Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reaching New Heights…

As I was running on the treadmill yesterday, I watched the documentary movie called Spirit of the Marathon. This film chronicles a handful of runners that are training for the Chicago Marathon. I love that race. It made me think of my very first marathon, which was Chicago, back in 1997. I recall passing by the mile 26 marker, then around the corner with the finish line in view, I started hyperventilating. Um, yeah, can’t really “sprint” in for the finish if I can’t breathe! I was just so….excited, overwhelmed, and so full of accomplishment and pride that I did it! As I calmed down enough to breathe, I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air in victory and a big smile plastered on my face with tears of happiness starting to flow. Yesterday, I ended up having a great 10 mile run on the treadmill, thinking about that amazing moment back in 1997, and how I will feel crossing the finish line on Day 6 of TransRockies, with Brian, my best friend and love, at my side. I suspect that I will channel those feelings from my first is going to be epic and amazing!

So, what is the TransRockies Run? Well, it is quite a bump up from a single day marathon. It is a stage run that is held in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. There are six point-to-point stages of varying distances on each of the six days. Brian and I run the race together as a team. The race organizers feed us breakfast and dinner, with the race in between. At night, we'll be sleeping in race-provided tents. We will take showers via a shower truck, dry our wet shoes with provided shoe driers, even stay "connected" by having charging stations for our techie devices. Granted, there may be a few stages where having a cell phone won't matter much! Here is the breakdown of each stage:

Sunday, August 23 - Stage 1
Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge
Distance: 20.4 miles
Climbing: 2721 feet / Descending: -2398 feet
Min/Max Elevation: 7919/9329

Monday, August 24 - Stage 2

Vicksburg to Twin Lakes
Distance: 10 miles
Climbing: 3098 feet / Descending: -3570 feet
Min/Max Elevation: 9203/12538

Tuesday, August 25 - Stage 3

Leadville to Nova Guides at Camp Hale
Distance: 24.3 miles
Climbing: 2930 feet / Descending: -3833 feet
Min/Max Elevation: 9200/10945

Wednesday, August 26 - Stage 4

Nova Guides at Camp Hale to Red Cliff
Distance: 14.2 miles
Climbing: 3009 feet / Descending: -3580 feet
Min/Max Elevation: 8650/11668

Thursday, August 27 - Stage 5
Red Cliff to Vail
Distance: 23.4 miles
Climbing: 4407 feet / Descending: -4868 feet
Min/Max Elevation: 8191/11787

Friday, August 28 - Stage 6
Vail to Beaver Creek
Distance: 20.2 miles
Climbing: 4623 feet / Descending: -4718 feet
Min/Max: 7420/10512

Total Miles - 113.5

View Elevation Profile (PDF)

Gosh, I look at that elevation profile and I still can't believe that I'm about to run it! I've been training for this event since about mid-May. Unfortunately, after the Elgin Valley Fox Trot 10mi on Memorial Day, I started to feel quad pain. I went to a sports med doc and he diagnosed a mild quad strain. I believe it was from going down that nasty, steep downhill around mile 5 without using proper form. I had to modify my training by reducing my mileage and doing physical therapy for until July. Luckily I managed to run the long runs on the weekend, but we unfortunately had to avoid hilly trails because my quad could not handle too much downhill. Ugh, talk about demoralizing -- training for a mountain race and having to avoid hills during training!

So, training brought ups and downs. The quad injury was definitely a down moment, but I'm grateful that it was minor and I was able to continue to run. I witnessed my body being able to handle bigger weekly mileage -- 40 miles, 60 miles, topping out at 72 miles. Quite a bit more than my 20-30 average over the last 12 years!

I recall a "character-building" 17 mile run, long run #3 of the weekend, and just feeling completely burnt out early in the run. I was near tears, feeling sorry for myself and really hating every step, wishing the miles would go by faster. Thankfully Brian was there, patient and supportive, to get me out of that nasty rough patch. It wasn't pretty that day, but we got it done!

There were many more highlights. I ran most of the long runs with Brian, my awesome training partner. :-) Most of the runs flew by, especially my 27-mile run at Sunburn Six in the Stix, which was part of the penultimate weekend of TransRockies training. That day, long run #2 of 3 for the weekend, had only 20 miles on the schedule, but it was so much fun to run with other CHUGs that I ran until the six hours was up, earning a mileage PR! I felt so strong and really acknowledged the results of the last few months of training. I know that TransRockies will bring much more challenging terrain at much higher elevations than where I've been training here in Chicagoland, but we will finish!

Our bags are all packed now and we are leaving to go to Colorado tomorrow morning. The first week we'll be getting used to the altitude and relaxing near Colorado Springs, staying with Brian's sister and her family. I'm looking forward to spending time with them, getting to know them! Then, on Saturday, we'll be hopping on a shuttle for Buena Vista for the race start on the following morning.

After these last couple of weeks of much-needed and much-enjoyed taper :-), I am excited and nervous. With this race, I am reaching new heights both figuratively and quite literally! I am going to enjoy every moment, with Brian, as we experience this amazing adventure. I predict some hyperventilation, a healthy dose of tears, and some major smiles, hugs, and kisses when we cross that finish line on Day 6, August 28! Go Team New Leaf Ultra! :-)

IMG_1641 If you'd like to follow our progress throughout the race, Brian will be carrying the SPOT device with him:

Track Team New Leaf Ultra via SPOT


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