Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RCP, Exit 12, and Traveling Without A Bike

Here I go again, making travel plans with blatant disregard for normal seasonal migrations and Weather.com's recommendations.  Last weekend I called the bluff of Winter Storm "Q" and attended a coaching conference in The Jerz, and...wait for it...left my bike at home.  Love those kind of trips!

The Zebra Poacher said the weekend's training would be light.  With two options - sit in Austin and get bored, or sit in Freehold and get educated - I hit the internets to plan a short trip.

In fact, everything about the trip was short: I booked on Thursday afternoon, flew out late Friday, and returned early Monday morning.  The conference was Saturday, in central The Jerz, so I could drive down to DC, have a quick run and a long brunch, and get back to Newark before my 6 am Monday flight.

The conference itself was brutally efficient.  [That's a compliment.]  Two (packed) lecture rooms running simultaneously for 10 straight hours, with me sneaking back and forth when I wanted to attend something across the hall.  The headliners were Joe Friel, the first triathlon coach and founder/writer of The Training Bible; Barb Lindquist (nee Metzger), swimming phenom and 2004 Olympic triathlete; and Brian Shea, founder of Personal Best Nutrition.

Ostensibly the conference was for local triathletes, who came and went between scheduled swim stroke, bike fit, and run form sessions.  Us coaches huddled in the back, there for the long haul to discuss everything from how to use a power meter to female-specific nutrition to Chi running.

I first met Joe back in 2009 while riding alone outside of Boulder; we rode Fruit Loops together and then had lunch in Kona later that year.  I was impressed when he essentially remembered who I was, or at least recognized my face and the fact that "you have a unique name."  Close enough for government work.  Joe has lecturing down to a science, so I would have to say that a clearly-nervous Barb was the pleasant surprise.  She presented specific examples of everything, partly to support the idea that "there is no secret," and then my masters group did one of those workouts, I kid you not almost verbatim, the day I got back to Austin.  There really is no secret.

Once my eyes has glazed over sufficiently to render my brain mush, I got on the road for DC.  It was a long day and a late night, but running my "40 min Rock Creek Park loop" (which I pleasantly discovered is now my "37 min RCP loop") and joining two of My Girls for brunch on Sunday, made all of the driving worth it.  That and a trip to Julia's Empanadas. 

Still, it was the last 10 hours which really made the trip memorable.  See, my rental car had to be turned in by 8 pm Sunday, the drive from DC is ~4 hours, and my flight out of Newark was at 6 am Monday.  There is no way I was going to avoid staying over in Newark, but the cheapest hotel with an airport shuttle was $79.  Until I convinced them to extend my weekend rental car day-rate through Monday.  Yup huh.

The New Jersey Turn Pike has excellent rest stops.  Theone just south of Exit 12 is particularly nice.  My parents were none to pleased, until I reminded them I had once spent the night in a lawn chair next to a dirt road in the middle of Burma.  [The Jerz is a step up from something.]  Plus I was far from alone; there were cops (and about 20 other people) sleeping in their cars also. 

At 4 am, basically still with my eyes closed, I turned in my rental car and brushed my teeth in the airport bathroom.  After sleeping my entire flight back to Texas I went straight to masters and swam nearly-Barb's workout.

All without a bike.

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