5 days: Butterflies at altitude

I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Thanks to you, we’ve reached that goal – currently at $10,007! You can help us push beyond the target by chipping in a few bucks to one of our deserving charities here! Plus, there is one last little fundraising push left between now and race day… and that is being rolled out tomorrow!

Butterflies at Altitude

The past 360 days of staring at the stats for Ironman Lake Tahoe have been daunting.

  • The swim (2.4 miles) is at 6,250 feet of altitude. Swimming at sea level is difficult enough… but in thin air it is ridiculously difficult to keep your breath. Unless you have gills, then you’re just fine.
  • The bike course (112 miles) starts at 6,250 feet, has some nice rollers, then spikes up to 7,228 feet with a couple of lung-searing, steep climbs… and then you repeat the course all over again. 5,240 feet of total climbing. A solid day on the bike alone… but nightmarish considering you still have to follow this with a…
  • Marathon (26.2 miles). Starting altitude: 6,200 feet. Fortunately, the pundits call this leg the “easiest” on this course as it is a double-out-and-back on the running/cycling trail without a lot of vertical component (about 600 feet total climbing). Yeah… “easy” running 26.2 miles, at well over a mile in altitude, after you’ve already done the other legs.

I trained with all of this in mind. I put in the miles in the pool and on the roads. Got in some gnarly climbing bike rides at altitude. Been running like a maniac and knocking out some wicked fast splits. I felt ready for this when we drove up to Lake Tahoe on Monday of this week.

Theo is keeping us company this week... and, yes, he's had the cone for 6 weeks, with at least another week to go... but he's healing! This picture is of him trying to find a way in to a Starbucks nearing Tahoe as I was waiting for our beverages... handsome guy!

Theo is keeping us company this week and was our co-pilot on the drive… and, yes, he’s had the cone for 6 weeks, with at least another week to go… but he’s healing! This picture is of him trying to find a way in to a Starbucks as we were nearing Tahoe while I was waiting for our beverages… handsome guy!

And then we got here. The altitude nearly knocked me on my ass. Lightheaded. Weak. I couldn’t jog up the stairs in the condo without getting winded.

The condo is super-duper cute! I really enjoy it here (I wish the broadband were faster, but it all can't be perfect). Notice the stairs... lots of steep stairs. Humbling on Day 1. Easy on Day 2.

The condo is super-duper cute! I really enjoy it here (I wish the broadband were faster, but it all can’t be perfect). Notice the stairs… lots of steep stairs. Humbling on Day 1. Easy on Day 2.

That is when I saw the butterflies. Not real ones… Race day butterflies. Maybe they were spots from altitude sickness? Who knows.

Regardless, the question had set in: “How the bloody hell was I going to deal with this altitude on Sunday?”

Good news… this isn’t my first time at altitude. We used to have annual project conferences in Aspen years ago at 8,000 feet in altitude. I would run & bike up there… and knew a few things from those experiences. Day 1 sucked. Royally. But, for me, things got much better on Day 2, and even better each day that followed.

So, this morning I marched on down to the pool in the condominium complex we’re staying at (they have a nice 25 meter pool) after a morning work teleconference with the intention of getting in a short swim. A mile later I was done… and felt confident that the altitude could now be dealt with. The butterflies at altitude have subsided. I took a short nap, and then knocked out a fast 17 mile ride (in serious head and crosswinds) to dial in the bike and the legs. More to follow this week as the taper continues… but, needless to say, I’m feeling really good about my training right now. And I’m ready to rock this race!

One of my super fast running friends, Maureen, is concerned that I've fallen off the taper (you get the joke, right!? Fallen... off the... tapir... ???). No worries. It may seem like a pretty intense taper, but we're on a 140.6 here. The tapir, err.. taper, is still pretty big... and I will still feel fresh, as this really is backing off on the volume!

One of my super fast running friends, Maureen, is concerned that I’ve fallen off the taper (you get the joke, right!? Fallen… off the… tapir… ???). No worries. It may seem like a pretty intense taper, but we’re doing a 140.6 here. The tapir, err.. taper, is still pretty big… and I will still feel fresh, as this really is backing off on the volume!

This entry was posted in Race Week, The Journey, Training Check-In. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 5 days: Butterflies at altitude

  1. Suzanne Oram says:

    Amazed, amazed and again amazed. Cow bells are packed. Still can’t believe you are, like, doing it!!!!

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