Considering a triathlon camp but wondering what they’re really like? “Dispatch” columnist Holly Bennett reports on her time at Hillary Biscay and Maik Twelsiek’s TeamHPB Training Camp in Tucson, Ariz.
When the opportunity arose to attend a training camp put on by my pals Hillary Biscay and Maik Twelsiek, one word immediately filled my mind: Yes! On the heels of that word came two more: Oh shit! Billed as a training camp, not a skills camp, I knew that five days in the desert with these two was not for the faint of heart or feeble of body. After all, Hillary is the reigning Ultraman World Champion and a 63-time iron-distance race finisher. And her husband, three-time Ironman champion Maik, is nicknamed the GCM (German Cycling Machine). He’s also more often called Cat, but that’s simply a call out to his sweet nature–and belies the badass athlete beneath the gentle exterior.
I was heading to camp on minimal base miles–my bike had touched my trainer only three times in as many months (and had not once been on the road) and my winter swim sessions could be counted on less than two hands. I had done a bit of running–my favorite sport of all three and my only area of real confidence–and I knew that the other athletes coming to camp represented a range of ability levels–from two women training for their first Ironman 70.3 to others on the brink of turning pro. But bottom line, I was pretty sure I’d be pushing far beyond my current fitness level in an attempt to keep up. And I was A-OK with that. I just wanted a jumpstart on my season; a no excuses chance to train for a few solid days, in warm weather, along with a mix of friends old and new and some fresh scenic vistas. The way I saw it, every single effort would be money in the fitness bank, a base on which to build in the coming months. I didn’t care if I got my butt kicked!
What I found in the Tucson desert was even better than I’d bargained for. Indeed, we were pushed hard physically. But the TeamHPB Camp was more than that; it was part triathlon training, part sorority-style bonding session (despite including both men and women), part Mexican food feast-fest and part an opportunity to test the limits of extreme caffeine consumption. At the end of five days, despite the feel-so-good exhaustion, I was physically, psychologically and spiritually refreshed–ready to tackle spring and the 2014 season with gusto. Here’s a diary-style look at what went down in the desert.