines it was off to get a tour of Havana on the back of the pickup truck which was a very welcome change from Varadero. Even though we had limited time and not a lot of energy, since we had an early training session the morning after, it was great to see the old Havana and its Vibrant Malecon on Saturday nights. Our Sunday work out at the beach was great and made even better with the company of the Cuban national girls team.  Our track session afterwards although tough was still enjoyable, even with the strong winds. Our turnaround was a quick one not much time to enjoy Havana at its fullest, which was a shame since Havana had so much to offer. Our trip back took longer than expected with so many stops along the way (seems to be it took us longer than on the bike) And that screwed up our night (like not being on time for our dinner reservations at the sushi restaurant in the hotel) 

Our last week started with another long ride/ run combo again the choppy weather made a difficult for our ocean dip so we were left to adjust and add on the time to what was already a long day of riding. After realizing what an easy day Tuesday was going to be we (I mean me) decided to let loose at dinner, which in retrospect may not have been a good idea but still it happened and as much fun as it was fun we still had to train the next day. With just short intensity on the bike and an afternoon swim, it was a welcome day before the brick, which had the course planned since the girls had been there the year before. 

On the rest day it was decided to go do touristy stuff, which in Cuba meant renting a couple of scooter and going sightseeing.  The spot that was pick, from before we got into the plane I may add, was The Saturn Cave which thanks to the fact that it wasn’t high season at least for the cave meant that we had our own little private tour and even with a couple of setbacks turned out to be quite a fun day.  Our last brick of training camp were ruined by another unreasonable sea with heavy winds and so it was another red flag at shore day. In the end we set for doing duathlons and knowing it was going to be my last work out with the guys I decided to leave them with a bit of a sour taste in the mouth and out do them on the very last one which worked very well (lucky me ;)) and since we gotten to know each other very well it wasn’t taken the wrong way. 

Well I leaving you with some pics and videos, still expect a video from Gabe Go Pro Camera, so as soon as I get I’ll post it.

On our way out
First run

half way on our way to Havana
people starting to get antsy

the boat ride into Havana (no sharp object allowed)

After climbing a 1k 20%plus hill

Doing some sightseeing @ the Cave
Fun just before (sorry inside joke)
the scooter gang (yeah i know cliche)

Long Overdue ;)

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