Monday, July 6, 2015

Hardrock Training Summary

Yes, this is the course!

I apologize for my silence during the last two months, but as you can probably guess things have been a little crazy. Training has taken priority over blogging about training! However, I did want to write up a quick post before I head off to Silverton tomorrow.

In short, I'm ready.

I've trained more for Hardrock than I ever have for any previous race. Will it pay off? We'll have to wait and see. As I like to remind myself, solid training is necessary, but not sufficient for running a strong race. There's still that pesky execution part that happens on race day. My training has given me the possibility of attaining my goals, but has certainly not guaranteed that I'll achieve them. It will take discipline, focus, and drawing on my years of hard-won 100-mile experience.

My May was full of racing: Collegiate Peaks, Jemez, and the Dirty 30. I finally broke the 4-hour barrier at Collegiate Peaks and managed to finish in 19th place. It was probably my strongest race ever. I paced myself perfectly, running the first 3 miles at 8:05 min/mile and the last 3 miles at 7:55 min/mile. The Jemez 50 was certainly a solid workout. I was battling a head cold, so it was a bit slower than I'd hoped, but it was fun and instructive nonetheless. For my service requirement, I volunteered at the Sage Burner 50K down in Gunnison. Troy Howard and I manned an aid station together. It was a ton of fun to chat with him about Hardrock. I learned a lot, but what I was most impressed by was his genuine enthusiasm and excitement for the race. The Dirty 30 was by far my most fun race of the year. It was the first sunny day in a long, long time. I probably wasn't fully recovered from Jemez the week before, but I felt really, really good considering. I had no previous PR to beat, so it was a much more organic race. I was surprised by how technical the course was, but I loved it. I probably ran some of my best downhill miles ever, dancing around all the rocks! May was another all-time PR for me for training time and miles in a month.

June brought with it a shift in focus from running to hiking. My final training race was the re-scheduled Quad Rock 50. Oh. My. God. It was brutally hot. Especially for this poor Leadville resident. I was exactly an hour slower than I was last year, but with an almost 60% DNF rate, I was happy that I managed to finish at all. It was a good reminder to respect the heat and drink, drink, drink! Quad Rock was my third ~50 mile, ~11k vertical run of the year. That definitely gives me some confidence heading into Hardrock.

The highlight of June was my 4-day scouting trip of the Hardrock course. Alex and I were hoping to backpack the whole thing, but too much snow still clung to the high passes. (And I was also nursing a sprained ankle.) It would've been too much of a slog to make it worthwhile. So, we drove around to each aid station and did short out-and-back day hikes. We focused on the later sections of the course-- especially the sections I'll be running at night. Wow! The course is absolutely amazing! Truly stunning. Words cannot do it justice. (Believe me, I hate that phrase, but it is appropriate in this particular case!)

Grant-Swamp Pass.

I'd estimate that we only saw maybe 30-40% of the course, but I feel like that's enough. I saw most of the potentially confusing sections, and was able to get a feel for all the major climbs. I definitely readjusted my expectations for the race a notch or two towards the hiking end of the spectrum (rather than the running end). Yes, I need shoes with a burly tread. Yes, I'm going to use poles for the entire race. Yes, I need to up-size my running vest to a larger capacity. Yes, I am going to start off incredibly conservatively!

Tapering is driving me crazy. I feel sluggish and out of shape. The last few weeks have been a lot of long, slow, low-intensity hiking. I'm second-guessing everything. But, those worries are just pre-race nerves. My insecurity talking. Deep down, I'm confident. Well, as confident as I can be before taking on such a huge new monumental challenge!

I'll close with some charts which detail what my training has looked like for the last 7 long months. Frankly, I'm amazed that I was able to pull it off. I set some pretty lofty goals for myself way back in December, but I think I did a pretty good job of meeting them. There's always more you could do. One more workout. One more mountain you could climb. But, I'm done.

I've done the work. I've got the beard.

I ready to stop thinking about Hardrock and actually run Hardrock!

A big thanks in advance to the small army of crew and pacers who will be taking care of me on race day! You guys rock!

Hardrock starts Friday morning. It's been a long, long time coming.

Wish me luck!

All my training from December through the end of June.

A month-by-month summary. Every month was a PR for that month.

2015 vs. the 3 previous years.
This was my go-to spreadsheet: comparing this year's training to previous years on a week-by-week basis.

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