Sunday, 16 March 2014

Running and Touring

With a long spell of high pressure over our heads it has been sunshine and warm weather for a while here meaning amazing running weather. Even in the evenings the temperature is still not too cold and has been rather pleasant.

As usual the running has not been anything too hardcore. Usually 10-15kms at a nice easy 10ks an hour pace. I feel relatively strong at the moment and could be quite easily be putting out 40-43 mins 10ks but with the Highland Fling not too far away I am more than happy to just keep my pace to Ultra plodding speeds. I am alternating from going out some lunch breaks in the sun and then some evenings on the trails with the head torch and all seems to be going very well but I should really be pushing myself for longer distances by now.

Josh sporting his fave touring headwear
Early start
Long way still to go
Getting hot by this point
I have been on a couple of awesome ski tours. One a nice morning out with 1200m of climbing and a fairly easy ski out and the following days adventure was pretty epic and long. I know this is not a ski blog but I might as well share it anyway as it was certainly good leg training for the Ultras to come. I have been running without a pack recently so unable to take my camera along so hope you enjoy the ski pics for now.

In we go

Getting steeper

Out of the couloir but still a long way to go

Josh and I had decided to go and ski the Northwest Couloir on the Dents Du Midi in Switzerland. Not exactly an extreme ski when compared to many things around Chamonix but still (for me) a fairly steep couloir with a long long approach. There are many ways to get to this line. We opted out of the aid of a lift system as they open too late and given the recent temperatures thought it would be too warm to wait for the Marecottes lift to open at 9am and we also didn't see the point in driving around and doing the ski by climbing up the couloir to then ski down it so we took the long approach. Leaving Chamonix at 4am , Parking our car at one side of the Mountain range , skinning for 5 hours and 1800m to get to the top then skiing the 600m couloir. Even once out of the couloir it was still a long long ski and hike back down to the valley below and the train station on the other side of the range. 5pm and 3 trains later and we were nearly back at the car. I had to stick on my running shoes and leave Josh guarding the ski gear as I ran the 4km uphill to retrieve the car from where we had left it at 6am!

Every shortcut possible was taken
It was a totally amazing ski tour and without doubt from the col it was the best view of the Swiss and French Alps as have yet seen. The couloir was also really brilliant to ski with an amazing atmosphere inside it with massive towers high above us at all times. We had the whole outing to ourselves which was pretty surreal given how long we were touring for. I must admit though that I did feel it on the way up. I have done a lot of touring this season and was pretty surprised how bad I was feeling with still 900m of skinning to go. It was a very long approach on the first 900m and once we stopped at the lake to look up at what was ahead I really didn't think we were going to make it up in time before the sun made the snow too hot and dangerous. I was really cold even in the sunshine and I kept loosing my breath really easily and were were only going up to 3000m. I really was shocked at how slow I was going for the last 2 hours of the skin up. After wolfing down as many mars and clif bars as I could we finally arrived at the Col and to be honest my legs felt way better(but hardly great) on the ski down than on the way up which is very unusual for me.

Not my ideal trail running kit
Long days out in the mountains like that are ideal training for my Ultras. Just keeping my body on the go for such a long time, waking up super early in the morning , not having a big breakfast , running on minimal food for the first few hours , carrying a heavy pack with rope etc... all helps get you ready for long long races. It is just a matter of getting my head down and getting on with it , totally the same as when I run long distances. Now some might think that this is a stupid way of thinking but in my experiences and opinion if I can run my body on days like that with just 500ml of water and 2 chocolate bars and maybe an energy gel then when it comes to my Ultras and I have all my food prepared and drop bags ready with my chosen fuel and water refills then it is like a luxury and makes it so much easier and I will take anything I can get to make running 50 , 60......100 miles easier.
Finally salt and vinegar crisps and coke!
The weather seems to be staying this way for a while so I will be continuing with running and ski touring for the foreseeable future....until the powder arrives back but then again with only a month to race day I think I should really be running more than skiing.

On the Colorado side of things it all seems to be falling into place. The runners manual and proper maps are now out for the Run Rabbit Run 100. I am still pretty nervous about this race. Having already run and completed one 100 miler doesn't mean I will find this one easy. Far from it. I might even find it harder. Anna and Kim are both going to come and pace me again and I may have a special guest flying in to do a section with me as well but that has yet to be confirmed for sure.

Endless trails
I have a few other races lined up in Colorado but the most exciting part of my summer has got to be pacing Kim on the Leadville 100. I really cannot stress just how much I am looking forward to doing it. I am so happy and proud to have done that race and want to remember it that way and just how amazing my first 100 was so I am happy to leave it for a while and maybe never run the whole thing again....maybe. It was/is an incredible race but I want my first memory of it to be my only one. However going back to help and friend out who helped me so much is going to be brilliant. Kim has asked if I could pace her from Winfield to Twin Lakes and then again from Fish Hatch to the end. I obviously agreed straight away but this is still going to be a 34 mile run for me. I am excited about the challenge of helping someone out for 34 miles and trying to feel fresh and strong the whole way.

So it is run run and tour for the next few weeks until my first race of the year in Scotland and by then it will not be long until USA time.

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