May 31, 2011

A week of running in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder has been among the places I've been keen to visit for a long time. Home to legends such as six-time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott, this town at 5,500 feet has a legendary status among triathletes and other endurance athletes. For some reason Tim and I just hadn't gotten around to going.

But when top age group triathlete friends Teresa Rider and Scott Jones, and owners of IMJ Coaching, mentioned a training camp from their Boulder home, Triathlete Tim was keen to go. And so was I.

We have known Teresa for a long time, meeting when Tim and I joined the triathlon squad in Sydney, Australia she was training with. We spent countless hours training together. That was in late 2000/early 2001. When I met Teresa I was yet to run my second marathon, and had only just finished four triathlons (including two half Ironmans).

Teresa is a world champion age grouper at the Ironman and Olympic distances, and an absolute inspiration. Husband Scott is a phenomenal athlete too, and the current Ironman Canada champion in the 45-49 division. Most importantly, they are a super-nice couple and a lot of fun to hang out with.    

Tim joined the camp while I did a running version of it. It was perfect timing, coming three weeks after the Vancouver Marathon—since then I'd run about once a week (though had done plenty of walking) and I was ready to kickstart my marathon training again after this great break.

Tim and I (and Luka) arrived on Sunday night after driving the 2,400 km from Squamish to Boulder in two days. (A stunning drive I'll write about in a separate post.) It was great to see Teresa and Scott again and meet their sweet dog, Sassy. We met IMJ coach Ben, and the other campers—Stacy, Kathryn and Ross. 

They had kept a wonderful dinner (the food last week was nothing short of amazing, and I'll definitely write another post on that too) for us with a good glass of red. It was a superb way to start what would be an awesome week.  

As the other seven headed out for bike rides and swims, I relaxed, read and played guitar at Scott and Teresa's beautiful home. I joined them for their runs and did my own with Luka on the days the others only swam and/or rode.

On Monday I joined them for an afternoon run of about 75 minutes. The altitude and heat were impressive, and ensured that this pacey run felt like a good challenge. We followed some of the many trails in and near the Gunbarrel neighbourhood, which has lots of rolling terrain among homes and farmlands.

On Tuesday I did a 45-minute run with Luka, this time at an easy pace on the rolling terrain among the farmlands. I was mindful of the coyotes, as Luka and I had encountered one on our Monday morning walk there. Thankfully, I noticed him before Luka did, in fact Luka strangely didn't appear to have noticed him at all even though he was nearby in the tall grass, and leashed him quickly.

With the triathletes doing at least two workouts on most days, I was keen to run every day and asked Coach Scott for advice so he wrote out a schedule for my week based on my recent training of four runs a week, totalling about 50-60km.

The next day all eight of us plus pro triathlete Billy "The Kid" Edwards (and cyclist extraordinaire—who'd just done a 600km bike ride in 29 hours to qualify for the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris race) piled into two cars and drove up (and I mean UP) to run Magnolia Road, a dirt road at about 8000 feet that attracts elite runners from around the world.

Running Times' Brian Metzler says of this run, made famous by Chris Lear's Running With Buffaloes:

It's a dusty, rustic and typically lonely road bordered by mountain ranches and thick forestland, with no curbs, no sidewalks and no distractions. There are a few steep sections, but its rolling high altitude profile is more relentless over the long haul than it is acutely severe in any one stretch. It's an inherently difficult road to run at any speed, but all the more so if you're willing to match the intensity of the environment.

It was absolutely awesome to run it. And tiring because of the altitude and the terrain. Billy had warned us that our mile splits would be a little slower than normal—and indeed on the way out, Tim, Ross and I were running about 10:20 miles as we ran out for an hour, before turning around and including a 30-minute tempo run on the way back to the car.

On Thursday I began the day with a 30-minute easy run with Luka, followed by a 20-minute pacey run with the triathletes in the afternoon.

On Friday I sagged much of the 100-mile bike ride the triathletes did up to the Peak to Peak Highway, and then to Carter Lake, before heading out for an afternoon run. I did an easy 20 minutes, followed by a 30-minute tempo run and a 5-minute cooldown.

My total for the week was about 5 hours and 40 minutes of awesome running at altitude (above 5000 feet).

Coach Scott gave me several recommendations including that I should run more, both in terms of volume and in terms of frequency. Doing so had been on my mind already and it was fantastic to get that confirmation from him. He also had advice on strengthening exercises, which I also plan to implement in my training for the Bellingham Bay and Victoria marathons in the next few months.

If you're looking to do a camp, check out these awesome IMJ Coaching options. I'll be writing a few more posts on this fantastic week.

1 comment:

triathlon gear said...

"Run more, both in terms of volume and in terms of frequency." Good advice from your coach. Doing it in repetition and in long stretches could bode your body and mindset well, adjusting it per workout to peak endurance.