I’ve had my share of battles with training for distance in Tucson. I was unprepared for my first marathon and plan to do it differently this time. I’m following a training plan, self-designed, in order to achieve my goal in October, which is to finish the Mt. Lemmon Marathon.
The Mt. Lemmon Marathon is considered to be one of the toughest road races in the world and the only uphill marathon in the United States. Finishing would be an accomplishment, and coming in under six hours would be a time-frame goal. My first marathon was a decent run in 4:10.16 and I plan on improving that time in December. But October is my first goal.
In order to run the Mt. Lemmon Marathon, altitude is a must. With over 6,000 feet of elevation climb, the race is going to be hard on the lungs for the ill prepared. But Tucson does not present many uphill and altitude climbing areas that are safe for runners to run, so I will be attempting runs in different locations and writing reviews for runners who are interested in altitude training like myself.
My first plan was to run the mountain once a week during the summer, which may turn to be problematic with the high risk involved with cars and bicyclists on the road for many runners. I personally have a tremendous fear of getting hit by a car (completely irrational- its more likely I would get bit by a rattlesnake with all the trail running that I do) and I have a few inhibitions about running blindly up a hill with many turns when the road isn’t going to be closed for everyone. I may attempt to drive to the top of the mountain a few times and do runs closer to the top where there is less traffic, but probably few to none runs starting from the base of the mountain as the marathon does.
The next idea that struck me was after the Sabino Canyon Sunset Run, which provided 600 feet of elevation climb, but an equal drop going back. I feel that I will probably do a few runs up the paved road, which provides some killer hills and inclines and a total of 7.4 miles for an out-and-back. My long runs (20 miles) will probably take place in Sabino Canyon because of the ample supply of restrooms along the path and the paved road with inclines and elevation climb.
My other training plan for distance runs (10 to 15 miles) will take place in the town of Oracle, the start of my last marathon. The town of Oracle is at a higher elevation than Tucson which will provide my lungs ample time to get used to higher elevations rather than simply training on the normal level. I will scout different possible runs along paths in Oracle that are safe for runners and report on here as well.
The last plan I had for elevation and hilly runs was to include races into my running plan that may be difficult and increase my speed training. One race is the Kitt Peak Ascent, which is hosted by Blue Pants Racing, the same hosts as the Mt. Lemmon Marathon. This 10 mile race has over 3,000 feet of elevation climb and is all uphill during the evening in June.
As I train and continue to add experiences that might be valuable to other runners who are training for marathons in Tucson, I will write my experiences and reviews about how the run went to my other reviews about races. I will also post my training plan for the Mt. Lemmon Marathon and the races that I will do in preparation.