Monday, 30 April 2012

My humungous August challenge - running 117km and almost the height of Everest in under 31 hours

Have ever of you heard of the Ticino Trail before?  Probably not, and neither had I until I just signed myself up for it.  If you want to take a look at the website it is here

The event is pretty mental, in the most positive sense of the word.  Basically I will have 31 hours or under to cover 117km of mountainous terrain, including 12 passes, making a grand total of 8,500 vertical metres (almost the height of Everest) and reaching altitudes of 2,500m above sea level.

I will have to deal with potentially bad weather, low visibility nighttime running, crazy amounts of ascending and all this whilst watching the clock to make sure I complete it under the time limit, or all was basically for nothing.

Can I do this?  I am not sure - it seems pretty tough by anyone's standards.  Why did I sign up for it?  Because I was saying how cool it looked to my MDS 2012 friends and then one of them announced he had signed up for it and I thought well I can't let him run it alone so I better join him now, especially since I was the one who suggested it.  I have entered what appears to be an elite world of crazy people who know no limits, who don't know when to throw in the towel and say enough is enough.  I have found a place where I can truly fit in, without seeming too crazy myself, where I am considered normal.

How am I going to train for this?  I am not sure yet but the training regime is going to have to be pretty brutal.  Given the huge amount of ascent involved in the race I will probably incorporate a lot of gym work into my training - squats especially.  I can imagine that strength is going to be hugely important.  Endurance will also be important, but at least it is not a multistage event, so as long as I train to run 50km fast, I reckon I can cope with 117km at a slower pace when it comes to it.  Hill work is also going to form a large part of my plan.

The challenge this time is that I need to fit in all my training around a full time job.  I will have to try to eliminate dead time from my daily schedule, and make use of this time for running instead.  Why sit on a bus/tram to and from work when I can run to and from work for example.  Luckily Anny is now a "proper runner," so we can go for some training runs together.  I was very impressed with how much she has improved when I went out with her last night.  The main improvement I noticed other than the pace is that she is no longer concerned by the sensation of being out of breath like she was before.  She is mentally tougher, and able to push herself harder.  I don't think she will ever be interested in events like the Ticino Trail though - she thinks these kind of events are for crazy people like me.  She may however be happy to substitute hiking for trail running, which would be fantastic, as I much prefer trail running to hiking.

Apart from the fact I am going to have to train hard, the event itself is going to be fantastic.  The race starts in Airolo (on the 4th August) and it is such a beautiful part of the world.  Running over the passes is going to be breathtaking, and I cannot think of many places I would rather run.  Anny is also planning to come down to Ticino and support me.  Once again, knowing she will be there waiting for me is going to be an amazing mental boost.  It may even mean the difference between success and failure.  My MDS 2012 friend Steve will also be running in the race alongside me.

I am still planning to do a sub 3 hour marathon at the end of October (and have entered the Lucern marathon), and I figure by training for this event I will be in tip top condition for that challenge too.  All I need to watch is that I do not sacrifice too much speed for endurance in my training regime.  Having done almost solely endurance based training for events such as La Marmotte in the past, and having seen how people who focussed on strength and speed were able to beat me and cope with the extra distance when it came to the crunch, I am not going to base my training around very long slow runs alone.  Speed work and strength work will also play an important part.

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