UTMB Training Part 1 – Volume + Intensity

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in mountaineering, race, ultra distance

training_header_part_1I’ve been signed up for the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) for a couple of months now and I realized I haven’t really shared any information about the training and preparation for the race.

The event takes place this coming August 30th with a start in Chamonix, France. Organized by The North Face the UTMB is a 105 miles ultra marathon with 31,500 feet of elevation gain (more than climbing Mt Everest from sea level!) and a cut off time of 46 hours. At 4,810 m (15,782 ft) the Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. 2300 athletes will run around the mountain, going through France, Italy and Switzerland. It’s the first ultra during which I will have to carry my passport.

Being born in France and having spent a fair amount of time in the Alps this is a dream come true. I have been fortunate to be able to qualify and to secure a spot in the race. Going home for what is considered the Olympic Games or the Tour de France of trail running is a very exciting and emotional prospect for me. By the time the race starts it will have been about a year since my mom passed away not too far from Chamonix. I dedicate this challenge to her and I wish she could be at the finish line. I would not have developed the endurance and resilience necessary to undertake a running adventure at this level without what she taught me and in particular her courage fighting cancer for four years. On my long mountain runs my mind sometimes presents me with a visual of her waiting for me at the finish line, sitting in a wheel chair with a blanket, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of me coming in the chute (which always leads to me breaking down in tears).

Preparing for the race is complex, tedious and fun! There are a couple of dimensions I would like to cover on tri-ops in order perhaps to help future runners but also to keep my sanity in check and reflect on what I’m doing! I will cover: training volume/intensity, nutrition and gear preparation. Let’s start with the training.

SBTR 100K (well more like 50K)

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in injury, mind, nutrition, race, ultra distance

bibI had just gotten off course twice in the last hour, it was noon, my heart was pounding, I was puking, it was hot, still a big climb away from the aid station. I was calculating: time to recover at aid station + who knows the conditions ahead + wanting to finish before 9pm (we started at 7am) = might as well stop now = where do I get a ride? One hour before I was chasing the guy in front of me and I was giddy at the thought of a sub-12 for a 100K!

 I quit a race yesterday – after about 30 miles. It was the first time I quit a foot race. It’s not like I didn’t make a cut off or got pulled out by race personnel. I was plunging to exhaustion and was going to end up in an helicopter flying to the Santa Barbara ER (if only there would have been a spot for an helicopter to land in that dense brush and savanah of the Santa Ynez mountains). Quitting was right. I’m grateful I came back in one piece and I am satisfied with the way I handled every situation that arose. Although I can’t pinpoint what went wrong exactly I can definitely see the chain of events that led to quitting.

Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 Pack – Valve Issue

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in gear

resizeImageLast Friday I was filling the bladder in my Salomon pack and upon connecting the hose I realized it was leaking! Leaking fast! No 44 miles run over Griffith with no water in the pack (temp in the low 80s)… I found that the O-ring on the connector had gone (see picture). Luckily I also own a S-Lab 12 and I took the O-ring from there and the leak was fixed at least for the day’s run.

But I wasn’t totally happy. I usually don’t disconnect the valve during an event or long run, however I could have been somewhere without access to a second o-ring… and it’s not like we have a lot of clear streams in these parts.

The day after the run I went to the local hardware store and bought a bunch of O-rings but they proved to be too large. I tried to boil them, pass a heat gun on them to no avail. Finally I ordered a huge set of Buna-N O-Rings (how does that sound?) on Amazon and now I have a bunch of spares to have as back-up. And tons of O-rings! The full bladder has passed a 24 hour leak test. Now hopefully it won’t leak while running.

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