I've just done something that may turn out to be very, very foolish. I volunteered to run Leg 9 of the Cabot Trail Relay at the end of May. Here's how the organizers describe it:
17.84 km Rating 5 (start time: 1955hrs) Time to put on the reflective vest! This leg makes Smokey look like a piece of cake. North Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park climbs 385 km & reaches the top at 6.2 km then falls back to sea level. The route then levels off to finish at Mountain View Motel & Restaurant on the right at Pleasant Bay. Night will have fallen completely. The restaurant will be open and there will be two portables in the parking lot.The road in the photo at the top of the post is a portion of the route. You can check out the elevation chart here.
I watched my friend David and 69 other runners complete Leg 9 in 2013 in total awe. How, I wondered, could anyone run up such a steep grade for 6.2 kms? Even more impressive were the downhill portions of the leg - more than 6 kms in length and just as steep. I was so damned proud of David. He did fantastically well and returned the next year to tackle the even tougher Leg 10 to the top of MacKenzie Mountain.
I've already run CTR four times - completing legs 1, 5, 12, and 14 - and my plan is do it just once more in honour of my 55th birthday in March. Given that it's likely to be my last CTR, I figured I might as well make it a good one, and running one of the mountain legs been on my bucket list since my first time out. I can't say why really. To quote George Mallory, "because it's there", I suppose.
That said, I confess to a moment of panic when the email arrived saying I'd been slotted in to run North Mountain. I've not done much hill training the past couple of years, and I'm a long way from being in top condition so it's not going to be easy. However, this isn't the first time I've taken on a big challenge. In the fall of 2013, I completed Cape to Cabot, the "toughest race in eastern North America". Comparing elevation charts for the two races, C2C actually has more ascents overall. And I ran C2C just five weeks after completing a full marathon, which made it more challenging.
Of course, the reality is that the hills on the C2C route are more spread out and I was three and a half years younger. Also, I ran it more slowly than I plan to run North Mountain. On the upside I've got nineteen weeks to train and three more years of racing experience. In addition, I'm determined not to let my teammates down.
I spent some time this week sketching out a training schedule. The goal is to run 4 times per week and include hills in nearly every run. For instance, two nights this week I changed my usual route so I could run up and down a long steep hill I normally avoid. I'll also do plenty of structured hill training as well as regular core workouts and yoga to keep everything in balance. I found some new strengthening exercises I'd like to build into my program as well.
For the rest of this month, my plan is to focus on solidifying my base and enhancing my diet to include more leafy greens and proteins. In early February, hill and speed training can begin in earnest. If the weather isn't cooperative, I'll hit the gym instead. Stay tuned for regular updates once I get underway.
In other news, Husband and I just spent an awesome weekend with two of our darling nieces. The girls live in the country and only get to the city now and again, so we had great fun showing them around and introducing them to the joys of public transit, the Museum of Natural History, the trampoline park (Get Air), the Emera Oval, and beavertails. They seemed to enjoy their time with us, but truthfully we enjoyed it more. They're at such fun and interesting ages, and were so appreciative of all that we did together.
|I offered to put her hair in a ponytail but she preferred to let it go wild|
|Showing off her gymnastics moves on the trampoline|
|With Husband on the ferry|
|First ride on a city bus|
|Littlest who skating on her own!|
The weather here hasn't been too cold and miserable so far this winter. We've had a few brutal days here and there, but there have been lots of mild mornings like this too.
Hope winter's going well, wherever you are. Happy running and writing!