These last few days I have been making preparations for my annual training trip to San Diego. I will leave the frozen, brown tundra that is Boulder for warmer, greener California. I will exchange the mountains for the ocean and the monotony of indoor training with dodging cars and navigating street lights. San Diego, where I grew up, has served as a winter refuge since my college days (my first visit back from Providence, I stepped off the plane pasty from several months on the East Coast. My California tan sucked off my skin was cause for mockery amongst family and friends). I have taken winter excursions to Tucson, Clermont and Palm Springs. But without a doubt, despite my ambivalence towards San Diego, with its brilliant blue skies and welcoming beaches tempered by urban sprawl and exasperating traffic, it is home and I always look forward to returning.
My winter training trip to San Diego serves many purposes. My internal battery pack needs recharging, a process that can only be accomplished with natural warmth and sunlight. The winter blues have certainly been somewhat abated with the 300 days of sunshine in Colorado, but I still crave the warm sun on my face and I prefer not to see temperatures that start with a 1, 2, or 3 (my husband asked about 100, but that is unrealistic this time of year, rendering it a moot point). I will happily leave my swim parka and down jacket in Boulder and my dry skin soaks up the coastal humidity. And, won’t it be nice to ride and run without generating an entire load of laundry?
Of course, there is the matter of family and friends. My parents and grandparents reside in San Diego, and my sister and her family live in LA. I am very close with my family, and I appreciate the chance to spend ample time with them. And, many of my friends from growing up are still in and around San Diego (most of them are teammates from the swimming days. They shake their heads in disbelief that I am still staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool. At least I don’t have to wake up at 3:45 anymore, as I did in high school). We reminisce about the good ‘ole days and the crazy antics in which we were involved (some so epic they have been named) all the while catching up on the present and wondering where the years have gone.
And, then, there is the training itself, hence the “training trip” moniker. I log extra miles and take full advantage of the additional oxygen that sea level provides. I bike along familiar routes, inland and along the coast and pound out repeats at the UCSD track. Every trip to San Diego has been different, offering new experiences. I have joined the storied Swami’s ride and run in Rancho San Diego. I have dragged along training buddies. I have trained alone. I have trained with some of triathlon’s finest athletes. I have stayed anywhere from 2 days to 2 months. No matter the circumstances, one thing is certain, though. The training has always been productive, the accommodations top notch, and I return home to winter renewed.