Shelly and I just got back from our Boulder, Colorado trip (see some pics here.) The trip gave me an excellent opportunity to run in some mountains to experiment with variables I’ll encounter at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run this upcoming weekend.
The major variable was elevation. I have never run at an altitude above about 1000′. Boulder itself is situated about 5,400 feet above sea level. While there, I was able to run or hike to the summit of various mountains four times with the highest being Green Mountain (8144 feet.) I was lucky to have allegedly temporary Boulder resident Jesse Scott to act as my guide on both Green Mountain summits. We filmed the second trip with Shelly, Jesse, and myself- video will appear soon!
We also summited Mount Sanitas (6844 feet) and Flagstaff Mountain (6978 feet.) While neither were as long as Green, all four provided an excellent opportunity to test long ascent and descent techniques. I’m usually pretty decent at running hills, and this trip affirmed that my Michigan hill running transfers to sustained climbs and descents lasting miles and miles.
This is a good omen for Western States.
I also experienced running in heat. The temps on the day of our arrival reached about 95°. Running in heat is also something I do fairly well. Like running up and down hills, I was happy to see this skill transfer to altitude and mountain running.
Hydration was an issue for the entire trip. This could be a major concern for Western States. I found I had to drink at least twice as much water as I do when running here in Michigan. This shouldn’t be a major issue as aid stations are relatively close together at Western States. More importantly, beer didn’t dramatically affect hydration.
Lastly, the trip gave me the opportunity to test some gear. Most notably, I gave me the chance to test my not-yet-released Sonic Gloves. The shoes performed flawlessly over the 35-40 miles I ran over the four days. I did develop one blister on the Flagstaff run because the shoe was too loose. I was complacent and didn’t re-tighten the laces. The blister will likely require super glue treatment before Western States.
I was even able to do a little speedwork at the Naked Foot 5k on Saturday. I think my time was around 21:20. FYI- the higher the intensity, the more pronounced the effects of altitude. It was a fun experience, but I felt like I was breathing through a straw.
Today will be packing day. Shelly and I fly to Reno tomorrow morning and will head to Squaw Valley Wednesday. I’m looking forward to the race. While I would like to have done more intense training, I have the base to finish and have tested about every variable I will likely experience. I feel about as confident as one can feel heading into a hundred miler.
Let the party begin!