It’s a cold Sunday at 10am. I want pancakes and an excuse not to get out of a warm bed to run in the cold wet snow. Looking out the window doesn’t give me the story I’m looking for. It’s actually sunny. I know it was snowing a few minutes earlier but the weather is either trying to motivate me or crush all my hope.
Today’s goal is no joke. Its two weeks till the Georgia Death Race and this is our last strong day of incline training. The best hill in the area is a 62 foot tall climb up the Hoover Dam Retaining wall. It’s not pretty staring at the concrete viewing platform for hours. The constant flow of fresh snow on an already covered hill brings a new view that keeps changing. The ice on the steps under the snow don’t even let you look up anyways.
Georgia Death Race has a massive amount of elevation that happens in the first 8 miles of the course. The small warm-up hill in the first 3 miles will help to spread out the runners but the main uphill spans over 2,100 feet in a direct ascent in just around three and a quarter miles distance. To get an idea of this it would be similar to running on a treadmill at a 10.5% incline for the same distance.
There’s a reason so many people drop in the first 10 miles at the Georgia Death Race. Thailyr and I have spent the last month working on each section of the elevation map provided breaking down segments into chunks to understand how each piece will impact our speed and state of mind.
The stairs at Hoover damn get about 62 feet of elevation each time up. To keep our legs from locking up running the hill we take a short break at the bottom while our heart rates drop to a more relaxed level. I took the time between laps to shovel out the snow near the car so we wouldn’t get stuck trying to leave later.
The Hoover dam is a really common place to see people running stairs and training in early spring. On a snowy cold last day of February we are the only ones around. The few people we do see park in the lot and stare off at the snow covered dam for a few minutes before returning to their car and leaving. A few jokes are made asking if I’ll shovel them out when they get stuck in the wet snow. I can see why so many people braved the snow for the view.
After forty minutes a couple tells us there’s a snow stegosaurus on top of the hill in a field. Ty and I didn’t even have to discuss it we knew at the top of that run we are going to find that snow dino. It took us on a nice mostly level mile loop around the top park area to find it, and I’m not an expert at dinosaurs but this thing was more of a sad snow lizard. Someone destroyed most of the snow lizard and what did remain was under so much snow it was barely clear what we were looking at.
Another of hour running up the incline and back down the snow covered hill went by without seeing anyone till a park ranger surprised us hiding in the top lookout of the dam. The park was supposed to be closed due to the snow conditions but someone left the gate open earlier that morning. He laughed at our training but told us if we parked outside the gate we could keep running the hill till the park closed at 11pm. I think Ty was starting to get sore enough that calling it quits now would have been the better answer. I don’t know how she does it but after moving the car outside the gates she pushed through another 45 minutes of looping up and down that dam.
All the hard work was worth it knowing we got more out of this training than anything we could do inside pizza fitness. Cold and wet for the second day in a row wasn’t ideal. It probably put us at a bit of a risk for a cold, but those final loops as we closed in on 3,000 feet of incline felt incredible. We took each step 1 by 1 trying to get a picture of us at exactly 3,000 feet. My watch was too cold and I guess I took an extra step too quickly.
I’m really looking forward to getting back on that dam again soon. Incline training with an interval setup was a great way to practice some slippery downhill running and a great workout for the quads trying to rush back up to the top. I feel really solid going into the Georgia Death Race at this point. My biggest concern right now is where I’m going to be eating lunch after the race is over.
Now enough of the dam training and time to eat pizza.