The Mountain Don’t Care (July 19th, 2012)
“Respect the mountain – it doesn’t care if you live or die.”
In the past couple of weeks since the Mt. Washington Road race I’ve burned through precious gas money to seek out runs that go above 14,000 feet. Luckily, since I am in Colorado, there are plenty of mountains that satisfy this requirement. However, such excursions’ do take some time to plan and they demand a ton of fuel in the form of gasoline, carbohydrates, lipids and electrolytes. That depletion makes me kind of feel guilty, but since I will be working pretty soon I probably won’t be spending nearly as many resources driving down I-70 every week anymore.
So why the madness? Why not just run up lil’ ol’ Green Mountain everyday? Answer: I’m training to race the Pikes Peak Ascent (another 14er with a big net uphill ) in August and I figure the extra high altitude training will callous my lungs more than just 8,000 feet. Also, running up a 14,000 mountain usually ends up being a pretty long aerobic effort…something very specific to the demands of ultra running and other hilly races. With my next race being a 50-miler I know I need to spend a lot of time on my feet. Finally, I want to be a stronger trail runner…a better runner on more technical, rocky trails with large vertical drops (I’ve heard in Europe they run with reckless abandon on these things!). The view from the top of a tall mountain is pretty sweet as well:
(… feels like you’re on top of the world)
Green Mountain is one of my favorite playgrounds. Even my friend/teammate from high school was able to easily run up to the summit despite only training at sea-level (note: this guy also ran an 8:39 for 3k in high school to place 6th in the 2004 Oregon large-school state meet behind the likes of Galen Rupp, Ryan Vail and a bunch of other speedy guys!)
I believe that learning to tolerate fatigue is the name of the game – it is a key to success in our sport. In my last outing (a near failed attempt up Mt. Evans) I suffered for nearly 7 hours. The power of the mountain humbled me and left me weary beyond belief. Two days after that mountain run I rolled out for a 27.6 mile long run on the tame trails surrounding the Boulder Reservoir (but in the 80 degree sun of course). It was a piece of cake compared to what I felt on the mountain.
As I prepare for the White River 50 (next weekend) the thought of bonking hard after 30-miles still lingers in the back of my mind. I know that over the course of 50 miles I will burn through all my glycogen stores and ensure that my body is thoroughly exhausted before I cross the finish line. Since I’m an ultra nube, I feel like I’m venturing into the unknown with my first 50-miler and the training regime I’ve chosen for myself. Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective because you get caught-up in the day-to-day workouts and all the training variables you have to consider (altitude, intensity, pace, weather, volume, nutrition, rest, etc.) that influence various training stimuli. I’ve found myself deviating from the original training plan I wrote out …but sometimes that can be a good thing. Next weekend will be another big test. I can’t wait!
See you on the trails,
PS. As part to my “speed training”for White River I did jump in a couple shorter trail races:
The Summer Round-up 12k (where I got my butt thoroughly kicked by former Ivy competitor Ryan Hafer and the Mt. Evans Ascent Champ Geofrey Terer) in Colorado Springs.
(Post-race interview with Pikes Peak Sports)
and most recently:
The Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon (near my hometown out in wine country, Oregon) where I was able to dip just under 1:11 on a pretty gnarly course that went from 200 feet to 800+ feet in elevation and back down through vineyards.
Pretty sweet prize…plus there was a ton of tasting with all the local vineyards right after the race!