Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hell Week - Upcoming Training In Colorado

Navy SEAL training has its "Hell Week", a 5 1/2 day period of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep.  It is a test of physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude, and the ability to perform under high physical and mental stress.  Above all it tests determination and desire. Although my Badwater training for this week will certainly not rise to the level experienced during Navy Seal "Hell Week", it nevertheless will be, to me, my very own "Hell Week" as I head to Littleton, Colorado to train with my good friend and one of the best ultra runners on the planet, Jamie Donaldson ("JD").

It is not a big secret that JD has been giving me some tips on preparing for my second Badwater Ultramarathon, and who better to take advice from than the two-time defending women's champion, course record holder, and three-time Badwater finisher (2007, 2008 and 2009, with a course record 26:51:33 in 2008).  I was warned about heading out to train with this superstar..."be afraid, be very afraid"...and after looking at the training agenda that JD has in mind for this weekend, I sure as shit am!

Here is a sneak peak at the hell I expect to go through:

Friday AM - Leave (yes, that is leave, not wake) at 4:15 am for Mount Evans, for a road run to the summit and back down.  They call Mount Evans the "road into the sky."  From Idaho Spring at 8,700 feet above sea level, we will run (if that is possible) to the summit at 14,240 feet.  The first 4 miles of road is said to be surprisingly flat.  The grade then shifts to 4-6% to the entrance that continues to Summit lake.  The last 5 miles have grades of 2-5%, but because you are above 12,000 feet it is said to feel like 10-15% grade to the top.  There is actually a 14.5 mile race called the Mt. Evans Ascent, dubbed "America's Highest Road Race", and I can only assume that this is what is in store for me.
"Runners will start at the Echo Lake Campground, located at the intersection of Hwy. 103 and Hwy 5.  From there, the course climbs for 14.5 miles up North America's highest paved road.  The course takes you through montane, subalpine, and alpine environments to the summit of Mt. Evans at 14,264 feet.  Although the air will be noticeably thin at the starting line, Echo Lake's 10,600 feet of elevation is just the beginning.  The climb totals nearly 4,000 vertical feet - much of it above treeline - as you make your way 14.5 miles to the finish line located at the summit of one of the most recognizable peaks on Denver's mountain skyline - 14,264 foot Mt. Evans."

Friday PM - A run in Roxborough State Park (Carpenter Peak), a 3,339-acre park filled with dramatic red-rock formations, distinct plant communities, and a host of wildlife ranging from black bears to mule deer.  A variety of trails for all abilities can be found here, from the half-mile Fountain Overlook trail, to the challenging 6.4 mile trek to 7,160-foot Carpenter Peak.  No surprise...the plan is to run the 6.4 mile round-trip trail of moderate-to-steep terrain to Carpenter Peak.  Of course, I'm just thrilled about the web-site's reminder to "stay on the trail and beware of rattlesnakes."

Saturday AM - Get some sleep?  Nope.  Another 4:15 am departure, this time to run Pikes Peak (the same course run at the Barr Trail Mountain Race and home of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon).  The start is at an elevation of 6,570 feet, proceeding 6.3 miles and 3,630 feet up the Barr Trail to Barr Camp (at 10,200 feet) before running back down. Matt Carpenter has an excellet write-up on "The Pikes Peak Barr Trail" that describes several portions of the trail, including the trek up to Barr Camp.  The grade varies, and there are some downhills on the way up just as there are some sections that are way steeper, but "over time it will have you begging for mercy!!!"

BTM Race Course View

We are not done quite yet.  That crazy climb will be followed by a trip to the Manitou Incline - one mile and 2,000 vertical feet up on 2,800 railroad ties.

The Incline

More of The Incline

Saturday PM - Head over to Clement Park in Littleton to meet up with Lisa Smith-Batchen and the Running Hope Through America team.  Colorado is the 39th State on her 50-State journey (running 50 miles in each State).  It will be great to log some miles with Lisa.

Sunday AM - Appently, there is some sort of "Beer Mile" taking place.  Wait, how is this training for Badwater?  Who this point I'm sure I'll do anything that has no elevation gain, even if it means running a mile and drinking a few beers.  That will be followed (hopefully after some recovery time) by a Red Rocks stair workout (I'm told these stairs make those Rocky steps in Philly look like child's play).

Red Rocks Stairs

Sunday PM - Fly home....if I am still alive.


  1. beer miles are soo much fun. this is what i was trying to get you to do back in march. the hard part isnt running on a full stomach but stopping each lap to drink the next beer. have fun

  2. wow! have a great time on the runs. I'm looking forward to pictures!! I'm thinkin' the 'beer run' is great training- ie. how to run dehydrated!!
    May you run free, and with no injury.


  3. Wow, that sounds like an intense week. Good luck with it! It will be a great feeling after you wrap it up successfully -- the beer mile will seem even sweeter.

    I'm headed out there in a month to take advantage of the challenges that Colorado has to offer too.

  4. Sounds like an incredible adventure!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a blast, Anthony!

  5. Ha! Sounds like a "fun" training weekend!!!

  6. I have funny visions of you trying to get out of your seat in the plane when it lands in NY. Reminiscent of some other crazy ultra trek you did with Wayne I think it was. Hope your journey has been quite the adventure.