Andrew Raynor Dover
By Mike Tarrolly for Crushing Iron
This is how we do it . . . it’s Wednesday night . . . Party people on the westside throw your hands in the air. Or however that song goes. . . we start camp on Wednesday night.
It’s always interesting meeting everyone at Robbie’s the first night because even though I’ve been there multiple times it is one of those new and really tricky neighborhoods that I cannot navigate on memory (which you will see later is extremely rare later in this report). There are usually about 15 or so people waiting when I walk through the door where a Facebook-meets-real-life explosion typically goes off in my head. It’s like I sorta know everyone but not really, and really do know some people but it’s been a while, so I’m not sure if I’ve said something dumb on the podcast they’ve been waiting to confront me about for months. Ahh, the perils of internet-street-level fame.
As I move deeper into Robbie and Allie’s inner sanctum, people are usually face first in what always seems to be the perfect dinner for everyone. It’s a simple, yet jazzy fare that could easily roll as a vegan delight, or be quickly hopped up with side chicken for meat eaters. The salad/meat combo does really well for gluten sensitive campers and if we’re lucky, someone will bring huge cookies or cake for dessert. Of course everyone drinks their personalized liquid direct from water bottles.
After dinner, Coach Robbie takes the stage as we sit around on every chair they can find and jam into his living room. As you can see to the left, I’ve yet to figure out a perfect angle for a group picture, but I’m getting close.
We then go around the room with simple introductions and everyone says what they’re hoping to get from camp. Robbie goes through the camp plan and potential changes with any looming weather. This is usually when Hayden gets a little unruly and wants to spend more time with daddy forcing Allie to scramble for toys or another toddler diversion, including a trip upstairs through 3 or 4 campers as she navigates the staircase.
This entire opening night takes about two hours and we’re are typically back at our lodging (home in my case) before 9.
I have extreme pre-race sleep anxiety. Anytime my alarm is set with a “4” at the beginning, that pretty much means I will not be falling asleep that night; and typically the night before camp starts is no exception. The weather threatened our first morning at the lake, so we shifted gears and went to Boost Fitness for a pool session. Said session was to begin at 6 am. Said session is also 30 minutes from my house, so said alarm was set for 4:45.
Around midnight I was really regretting not pounding some type of melatonin. I “think” I dosed off for a while around 1:00 but was up at 2 and this process lasted until I heard one of my weekend roommates up making coffee around 4:15. It was over. I hit snooze once and put on my sleepless-morning-happy-face, but knew that I would not be swimming one stroke that morning. I’m not in the best swim shape and swimming without sleep could have ruined me for a couple days. Instead I focused on getting cool video of cool people swimming at 6 am.
After a couple hours in the pool and some awesome personal instruction, we went for a light breakfast at LePeep in Belle Meade, which is the Old-Nashville-money part of town. We immediately snagged 4 or 5 tables, clearly upsetting a lot of people in loafers and shawls, but not to be distracted, all the sweaty and famished triathletes went to town on their post-swim meals. I sat with Erika, Jessica and Katie, the Richmond Crew. I’ve known Erika for a while, but it was the first time to chat with the other girls and let me tell you, they are hilarious if not edgy sarcastic.
This is where I’m usually reminded of how cool the people are that come to camp. The first night is a little about nerves and meeting new people. The first workout is acclimating and getting over wearing tight clothes in front of said new people. The post breakfast is where the true triathlon athlete spirit and unabashed hunger comes out. People will plow down anything right in front of anyone (including little old ladies sipping tea) which, if you think about it, is a very personal moment. We seem to cross a threshold at this point and from there on, the guards are down.
The next session was at Percy Warner Park, easily one of the most beautiful, yet daunting running venues in Nashville. It’s nestled at the end of Belle Meade Boulevard (think Thurston Howell III and his wife Lovey) and retains a certain kind of elegance even when it’s muggy and drizzly like it was this morning. The assignment? Run for an hour and thirty minutes.
The route we take is called “The 5.8” and it’s 5.8 hilly ass miles. You start going straight up for about the first mile, before finding some relief on flats and downhills that eventually drop you into Deep Wells. It was foggy and misty and absolutely stunning in a cinematic sort of way and I was really regretting not shooting video instead of running. But, I’ve been on a little roll with the run and it’s very hard for me to pass on Percy Warner Park.
The problem with Deep Wells is “It Is Deep” ie… at the bottom, which can only mean one thing. It’s time to climb again. And we did. Mile 3 is an absolute torture device that never seems to end. Up straight, up right, up left, up right . . . and even though I’ve run this track dozens of times, for some reason I always think that’s the last hill. It never is.
There are about 5 more, in fact, most manageable, but one is kind of a bitch. By the time you get to mile 5 (these are all rough estimates so please do no put them in your Garmin and hold my feet to the fire after you run it at camp) it’s all down hill, but the first 1/2 of that mile is Quad Buster Central. Early in my running life, this was the section that gave me a not so pleasant, but firm introduction to my IT bands. The last half mile is also downhill, but at a perfect grade for running and a welcome way to bring it back to the car.
But wait . . . that was only about an hour. There’s still 30 minutes to go.
Instead of retracing the course, I opted for a few more miles on the flat-ish Belle Meade Boulevard. Aside from its pretentious nature, it is a great way to look at big houses and wonder why and the hell you didn’t end up living in a mansion like that, which I did wonder about and pin pointed the reason to the time when I had a nice mutual fun started out of college but decided to pull all the money out and travel around partying in Florida. But, anyway, that’s neither here nor there, just a point I thought I would get into the open for therapeutic benefit.
I think that, for some reason, not living in one of those mansions made me want to prove something, so as I re-entered the park, I ran directly at the stairs. As I did, I was saying strange things like, “uh oh,” and “look out!” to anyone who would listen. Instead of going back to the cars, I scaled the Roman-Ruin-Like staircase and ascended to the heavens. I felt surprisingly strong as I screamed back, “Who’s with me!” and “Let’s Do it!” I’m pretty sure no one even acknowledged me or thought I was losing my mind so I barreled up the steps alone, with no mansion to speak of, but possibly a greater reward waiting at the top.
Well, I can assure you there was no such award, and the ease of my glide turned into cement filled shoes about 100 steps from the top. But . . . I made it . . . and . . . I put my hands in the air and looked down upon those mansions like I was now in control. But I wasn’t. I was just a sweaty guy at the top of a staircase with no mansion.
Despite two tough challenges right out of the gate, spirits were high. We even had a few campers finish loop one, then turn around to run it in reverse. Let me tell you, that is no picnic. One loop is around 600 feet of elevation on its own, so logic would tell you that two loops would be around twice that, but only God and the two-loopers’-hamstrings know the real truth.
It was super humid and Coach Robbie gathered all the soaking wet runners for the next day’s instructions. “In the morning, we’ll hit the lake first, then . . . “The Lab.”
But before tomorrow, it was a short session on Strength and Mobility from our friends over at Innate Performance. Steven and Louisa have both run and coached Division I cross country. Steven ran through some great exercises to keep the hip flexors loose and said most endurance athletes aren’t over-trained, they are under-recovered. With that he went through ways to recover properly and gave us his top three: Sleep, mobility, and nutrition. That’s when Louisa gave campers some top line nutrition strategies to stay on top of this crazy game we call triathlon.
Great session, but now it’s around 3:30 and getting back to the East Side was going to be a nightmare. My roommates punched my address into Google Maps, but I calmly said, “I’ll take this one, boys,” and led them on a perfectly executed re-route that not only saved us time, it allowed for a concise exploration of the fascinating explosion we affectionately call downtown Nashville. The guys were very impressed with my navigation.
Around 5 o’clock, reminiscent of senior citizens, my house guests, Chuck, Ross, and Jason started getting cranky for food. I quickly put on my post-afternoon-nap-happy-face and we jumped in the car for a trendy little Mexican joint called RosePepper. I’d like to say we got wild and met a lot of crazy hipsters that showed us the nightlife around East Nashville, but instead we debated the reasons why Nashville is home for so many bachelorette parties why people don’t fall off the shelf more often at Top Golf.
We got home around 8:00 and I was ready to yuck it up with my new sorta college buddy roommates, but these guys were all business. After about 30 minutes of watching baseball, we all went to bed and I listened to old episodes of the Crushing Iron podcast to put me to sleep . . . but it didn’t work. In fact, I found them captivating, inspirational, and extremely motivating. I could not wait to get to the lake in the morning and shoot more video of people working their ass off!
To be continued . . .
Attitude is King – Camp ReCap Podcast
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