Sunday, March 3, 2013

Team Timex Camp 2013 (part 2)

...continued from part 1

I made the Timex Multisport Team one year into the sport with what I might add was only one truly decent showing at this discipline: Kona 2012. Just goes to show that although results matter, they only get your feet in the door. What sponsors want is someone with a blistering fire lit under their ass and a dream and commitment to get themselves there... I haven't been shy about my dream, and am so incredibly thankful for this early career investment to help me realize it.

So upon hearing the great news I took some vacation time, packed my bags, and boarded a plane to New Jersey where I would spend four days at the NY Giants Training Facility: The Timex Performance Center (TPC).

Main entrance to the TPC.
The "Timex treatment" started from the minute I stepped out of Newark Airport. I was told there'd be a driver, but no one mentioned it would be Tom Schuler. CONFESSION: I recognized the name but didn't really know who Tom was until a half hour into our conversation (sorry, Tom!). Lets leave it at the fact that Tom has a wikipedia page. It is my dream (okay maybe not the main dream but a goal nonetheless) to one day have a wikipedia page, so among many other reasons, Tom is an icon in my book.

Tom picked me up at 6AM - I'd later hear stories that he drove all the way out to Harlem to pick up other newbies (on Valentine's day nonetheless). You'd never guess him an Olympian, road and crit champion (as well as the owner of Team Sports) -- an incredibly humble and giving guy who goes the extra mile for his athletes.  For the rest of camp this sort of attention to detail would continue to make me feel like a pro - an incredibly valued asset to the Timex organization and an athlete with wins beyond his years. A heartfelt thanks is also owed to Tristan and Keith who are responsible for organizing this whole thing and managing us 50 athletes throughout the year.

We arrived at the Marriott Hotel where I checked in and spent the morning taking care of work fires. The bulk of the athletes would trickle in throughout the afternoon with camp activities beginning around 3PM. I'd received a note from Timex a few days prior requesting that I take part in an athlete interview, so I actually made my way to the performance center before the main group. Not a bad deal rolling up to the facility guards and having the gates open sesame when you mention you're "the athlete" here for filming!

The Timex Performance Center is the headquarters for the NY Giants Football Team and business organization. It is a state-of-the-art athletic facility, built just 2-years ago and located adjacent to the MetLife stadium where the NY Giants play their home games. This is where the football team eats 3 meals a day, scrimmages, weight trains, rehabs, and studies tape and discusses game strategy. It's their home 9 months out of the year, and here I was, this lanky 160lb. "athlete" asking for directions to the studio for filming. Wild.

View from the dining room.
Indoors of the above: true to size and true to turf field.
The DBack's room decorated
by the NY Giants rookies.

Clearly Webster's still around (We actually ran into
a few of the players and they were world class gents).

NY Giants gym.


Wide of the locker room.

The studio is a full-blown production room with green screens, production lighting, huge cameras and a directors chair where I'd be storytelling for 20 minutes (For those of you who know me, you know I love my stories!). I wish I had pictures because it was pretty wild. To think that guys like Eli and Terrell Thomas have sat in that chair and done the same thing!!

I later found my way to the "athlete lounge" where I sat in a massage chair and waited for the other athletes to arrive. A tour of the facilities and dinner cooked by the team chefs followed. We then had the great honor of hearing a keynote by Timex CEO Gary Cohen, and finally a special presentation by Timex Product Manager Paul Bernstein who unveiled the brand new Timex Run Trainer 2.0. I know I'm sponsored by these guys, but let me tell you what a watch! (I'll write a detailed post about it soon)

The (not even released to the public yet) Timex Run Trainer 2.0

Day 2 of Timex camp started with an early morning wake-up call: 5AM. My normal schedule calls for 4:15 but the time difference made this a doozy. It didn't help that roomie Daniel Brienza and I stayed up late chatting and getting to know each others real careers + families. The shuttles drove 30 of us athletes to the local high school for a ~1 hour swim sesh. Bruce Genarri lead the workout which consisted of 600 WU + 25 100's descending every 5 (1:35, 1:30, 1:25, 1:20, 1:15) followed by 6*150s (50 swim 75 drill). Pro triathlete Christine Anderson, Daniel Brienza and I stayed post swim and did another 600yds so the camera crew could get some b-roll, and then I hung around so Larry Rosa (team photographer) and the video crew could take some 1:1 shots. Now I'm a model? This "hobby" is blowing up fast!!

The production crew dropped me off at the performance center and I went straight to the medical room for my blood lactate test. Lactate testing gives you a super scientific gauge of your lactate threshold (the point at which your muscles can't metabolize lactate faster than it is produced). I'd never done one before and was pretty pumped about getting a good gauge of my fitness. Unfortunately I think the lack of sleep, jet lag, and morning swim sesh caught up to me. My HR was through the roof from the moment I stepped on the treadmill. My results suggest LT at 172bpm HR - giving the circumstances I think I'll have to take this with a grain of salt.

I finished up my LT testing in time for our team apparel distribution.  The NY Giants and Timex staff stripped out the team locker room and posted a plaque with a Timex athlete's name on each stall. It was pretty special to walk into this sacred NY giants ground and see my name up on Adrian Tracy's locker + a suitcase bursting with casual apparel, race apparel, a new BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit, Timex watches, and much, much more. Two weeks later and I still have to pinch myself to realize this was all for real.


The rest of the day was filled with product and sponsor meetings. It was great to get a peak into the future of the Timex line - and it's reassuring to see a goliath like Timex bring key product people out to get hands on time with athletes. I'm told many of our suggestions will find their way into future products and firmware upgrades.

We then had another surprise in the form of the voice of Ironman Mike Reilly. Mike showed up to be the official announcer of the inaugural 80s-themed Timex 5k. What was meant to be a "fun run" soon turned into a race as I chased the lead group dipping into the 5:40s.

Mike Reilly and I.
The next surprise blew my mind away. We were shuttled across the parking lot to the MetLife Stadium where the gigantic digital billboards welcomed our team by name. We were then taken up to the owners box where cocktails and a 5* dinner followed (churros and lime-a-rita's plenty). Highlights were the always fabulous MC in Mike Reilly, a motivational speech by Fireman Rob, and witnessing my first ever Timex Awards banquet and Hall of Fame induction. I can't possibly describe the perfection of the evening...

A hero's welcome.
Teammate Chris Thomas (USAT Master's Triathlete of the Year) and I.





Saturday (day 3) was another early morning. 6AM in the lobby for a 7 miler with a few of the team. The rest of the day was spent with our sponsors. We are incredibly lucky to repped by the best guys in the sport: Timex, Quintana Roo, Blue Seventy, Shimano, PowerBar (and more) and I know my results will show the difference this year.

Back at the hotel I joined Brienza and a few others for an easy 5 miles around New Jersey. The evening was a freebie, and I decided to join a few teammates for a jaunt out to NYC to watch the Millrose Games (the premier indoor track event in the US). This was my first ever track meet and it took my breath away. Back at the hotel later that night, we were treated to pizza by QR face-guy Mac McEneaney (seriously, we have the best sponsors).

The Millrose Games.

Some of the team waiting for the tube.
Sunday (day 4) was meant to be an early start but my body just wouldn't cooperate. I struggle to confess that I skipped the am run in favor of some shut-eye. Brienza finally managed to wake me up after his run and we were shuttled to the TPC for our final meal and team headshots. Of course, there were more surprises and I added several new watches to my inventory. I now jokingly refer to my Timex watches by the day of week they are worn. :) Yes, we're incredibly privileged and yes, I'll stop rubbing it in.

Back at the hotel, Susanne Davis and I managed to squeeze in that run we missed earlier in the morning: a very windy 7 miles! It was great to get to know Susanne – yet another reminder of how talented, diverse, and incredibly amazing my teammates are.

Susanne and I.
In short (I appreciate the irony), I feel so incredibly blessed to have been selected into this family. The swag, the food, and the gear are all certainly great but they're also just bonus - it's the athletes, the team managers, and the people behind our sponsors' products that makes this group so special. I came to Jersey an individual athlete and left playing a team sport.

See you at the races.

-Gui

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