After a three-week break to recover and heal from a heavy race schedule and a nagging toe injury, followed by two low-key, easy mileage weeks, it’s time to get serious about training again.
The Pikes Peak Ascent is 77 days away. Preparing for it will encompass most of the summer — and that starts now.
Where to begin? What to do? I don’t really have a clue.
The Ascent is a half-marathon to the summit of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colo. It includes 7,815 feet of vertical gain to a max elevation of 14,115 feet. It’ll take somewhere between four and five hours, or double my normal half marathon time.
How do you prepare for that in the flatlands of Kansas?
I’m still figuring that out. Ideas have poured in from friends who’ve done the Ascent in the past. Suggestions have ranged from putting a treadmill at the maximum incline possible, to swimming, to running hill repeats, to running sprints while breathing through a straw, to drinking beer before running to simulate lightheadedness at altitude. A little bit of everything ought to help.
The biggest key will be logging miles and hours on my feet, as well as surrounding myself with people who inspire and motivate me to help kick my butt in gear. That began in earnest this week. I logged 4 1/2 miles Tuesday at Shawnee Mission Park with Shelley Flones, an awesome chick and stud runner I met through my runner friends in Lawrence.
I logged another 4 1/2 miles on the SM Park loop Wednesday — National Running Day — with some of the most inspiring Trail Nerds, including Pikes Peak vet Matty Mullins, Hayley Esson, Wael Sammur, Brian Brooks, Danny Miller (who is preparing for the Western States 100) and Bad Ben Holmes. It was humid drizzly and muddy, but we set a brisk pace. Matty and I spent most of the loop discussing Pikes Peak training. In the process, we went much faster than I’d planned (a little under 41 minutes).
Fatigued from the two previous runs, Matty’s Beer Appreciation Run Thursday evening at Wyandotte County Lake Park was a real eye-opener. I forgot just how tough the hills at WyCo are. Add in temperatures in the upper 80s, lots of humidity and a pace beyond my comfort zone for 7 1/2 miles … my body was ready to collapse by the end. That was a good thing, though. There will be nothing easy about Pikes Peak. Hill training will be a necessity, humidity will challenge the lungs to simulate the lack of oxygen at altitude, and the longer miles simply come with the territory. It was a great workout — but an eye-opener just the same.
The past three days were a real kick in the pants as Pikes Peak training begins in earnest. They were a reminder of how much training will be required to have a successful race, but they also were a reminder of how fortunate I am to have so many knowledgeable, inspiring training partners.
Matty is a Pikes Peak veteran who is training for the full marathon this year. Brian is focusing a significant amount of his summer training to hill running — exactly what I need to be doing to prepare. Both are eager, ready and willing to kick my butt on training workouts, and that’s exactly what I need.
Seventy-seven days seems like a long way away, but it’s time to get serious about my training.