Americans take their July 4 celebrations pretty seriously. Think parade. Think novelty floats. Think red, white and blue. Think flags. Think old cars, fancy pick-up trucks, massive all-terrain vehicles and fire trucks festooned with firemen spraying huge plumes of water over the crowd. Think lots and lots of all of the above. Then line the streets with hundreds of people sitting in deck chairs, standing or perched on the back of pick-up trucks. All waving postcard sized American flags.
Part of the Hardrock tradition involves marching in the parade. Marching is probably a bit of an overstatement. A bunch of runners and volunteers walk behind the Hardrock banner, waving Hardrock and American flags. And throw candy to the sugar hyped kids lining the streets. Or dog treats to the many dogs. Remember Silverton is a classic old west town with gravel streets and rustic 18th century buildings. It helps to set the scene. So it is all good fun if a little more parochial than I'm used to.
The marching involves periodically busting a move behind the banner. At someone's shouted command we all start running in a circle led by the banner. Or we will break into a trot to catch up to the float in front of us. The 'burrito' is the most interesting one where one of the banner holders gets rolled up vertically inside the banner. The spectating kids love it. By the end I was worn out. In fact Jim Sweat who has 11 starts and never finished, commented that many a Hardrocker had put too much into the parade and suffered on race day. I had to ask if he was speaking from experience. He didn't say no.
Another option is the 10km fun run earlier in the day. I have done that once and nearly burst a lung so now avoid it. Instead I headed out early up Kendall Mountain. It is all hard packed, rocky, jeep road. But it climbs from the town fringe and never lets up. Perfect Hardrock training.
My O2 sats were 87% with a heart rate of 72 when I woke up. O2 a bit lower than I would like. The aim of my training sessions is to keep my heart rate low, preferably below 130bpm. This is hard to do at 3,000m of elevation and climbing fast. So my pace is slow. Only jogging when the gradient flattened out. I got up to 3,800m in 2hrs for about 8km.
By that time the sun had climbed over the nearby peaks and bathed the valley below me in bright, warm light. It was cool when I started, a salient reminder of what to expect overnight during the race. Another mental note to throw calf guards or tights in my Ouray drop bag. By the time I turned around I had warmed up.
The temptation on the descent is to cut loose but with just 10 days to go I showed restraint and
slipped into cruise mode. A couple of runners came towards me looking fresh and crisp and running way too easily considering they were at least 5km and running uphill! We stopped for a chat. Darla and Chris were both entered. Darla for her 4th and Chris for his first.
Lower down another runner was running faster up than I was going down! I soon recognised Anna Frost and that explained the pace. Again I stopped for a chat. I was curious that Anna was spending time down at Durango to improve her recovery from hard sessions up high. I have always thought the idea was to spend as much time as high up as possible. I do like Durango though, so it is an attractive proposition. And I'm certainly not questioning her method. She won last year.
Got back in plenty of time for the parade. 15+km in about 3hrs. 2hrs up and 1hr down, despite the stops on the down. Felt good, no headaches.
Durango tonight for dinner at my favourite Tibetan restaurant then pick-up a Spud at the airport.
Course marking resumes tomorrow after July 4 holiday and I would like to join in.