Training for Mt. Vinson is not unlike Denali in that I will need to be prepared to haul a sled over glaciated terrain. However, I - thankfully - won't need to endure this level of torture on Vinson for as long as I did on Denali. Nonetheless, I had to reunite with my tires.
Based on previous climbs, I knew roughly what I needed to do to be prepared for Vinson. And, like previous climbs, I started by creating a detailed training plan and marking my progress using a poster board-sized calendar and girly stickers. For Vinson I collaborated with a professional trainer to develop my training regimen, and worked out with her about once per week.
This month my training routine focused on about 2 hours of running plus 45 minutes of interval training and two strength sessions per week capped off with a hike on the weekend. My strength sessions at this point were primarily lower body and core, getting my legs strong enough to haul a heavy load and improving the coordination between opposing limbs.
This month my husband, Darrin, and I also summitted Mt. Rainier via the Disappointment Clever route. This climb isn't officially a part of my training plan for Vinson, but rather an annual goal that I set for myself to be sure that I can still comfortably summit one of my favorite peaks.
In September my cardio time increased to over 3 hours per week and I added more upper body exercises to my strength routine, including multiple pull-up and chin-up variations and push-ups. My weekly hikes have continued, and I end the month with a 38 pound pack. I do my best to squeeze in an hour of yoga per week, but it's becoming challenging!
This month I increased my weekly running time to five hours, and began focusing in equal parts on upper, lower, and core exercises during my twice weekly strength workouts. I also have added two new elements to my regimen: back-to-back weekend hikes and tire drags, luckily not in combination. By the end of the month I have worked up to dragging a 30 pound tire while wearing a 30 pound backpack for 45 minutes along the hilly streets in my neighborhood. I've made lots of new friends. I like to take my golden retriever, Cooper, with me on these excursions because it makes me feel better to have company, and because I'm moving at a pace that his 12 year old body can handle. But, I'm starting to think that adding a dog to the mix may make the whole thing look even more ridiculous.
I feel fortunate that I live in a place where it's easy to spend a quiet weekend hiking in the quiet woods. With the exception of 37 extra pounds, I've enjoyed both Goat Rocks and the Enchantments this month.
Less than two months to go!
I am starting to feel stronger and faster during my hilly runs in the woods near my house. Early in the month I took advantage of an early snow fall to drag my tire along a forest service road. I researched the local to be sure that it would be desolate, but still received off looks and questions from the few motorists passing by. I fully realize that dragging a sled would have been a better choice, but I thought that if I could drag a tire, the sled on Vinson would be a breeze. What I didn't consider was that the early snow would be wet and heavy. Unfortunately, given my tire's heft, I wasn't able to move fast enough to keep it from sinking in the snow, eventually the drag created a snow dam which I would have to stop and release. I guess that the upside is that I also got an upper body workout from lifting my tire over the snow dam repeatedly, but this was not a happy day in the woods!
This month I also started hypoxic training which entails light exercise on a treadmill while wearing a mask attached to a generator that creates air at a lower pressure than sea level air. The idea is that breathing this air simulates altitude, causing my body will begin the process of acclimatization now by building more red blood cells. These extra red blood cells are important because they will deliver oxygen to my starved cells when I'm on the mountain. In addition to walking on a treadmill (luckily in the ridicule-free privacy of my home) three times per week, I'm sleeping in a giant tent attached to the same generator.
This is my peak and taper month. I begin my travel to Antarctica on the 24th, so I completed my last workout on the 22nd. This last workout was a final test of sorts, my trainer timed me as I completed the core exercises that I've been working on for the past two months - non-stop for an hour, puke bucket within reach. In the end I felt stronger than I expected to, and was rewarded with "you look strong". Mostly I'm just looking forward to no more burpees!