Mt Evans Ascent…next year!?

Its been a few days since “the race”. I’ve spent some time thinking. I have done some serious refueling. I even spent a little time recovering, approximately 36 hours. And…I spent some time talking about how much better I’ll do in next year’s race.


I want to do it again.

The race was rough but the misery faded quickly. A little too quickly – I was already thinking about 2014 before I went to bed on Saturday night. That’s a quick fade – its been over a year and I still haven’t been able to talk myself into another marathon! Granted, that is more because of the training than the actual race.

Mt Evans Ascent - Mile 3-4 Course PhotoMt Evans Ascent - Mile 3-4 Course Photo
…just past the Mile 3 aid station, I have a handful of peanut M&Ms…

I don’t mean to dwell on the race for too long but come next spring when registration opens for the Mt Evans Ascent it will probably be very nice to have a list of all the things I did right and what I’d like to do better. Besides, I didn’t even acknowledge the fact I was running this race until the night before, so I haven’t talked about training in anyway.

I committed to this race in…February? At the time we were scheduled to be driving home from CA the day of the race. I did a little sweet talking and finagling just for this race. Because running up a mountain sounds like such a great idea it just has to happen, right? Actually, I knew I’d never do it without a friend by my side and if Lynne wanted to run this year than I was going to make it happen!

How I Trained

My overall training was really a big guessing game. How do you train for a race that goes uphill for 14.5 miles? You run hills. How do you train your lungs to continue to function while running at 10,600 feet to 14,264 feet of elevation? You run at altitude. How do you fit that all into your life schedule, while there is a fair amount of snow on any trail above 10,000 feet? Beats me!

My training consisted of a lot of trail running. The majority of my long runs were on trails with multiple mid-week runs on trails. The weekend long runs were done with Lynne by my side and Chris somewhere nearby on his mountain bike. During the week I did my best to catch up with the Boulder Running Company group runs on local trails. I also spent almost every Wednesday night at BRC for coached speed workouts and ran with friends most Tuesday/Thursday mornings for 2.5-5 miles.

Mt Evans Ascent - Mile 9-10 Course PhotoMt Evans Ascent - Mile 9-10 Course Photo
…heading uphill after Summit Lake…

I was also lucky enough to hike two 14ers in the month before the Mt Evans Ascent. This definitely helped with the altitude training. If my body didn’t benefit long term I at least remembered what it was like to be active at 14,000 above sea level!

I’ll do better next time…

Next year there needs to be a bigger focus on strength training, hands down. This year strength training was non-existent. Partly because I highly dislike it, partly because I honestly ran out of time. It wasn’t a focus and it needed to be. My legs tired long before my lungs did. Actually, my lungs never tired, it was my legs that held me back.

I’d also like to spend more time running up Mt Evans, preferably before they open to cars on Memorial Day weekend. We managed to fit on trip to Mt Evans into training but it was just hours after I PR’ed a 5K. On one hand, my legs were tired which would give me experience running uphill on tired legs. On the other hand, we bailed a little early because my legs wanted to fall off. Next year I hope to run multiple times on Mt Evans, preferably not right after a hard race!

Race Day Lessons

This is the first time since 2009 that I went into a race have no idea what to expect. Last time was my first marathon…last time I hated the race {the race itself was fantastic, the race I ran in my head completely sucked}. Luckily that wasn’t the outcome of the uncertainty of Mt Evans!

In the days leading up to the race I was in a car for long hours. At this point I had to just trust my training…and hydrate! I managed to keep myself hydrated enough to be the first person asking for bathroom breaks while on the road!

I think this excessive hydration before the race completely saved my butt on race day. I was very conscious of how much I drank prior to the race but once we started I completely forgot to drink. At the 3 aid stations I drank full cups of water but I barely touched my CamelBak. And I hate the taste of HEED so I was pretty low on electrolytes. Next time I’m packing up Powerade!

For the first time in my life I experienced “sausage fingers”! I attempted a fist pump at the finish and couldn’t even make a full fist! My wedding ring wouldn’t even rotate around my finger. That’s never happened before – I’m blaming the quick ascent!

Mt Evans Ascent - Mile 13-14.5 Course PhotoMt Evans Ascent - Mile 13-14.5 Course Photo
…on the last switch backs, about a half mile from the finish…

While running/hiking my lack of hydration didn’t bother me but the second I stopped moving the altitude slammed into me. I ran through the chute then turned and knelt down to get a photo of Lynne finishing. As soon as I knelt down my head started throbbing and I wanted to hurl. The altitude had caught up with me. Luckily as soon as I got below 10,000 feet and off the windy mountain roads all was well again. The most delicious burger ever put on a bun may have also helped – so glad we stopped at Tommy Knockers rather than heading home to eat!

Outside of the fueling race day went surprisingly smoothly. The weather was fantastic, I wore all the right clothes, I remembered sunscreen and I took the time to really enjoy the scenery. Let’s just hope next year goes at least this well. Yes, next year…

If anyone ever has any questions about this race and the “training” I did with it…please, please, please do not hesitate to ask. As soon as I registered for this race I started looking for training plans/advice online and found almost nothing. It was rather disheartening and scary. I am by no means a coach, but I’ll offer up whatever experience I can!

All credit for the photos goes to Their photographers were amazing on the course and encouraged us as we ran by. Plus, they got amazing photos that made us look overjoyed to be running uphill.


Mt Evans Ascent…next year!? — 11 Comments

  1. good post idea – i may have to copy you so I don’t forget too!

    also, i remembered sunscreen on the important places – my face and neck – but forgot my legs! i had a nice little capri sunburn – which has turned into an awkward tan line. sweet!

    • Oooh, the capri tan line, so attractive. I did that last year with La Plata, I looked like I was wearing red/pink knee high socks! Even with the sunscreen I got a little pink and now have very defined shorty short lines….

  2. Pingback: Mt. Evans Ascent Road Race: 3,664 Feet of Climbing - Just a Colorado Gal

  3. Great review of the race. I’m thinking of doing it this year. Can you tell me where you did your high altitude runs? I already do a lot of hill runs in the Golden area but I’m not that familiar with higher altitude trails. Thanks, Lisa

    • I’d highly recommend the race…it tries to eat you alive while you’re running but once you’re done it is all worth it!

      I ran a lot of Centennial Cone, Mt Falcon and Lookout Mountain – not exactly high altitude training, but a fair amount of climbing. We did run up a portion of Mt Evans road before it was open to traffic and summitted a few 14ers before the race too. Mostly to remind ourselves what happens when you get above 12-13K feet! In the end we realized that we need to spend more time climbing…and climbing…and climbing, without any breaks for the quads/calves! Good luck – its a lot of fun and the bragging rights are worth it.

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