April 30, 2013
50 miles running/hiking
100 degrees in the Canyon; 40 degrees and 40 mph winds on the South Rim.
After Leadville in 2011, I was happy to take many months off of training. Life and work took over and I found myself unmotivated to go and do 7 mile routine training runs for general fitness and health. I needed a goal that was scary/challenging but doable. In 2012, that focused around ironman. After a DNF "roll my own" ironman in Hawaii May of 2012, I did one in Boulder in Sept -- mostly to remind myself that I can do that distance. I'd just much rather do it at altitude in cool pleasant, low humidity rather than in Hawaii's windy, hot and humid conditions (but I look forward to going back to Hawaii in 2014 to complete an ironman on the world championship course.)
So after the ironman in Sept 2012, I found myself unmotivated again and wondering what's next. I dove into work in Oct/Nov and by Dec I was getting pretty far out of shape. I had thought about a skiing goal. The Grand Traverse or the North Routt Coureur des Bois would be great challenges. But, I was too far out of shape to train for those events and they would require a lot of time on skis. That would be tricky.
So I thought I'd look for a good goal to do in the spring. Boston Marathon is a good choice, but I did that in '08. What I learned from that experience is that it's no fun to do serious marathon training in Colorado from Nov to April. There are other things to do in Boulder those months, while May to October is ideal for running on the roads.
I've been running the trails around Boulder since 1992. There have been loosely organized trail runs around Boulder since at least the '60s. With the web, we've 'organized' under a Yahoo group called Boulder Trail Runners. This group now has over 2,000 members. Every spring, I'd see posts from some of the ultra runners who would drive to the Grand Canyon and run the Rim to Rim to Rim. The run generally starts on the South Rim, goes down the South Kaibab trail, up the North Kaibab trail to the North Rim and back. It's 42.5 miles and 10,000' of vertical.
Given my experience and Leadville, I thought I could do a solo run in the Grand Canyon. It was 4 and a half months away: the perfect time to do a Leadville-style build up, get fit and enjoy a nice day in an amazing world treasure. My plan was to train as if I was building up to Leadville, but stop at the 40M training point. And work in a lot of hills.
Remarkably, I made almost every workout that I scheduled over that 4.5 months. My culmination was to do a 20M/22.5M double in CA's coastal hills in 75 degree weather two weeks out from start date. I did the 20M/22.5M double in about a combined 10 hours with 8,500 vertical. I felt I was ready.
In planning to do a solo run, I spoke with several people who have run it. And that's where we will pick up next time.