For those of you who don't know, last winter I skipped out of frigid and overwhelmingly snowy New Hampshire for the warmer, decidedly less precipitous Tucson, AZ. I had spent the winter of 2007 in Phoenix in preparation for the then-run-in-April Ironman Arizona. One weekend I rode my bike with some friends down to Tucson and realized I'd picked the wrong city, promising myself that if I did that again, I'd definitely pick Tucson instead. I suffered through a couple more winters at home, thinking to myself I was okay handling all the indoor riding and running in slush and snow. Well, the winter of 2010, training for the early season Ironman St. George nearly broke me, so I decided that in order to maintain my sanity, I needed to escape winter.
It worked out just about the best I could've possibly hoped for. Tuscon was nice, it rained I think twice in three months, and the place I found to rent on craigslist worked out perfectly. Not to mention the fact that all of New England was absolutely bombarded with blizzard after blizzard, constantly reaffirming my decision to get out of town. I felt guilty seeing the snow storms on the news or the piles of snow in the back yard out the window when I'd talk to my mom on Skype. But it basically told me that I'm not sure I can suffer through another winter of snow and cold. Especially not with another early season Ironman to be run in the heat and humidity.
So the question now is: Where do I go for 2012? And when? And for how long? Here are the things to consider in my decision:
-I need it to be hot and humid. Arizona is not going to cut it this time.
-I know at least three places in southern California I could stay with friends or family. I could probably even just rotate between them until one person/family gets sick of me and then move onto the next so by the time I come back I'm not annoying anymore. But while the weather is warm usually, it does not help with real heat and humidity. Plus, I'm not sure I want to drive all the way to California again.
-Three-and-a-half months was way to long to be by myself. I get a lot of alone time. Too much, probably. And for the most part it doesn't bother me. But there are at least a few bouts of human interaction other than the people at the gym front desk or the checkout counter at the grocery store. After about eight weeks, I started to go a little insane. And this time I need to stay down south until the middle of May, so not sure when to begin my adventures.
-My cousin is getting married MLK weekend. Can't miss that and don't plan on going anywhere before then.
-QT2 training camp in Clermont is the second weekend in February and will definitely be on my agenda. I just have to figure out if I'll fly down and back like a normal person or if maybe that could be the beginning of my travels. But again, that would mean three months away, which is too much I think.
-I am racing both the Galveston 70.3 on April 1st and then Ironman Texas. The races are within close proximity (at least by Texas standards, and trust me, I am well aware of how far away stuff in Texas can be) and six weeks apart. It seems to make sense to me to stay down there somehow in between.
-Theoretically I guess I could just do the camp in February and then maybe Texas for just those six weeks, but March in New Hampshire is the most horrible month ever, anywhere. It's still cold, but it can either rain or snow, or often both. Snow that is there is dirty and brown and disgusting. There is no way I want to spend March in New Hampshire.
Taking all of those things into consideration, I've got a few ideas. Initially I was thinking Clermont since that is where the training camp is, the National Training Center is there and I know I'll get plenty of hot and humid plus I've been there so I know what to expect. I don't know anyone there though and not sure how easy it would be to find a place, or how long I'd want to stay. There are some extended stay places, but I'm thinking that the neighbors wouldn't be the kinds of people I'd feel comfortable with having as my neighbors.
I'm obviously also considering Texas. But where? One of the athletes I coach knows someone who lives in The Woodlands, which is where the Ironman is held and I'm waiting to hear about things there. I don't know if that is a great place to train or not. I don't think there is any big advantage in this case to training on the course as apparently it's just flat. So heat, humidity and flat roads are really all I need.
Austin is another possibility. I know a couple of people who live there, although I have not heard back from anyone yet with any information. I know there is a decent triathlon community there and roads to ride. And a few peeks at craigslist tells me that it should be pretty easy if needed to sublet a place for pretty cheap. I just want to get some first hand knowledge on what to expect should I decide to go there for a while.
So, let's see what I come up with for this winter's adventures. I will say that at the moment I'm thinking of maybe flying down for camp in Clermont and then maybe even flying from there to spend a couple of weeks in California before coming back and then driving down to wherever I'm going to be from March to May, but that will obviously depend on when I want to go wherever I want to go and doesn't make much sense if I do, in fact, choose to stay in Clermont for a few months. And, well, I suppose a long-shot option is Hawaii, since I do have not one, but two college friends who live there - one north of Kona and one south. But then I wouldn't be able to take a car and flying and expensive and, well, I don't know.
So many choices!