Monday, August 15, 2016

Training Above the Clouds

I'm prepping for the Ascent, as I've mentioned before. The Ascent is the annual race from the bottom to the top of Pike's Peak.
I ran to the top of that waterfall in the back.
According to everyone I've talked to, you can't just train for the Ascent the way you train for any other half-marathon - you know, go out and run. You have to practice going up, up, up. And you have to do that at elevation.

So that's what I've done. For the last five Saturdays, I've gotten up, driven to the top of Pike's Peak, ran down part way, back up and then did it again. Each Saturday, the run, the weather, the mountain itself, has been different. The only thing that has stayed the same has been the elevation.

The trail up the waterfall.
This race is different than anything I've done. Mainly, you don't actually run every second of it, which has been quite the mental jump for me. You run when you can, you fast hike the rest. This is standard practice for all but the elites.

I am not elite.

But! I've also trained in other environments. I've been up and down the Incline I don't know how many times now. We went out to Telluride over 4th of July weekend, and I ran 4 miles up to the top of a waterfall. One weekend my friend Tim and I went from the bottom of Pike's up to Barr Camp at 10,200 feet. During the week, I ran in our neighborhood and ran up all the dead end roads that spur off our main drag to get the uphills.

 I also haven't been able to do this alone. I've gotten training advice from those who have gone before me up the mountain.  I've gotten PT assistance, and visited my chiropractor, who is also done the Ascent.  Most of all, Eric has been my constant companion in this. He's driven  me places, waited while I ran, delayed our weekend  adventures, even agreed to cancel a camping weekend so I could get more time at elevation.  He's been a true champion here. He's picked up things I haven't been able to do at home because of the training.  He even made me a peanut butter and jelly while I took an ice bath and showered so we can get to our next thing on time. Sometimes all of woman needs is a good man and a sandwich, and that weekend, I had both. This is been adventure for me, but make no mistake that this is been a summe sometimes all of woman needs is a good man and a sandwich, and that weekend, I had both. This is been adventure for me, but make no mistake- this is been a summer of sacrifice for him.

My "daily driver"
Am I ready? I don't know. Can you really be ready for this race? I've done what I can - even changed up my diet, my downhill stride (after having to go to PT for "wear and tear" on my knees), stopped having wine more nights than not. I'm a little lighter - not where I ultimately want to be, but at good enough fighting weight. I've learned to tape my knees, massage my hip flexors, stretch in new ways, take ice baths, breathe thin air and digest aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

I'm writing this from the Miami airport, where in a couple minutes I'm leaving for a three-day, high-impact, high-work-hours trip to the Dominican Republic. I'm counting on the extra oxygen to heal up anything that might need a boost. I'll be back Thursday night, and up to the top on Friday to breathe the thin air.

The race is Saturday. It may snow.

Let's do this.

Top of Pike's. I've been here. A lot.
See you on the downhill.

Top of Pike's.
View near my house on a daily run.

Top of the Incline. I went to the top of a lot of stuff this summer.

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