Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Playing at Altitude

In the 2010 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run, Paul Shippey’s teammate (and fellow Boulder resident) Paul Mandel suffered Acute Mountain Sickness, along with a host of other participants.   Racers got used to falling asleep at night to the background sounds of the mountain wildlife, rushing streams…and vomiting.     But along with a few strong others, Mandel toed the line each and every day, overcoming the practically debilitating headache and nausea that comes with altitude sickness. 
So when Paul and Lori decided to be partners for the 2011 race,  altitude was a big topic of conversation.  Lori does much of her training at sea level, and Paul wanted to make sure she gained enough experience at altitude to hopefully avoid Mandel’s fate.    Each person’s susceptibility to altitude sickness is different, so Lori needed to properly test hers.  Paul wisely advised her to find opportunities to train or race in places that will most closely resemble TransRockies conditions. 
It wasn’t necessarily what Paul had in mind, but Lori convinced him they should gather some friends and give the ToughMudder Colorado race a go.   ToughMudder events are not your typical footrace or mud run.   They are a test of all-round strength, stamina, mental and physical endurance. Each event is a 10-12 mile mud/trail run over uneven, hilly and wet ground peppered with 18-25 military-style obstacles.   And by ‘obstacle’, we mean things like icy swims,  12-foot wall scales, and 10,000 volt electroshock.    While this hardly resembles the TransRockies course, Lori’s rationale was that it is still an endurance test at altitude, and, wildly entertaining as it is, could rightly be considered a form of training. 
At 9am on June 26, Paul and Lori started the 9+ mile course, crossing the summer slopes of Beaver Creek amongst a crowd of high-fiving, highly-revved, and often comically-dressed racers.  They found it more mentally challenging than physically so, because the British Special Forces-designed obstacles are intended to test a variety of fears (e.g. claustrophobia, water, falling) . 
Two and a half hours later they were sitting on the grass near the finish, beer in hand, laughing about the slogging, sliding, shivering and shocking bonanza that proved tremendously fun for participants and spectators alike.   The verdict?  The altitude did not seem to hamper Lori’s ability to compete.   Glasses up – here’s to mixing some serious fun with your serious training.  

Next year, costumes. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here. We. Go.

With only eight weeks left until the start of the 2011 GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run, Team EverymanTri is ramping up the mileage.   Paul Shippey and Lori Lyons have teamed up to take part in this world-renowned race, and will be reporting throughout, so that EverymanTri  readers can experience it along with them.  Minus the sore muscles.

Shippey is a GORE-TEX®TransRockies alumnus, a runner and triathlete with ultramarathons and Ironman distances on his racing resume.   Like many other Boulder residents, he thrives on the challenging topography of the area, whether on the trails or on his bike.  Lyons is a long-time marathoner and ‘flatlander’ who turned her interest to trails last year as a result of following the 2010 GORE-TEX®TransRockies event online.  She recently ventured into ultrarunning, after being reinvigorated by the transition from road to trail.  She is based in Los Angeles.

The GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run is a 120-mile, six-day stage race run in teams of two.  From August 21 – August 26, elite and amateur athletes from around the world will traverse the (literally) breathtaking alpine landscape from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, Colorado, at altitudes over 12,500 feet, facing nearly 25,000 feet of elevation gain.  The race represents the close equivalent of doing a high-altitude trail marathon every day for six days straight.  Physical endurance, mental (and intestinal) fortitude, recovery, terrain,altitude and climate adaptability will be fully tested.    Participants will discover the depth of their reserves. 

So why is a record-number of people, an astounding 200 teams, signing up for this sufferfest?   First of all, let’s face it.  If it were easy, we wouldn’t be interested.  This is the challenge of a lifetime for most, and the emotional reward that comes from finishing such an epic event is, as Shippey can attest to, indescribable.   Secondly, unlike most running races, the participants in the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run commune for the week in a tent village, and have the opportunity to forge friendships both on the trail and at the campfire.  Thirdly, the GORE-TEX® TransRockies Run is one of the best-supported races, with all aspects of nutrition, accommodations, amenities (including hot showers) and medical needs handled by professional teams.  

Speaking of great support, Team EverymanTri’s sponsors, GORE-TEX®, GU Energy, Ryders Sunglasses, Hydrapak, Road ID and Pearl iZUMi will be contributing to the comfort and success of their race.  In addition to race reporting, Shippey and Lyons will be testing product and posting reviews, from their different perspectives, for the EverymanTri community. 

Lori Lyons