May 29, 2007

Altitude Schmaltitude

This weekend I decided to try training at altitude, because

and I live at














So I flew to Denver Saturday morning where Stronger picked me up. Now Denver is about 5200 feet, and I was completely expecting to pant like a rabid dog walking off the jet. I was feeling good about my still-calm breathing when we walked with my overweight bike box to her SUV, and then she told me we were going to be riding up to nearly 11000 feet.

Can I handle it? Oh, I can handle it... The pre-trip altitude-schmaltitude smack was about to be tested.


We drove straight to Vail village and within about 2 hours of stepping off the jet I was stepping into my P2SL. Now she claims to not be training for anything particular, but make no doubt about it - Stronger is trained and tough. She's Marine-like, as in always ready for a little battle. I think she was taking it easy on me for the up-part of this ride - and there was a lot of up. The first 14 miles were straight up, and my previous longest sustained climb was the 3 mile leg-killer at Cheaha Mountain. Vail laughed at Cheaha...

We made it to the peak and I snapped this Kodak moment of us with the Vail Summit sign in the background...
Yea, well, obviously I was feeling a bit hypoxic since our summit sign pic turned into a Freudian slip of a pic focused on our quivering quads...


The summit was about 10 degrees cooler than where we started and it was snowing. Yea, snow. On Memorial Day weekend... That's right - sea level is for sissies!


We headed back for the fun downhill, where I found a top speed of 43 mPH on the reasonably narrow tourist-bike laden path. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE going down? Uhm, downhill that is...


We packed up the bikes and then headed a little further west to pick up a couple of kayaks. Now she offered to take me here:

but, since I had never stepped foot in a kayak she took it easy on me and took me here for my intro to whitewater... Just my speed!The following day brought a trail run on Grizzly Creek, a close tributary of the Colorado River, followed by a "reasonably flat" ride through the canyon. Sounded great! I think I assumed - evil laugh inserted - that since the ride was reasonably flat, the run would be likewise... Oh no... I quickly learned that running in this portion of Colorado implies running hills. There is no other way.

My Garmin didn't see through the tree canopy for this run, but here is the profile I later found for this trail. Here I started feeling the altitude, and I forced our run to become a run/hike. I think Stronger could have continued up indefinitely, but she was a good sport and made me at least half-way believe she was hurting a little too. When we had enough up, we ran briskly down and then biked through the canyon - my legs we so relieved the ride really was basically flat!.

The following morning I met up with Bold, David, Chris, and Stronger and we ran the Bolder Boulder 10k with 50,000 other runners. Yep, no typo there - 50,000! My wave started off at 7:04.30, with Bold 1 minute back and Stronger 2 minutes back.
This was the first non-tri 10k I've ever run, so I was a little unsure how to pace myself. Plus, it was in Colorado, which meant more hills! The first 3/4 of a mile was a fast downhill, and then it went up... and up... and up... Until shortly into the 5th mile when it started to descend again... A couple of brief uphills, and then course ended at the University of Colorado's Folsom Field football stadium.

I was in a wave with a predicted finish time of 46-47 minutes, and I was hoping to at least make that prediction. My first mile went by in 6:45, but then I hit the ups. The second mile dropped to 7:15, and each consecutive mile slowed slightly. When I hit the 4 mile mark in 30 minutes, I was doing the math on what I needed to run to make it under 48. Just under 9 minute miles - piece of cake! My fear of being passed by Bold and Stronger kept me pushing. Luckily the 5th and 6th mile downhills refreshed me, and I was able to slip past the finish in an unofficial 47:01. I love racing new distances because it's always a PR!

Well, that was my weekend. The rides and runs were memorable, the friends even moreso. Stronger was awesome for dragging me around for some amazing rides and runs. Maybe next time, I'll be able to keep up better climbing Vail. And maybe next time, we'll be ready for this:
Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

14 comments:

Bike Chick said...

Congrats on the PR! I'm even more impress on how well you did considering all the fun stuff you did before it.

TJ said...

Wow! Sounds like an awesome trip.
Congrats on a strong race.

rocketpants said...

Sounds like a fun weekend! I would have been lightheaded just walking around in Vail (which is what happened last time I went). Way to adjust quickly and then throw in a thousand crazy activities. Sounds like fun!

stronger said...

You mean in one of those inflatable triangles? That looks like turquoise green water.

Donald said...

What a great weekend. You even remembered your wheels this time! All those activities look like a blast.

Bolder said...

great meeting you dude!

and for next time, now you will know Vail is not next to Boulder, and that my signature event is an annual must-do meet-up!!!

chris said...

it was good to meet you. and to make things absolutely clear - the purple flower sheets were put on special just for your comfort...

ironjenny said...

So cool you got to meet Chris and Stronger! He is just so darn nice and I just love, love, love Carrie. She is top-drawer any way you look at it. Same with Bolder.
You did amazingly well for a sea-level guy... ;-)
Glad you had fun - can't wait to meet you, too, in Switzerland!

Matt said...

So how many bloggers have you met now? I'm up to 2 now. Glad you're getting some good training in. Definitely will be double checking my stash this weekend before the race. No wheel shall be left behind.

Iron Girl Nyhus said...

Sounds like a great trip... but that altitude! You are so ready for Zurich!

RunBubbaRun said...

Looked like a great weekend.. Wow, that's alot of people for a 10k.

great job..

Iron Eric said...

Two events and I still haven't met you. One of these trips we should get together!!

Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Bigun and I used to climb at Cheaha on occasion. It's a nice area, still no comparison to vail though. Sounds like a ton of fun!

Laurie said...

Wow, great job with the 10K at altitude. That should boost your confidence a bit.

Sounds like you had a great weekend in Colorado.