Exclusive: Defender Stephen Keel's Off-Season Training Diary From Mexico

DENVER (Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com) - Here at ColoradoRapids.com we were able to persuade Rapids defender Stephen Keel to share with fans his experiences from his recent pre-season training trip to Mexico.

Check out Stephen's diary from his trip in his exclusive column below!

"Hey fans! Just writing in to let you know about what I've been up to while getting ready for the Rapids' preseason to begin!

On January 17th Colin Clark Dan Gargan and I took the opportunity to do a little extra preparation on our own ahead of the MLS preseason and headed down to Pachuca Mexico to stay and train with their club at their facilities before we had to report back to camp in Colorado.

We arrived in Mexico City in the evening of the 17th and then enjoyed a 4-hour drive to Pachuca. Even though Pachuca isn't that far from Mexico City when you have 33 million people in a city traffic can get a little rough at times!

We woke up the next morning bright and early for 9am training with Pachuca's second-division team. To say we stood out like a sore thumb would be an understatement. The paleness of my skin was blinding to the locals!

After a solid two hour session it was back to the hotel for some cards and time killing. 22 was the name of the game and Colin was self-proclaimed "awesome" at the game. It was my first time playing but I picked it up rather quickly and was able to hold my own against the supposed top players of 22 in the world!

The city of Pachuca sits around 8000 feet above sea level so to say there was some chest burning and gasping for air the first couple of sessions would be an accurate statement. There was also plenty of sunshine during the day which can be seen by the red glow that still exists on my face.

Over the course of the next week we would all follow this same daily routine: training from 9-11 am (sometimes with a double session in the afternoon) lunch consisting of delicious PB&J with some chips follwed by relaxation time which meant playing cards and then dinner and finally more cards.

We ended up staying in Pachuca for grand total of 8 days and by the time our departure date of January 25th rolled around after some quality training time in good old Mexico we were all ready to get back to Colorado despite all we'd been hearing about the snowy weather.

All in all the trip was an experience I will never forget! I'm glad I got to share our experience with the Rapids fans thanks for the opportunity and talk to you guys soon."

Look for columns written by Rapids players in the coming weeks exclusively at www.ColoradoRapids.com!