T minus 30 days before I embark on one of the greatest long distance races on the planet! 105 miles and 30,000+ feet of climbing as you run the Trail du Mont Blanc around the Mont Blanc Massif crossing through France, Switzerland and Italy as you do so. Everyone I’ve talked to says to treat this as an adventure not so much as a race. While I love the idea, part of any adventure for me is pushing myself is as hard as I can. So yes, I’ll plan to socialize with other runners, take pictures, and indulge in salami and cheese at the euro-style aid stations – but I want to go into it fit enough to enjoy it and finish in a respectable time. Although the cut off is a generous 45 hours, I can’t imagine being on my feet for anywhere close to that amount of time. Ideally I’d like to finish in the 30-35 hour range. Anything below that is icing on the cake.
So, for the last three months I’ve been working diligently at getting my body and my mind ready for this incredible challenge. I reside in Roseville but rented a condominium unit in the Tahoe Donner area of Truckee for the summer in order to sample the buffet of trail systems this area has to offer. If you’re gonna run a race in the mountains you better train in the mountains! In addition, to complement my running I joined “Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso” per fellow DPMR member Chris Cloyd’s recommendation. Strength and core work has been a weak spot for me and one area I wanted to address. The TRX classes have really helped strengthen my core and given me more balance and agility on the trails enabling me to maintain form when my body is stressed and fatigue sets in.
As I already mentioned, one of the benefits of living in Truckee is the plethora of trails in the area! One of my favorite training runs has been the Warren Lake loop, or if I’m short on time, an out and back to Castle Peak. I particular love running the ridge line between Castle peak and Basin peak. I also had some fun running what Peter Fain refers to as “the animal” around Prosser Hill, the Sawtooth Trail loop, and a memorable run from Boreal to Sugarbowl, through the train tunnels, and back. One run I haven’t had the opportunity to do, and one that I’ve heard so much about, is the Sugarbowl to Squaw point to point run. So I’m super stoked to run the Donner Dash this weekend where I’ll finally get to hit that section of trail!
In addition I’ve also had a few opportunities to run long in the eastern sierra. 3 weeks ago everything came together logistically and I was able to knock off the High Sierra Trail off my bucket list. The High Sierra Trail runs 72 miles from Crescent Meadow in Kings Canyon NP cutting through the high sierra and exiting at Whitey Portal in Lone Pine. That run offered amazing scenery and challenging terrain – the highlight of which was getting to run under the “Super Full moon” – where the moon is positioned closer the earth making it 30% brighter than the average full moon. It was incredible – the brightness of the moon lit up the canyon walls and the nearby peaks creating an impressive backdrop. I was able to throw my headlamp back in my pack and run/hike with my very own “moon shadow” following me through the night. As morning crept up I witnessed one of the most fantastic sunrises in recent memory. All this scenery helped distract my mind from bonking hard around mile 47 and never quite recovering. I was moving glacially slow making my way up the last 7000′ of climbing. I call it a “super bonk” because I’ve never bonked that hard in my life. And I didn’t have a pacer or a nearby aid station to help pull me out of it. The only thing that pulled me out of it was the dawn of the morning and the 11 miles of downhill from Trail Crest to Whitney Portal. Great mental training run.
To cap off the peak of my training I ran the Speedgoat 50k in Utah, and the SOB 50 miler the very next weekend in Ashland. Speedgoat was a great opportunity to test out my climbing legs while SOB was an opportunity to test out my running legs. Speedgoat turned out to be a beast of a run and while I didn’t have a terrible run – all I could think about towards the end was I’ve basically got to do this 2 more times for UTMB! (As Speedgoat was roughly 1/3 of the distance and elevation gain of UTMB).
Alas, my stay in Truckee is coming to a close and I depart to Chamonix, France Monday morning, Aug 4th where I’ll be staying in preparation for UTMB on Aug 29th. Thank you to all the DPMR’s for your support during my training while I’ve been up here. My last run with DPMR will be at the Donner Dash this Saturday at Sugar bowl – I hope to see you there!