Sunday, January 24, 2016

Plunging into 2016

Three weeks into a new year and it feels like there’s been a whirlwind of activities...all done around working on research :)

After finishing up school for the semester, I returned to Minnesota for Christmas. My brother and I both stayed in town for 10 days. The first few days were spent crying because we missed our bikes. Eventually we picked ourselves up and hit the pool and did lots of strength workouts. My parents spoiled us by cooking delicious meals…we had salmon two nights!

Mantell Holiday card
Next, I returned to Colorado only to repack everything for training camp in Tuscon, Arizona. The University of Arizona TriCats, yet again, organized a great training camp. I’ve been at this training camp the past 5 years. This year we were in Tuscon the one week where the weather was cold and rainy. 

A teammate after a long day. In need of a Clif Bar.
The CSU Tri Team decided to try and outsmart the weather the day before camp officially started. Burning lungs and massive cookies on our minds, we dressed in warm clothes and headed 2 miles from our houses toward the base of Mt. Lemmon. That’s as far as we got. At the start of the climb, several policemen were turning everyone away, bikers and drivers alike. We debated blowing by the blockade but decided we didn’t want to absolutely crush ourselves before the camp even started. Instead, we headed another direction to ride. 

Even though we didn’t get the warm weather and weren’t able to ride Mt. Lemmon, camp was still a blast. We did a fantastic strength session at the U of A rec center and had some great team bonding experiences playing Cards Against Humanity. 

The most amount of clothes we've ever had to wear in Arizona!
Gates Pass with the bro. A few times. Strava.
The last day, the TriCats organized an aquathalon. The event was an 800 meter swim and 5k run. Many of the CSU tri members considered this event a great opportunity to work on their “race nutrition”. A few people from other schools saw how well we were doing and joined in. 

During the swim-to-run nutrition it's critical to get in some nutrition. 
Back in Colorado, Mace and I organized a bike-focused training week due to Lemmon withdrawal. As the semester started back up at CSU, it was great getting to train with the rest of the team who decided to miss out on training camp and forgo practicing “race nutrition” in January.

As of this past weekend, I would say we have officially plunged into 2016. Everyone has different ways with how they like to start their new year. Over 300 of us in Fort Collins ran, squealing with delight/terror, into a freshly cut section of a frozen over Horsetooth Reservoir. The past three years I’ve taken part in this classic event put on by Green Events

The hole. Just waiting for us.
The plunge had a 5k run as well. CSU Triathlon has had a large presence at this race the past few years either participating, volunteering or spectating. The night before the race, a group of us picked up our race numbers and shirts at Raintree Athletic Club, a local gym supporting the event. The weather was fantastic. Sunny and getting warmer by the minute…but not to make jumping into a frozen lake seem any more rational. After pinning on my race number, I headed out for a short warmup. 

Soon everyone was back at the starting area waiting for the go ahead. A drone circled overhead capturing the start. Unlike the sometimes intimidating atmosphere at the start of local running races, everyone was fairly relaxed and casual. Lots of families and dogs made the environment friendly. We all agreed to make it a goal to not wipe out on the few icy parts throughout the course.

Drone shot of the start
10 steps in, someone in the front slipped and was nearly trampled. Luckily they quickly regained balance and we spread out. The first mile took us up a hill and down through where the winter adventurists were camped out. Inevitably we got some funny looks running by their fire rings; a parade of men, women, children, dogs and polar bears. The second mile took us through an aid station stocked with hot chocolate and cheering volunteers. Throughout the course other runners shouted encouragement, urging on one another while making sure kids and dogs behaved themselves. Over the last section we were sent back up and down the hill before sloshing through a bit of snow to the finish.

Even though I didn't look at my watch, I knew the hills would spike my running power. After the race this was confirmed using Stryd's power center
And with every running race comes post-race food, the reason half of us do any race. In addition to bananas and oranges, local eateries provided donuts, coffee and bagels. I went straight for the hot chocolate. One unique thing about Green Events that I can get on board with is their commitment to a zero waste event. Trash, recycle and compost bins were set out for us with a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer directing us where our used cups belonged…compost!

Sustainable fun!
Awards consisted of gift certificates to local stores including Akinz, a lifestyle store which had some sweet Colorado-themed hats and water bottles.
Next came the plunge. Within minutes, the boat ramp to the water was filled with questionably sane people. Others looked on, cozy and surely laughing. As plungers, we lined up in groups with our most supportive friends. A group of EMT specialists who had been practicing their ice rescues, waited for us in the water. A bikini-clad polar bear walked by us giving high fives and taking pictures.

The line to plunge!
The line moved much too quickly and soon it was our turn. With a few other CSU Tri teammates, I attempted to brace myself while running into the mind-numbing water. As soon as my feet were submerged I wanted out. But the drone was watching. So I plunged…and it was just as cold as expected. But I gave my potential rescuer a high-five before scrambling back to warmth. 

Not quite that brave!
Zack appears to have brain freeze. More photos
For a good part of an hour, groups screamed, plunged, shrieked and retreated. I went back for more hot chocolate while others shared new battle stories over warm soup, bread and donuts. After gathering our gear and changing into dry clothes we returned to town discussing outcomes and strategies for next month’s Valentine’s Day event were all girls will get a several minute head start, making the guys work to catch up! 

Till then, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to enjoy these events with so many other great people and local companies. 

Last-day hike at training camp

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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