Saturday, January 12, 2013

30,000 Feet

As I write this last blog entry before my Brazil trip, it is 8 degrees and snowing in Colorado.  One-week from now I will be somewhere in the remote area of Brazil just outside of Sao Paulo "enjoying" heat and humidity and pacing my athlete Linda Quirk of Runwell during the Brazil 135 ultramarathon.  It is an honor that she chose me to be her pacer but since I am her coach and sport dietitian, it makes sense because I know her well.  My "job" during this race is to get Linda to the finish line in under 48 hours.  Not many athletes have the distinction of doing this and no matter the weather, terrain or any other obstacles, she will cross that line under the cutoff!

I have not been able to find much information about the race other than some YouTube videos and a bit of info on the race website but one thing I did find was the elevation chart (see below).  From what I understand, there is roughly 30,000 feet of climbing and only about 12 miles (out of 135) that are flat.  Up or down will be the mantra of the race!

But it gets even better.  Not only is there some serious vertical ascending and descending, there will also be Mother Nature as a challenge.  The weather, as of today, is supposed to be in the 80s during the day and 50s/60s at night (depends on the elevation) with a 50% chance of rain on both days of the race.  Because the race is mostly on dirt roads/paths, this will make it a slippery, muddy mess of fun!  Of course there is that little thing called humidity, which is my arch enemy.  I can and will deal with it but it is not my choice environment to train or race in due to my high sweat rate and fluid loss.  Needless to say, my electrolyte intake will be consistently high in an effort to remain hydrated.  Generation UCAN (chocolate) will be my main source of energy and I will be bringing a new found product, Foodie Fuel, as a snack along with some other higher fat, lower carbohydrate snack bars that I have found.  Eating will be an adventure, always is in a different country, but my trip to the 2008 Olympic Games in China prepared me well for this!

My daily eating has been spot on for the last few weeks, still following a controlled (lower) carbohydrate and higher fat nutrition plan.  I am more metabolically efficient than I have ever been and while my physical training did take a small dip due to an IT band scare, I am more than physically ready to embark on this challenge.  My longest run has been 25 miles which is good "money in the bank" or as ultrarunners call it, "time on feet".  I have been doing a good deal of crosstraining, strength training, swimming and mental preparation for the task at hand.  In fact, while my long run miles have been compromised, I made sure to run more frequently (4-5 times per week) for shorter runs.  Time on feet...time on feet.  An ultrarunners friend.

I can honestly say that the three aspects of completing this journey (nutrition, physical and mental) are all in check.  The challenge really comes when we hit the ground in Brazil and after the race meeting as I then begin to map out the paces we need Linda to maintain to make it to the checkpoints in time en route to her sub 48-hour finish.  Of course then there are the small details such as not getting lost, making sure both of us stay hydrated and fed and dealing with sleep deprivation for 2 days!

Ah, the fun of ultrarunning is back!  Bring it on Brazil.

Until my return...

Coach Bob

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