I haven’t written explicitly about my ultra endurance training over the last few years. Partly due to the fact that I’m juggling training full time in addition to running (no pun intended) a business, another startup, along with all of other life’s responsibilities!
However, I’ve missed looking at my training and figured it was time to pick pen and paper again. Plus, perhaps you’ll find it useful in your journey wherever you are at.
My Type A personality wants to go back and recap my athletic training these past months and years but that would be impossible so I’ll bring you up to speed these last few weeks. Cool?
In April 2016 I ran two 50 milers. The North Face Endurance Challenge D.C. and New York. Both races had their own set of unique challenges. Looking ahead two months to the 3rd race of The North Face Endurance Challenge Series (July 16, 2016) I knew I needed to revamp my training strategy. Several weeks later I was reading an interview with Jared Campbell (3 time winner of the Barkley Marathons) who mentioned doing 20,000 to 50,000 of gain a week. There it was. Get my legs on as many mountains as I could the next 7+ weeks and climb my heart+soul (plus lungs) out. I felt very confident in this training approach.
The week leading up to July 16, 2016 was chaotic and one of my training essentials, i.e. sleep, was jeopardized. I had jam-packed days starting at the usual 5 a.m. and going to 10 p.m. 11 p.m. That Friday (July 15) I left my house at 6:30 a.m. and didn’t arrive in Toronto, Canada till 7:15 p.m. By the time I cleared customs, picked up my rental car, made a quick stop at Whole Foods Market for the few items I wasn’t able to bring with me, I didn’t start the nearly 2 hour drive up to the Blue Mountains in Collingwood, Ontario till 8:30 p.m. To say I was pretty tired was an understatement. I never like going into a race sleep deprived!
There was a light drizzle of rain on the drive up to Collingwood and I prayed that race day would be clear. It’s one thing to train in the rain, it’s quite another to race in the rain! (It rained/poured/hailed/snowed/sleet during the entire race in D.C. in April and I did not wish for a repeat of that!)
After arriving at Blue Mountain Resort in the darkness of night and checking in, I collapsed into bed (literally) at 11 p.m. after setting my alarm for 3:30 a.m. I could sleep in! The race start was just across the way and I was stoked about that.
However, at just before 3 a.m., a fire alarm went off. I stumbled half naked out of bed, not entirely sure if it was my alarm or a nightmare! After peaking out into the hallway, it was indeed a fire alarm and the whole hotel had to be evacuated. Slightly panicking about my race that was to start shortly, I quickly dressed in my running clothes, grabbed a blanket and headed outside to wait the all clear call. After the fire department checked the building we were cleared to go back inside. So much for “sleeping in” and a peaceful start to my day! But rather than becoming mad at the circumstances, I chose to remain happy that I was safe and was going to have a great race no matter what!
5 a.m. came and the race was underway. To make a long story short, I had a really great race. I felt strong almost the entire way. My nutrition, electrolyte and mental game were on point and I as replied to another runner earlier in the wee hours of the morning, I felt “spunky” throughout most of the day given a somewhat challenging course- with many hills! I finished with a smile and gratitude for running my 11th 50 miler. (Or because I was in Canada, 80k.) :)
The next day (Sunday) I took an active recovery day that included 4+ hours of walking, hiking, some laps in the pool, a nap and some scrumptious organic juice and food from Press Juice Co. I honestly did not feel like I ran just ran 50 miles up and down ski hills hours previously!
Monday morning I got up and spent 2 hours on the trails before driving back to Toronto via Barrie, Ontario so I could visit RIPE Juicery. I felt fabulous! That evening I did a lot of casual walking and a visit to Kupfert & Kim.
Tuesday morning I was up early-ish and sightsaw Toronto via a 30k bike ride. With a stop at The Organic Press. I love so many things and traveling while being active and healthy is at the top of the list! Regrettably I didn’t have a chance to check out any yoga studios- next time! Later that afternoon it was a mad dash to the airport but not before satisfying my craving for a Green Matcha Mylk at Village Juicery. There were several flight delays so by the time I landed in Denver, took the train to my car, got home and fell into bed, it was 1 a.m. No rest for the weary as I had to get up at 5 a.m. Welcome to Wednesday!
I was really looking forward to receiving chiropractic care that morning so I could continue 2 more months of intense training. In September I have two 50 milers, 6 days apart and the later race is in Park City, Utah. I ran this race last year and the course is not easy. I want to run strong again and my goal is 30,000 feet of gain a week for the next 6 weeks.
A long nap (yay!) that day with a few hours on the trails rounded out the rest of my Wednesday. I was still in awe of how great I felt! Thursday and Friday were easy days of training that included trails and yoga. Friday I also got a much-needed massage at LoDo Massage.
Saturday morning I did two repeats of a small mountain for a total of about 3000 feet of gain. It was also a very hot morning. I was craving yoga but my body wanted sleep. So much in fact that my nap was 4 hours! Over the years I’ve learned to pay attention to my body and honor what it desires. It wanted sleep and sleep was achieved. Remember, it’s only been a week since the race!
Sunday morning I was back to my weekly summer goal of riding (road cycling) a nearby mountain. It was a good gauge on my recovery. My legs felt tired riding up. It’s a 7 mile hill climb with 2115 of gain when all is said and done. I raced back home, made a quick plant-based shake and was on my yoga mat by 11 a.m. Whew. A glorious nap in the afternoon and then I hit the trails that night for a 2 hour run up another mountain. Must get that vert in! With that run I ended up with 3,751 of gain for the day.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Barely 12 hours later I was back on the trails for a 2 hour run with 1,281 of gain and elevation going up to 7,893. This run was followed by chiropractic care and a very productive afternoon and evening.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
This morning was catching up on work and yoga studio trade for cleaning followed by a yoga class, ran a few errands, back to the chiropractor, stopped at Natural Grocers, made organic plant-based shortcakes for Fresh Peach Shortcake, quickly packed and out the door to drive up to the mountains for a group Alpine run that evening (6 miles, 1,345 gain, starting elevation was 10,600-ish).
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
A few hours of restless sleep (one can only sleep so well cramped in the back seats of a small car!) before it was time to go run up another tall mountain. I started a little after 5:15 a.m. and made swift time (1:29 with 2,850 of gain) to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt (14,060 feet) with a few pauses for photos to capture the sunrise. I ran back quickly to the trailhead as I wanted to make it back to Denver to lift at the gym by 9:15 a.m. This was a 7 mile run.
I scarfed down a delicious bowl of my organic, plant-based, made-from-scratch, fresh peach shortcake and started driving. It was just past 8 a.m. and I was feeling mighty accomplished and proud of it! I was on the weight room floor by 9:30 a.m., lifted upper body for 45 minutes (plus a few deadlifts- one of my favorite moves) back in the car for another wonderful chiropractic adjustment and home by 12 noon to clean the car, do a load of wash and prepare for one more workout of the day and more mountains in the early, early morning.
I finished up today’s training with a 27 mile ride (road cycling) on my weekly hill climb. I was delightfully surprised at good my legs felt!
Thursday, July 28, 2016
It was another early 3 a.m. wake up call to head back out to the mountains. Initially, my climbing partner and I were to climb another route, however, I had to be back at certain time and we didn’t want to make hasty decisions on a technical route so we opted for Bierstadt. We made quick time on the ascent and descent, I even ran into a good friend on the way down, which was very surprising and fun! Summiting this 14,060 foot mountain twice in less than 24 hours was surreal. I had a pretty long nap (yay!) later that day along with a much needed yoga class.
Friday, July 29, 2016
I didn’t feel like running a 14er today so I opted to run 13ers instead. [Insert laughs here.] I explored a new-to-me mountain trail with great views of 14ers. I ended up with 4,000 feet of gain (all 2 miles above sea level) and beautiful scenery to go with it.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
This morning began at 4 a.m. followed by a 2+ hour drive out to Twin Lakes, Colorado. I was soooo sleepy, I stopped and pulled over right before Leadville to close my eyes. I didn’t want to fall asleep on my bike!
The morning was gorgeous and the clouds were sitting low in the valley making for a beautiful backdrop. I put my bike together, clipped in and began my journey riding up Independence Pass. Oh boy. I made it to the top of the pass and the Continental Divide faster than I anticipated- which was a nice energy boost. I motivated myself with getting a photo on the return summit. I know- some people choose beer, I choose a photo.
Riding down Independence Pass into Aspen wasn’t as fast as one might think. Hairpin switchbacks, rough, narrow roads plus motor vehicles on your back, let’s just say I was braking way more than I cared for. However, I didn’t feel like becoming road kill so safety first and foremost. Before long I arrived in Aspen. 50% of my ride complete. I guess I know many people because a guy from my yoga studio walked by! Small world. He gave me words of encouragement and without too much lingering, I was back on the saddle and pedaling my way back up the mountain.
Riding up from the Aspen side is a little more challenging as you gain 4,400 feet (as compared to 3,100 on the Twin Lakes side). Nevertheless, I kept my mind's eye fixed on the Continental Divide summit. The ascent intense as the heat of the sun. A few groves of Aspen trees along the winding road were refreshing. I continued to pedal up the mountain and before I knew it I was on the final approach to the summit! Oh glory hallelujah! Once on top of the summit for the second time, I wearily unclipped from the bike and walked around a bit to give my legs a different position. Man, did that feel good! Another cyclist reached the top and we chit-chatted over our handlebars. He asked what my time was up to that point and he replied “that is really, really good”. That felt really good to hear. A few other random people congratulated me, refilled my water, gave me a organic (I kid you not!) banana and even a hug. I was so grateful for all who celebrated what I did. I rode down into Twin Lakes in awe of what I had accomplished. It was a huge athletic challenge as well as having the mental fortitude to keep climbing when I was weary. Yes, many life lessons out of this ride for sure!
74 miles with 7,600 feet of climbing (all at 2 miles above sea level remind you)!
Sunday, July 31, 2016
I woke up still in a fog (a ride hangover perhaps??) and went to a very much-needed yoga class. Boy, did that feel delicious! I had a long nap and finished out the week with a 10 mile run in the evening.
This week totals were:
24,000+ thousand feet of gain (to put that in perspective, Everest is 29,029 thousand feet.
As I was driving and reflecting on the past week plus, I realized it was time to put down what “I do” on paper. I’m so grateful that my body is able to do all the training I set my heart on! Might I also add that I take no Rx or OTC drugs, I eat real, organic, plant-based food and see a chiropractor regularly. :)