Running Up For Air 6 Hour: Feb. 4th – 10th

It’s RACE WEEK!!!!

Time for the usual weekly training details + a bonus mini race report at the end.

Monday: still a rest day, like always!

Tuesday was an hour-long easy run. I decided to cut back and only do one short workout this week instead of the usual two, due to the race on Saturday. So the usual Tuesday workout became a simple easy run. On Wednesday, I did a short fartlek of 10x 1 min “on”, 1 min “off”. The “on” pace varied, but ended up averaging around 6:41 min/mile pace. The “off” pace averaged around 9:40 min/mile pace. I tried not to look at my watch during this workout and focus on running by feel, aiming for “comfortably hard”.

Thursday was an easy treadmill run. We got some snow over the night (not as much as Salt Lake did!) and the temperature was around -18 degrees with windchill when we woke up in the morning. To the gym we went! On Friday it was still fairly cold (-8 degrees with windchill), but I was determined to run outside. I did about 3 miles at a faster pace than I meant to because I wanted to get back inside so badly! My face and nose were totally frozen and my fingers were going numb underneath my two pairs of gloves.

Saturday was race day! We drove in from Wyoming on Friday and checked into our airbnb. We got lucky and landed a sweet basement apartment only 2-3 miles away from the shuttle location for the race. After a few small mishaps in the morning (Silly drive through coffee people… “black coffee” means no cream and sugar), we made it to the check-in and bib pickup with ~30 minutes to spare before Gunnar had to get on the shuttle. We picked up our bibs, race swag (patagonia race shirt + free drymax socks? heck yes!!), and I sent Gunnar off on his shuttle to the start. The 12 hour race started an hour before the 6 hour, so I hung out in the warm car for another hour until I hopped on my own shuttle to head to the park.

We started at 8 am, and immediately formed one long conga line up the trail. After about 0.5 mile, the field spread out a bit more. It was fun seeing the 24 hour and 12 hour runners coming down while we were going up. I tried to step a bit off the trail to let people go by, but if you stepped off the semi-packed snow, you’d sink down into snow drifts up to about your waist. I definitely wasted some time on my first ascent by stopping to take pictures, but I just couldn’t get over how breathtakingly beautiful the landscape was!

Absolutely unreal!
Summiting Grandeur for the first time

I’m also a much slower climber/uphill runner than most, so I just took it easy on the ascent and made sure to enjoy myself. I wore my microspikes for this lap, and I couldn’t tell if they made much of a difference. The snow was so slippery still that the microspikes didn’t seem to provide much extra traction over the regular lugs on my shoes. I also made a mistake when I got dressed in the morning, which became apparent on my first descent. Going down from the peak, I realized it was almost faster and easier to just slide on my butt on the steep stuff, and try to glissade on the slightly less steep stuff. The only issue with this strategy? My tights were not full length, and my socks weren’t very tall, so there was a gap of exposed ankle skin between the bottom of my tights and the top of my socks. This skin was constantly being shoved deep into snow drifts and getting very cold throughout the entire day. I caught up to (and passed!) several people ahead of me while descending back to the start, and felt really good overall. I had the most ridiculous shit-eating grin on my face the entire time. Trail running is just amazing!

Check out the depth of that sidewall! The snow on the sides of the trail was DEEP.

I didn’t spend much time at the aid station before heading out on my second lap. I took a quick pee break and made the decision to take off my microspikes and just trust the lugs on my beloved Speedgoat 2’s. This was a mistake. The climb back up Grandeur was a LOT harder without spikes. I was passed again by a bunch of people I’d flown by on my way down. The last 0.5ish mile was especially tough without any sort of traction device. It’s a very steep incline (about 50% grade!), and the footholds had been worn down a bit from people sliding down. I had to do a lot of hauling myself up with my upper body, and it wore me out. I stopped and chatted with some of the volunteers on top and took some more pictures.

Looking down on Salt Lake City from the top of Grandeur Peak
Another view from the top of the peak!

Heading down from the top of Grandeur, I knew I probably wouldn’t have time to do another lap. With my fairly frequent stops to let downhill runners by, as well as some time wasted at aid stations/taking pictures, I was averaging a bit over 2 hours per lap. I came back into the start/finish area at around 4:12 elapsed, so I decided to stop. I had also (almost literally) run into a friend of mine on the trail while heading down, so deciding to stop for the day meant we could hang out and chat for a bit! I ended up placing 4th or 5th female in the 8 am start time for the 6 hour.

Part of me really wishes I had been able to do 3 laps, and I’m partially bummed I wasn’t able to. I think that if the course hadn’t been lengthened (the aid station at the start/finish had to be moved due to all the snow) and if there hadn’t been quite that much snow, I would have been able to pull it off. Overall, I feel good about the race. The course was gorgeous (and tough!), it benefits a really awesome cause (Breathe Utah), and I got the chance to hang out with some pretty rad people (including some legendary Hardrockers). I only got about ~6 weeks of training to get into mountain shape after spending the fall focusing on marathon training, so I think I did the best that I could given my circumstances.

Monday: rest day!

Tuesday: 6.65 miles, 49 ft of gain, 9:27 avg pace

Wednesday: 6.86 miles, 82 ft of gain, 8:48 avg pace

Thursday: 4 miles, 211 ft of gain, 9:31 avg pace

Friday: 3.3 miles, 16 ft of gain, 8:35 avg pace

Saturday: RACE DAY! 12.57 miles, 5,512 ft of gain, 19:59 avg pace

Sunday: post-race recovery bonus rest day!

Total: 48.3 miles, 842 ft of gain, 9:16 avg pace

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