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Catching my breath

Just finished a well-needed recovery week following the prior week’s madness. The biggest shocker was how quickly I recovered from the long weekend of running. Despite little sleep and a business trip that started early Monday morning, I felt great. I had zero soreness during the days following my weekend of back-to-back-to-back long runs — the only side effect I noticed was swollen feet (and air travel sure didn’t help that). As I marveled in the benefits of ice baths, good hydration, sports massage, and well-structured training to aid in recovery, I got a great laugh at the following video on typical marathon recovery:

For this week, I set a record in number of massages per week (with two) and managed to run less than 4 hours total. I also did a couple gym sessions with cross-training cardio, strength and core work, and heat training. Ok, to be honest, my heat training hasn’t been more than running with extra clothes on and sitting in the sauna! I’m confident that it’s the right approach for now though — plus, I’ll be upping my sauna time in the weeks leading up to the race. If anything, I’m certainly acclimated to modesty-averse European saunas now! My long-run on Sunday was an incredibly short two hours — which actually does feel like a short-run these days! It was very, very hilly though. I climbed up the Albisberg, my favorite hill near Zürich and ran along the range to the famous Uetliberg. This makes for a nice 90 minutes of mostly up and I couldn’t resists capping it off with a run up the tower.

Great views of Zürich from the top …

The final shot shows the range where I do nearly all of my trail running — from left center to right center (and then off-screen). This is the Albisberg — it runs parallel to Lake Zürich on the western shore.
Next week, I have to up the volume knob to “11” as I’m building up to my final long weekend of running. Another big one is on tap, with 12+ hours of weekend running planned for the mountains surrounding Zürich. To make things interesting, the weather in Switzerland is finally becoming seasonal and snow is in the forecast for the next 10 days. Looks like I’ll need to pull out the ice spikes again and prepare for one last round of arctic training before being welcomed to the furnace air of the desert. While I’m in love with the scenery of the Alps, I can’t wait to be immersed in the magic of the desert! I actually got chill bumps during my run today (despite the pre-storm warm weather) when I thought about desert flowers and the beauty of sand dunes.

In one month I’ll be running through the Sahara. It hardly seems possible. My training and form is close, but not there yet. Every night I study list after list of things that I need to pack, to calculate (calories per day), to buy, to remember, and to do. I’m still not sure which shoes I’ll run in, when and how I’ll find someone to sew the gaiters on (in German!), how I’ll fit everything in my backpack, if I have purchased enough food and sports supplements, if I can find my compass, etc. All I know is that on March 26th I’ll catch a train to Geneva, where I’ll board a flight to Ouarzazate, Morocco. Before that, I’ll surely have sorted the rest out. The beautiful moment will be when I’ve completed my sign-in the day before the race and it’ll just be me, my new comrades, and the desert — no lists, no Blackberry, no action items or to-dos, no pressing decisions to make — just the result of months of preparation, a strong will, and a great sense of support from those afar and with me in the desert.

Thanks for your great comments and emails after my last post. Your support has been amazing and really helps me at those tough moments when I’m alone in the mountains facing tough conditions and looking for inspiration to push me along.

I hope your March is off to a great start and that you’re finding equal bliss in your pursuits.

All the best,

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