I greatly appreciate your interest and willingness to help out. While I have a few events in the next couple of months, my ultimate challenge will come late in the summer.
My ultimate challenge for this year will be the Flagstaff Endurance Race up in the Coconino National Forest of northern Arizona. The race is scheduled to take place on September 14. It is 50 miles long and will have around 10,000 ft of net elevation gain and the same in descent. Here is the course summary from the race website:
“The Flagstaff Endurance Runs are held on over 25 miles of forest service trails and almost 7 miles of dirt forest service roads at an elevation between 7,000 and 9,000 feet. The course features five significant climbs on Upper Oldham (1850+ ft), Lower Weatherford (1750+ ft), Friedlein Prairie Road (1100+ ft), Little Gnarly/Brookbank (1400+ ft), and Heart Trail (1900+ ft). The combination of elevation gain/loss and Flagstaff’s high altitude makes the courses very difficult and NOT recommended for beginning trail runners.”
There will be 7 aid stations throughout the course that will be spaced 5-8 miles apart. At most aid stations they have your typical Gatorade, gummy bears, pretzels, etc., but you and I know that’s obviously not optimal. Heck, some of that stuff can wreak serious havoc on the gut in a long race and have you vomiting over the side of a mountain. The good news is at each of those aid stations I will have a drop bag to gather whatever I need; such as changing drinks and grabbing a bar. Even with having to go through my own bag I’m always in and out of an aid station in about 30 seconds. As with any race, I always want to finish, but last year carried a significant drop-out rate. I have to be in desperate circumstances for that to occur.
The climbs in this race can be steep and long and the descents can carry plenty of loose rock or scree. Mountain lions and black bear sightings might have me running faster as well. Overall this race is tough as hell (just the way I like it) and I’m hopeful to finish under 12 hours.
Evaulation Challenge: The race leading up to my ultimate challenge I will primarily treat as a long training run as opposed to a race. It will be the Hypnosis Night Run in the Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Arizona on August 10. I will do the 62k (38.4 miles). While the race doesn’t have the elevation profile of my ultimate challenge in Flagstaff, it will still carry a few steep inclines, swooping turns, technical descents, and rugged terrain. It also comes with a few unique challenges. First of all, it’s just outside of Phoenix- in August - so it’ll be hot. Most days in August are 115 degrees with overnights dropping down to a toasty 100. It becomes further difficult because the race begins at 7pm which is 20 minutes before sunset.
So I’ll be running throughout the night with a headlamp in the desert being mindful of running into a cactus, rattlesnake, coyote or javelina. The race will have 4 equal loops (15.5k, 9.6 miles) each. After each loop I can have access to a drop bag which will be helpful to gather my needed Biotest products. Also on each loop there will be a remote aid station but unfortunately no drop bag there. I’ll mostly utilize that aid station for water if needed. Like I said, I’m using it more as a training run, but I think it makes for a very good evaluation challenge. My goal looks to be about 7 hours 30 minutes.
Training for these races is almost exclusively running on the trails. While I enjoy racing the tri’s, my immediate focus this year is in the mountains. With that said, I find myself training 5-6 days a week. Too be honest, I’ve never had a highly formal approach. I have kind of learned to listen to my body and if I feel I can hit it harder, I will. But every day that I am out there is intense. Work keeps me busy, so the weekdays have me running for 75-90 minutes each day. Intensity on these days varies slightly, but I push the throttle pretty hard and on the intensity scale of 1-10 they’re an 8 or 9.
Saturday is always my long run in the mountains and I’ll be out anywhere from 3-5 hours. 4 hours seems to be the average if I’m out solo. While I need a few runs longer than 5 hours to prepare for long 50 mile races (100 mile race next year), that is when I use a few other shorter races as a training ground. For example, tomorrow morning I have a 50k (31 mile) race that is almost all uphill that I’m anticipating will take 6 hours.
As for intensity on these Saturday runs, they’ll be anywhere from a moderate 6 all the way up to a 10 when all energy sources are tapped on race day. Friday is always a day off for recovery and family time. If I destroy my muscles on Saturday then Sunday will be a day off as well.
So am I nervous? Not as much as I am excited! Oh, but my wife is nervous. Ha.