I decided at the end of 2011 that I’d do everything I could possibly do to give myself the best chance of racing well in Hawaii this year. When the opportunity to train in Boulder for two and a half months arose, there was no way I was turning it down. At an altitude of 1655m, Boulder is home to some of the world’s best athletes and is one of the best training locations in the world.
After a long 20 hour journey from London to Denver via North Carolina, I arrived feeling surprisingly fresh, thanks largely to my Compressport Full Socks. I’ve also flown long haul in the Full Legs and the R2 Calf Guards and I’d say that the Full Socks are the best.
I spent two days with my friend Eric in Colorado Springs, which was a great place to train. We went for a 4 hour ride on Sunday morning, mainly at a steady pace so that I wouldn’t be struggling too much with the altitude! It was really fun to ride in a new place and get my first feel for Colorado.
That evening I went out on one of the local trails for a short 30 minute jog. After feeling ok on the bike earlier, I thought that the altitude would be tougher on the run, but I didn’t realise just how tough it was. Eric very kindly sent me on a really hilly trail and there were times going uphill where I felt like I was going backwards. I couldn’t get enough oxygen and what should have been a comfortable jog was turning into 30 minutes of pain! I could still appreciate that it was a great trail with great views of the mountains, but it was certainly a wakeup call that adjusting to the altitude would take some time.
That evening we went to the local veledrome to watch some track cycling which was really good fun. There was a brief scare when we thought it was going to be cancelled due to the smoke in the air from the local fires, but the event continued. There were a few fires in the vicinity whilst I was there, but it wasn’t until I left that the fires got worse. The next day we went for a short ride and again I attempted to run the trail, this time for 50 minutes. It wasn’t much prettier, but I dialled back the effort and accepted that the pace would be slow. Later that afternoon Eric drove me over to Boulder, which was a nice drive with great views the whole way.
My friend Scott Pontague – an Australian triathlete - had found us a homestay in Boulder for our time here. Sandi - our homestay (and 10x Kona qualifier!) – was very welcoming, despite me bringing disruption lugging in a large suitcase and bike upon arrival! Scott was here last summer, so he was able to show me around the town later that evening. After what was probably the best and biggest burrito ever, we walked through Pearl Street to get an idea of what was where. The next day we went to Costco to stock up on supplies… $354 later we left with a very large trolley and enough chicken and meat to sink a ship.
Later in the week we went to Newton Running HQ in Boulder to check out the store and also met co-founder Danny Abshire and caught up with speedy age-grouper and coach Steve Johnson. The first week has been great, with some fantastic cycling and amazing trail running. Thankfully the running has seemed easier since arriving in Boulder and I seem to have found my feet again after getting in just over 45 miles this week. I’ve even managed to get in the pool three times, albeit only for 500m each time. Unfortunately the shoulder still isn’t playing ball, but I’m confident that it’s improving. The highlight of the first week was probably Saturday’s ride, which included a 16 mile climb to Ward that leaves you grinding in the easy gear at times! It was the first ride this week where everything clicked and I managed to hit my target power numbers. I had another confidence boosting ride this morning – a solid 3 hour ride with 2 hours of intervals in the middle. My legs have felt great this week thanks as always to Extreme Endurance, now I’m just hoping that my lungs will keep up! There are times riding out here when you can’t help but look around and think, ‘wow’. It’s a truly stunning place and I know the next few months here will be fanastic.
I’ve only logged 19 hours of training this first week as we didn’t want to do too much too soon upon arrival. Having looked at the schedule that the Coach has set for the coming week, it looks like we’re back in the swing of things!