Saturday, 23 August 2008

We're not alone

Well, we've made it to Buena Vista! We've met several other teams, all from the US or Canada so far, and it's been great to share stories and experiences with other crazies like us rather than bore family, friends and colleagues!

The journey to Colorado was pretty uneventful. The flight was a bit delayed and took longer than expected due to a strong headwind for most of the way but we were well fed and watered on British Airways thanks mainly to our sister-in-law, Parm, getting us an upgrade to business class. Thanks Parm! x

There's a big Democratic convention going on in Denver this weekend so it was no surprise to see Lord David Steel on the flight with us - about 3 seats over from where we were.

Our pickup from Denver was shared with another couple, Team Herbalife, Juliet and Howard. They clearly have lots of long-distance running under their belts and it was great to pick up a few tips from them, especially as Juliet had done this race last year too. We checked into the Best Western around 10.30pm. It had been a long day but it was good to climb into bed knowing the adventure was already underway!

This morning we were up by 7am, we didn't have any specific plans for the day but we were hoping to hook up with some of the other guys we've been in contact with over the past few months. We didn't have to wait long. At breakfast we met Fred and George - Team Knuckleheads. Two laidback guys who are very easy to get along with. So much so that we agreed to head out for a little 5km jog within 30 minutes of meeting them! We also met Team Achilles Heals (Christine and Kendra) who had just arrived from Toronto.

It was already 62 degrees when we set off at for our mini-run about 9am and it continued to hot up. It was a good opportunity to see how we felt at 8000ft. Breathing was a little laboured but we stayed well hydrated and felt good afterwards. We found a great place for breakfast where we were joined by Sjohn and Mimi - Team Cheetah.

The 6 of us have hung out for the afternoon, checking out a dog agility competition (my mum would have loved it) and exploring the local area. We've met some of the organisers of TRR and introduced ourselves - quite surprised to hear how many people have been reading this blog. Our reputation definitely precedes us! We've had lunch (the prices here are so cheap compared to the UK) and this will be followed by a little siesta before we regroup and and catch up with Team Survivor (Judy and David) and head off for dinner. Eating, sleeping, running - what more could we want! It's been a great start to our adventure and if these first few hours are anything to go by, then we're going to have a blast!

BTW - if anyone's been trying to contact us, we have no mobile phone signal so we're unable to make/receive calls or texts.

Whip it on!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Challenge Ahead

Since all the information in this posting is on the TransRockies Run website this posting is really for those of you (i.e. my sister Am) who cannot be bothered to check the main TransRockies Run website ;)

I've also included the weather forecast for the start and end locations for each day. Although it's looking good I suspect the weather on the peaks will be totally different - there's been quite a bit of snow and hail around Leadville recently. There's rain shower predicted for the area on Tuesday 26th August and Wednesday 27th August around Leadville :(

[Edit: Trail Goat (Steve Harvey), who was in Leadville last weekend, had posted a more accurate weather forecast - it looks like it'll be rain and snow pretty much every day!! :( ]

There's a little confusion over the length of the 1st two stages - with contradicting information on the TRR website, hence the description doesn't necessarily match the profile. Let's just say the course is fluid and we wont know for sure until we're running it!

Stage 1 (Mon 25th Aug): Buena Vista to Vicksburg

Buena Vista is located south of Leadville on Colorado Route 24. The scenic town is a recreation haven, most popular for spectacular white water rafting. Expect the weather to be wonderfully mild and pleasant. In this first leg of the race, runners will be cover 18 miles and climb 2,700” to Vicksburg.

Buena Vista: Mostly Sunny 79F/23C
Vicksburg: Cloudy, 73F/20C

Stage 2 (Tue 26th Aug): Vicksburg to Twin Lakes (shuttle to Leadville)

At the end of the first stage, runners will find themselves in Vicksburg, an old silver mining town that is regarded as one of Colorado’s legendary ghost towns. After a night’s slumber with spirits of the mining past, runners will travel 16 miles in stage two and climb 4,500’. This stage ends in Twin Lakes with a shuttle to the tent village in Leadville.

Vicksburg: Sunny, 75F/21C
Twin Lakes: Sunny, 74F/21C

Stage 3 (Wed 27th Aug): Leadville to Camp Hale

Once in Leadville, runners will be challenging their altitude acclimation. Leadville is Colorado’s highest incorporated city at 10,430’. Leadville is also a historic silver mining town that was once Colorado’s second largest city. Again, the weather should be fabulous. After a sky-high night’s sleep, runners will travel 25 miles and climb 3,300’ to Camp Hale.

Leadville: Showers, 66F/17C
Camp Hale: Unknown

Stage 4 (Thu 28th Aug): Camp Hale to Red Cliff

A night in Camp Hale is a very historic one. Located in the Eagle River Valley, Camp Hale was a major mountain warfare-training center for the US Armed Forces. Starting in 1942, Camp Hale was a site for training in mountain climbing, skiing, mountain fighting techniques, and cold weather survival. At its peak, Camp Hale’s facilities included mess halls, barracks, a hospital, a chapel, a fire station, a post office, a bank, a stockade, a guardhouse, stables, corrals, 2,700-seat theater, and a giant field house. After years of conventional and secretive military use, Camp Hale was decommissioned, dismantled, and turned over to the US Forest Service in 1965. Runners will leave this historic site and head towards Red Cliff, covering the shortest leg of 14 miles and climbing 3,009.

Camp Hale: Unknown
Red Cliff: Sunny, 65F/16C

Stage 5 (Fri 29th Aug): Red Cliff to Vail

The previous stage’s short leg was a mild preparation for this leg - the longest stage covering 25 miles and 5,000’ of climbing. After the grueling day, runners will find themselves in Vail, home to one of North America’s most popular skiing destinations. The snow may have melted, but the scenery of Vail is still spectacular. Tired runners may find renewal in Vail Village where Alpine-inspired pedestrian streets are lined with shops, markets, restaurants, and bars (just in case a strong cocktail is needed).

Red Cliff: Sunny, 69F/18C
Vail: Sunny, 72F/20C

Stage 6 (Sat 30th Aug): Vail to Beaver Creek

The last stage of the run is by no means an easy one. Runners will travel 21 miles and climb 4,623’. It may be a long final day, but once in Beaver Creek runners will be celebrating their accomplishment, surrounded by the beauty of this classy Colorado ski destination.

Vail: Sunny, 72F/20C
Beaver Creek: Sunny, 71F/19C

Monday, 18 August 2008

Week 28 Summary (11/08/2008 - 17/08/2008)

Weekly Totals:
Exercise Time: 1hrs 47mins
Running: 2x, 16.43km (10.1 miles)
Longest Run: 10.53km (6.5 miles)

Expended: 2491
Consumed: 2256 (Fat 30%, Carbs 52%, Protein 17%, Alcohol 1%)

Weight: 86.0kg
Body Fat(%): 18.0

HRrest: 56
HRmax: 180 (estimated)

This will be my last "Weekly Summary" posting - phew!! ;)
I will try and do a summary of the race week after our return, but then going forward I'll switch to doing monthly summaries instead.

Looks like I didn't manage to get down to the 80kg weight I had hoped to get down to - but dropping down from 103kg to 86kg is pretty good. I am pleased with that (especially the 10% reduction in body fat). I have an off-road marathon to run at the end of October - I'll be aiming to get my weight down to 80kg for that.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Week 27 Summary (04/08/2008 - 10/08/2008)

Weekly Totals:
Exercise Time: 11hrs 25mins
Running: 5x, 100.00km (61.7 miles)
Longest Run: 22.82km (half-marathon+)

Expended: 3463
Consumed: 2769 (Fat 28%, Carbs 54%, Protein 16%, Alcohol 2%)

Weight: 86.0kg
Body Fat(%): 18.0

HRrest: 56
HRmax: 180 (estimated)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Over the past few weeks Jo has confirmed just how much character she's got. I'm pretty confident that only a serious injury or illness would stop Jo being able to complete the TransRockies Run - as she's been through quite a baptism of pain recently.

Jo skimmed over our 6 half-marathons - so I thought I'd elaborate a bit more on the suffering.

We decided to run the six consecutive halves because it would be good experience and it would be good mental training - we didn't really feel there was much to gain physically this late in the training but there was plenty of mental toughness to be gained. I don't think we realised just how much mental toughness Jo was going to have to use in order to do these runs.

On the Friday before we started the six runs (2nd August) Jo went to the dentist, to have yet another root canal drilling session on her troublesome tooth. The tooth's been giving Jo trouble for most of the year - and it has got progressively worse in the past two months.

So she was in pain on Friday night - hence didn't get much sleep, but we still ran the half-marathon on Saturday. Then, on Saturday night, Jo was sick - we think that was down to the after effects of the anesthetics pumped into her by the dentist as well as the anti-biotics she was on. So after not much sleep again, we managed to head out the door for the 2nd half-marathon.

The runs themselves were pretty easy but Jo's leg was giving her considerable pain especially at the start of the run - starting at about a nine (out of ten) in the pain scale, but eventually going down to about a four. The real problem, however, was her tooth - pretty much she didn't sleep all week that we did the six half-marathons. The painkillers only seem to give Jo about a 2 hour respite - and then the next lot would take an hour to only two hours of sleep at a time.

So as you can imagine, getting up at 5am on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was pretty difficult. I found it mega hard - and I managed to get some sleep, so not sure how Jo did it. It was good that we did these runs; the runs gave Jo confidence with regards to her leg pain - we know if we start slowly then eventually the pain will subside.

After a week of serious toothache (sometimes up to ten on the pain scale) Jo had had enough - it was time for the tooth to come out. So on the Friday after the runs she was back at the dentist getting the bloody thing removed. Unfortunately that still wasn't the end of the pain...last weekend Jo was still in agony. I ran on Sunday (a fast 10km) but Jo didn't - not a problem really as we were considering starting our taper anyway.

Yesterday Jo was back at the dentist - and he stuffed her empty tooth socket full of some special material laced full of helpful drugs. It's working. Last night was the first time Jo's been pain free for weeks - she's managed to get a full nights sleep and is now smiling again.

I had tooth ache about a month or so ago and after a couple of days I was ready to set to with a pair of pliers, so I'm not sure how Jo's managed to carry on after several weeks of constant pain.

I'm sure Jo wont mind me saying, but I don't think a year or so ago Jo would have been as strong. I remember when we first started running - training for the London Marathon 2006. Jo was racked with self-doubt - which led to quite a few arguments and tantrums while we trained. Even after we completed the marathon Jo was still lacking in confidence in her abilities - she clearly stated she had no desire to run marathon distances again.

There's no way that that Jo would have been looking forward to doing 110miles in the Rockies. The turning point was when Jo went on a Tony Robbins course.

Since that weekend long Life Coaching course, and some subsequent Life Coaching, Jo's been a transformed person - so much more positive. I think these days she reflects the confidence that I always felt she should have - maybe walking on hot coals does that to a person. It's now even got to the stage where she is a Life Coach - she has a passion for wanting other people to reach for their potential and is now slowly building up a client base.

So if you're reading this and feel there's more you want from life, then give Jo a shout. I'm pretty sure she can help you unlock your potential - after all, she's managed to find the key to unlocking hers.

Less than two weeks to go to the TransRockies Run....getting excited and nervous now :)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Six of the best!

Bit of a misnomer the title of this posting as I don't think they were 6 of our best runs but collectively they were the most challenging. Basically we've just completed 6 half marathons in 6 consecutive days - phew! We started last Saturday so at least the first couple were done at a reasonable time of day. The last 4 had to be squeezed in before work so we've been up by 5am each day. Are we looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow!?! Absolutely.

Each of these runs had it's highs and lows and there's no need for me to go into any real level of detail, the main thing now is the sense of achievement and the fact that it signified the culmination of our training and now the tapering starts - yeehaw! We've got a final 20km scheduled for Saturday but after that the runs become fewer and shorter and although that'll give my leg a chance to heal a bit more, there's also a sense of anticipation building that the time to put all this training to the test is fast approaching.

This was just a short posting to celebrate the 6 in 6 - made even more poignant by Sat seeing the double-Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes out for a run with a friend this morning. I'd read Kelly's autobiography, "Black, White and Gold", shortly after we'd started our training regime and was inspired by her level of commitment and mental strength especially with all the injuries she suffered and the way she came back even stronger to win Olympic gold. With this in mind, and the Olympics opening ceremony tomorrow, I think it's a sign (in fact, even as I'm typing this, Kelly's on a TV show that we've got on which is obviously why she's in London today). I don't mean we're going to win the TransRockies (although I'm sure my parents would be telling me to aim high!) but I think our preparation and training plan has done the job and got us to where we need to be.

Stay tuned for our last 2 weeks before the big event!

Jog on...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Week 26 Summary (28/07/2008 - 03/08/2008)

Weekly Totals:
Exercise Time: 13hrs 40mins
Running: 6x, 113.40km (70.0 miles)
Longest Run: 22.11km (half-marathon+)

Expended: 3608
Consumed: 2556 (Fat 24%, Carbs 61%, Protein 15%, Alcohol 0%)

Weight: 84.8kg
Body Fat(%): 18.0

HRrest: 56
HRmax: 180 (estimated)

Friday, 1 August 2008

Final push

It's been a good week and a half. Training has gone very well. Jo's still got pain in her calf but sometimes it's not so bad...and even when it is bad Jo manages to carry on running (I think it helps knowing what's behind the cause of the pain).

Last week I did about 65 miles (105 km) which is the most running I've done in a week. I even managed to squeeze a half-marathon in before work on the Thursday...which was mentally tough as the route I chose took me away from home and then back past home (1 hour later); when passing home there was the option to cut the run short and/or pop home for breakfast - but I passed the test, I carried on and did the distance. The Friday's run was the first time that my legs felt as if they didn't have the energy for the distance while I was running. I had run just 4km to meet up with work mates, shared two pints of orange juice and lemonade and then run the remaining 10km home (again passing the test of ignoring a shortcut that would have halved the distance). I now realise that orange juice and lemonade isn't a good energy drink - the run was also didn't help that I was getting hungry and all I could smell while running along the canal was food. Food glorious food...that was got worse when I got to Limehouse and I could smell Scampi...yum yum...I'd be lousy under interrogation, just wave a plate of Scampi in front of my nose and I'd let you know all my secrets (and probably some stuff I didn't know I knew)!!

Then at the weekend Jo and I got back to running together - which is great. We make great training partners; when we run together our pace is slower...much more likely to get us over long distances and we ensure we spur each other on. Last weekend Jo was a hard task master. I woke up on Saturday and Jo was already awake and raring to go - damn, was it already time to get up....Jo forced me our of bed and I started getting kitted up. Then I looked at the clock....6:45am...on a Saturday...hell no, this can't be happening....that wife of mine is evil. Jo was adamant that I didn't need any more sleep...sick, evil, demented woman. We ran 15km on Saturday morning and then squeezed in another 6km later in the evening - to take our daily total up to half-marathon. On the Sunday we did a half-marathon in one go....not quite as early as Saturday...otherwise there would have been trouble.

Sunday evening was so hot that I got my hair clippers out and gave myself a radical hair cut!! Now I'm ready to join the French Foreign Legion!

This week, on Wednesday, we've managed to do a half-marathon before work and then on Thursday we managed a total distance of half-marathon, but broken into two runs. We find doing 2 runs in one day is good training - it teaches the body to run again without being rested from the previous run. The 2nd run (after work) was hard for Jo - her leg was really hurting (9 out of 10 in terms of pain - which is pretty much as bad as it gets before you have to stop), but she did well...she kept running. And she didn't complain at all when she asked me if we could walk...and I said "no"...I knew she could keep going. It was my turn to be a hard task master, and it had nothing to do with getting revenge for Saturday morning. ;)

This weekend we're aiming to start our 6 half-marathons in a row challenge...we figure it would be good training to get six long runs in, one day after the other, before we begin our taper. The aim is actually to do a very long run on Sunday - but we'll see, it depends on how much pain Jo gets from her leg. So next week is going to be hard - doing a marathon in the morning before work for four days in a row.

It's not the running I find hard - sure it's a challenge but when we run together we run slow and on flat terrain so there's no real physical stress. What I do find hard, extremely hard, is the sleep deprivation - having to get up at 5am to do a run, especially when your body wants extra sleep because of all the training. The lack of sleep affects me mentally - I'm grumpy and my will power suffers...Jo doesn't get much conversation out of me until I've woken up (about an hour into the run). On Thursday Jo wanted to get up even earlier, at around 4:45am (because she needed to get into work early)...I refused...I draw the line at 5am. It was because I was unwilling to get up so early that we ended up breaking the run into two runs - I guess next week I will have to accept whatever needs to be done in order for us to run complete half-marathons before work :(

At least all this effort is having a positive affect on my body...after a plateau (made worse by the Swiss holiday diet) I'm losing plenty of weight again. I'm down to about 86kg (13.5 stones). I'm not sure I'll hit my 80kg (12.5 stones) target before the race but I reckon I'll be sub 13 stone - for the first time in well over 10 years. Most of my clothes are now too big for me and I'm having to add extra holes to the belts that I own...but I'm more than happy to have to put up with these inconveniences. Running has given me back my life - even after the TransRockies Run I have no intention of stopping.