Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Altitude is a crazy thing. You can do nothing and be so tired simply because your body is trying to increase its red blood cell mass to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Fortunately, my arrival was planned "scientifically" with the understanding that I would have to leave in late May to go race in Madrid. Enough time to acclimate, enough time to get in some hard sessions and then the race. But for now, as I struggle through my workouts, I have to laugh. What was so easy last week at sea level is now so much harder. Not for lack of fitness or strength but simply because my heart rate sky rockets at the smallest exertion.

I will say, though, this is the best I have felt at altitude. I've been here three other times and had a miserable time trying to adjust. Last year was just awful because I flew in and raced and then had 2 weeks of training with Siri. Not fun! I think being fit definitely makes it easier to adjust. Before, an easy run has been impossible or so slow that it seemed like a complete joke, but my easy 45 minute run yesterday was at a decent clip and I didn't feel too bad. Heaviness definitely set into my legs about 75% of the way through it, but my HR was pretty steady and I don't know if I should attribute that to the lack of oxygen or the 16 hours of travel days before.

I have been staying with Mary Beth Ellis, one of my training partners, at her condo in Thornton. She so kindly offered to put me up until my summer living situation opened up (Thanks, MB, Jeff and Amos!). It has been awesome training with her. No one else is here yet, so we are keeping each other motivated in the midst of the fatigue. She is also traveling with me to Madrid, so we are on the same training schedule which is nice.

We swam at our usual training spot today and yesterday and could only laugh at the condition of the facility. Funny how our rates for the year went up due to the "improvements in the facility" when in reality it looks like no one paid attention to the pool all winter. Tiles are missing from the middle of the T on the wall making it quite terrible to push off, the "flags" if you can even call them that are nothing more than a string where flags once hung, the pace clock is missing almost all of the numbers, all that is left are tick marks drawn on with black sharpie, and the pool covers are covered in algae. Moral of the story: you don't need fancy training facilities in order to be a world class athlete. Sometimes, less is more... although, in this case... much less and we may be "swimming" in a waterless pit. We have a good time swimming since it is just the two of us. We spend the workouts caught between laughing at the terrible state of the facility and laughing as we huff and puff on slow intervals that should be soooo easy.

After our swim today, we headed to the 24 Hour Fitness in North Boulder to do a little treadmill session. Before we started, I asked one of the managers how fast the treadmills went. He said "really fast." I don't think he realized how fast we run on them. He was right, they do go really fast, but the disbelief on the faces of all of the employees and pretty much everyone in the gym while we did our intervals was hilarious. At one point, one of the employees got on the treadmill next to me. He was determined to run as fast as I was for as long. He tried... and failed. It was a valiant effort that sent him straight to the water fountain and then to the corner to try to recover. I'm just glad he didn't hurt himself!! It was good fun and I got in an awesome workout as well. Yay for really fast treadmills!!

With that, I can hear the wind whipping outside and it is time for bed. The 80 degree sunshine from today is giving way to 35 degree rain and snow tomorrow... only in Colorado. I'm not looking forward to it (I didn't pack anything warm)!

No comments: