In a few weeks, I’ll be running up Mt. Evans (a mountain that stands 14,264 feet tall) in the Mt. Evans Ascent race. This race is *really intimidating* to me but as the race (run? I’m definitely not racing anyone!) nears, I’m feeling a bit more comfortable about the idea.
The race is 14.5 miles uphill from Echo Lake to the summit. In altitude. How the heck am I supposed to train for something like this?! Well, running on hilly trails and running in altitude. And why not practice on the actual race course? Genius! This weekend, I did exactly that.
Mt. Evans has a paved road all the way to the summit which is what we’ll be running on during the race. A nice, flat, paved road. And during the winter months, the road is closed to vehicle traffic so this weekend, Heidi and I decided to see what running the beginning of Mt. Evans will feel like while there’s no car traffic to dodge.
The weather was pretty perfect – warmish in the sun, breezy, blue skies with some cloud cover. We parked at Echo Lake, hopped over the ‘ROAD CLOSED!’ gates and started our run! The parking lot is at 10,680 feet and we could immediately feel the affects of the thin air – but not quite as dramatically as I’d thought! We were still able to breath and run – just not breath, run and talk.
I mean… DO YOU SEE THE VIEWS?!!!! This race is going to be challenging (like, really challenging) but HOLY COW! I am so excited about it after our run!
We fell into a steady run/walk pattern and surprised ourselves with how not awful it was to breath. Heidi had raced a 5k (AND WON!) earlier that morning so we cut our planned 5 miles up (10 round trip) short at 3.5 miles (7 round trip). We climbed more than 1000 feet in our 3.5 miles – my legs were feeling it but definitely not as extremely as I’d expected. Hilly trail conditioning must be working at least a little bit!
I seriously could not wipe the stupid smile off my face or get the ‘OMGeeeeeee!’ squeals out of my system. I LOVE THE MOUNTAINS!
I made Heidi stop and take a jumping photo for me on the way down. Fortunately – for me – she’s much better at quick photos than I am and she captured a really great one.
But not with a few outtakes.
Unfortunately for Heidi, I am much worse at navigating her camera and did not come away with a decent jumping photo for her. Next time, she’ll bring her fresh legs for jumping and I’ll bring my photo-taking A Game and get her a super sweet photo, too. Sorry, Heidi!
I know 3.5 miles on a mountain is not an accurate representation of how the last 11 will feel – but for now, this practice run was a big confidence boost. Our pace was consistent and on par with what last year’s finishers ran. The race cut off is that we have to reach Summit Lake at 9 miles in the race by 2.5 hours – and after this weekend (and past training runs), I am confident that is doable – barring any uncontrollable circumstances like crazy mountain weather.
We have one more Mt. Evans practice run planned in a few weeks – starting about where we turned around this weekend and running the next miles of the race.
In the meantime? More hills for running, more squats for strength and more running for endurance!