Pura Vida in Costa Rica: Coaching RaceQuest Travel Athletes in Paradise

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The Costa Rican way of life is one I admire. It centers around nature, community, and eternal optimism. All they do revolves around these themes, as far as I could tell. When it comes to nature, they take full advantage of the playground they have. Their day starts at sunrise…and ends at sunset.  6am there is like our 9am here. Kids have already biked to school. All the shops are open. The beach towns are bustling and full of energy at sun up. It gets hot – so the locals (known as “Ticos”) start their day at the crack of dawn, taking full advantage of sunshine. Their hospitality is noteworthy; I get the feeling that they are well aware of the special land they call home.

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Brandon and I recently had the opportunity to coach RaceQuest Travel athletes in Costa Rica February 12th-16th. It was a couple’s “train-cation” as it was over Valentine’s Day. I had never been to Costa Rica; it’s been on my bucket list for some time though. It was such a treat to have been a part of this adventure. We arrived at the airport and were greeted with freshly cut coconuts, straw inserted, so we could stay hydrated en route to our villas. It really was the little things, like that, which made this trip, this training camp, so memorable. Our athletes jived incredibly well, and after we presented our nutrition, transition, training peaks, GoPro Swim analysis, and open water swim clinics, combined with plenty of saddle time, beach runs, and ocean swims throughout our time together, they had grown tremendously and learned so much. I left truly inspired by them.

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RaceQuest Travel did an amazing job. No detail was left unattended. We were truly spoiled with the town’s best chef who catered to our every need. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner was waiting for us between training sessions – fresh, delicious, healthy (calorie dense!) food and smoothies. The sag was incredibly attentive, we felt safe at all times. The riding blew me away! Great climbing, magnificent views, and friendly drivers. We didn’t get honked at once, which is quite the change of pace for me coming from Dallas.

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Our days in Guanacaste started at 5am with breakfast and a breathtaking sunrise. Wheels down promptly at 6am. We rode anywhere from 2:30-4 hours with climbing and brick runs. We swam every day, while Krista (our RQ Travel guru) and Chris Jarc SUP’d beside us. We did poolside yoga – and thanks to Sunstone yoga where I practice in Dallas, I was able to create a routine that was ideal for stretching and strengthening so I could teach in Costa Rica. We conquered a long run – an adventurous one at that – over “troll bridges” and on sand, through town and past a Monkey Farm. We did strengthening workouts and core routines. I’m amazed that the athletes wanted to take full advantage of training despite the temptation to lounge on the black sand beaches. They embraced every minute of training, and our reward each day was a sunset happy hour, dinner, and socializing. It’s amazing what great friends you can become with that dedicated time in the saddle!

Chris Jarc was a key part of this camp. His enthusiasm and zest for life was contagious – he didn’t have a care in the world. He lived out of a “life bag” and in many ways, I’m envious of the ability to live so freely, so spontaneously. He treasures life and the adventure that awaits, and he helped us all be so at ease the whole time. “Hakuna Matata” – he actually can pull that phrase off, he lives it through and through.

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Brandon was incredible – so knowledgable and patient. It was so rewarding to watch our athletes – several had never swam in open water before. . . by the last morning, after we sailed out 2 miles from shore and dove in, they had swam all the way back without stopping. I was overjoyed to see the progress – across all disciplines. In such a short timeframe. I owe a huge thanks to RQ Travel, Chris Jarc, the Ticos (and Gina our local tour guide!), our support crew (BlueSeventy, Nuun, Innovation360TriShop, Hincapie Sportswear, MileHighMultisport) as well as my Brandon for all the hard work put in to make this such a perfect opportunity for growth for these athletes. They are all going to have wonderful seasons!

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