SLO/Slow Camp with MarkyV

Last weekend I attended my second third camp of the very early 2014 season! That’s one aero and two training-type thingies for those of you keeping track at home. Overindulgent, yes maybe! But I figure I have a ton of free time, a poopload of fitness to attempt to gain back, and, erm… they’ve all been within three hours of Dusty’s because CALIFORNIA IS A PLAYGROUND, YO!

So, my friend Lindsey Heim and her coach, Marky “Mark” Van Akkeren (MarkyV), invited me along up to cycling haven San Luis Obispo (SLO). This is a place-name only Phil Liggett can pronounce with any panache: I get all the consonants and vowels mixed up. BUT ANYWAY we were actually west of SLO in Los Osos, a hillside town overlooking Morro Bay to its north. Pretty spectacular.


The area is green and coastal and impossible to photograph in all its glory, but we tried. I’ve included LOTS of pics below as a result.

I wasn’t able to join MarkyV’s band of merry triathletes until Tuesday night (having come off a race weekend needing some recovery time, MAT, and clean clothes). The other athletes arrived on Saturday and let’s just say their VRBO 80’s mansion habitat was well lived-in by the time I got there. It was leftover night for dinner (delicious), dirty dishes clogged the sink, and tired athletes were strewn across the couches and floor cushions like so many pairs of used compression socks. They were all exhausted, but happy, and mostly ready for more work.


MarkyV is all about polarized training, by the way: 95% of the work his athletes do is under Zone 1.5, and 5% is above Zone 4.5. I wish I had taken a picture of the diagram he used to explain this to me, but it involves bell curves of “good shit” vs. “bad shit” and where the good outweighs the bad. Anyway, it helps explain how a group of athletes from around the country can come together and hammer out some happy, slow volume in the March sunshine.



After a night’s sleep on a cot rolled into the corner of Lindsey and Laura’s room, we got up and headed to the local trail for a run. Seaside, gravel trail giving way to single track, stairs built into a cliff, and an enchanted forest. Gorge-ous. Misty. Awesome.


We stuffed our faces with second breakfast (a common theme; if we weren’t somewhere for a workout, we were in the kitchen making a mess and eating ALL THE CALORIES), we headed to the pool for a 4k swim followed “immediately” by a bike ride. Once again (as I mentioned in my post about the Wattie Ink. camp), a ladder set is a super sneaky way to get in a ton of yardage.

  • 400 swim
  • 300 pull
  • 4×50 build
  • 100 easy
  • 100-200-300-400-400-300-200-100 alternate swim/pull
  • 200 easy
  • 3x 100IM, 50 build, 50 easy
  • 200 cd


Our T1 included a long stop at a café for day-old pastries and/or fruit smoothies, of course, before we turned up into the hills for three hours. “Slower, slower, slower” was the refrain of the day from MarkyV.


That night at dinner, someone casually mentioned that they saw a few sea otters in the bay. Commence freak-ouuuuuuuuut! I had to explain what the strange noises were coming out of my mouth and how I spend my spare time (watching the Sea Otter Web Cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium).

Luckily MarkyV was game to indulge my obsession and steer tomorrow’s planned easy ride toward the bay for me.


I arrived at camp relatively fresh, but others were hurting and saving up for a long run this day and a looooong ride on Friday. We started the morning pretty late, and rolled out to a much-Yelped-about bakery down the road for second breakfast. After satiating ourselves with buttery goodness, we looped through a pass between two of the Nine Sisters on to MORRO BAY!


That’s where the sea otters hang out.


No, I was not allowed to pet them: they’re endangered.

After the LIETIME MILESTONE of seeing my first sea otters in the wild, the rest of the afternoon was a wash. We headed to Cal Poly to long-run in their canyon, but the ROTC guys were playing war games back there and the trail was closed. (As an aside, there was an experimental architecture graveyard about a mile up the trail, it was rad.) Then a swim team was in town for a meet and closed the pool to the public. I guess it was a rest day—too bad I packed in about 3000 bonus calories in anticipation of the planned workouts that day. OH WELL, easy days are good too.



Another lifetime highlight of a day. But first, we started out with a quick workout on a dirt track:

  • 2x200m with 200m rest
  • 2x400m with 200m rest
  • 800m with 400m rest
  • 1600m with 800m rest


We downed second breakfast, lunch, and a last minute snack before driving up the coast. Just south of Rugged Point, we parked on the 1, and embarked on a 60 mile round-trip ride.



Our goal was to make it to a few landmarks, but due to waning daylight, we decided to turn around at the first major sight, the Big Creek Bridge. Years ago I remember asking my sister where this thing was, and she basically told me “the middle of nowhere,” so I was happy to have the chance to see it.

Happy Campers.
Happy Campers.

Speaking of the sights… first, if you ever get here too, get out of your car. There were so many people pulling in and out of the Scenic View areas and not even bothering to roll down their windows. Secondly, fuck the car, ride your bike. A direct benefit, aside from taking in the view properly, is that we were traveling slowly enough to see whale spouts about a mile off the coast.


Then I spotted more SEA OTTERS!


We smelled the eucalyptus trees, and craned our eyeballs toward the tops of redwoods.

SLO Camp was slow, and therefore perfect.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s