I have now been back at consistent running for just over 3 weeks and I'd be lying if I said the process of getting back in shape hasn't been very gradual. Any other times in the past few years that I've taken time "off" it's been less than a month and I could pretty much start back up and be back in the swing of things in two weeks or less. This time though, I didn't do any typical running for about 3 full months. All of the running that I did in preparation for the ITI was in deep snow, mostly with snowshoes, and mostly hiking. Even during the 350 mile race I probably only ran 80 miles. And so now, 3 weeks into everyday running, I am beginning to feel a little bit back in shape, but I'm also aware that I have a long ways to go.
This past Friday, Joe and I decided to tag South Arapahoe Peak. Typically, even when I'm "out of shape", I can bust out a run like this, and feel fine as long as I don't push it too hard. Not this time though. The combination of the altitude (we topped out over 13,000 ft.) and the vertical gain (a bit over 5k) had me completely wiped out from this sub 4 hour outing. I felt like I had been racing for 4 hours (even though our pace was VERY SLOW), and several muscles in my legs were sore for a couple days after. A nice little reminder that I am still very much out of shape.
I'm still hoping to be in decent shape by May 12th to put in a good effort at the Transvulcania 50, but certainly Hardrock is the ultimate goal for the next several months. I'm very glad that I still have almost 3 full months before that beast. In some ways it even feels kind of nice to be where I'm at right now, and have so far to go to be where I want to be. Not that I would need any more motivation than simply preparing for Hardrock, but knowing that I have so far to go, somehow makes the whole process feel more exciting, and more likely to be a positive experience.
Overall my hope/plan is to just keep building and feel a little stronger each week. I've done that for the past 3 weeks, and if I can continue to do that for the next 12 then I think I might just be where I want to be by July 13th.