UROC 100 – Preview – Part 1

On Sunday morning Michelle drove me to LaGuardia airport and I got to live, finally, a nice and relaxing experience travelling from this airport.
It was not great to leave home at 5:30 in the morning, but with one week of relaxing time in front of me, it did not seem too much of a problem. Michelle instead was probably not so happy.

I got to DIA on time, actually, a little earlier than anticipated, then collected my bag – that was already in the baggage claim belt – and took the shuttle to the rental car.
Got a shiny black Ford Focus, almost beand new, and was surprised by its comfort and confidence on the road.

I headed to Boulder immediately, anxious to see and explore this city that I’ve heard so much about.
To boulder

The reasons why I’m staying in Boulder and not at higher altitude to get ready for UROC are numerous. Here are a few:
1) Paul and Sham very kindly offered me their apartment in Boulder. Now, I must say their place is something special. Located near many trails, with bars, restaurants and anything that you may possibly need within a few blocks, it is really a great apartment. Spacious, relaxing and easy to reach from Denver. I can’t thank them enough for this wonderful opportunity.
2) Having bad memories from last year in Leadville the first night, I figured it was better to spend a day or two in a spot that was not that high to avoid altitude sickness.
3) Having read Paul’s blog and the legendary (even epic) runs he does in Boulder (once even with Fabio and Seb), I wanted to test the trails of this wonderful place
4) I’ve heard so much about Boulder being the ultimate Mecca for Vegetarians and Vegans, I wanted to find out if the city could live up to the expectations.

While driving to North Boulder I felt my stomach needed to be filled, and since lunch was overdue I typed “Vegan” on Yelp and got into an amazing place called “Native Foods”. It was almost a paradise. Just the drinks were exceptionals…Lavander Lemonade, Native Ice Tea..not to mention the actual food. Impressive. I got Tempeh tacos with sweet potato fries. Yummy.

I got situated in the apartment pretty quickly. Paul and Sham rules are similar to my apartment’s rules. I particularly liked the “no shoes” rule. And with that nice hardwood floor, the “No Shoes” policy will def help keep it in good shape for a long long time.
In the afternoon it was time to get some milage, since the week was kind of sloppy and training has been a little messed up lately for various reasons. Since in general things in life are getting out of recent turmoils, I figured I could find again some joy in running.

Headed north on North Broadway I figured I could jump into one of the trails around the Mesa Reservoir, since Paul mentioned it the day before at Pascal’s birthday party. First bad surprise: the trail was closed, probably due to recent floods that hit Boulder very heavily.
I kept running along Rt 36 and got scared by a snake on the shoulder. The poor snake was dead, but it was pretty big, easily 5 ft and its body was quite thick. When I saw it running it was just a glimspe and I jumped back as soon as I realized what my eyes had perceived. I was probably 3-4 ft away, but I almost wetted myself, not to say that I pooped myself.
I continued north for another mile and made a right into Neva Road, till I hit 6.5 miles. The pace started to fall slowly but constantly. I was not having a good leg turnaround, and the feeling of making an effort with no sweat was very surreal.
I was impressed that keeping an 8min/mile pace was a challenge, so when they clouds up in the sky started making noises and dropping some rain, I quickly turned back and returned to the apartment with a 10.5 mile run under the belt to complete the week.
The question was: how could Paul and Seb have logged 5:00-5:15 tempo runs up here? I am having suspicions they might be aliens, I have to investigate more…
After the run, a quick shower and then the thoughts were going to dinner again. This time I had an appetizer and also a salad. You can judge the two of them here:

Monday I woke up early, even if that was not the intent. I guess the internal clock was still working, so at 8:00 ET I was up. Good thing that here it was still 6:00am. After breakfast I decided it was better to wait another day before going up high in Breck or Frisco, so I figured a normal speed workout might wake up the legs.
Since I learned from Massimo, Paul and Sham that the trails were actually closed to the public, I tried to explore downtown Boulder running through it, with the goal of running a few laps of a local high school track.
I wanted to do 5×1,000, but ended up running only 3×1,000 and 1×600 and called it a day. I was happy with the speed, but the effort was over the top. Knowing that I have 62 miles to cover on Saturday, there is no need to spend any extra energy on Monday.

Tuesday I decided to get up early and go to Breck, try the course from there to Frisco and back. Of course I had to ruin everything getting up too late. Planning to leave at 7 and actually getting up at 7:20 is not a well executed plan.

I finally left around 8:15 and got to Breck around 10-10:30. after figuring out the parking I gave it a shot to the first section of the course.
I found myself grinding my teeth in an attempt to just hike the first climb. According to my calcs, the first 3 miles were pretty comfortable around 5-8% incline. When the Garmin showed 25%+, I gave up any attempt of running, and just dragged my ass to the top, stopping here and there for some photos.
Beginning of climb
After two miles and change I looked back and I had an incredible view, with Breckenridge at the bottom of the climb, almost minuscule, covered by the presence of Bald Mountain behind it. It was worth a photo.
Second Mile

Ice, snow and mud were constant in the last mile of the ascent. Forecast for Friday night is more snow…I guess my feet will have to suffer!! The positive here is that so far the course does not offer big rocks “Bear Mountain” style, so I might be able to preserve my aching left foot for a few miles.

The course was well marked so far with flags and spray paint. The unknown will be the weather: if the forecast is accurate for Friday, then Saturday morning we won’t see spray paint and flags on the ground. Maybe Kilian, Sage, and the other 200 pros and elites will get lost and I have a chance of being the king of the (first) mountain? AHAHAHAH…dream on! Pace climbing was around 20 min/mile

The descent towards Frisco was ok, only a little portion was rocky, but I felt comfortable running slowly at around 10min/mile. I don’t think I need to go any faster here during the race. The snow/ice makes it a bit tricky already and on top of that the quads need to be preserved for the rest of the race.
At the bottom of the descent I realized that lunch was due, so I changed my plans and went back to Breck instead of continuing to Frisco. Finished at 10miles exactly, in about 2hrs, and had an overall ok workout.
Important things I have learned:
1) Take it very easy on the first climb and descent. They are relatively tough, and they will not decide the final outcome of the race.
2) I don’t feel as strong as a month ago in the climbs (maybe due to altitude adjustment), but the descent is better and I don’t feel my lungs bouncing
3) I need to figure out a way to find a proper pace to keep in the flats after the downhill. I cannot run them too fast, especially because I feel a bit dizzy running these sections. Maybe Stephen will help on this.
4) My plan to hit a sub 13 hours might be slightly aggressive. Without altitude problems, I feel I can take these hills easily, but uphere I am missing the training at altitude…will be happy with a sub 15. That means: HEADLAMP!!! Thank God I brought it!


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