Making revisions to the goal
I wanted to come up with a new kind of running goal this year. In the past I’ve always set some sort of mileage goal, some I met, most I didn’t...I’d frequently catch myself running junk miles just to hit some arbitrary number that wasn’t really serving anything. So back in January I looked over my year and decided I definitely wanted to scale back on the mileage and focus on quality training. I thought about areas where I could use some work and I decided the goal was going to be about running uphill. I have never shied away from climbing, but I was always pretty vocal about not being crazy about it. “f*** this hill” “f*** this mountain” “f*** this climb” “f*** me....” all pretty regular phrases for me during a run. I was never the strongest climber either and that usually irritated me- I’d finally get to the top when everyone else was done snacking while they waited for me and everyone would take off when I got there so I never got a rest. A good friend always told me that would make me a stronger runner which then led to me muttering things like “f*** being a stronger runner.”
So the goal was to be elevation gain and I don’t even remember now what calculations and formulas I used to decide on the actual amount of climbing, but somehow I settled on wanting to get 200,000 feet of elevation gain in 2019. Let’s break that down a little. Mt.Everest is 29,029’. So that’s a goal equivalent to almost 7 ascents up Everest. After the fact, I researched how long it takes to climb Everest once. It’s a couple month ordeal, but really that’s because of the work that goes into acclimating to altitude. Seeing as most of my climbing happens between 1500’-4,000’ (the highest point in Georgia is Brasstown Bald at 4,784’- which I did go up twice this year) I figured the altitude acclimation didn’t need to be figured in. But this still meant an average of 16,667’ of gain per month. Probably a pretty lofty goal for someone who considered themself a less than efficient climber. Needless to say I started looking for every opportunity to go uphill. I remember being so pleased with myself while pacing Rich up Coosa Mtn at Fierce Dragon 200. I was determined to get him to the top without stopping and as we arrived at the summit he exclaimed “Little Arabelle that COULD!” I really worked on climbing more efficiently. I watched YouTube videos on what the elite runners do to climb better. I started doing squats and lunges and box jumps on a regular basis. And I kept looking for more mountains to go up. On days when I had gone out to run and forgotten my phone I would turn around and go back home to get it so my elevation could be tracked- I was becoming aware of how huge this goal was and I knew I needed credit for every foot of elevation gain I got on a run.
Here’s a grainy picture of Mt.Everest for reference...that’s not me in the picture and I didn’t take the picture ;)
It’s now September and I’m looking at my upcoming races and the training I have left this year. Rich and I have talked about it at length and after assessing the situation numerous times and refiguring my calculations, I finally agreed that it’s only reasonable to change the goal. There are still over 3 months left in 2019 and as of today I’m at 196,522’ of gain for the year. Given that I’ve only run 1,071 miles, that’s like 185’ of gain per mile...so essentially I’ve been running uphill all year ;) So the revised goal for 2019 is 250,000’ of gain. I have 2 more 100-milers before the end of the year which have a total of 30,000’ between the 2 of them...and then there’s always repeats on the Powerline Climb ;) Some of my most memorable climbs this year have been the 29,000’ gained on the DRT while pacing Rich at Fierce Dragon 200, the 3,800’ climb on the Quest course with Sean, the 29,030’ gained at Ft Mtn during Double Top 72 Hr which included 6 ascents up that Powerline Climb in 125 miles, and quite possibly my favorite- the 5,061’ in 5 miles to Heaven’s Bridge in Ouray Colorado.
A lot of things have to go right for me to reach this new and improved goal, but if we’re not pushing ourselves to reach greater goals then we’ll never know what we’re capable of.