Sunday, 16 August 2015

It's that time again!

Well it's that time again and tomorrow I fly off to Colorado. Like the past two years I could not be more excited to get back there. I will spend a couple of days alone and plan on going back to Longs Peak just to see where my fitness is compared to last year as it will be almost a year to the day that I ran car to car in 4hrs and felt the strongest I have ever have. I am totally not acclimatised for running up to 14,400ft but I will see how the legs feel anyway. I have just spent three excellent days back home in Scotland managing to get out a couple of times and both in good weather. One epic day with Scott running the Glencoe Skyline route and another with Rob in Arrochar.

Heading along to Bidian at start if the ridge loop
I will then be heading over to Leadville to pace Stephen for a 10 mile section of the 100 and then I will pace Kim later on for about 25 miles. It will be good to get a long time on my feet and in the dark. Plus returning to that race weekend is one of the highlights of my year. I just love it there.
After Leadville I will be going solo for about ten days and heading down to the San Juans. There is too much for me to see and do down there and it will be a pretty full on trip of running , scrambling and exploring the best mountain range and wilderness I have ever seen.

Glencoe. So many amazing days spent up here playing.
Woody then arrives early Sept and we head up to Big Sky in Montana. After what will be about an 11hr drive I will have a short sleep then get up to run the VK and the following day the 25k alongside Woody. Then it's back to Colorado via Yellowstone and the Tetons!
Once back in CO myself and Woody have ten days of exploring to do before we head off over to Utah to prep for the Bear. We don't know what these days will involve yet but it is sure going to be fun and we will be getting a couple of big mountain days in and then I will ease off it and start getting my mind 100 mile ready.

It really is a stunning route
September 20th we head over to Utah for the big race. I have about 3 or 4 days to scope out some sections of the course but this will involve easy jogging and hiking. I am hoping my pacers will head out and do most of their pacing sections just to get an idea of where we will be going at night. I will probably stick to scoping out as much of the first 50 miles as I can over the days I have.
So the big question is how do I feel about another 100 miler? Hmm I really don't know. I know I always say this but I feel you just cannot go into a 100 miler thinking you got the job done already. For sure mentally and physically I know I can do the distance but anything can happen on the day and I just hate to get carried away before I have even started. I am confident I can stumble my way over the line in under 36hrs but I am terrified to think what I need to do if I want to try and get sub 24. For that time I really am unsure if I am strong and fast enough. I spent almost 3 months in Colorado training last year for RRR and I felt so so strong going into that race. This year I have spent until now in Chamonix which is amazing but I don't really feel as fit. I dunno what it is. Maybe it is because in CO last summer I was heading out to new places everyday and seeing new trails and mountains whereas here everything is familiar and I step out my door to go running. I do need to remember I had one of my fittest winters doing a lot of touring and I have been out here in Chamonix a lot just running , hiking and scrambling and I have ran Transvulcania(73km) , Cerdanya Marathon(42km) , The Killer(40km) and Tromso(45km) along with shorter races like the VK's and Dolomites(22km) which were  awesome speed work. I may not have been doing massive mileage but I have done a ton of climbing and descending. I also need to remember my training is not over. I get to CO on Aug 16th , the Bear is not until Sept 25th so I have a solid month more of running to do when out there and loads of time to get acclimatised. The altitude should not be that much of an issue at the Bear as the highest point is around 9500ft which is the lowest elevation of Leadville 100. It will do me no harm though to be at altitude a lot for the next month and that is my plan for sure.

Descending off Stob Coire Nam Beith
My mind is all over the place right now thinking about the Bear. I could not be happier to have Kim , Naila and Woody with me for the race. Probably the three most perfect people to have at my side. They  know me and they can all run well and kind of understand me. Kim has paced me twice now and has always done an amazing job for me , Woody somehow got me bloody flying at the end of RRR and we run together all the time , Naila and me go out running/hiking and ski touring often however I think she might be a bit concerned and bored of me at around mile 60 when she is wondering why the hell I am not feeling fresh and able to run like her brother!

Brutal climb up to start of Aonach Eagach

The awesome Aonach Eagach

It does require care in places
As usual I want to finish. First and foremost. I need this race for my Hardrock qualifier next year so I need to finish in the time limit. If I have any niggles or problems early on then I will be going as slow as I can just so I can get to the end. It could be a very long day or two for my crew. On the other hand I would love to run under 24hrs in a 100 miler. Lot's of people pick flat 100's like Rocky Racoon or Javelina Jundred to get their fast 100 times but I seem to be looking at harder ones each year to beat my times! Plus those courses look boring as hell and I will never set foot on them. I love to run but I love to run in the mountains not doing laps of a park. I will not get carried away though as I know at RRR I was way stronger than at LT100 and at Leadville I had a seriously bad knee problem for the last 30 miles. I think one day sub 24 will happen but I just don't know when. Maybe my best shot at sub 24 is to go back to Leadville  one year. RRR may have happened last year if I had seriously thought about it from around mile 65-70 but as per usual I was too concerned about blowing up and it turned out I probably kept a little bit too much back for too long. The Bear though is a harder race than Leadville and RRR but given my last two 100 mile performances I have stepped up to a harder course and ran faster. I am not saying this is going to happen with the Bear as I have no real idea of the course but from what I see there is a lot of climbs and descents which should suit my running style. Firstly I want to finish no matter what the time but I will be asking my friends to keep an eye on my times when I near 50-60 miles to see if sub 24 might be possible and if so then I will probably try my hardest to get it. If some kind of dreaded injury pops its head up then it will be time to ease off and limp my way into the finish. Quitting is something that will never ever come into my head. The only way I would DNF is if I was going so slow I missed a cut off time but quitting for me is not ever going to be /an option.

Making our own trail in Arrochar
I am sure I will report back not long after my first few runs in CO. I will miss you Chamonix but I am sure Colorado is hopefully going to welcome me back with open arms.

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