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Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

As I put the final wrappings on this year's training for the Pikes Peak Ascent, I can't help but look back and realize the way things are.

Many of my friends know that I am on a quest for 20 years in a row of hammering up and sometimes down Pikes Peak for the Ascent and/or Marathon.  This will be number 17.  After Saturday's race, I will be 85% of the way home.  

Oh the things that I have learned!  It's all about training.  The race is just the culmination of busting your ass for months to get into some kind of condition to get to the top of this mountain in a reasonable time on race day.  

And every year, here are the things that seem to never change:

 First, I start my training on the last Sunday of November by dragging my butt out of bed and heading to Memorial Park in Manitou Springs. Thus begins the Incline Club training runs.  I re-acquaint myself with other members and we commiserate about how well or poorly we did in August.  Then we go for a 12-15 mile run somewhere in the mountains for 2-4 hours because August will come again.  And by God, we're going to be ready.

Rampart Range Road on an IC run

For 5 more months the club will do long runs on Sundays.  When April rolls around, we start our tempos and interval runs on Barr Trail and the Incline.  These runs are followed up by hill repeats. It's like clockwork.  We know it's coming, and we know it's hard, and some of us think "THIS SUCKS!"  But we also know it helps, so we show up, and we do it.

Steve Griego doing intervals on the Incline

As the summer wears on, I like to get elevation.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, this includes Elk Park Trail and running from the top of the Peak down 3 miles and back up.  I schedule these into my work week so that I can do one of these runs once a week from mid June to race day.  There's nothing quite like a butt kicking 6-11 mile run with the goal to be: Get to the office by noon!

And of course, as the temperatures rise in the summer, that's when we take shots at the summit.  I usually do 4-5 bottom to top runs during the summer.  The depth of the snow on the mountain will determine when my first attempt is.  This year, June 18 was my first shot.  On the 17th, I posted on Facebook that I might need a ride down if anyone might be up top.  If no one showed, I'd just use the old thumb to get down.  There was plenty of snow for the last three miles, but it was the first weekend where I felt I could go for it without too much post-holing.  

Photos: Marcus Lawler running at 11,000 feet.
Snow fields above tree line.
Rich and Richie Canedo, They saw my FB post and came to pick me up. Great Friends! 

This year, I Incorporated some track/speed work into my training.  Larry, Fall Series, Miller organizes these runs on Tuesdays from April to August at the Manitou High School track.  And there is quite a crew that shows up to run 3 miles in some weird fashion of 1/4 mile repeats or 300 meters fast, 100 recover or something similar.  This was really the only change in my training this year.  And we shall see if it pays big dividends on race day.  

Here's the crew that showed up on May 24th this year.  

And finally, as the year comes to a close, a bunch of Incline Club members gather at the top of Pikes Peak, the Sunday before the big races, and clear the trail for the last mile.  Some of us just pick up loose rocks and debris as we put the final touches on our training.  Some of us move giant rocks and make the trail more run-able through the Golden stairs and above.  

What changed?  Well, the track workouts were different.
What stayed the same?  Pretty much everything else.  

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more that things change, the more they stay the same.)

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