I had grand aspirations to write a sweeping blog post about my final preparations for this year's Gluten-Free Ultramarathon Challenge, but sitting in an Internet café in Chamonix, France, motivation is running low (most of that motivating is focused squarely on the race itself, which is now a little over 36 hours away). Here's the quick and dirty version:
After two solid weeks of hard training punctuated by a pair of very long runs, the last two weeks have been a taper period designed to get me to peak for the big race. Two weekends ago my long run was an "easy" 20 miler (I readily acknowledge that that's a relative term...), and this past weekend my planned 10-miler got cut short to a 6+ miler after getting glutened at a restaurant Saturday.
(Meanwhile, for the last almost three weeks I've been trying to shake a stubborn cough I caught from our older daughter, who had it before me. When I was still 3 weeks out from the race I figured, No problem, I'll kick this thing well before the race. Yet here I am still hacking, waffling between feeling like I'm getting better and like I actually might have walking pneumonia. Conveniently enough, the coughing subsides somewhat while I'm actually running, but when I do cough it tends to cause dry heaves, which as you could imagine are somewhat disruptive to said running.)
After the gluten cross-contamination issue at the restaurant, Kelli graciously scoured town in search of L-Glutamine to promote gut recovery. A handful of stores later, she scored some glutamine powder in the body building section of a pharmacy. It seems to have done wonders. My stomach is on a pretty even keel and my strength has largely returned.
We landed in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday and drove over, through, and under (via the Mont Blanc Tunnel) to Les Houches, France, where we're staying, near Chamonix, the race finish line. Our accommodations are a rented room in a rustic 19th century chalet. It's been 14 years since I've been to this valley, and for Kelli this is her first time. Despite us living in Colorado, it's still striking how jagged and steep these peaks are, and the incredible vertical relief between the valley floors and the summits. It really brings into focus the challenge that lies immediately ahead.
At breakfast this morning, when I explained in my best French (which is not saying much) that I can't eat gluten, our hosts produced two boxes of gluten-free crackers - one from buckwheat, the other from quinoa. What a pleasant surprise!
A short time ago we went to race check-in, where they inspected my required gear, I picked up my race bib, and Kelli got set with her bus pass for access to the aid stations and other checkpoints. Now there's just a day and a half to continue to shake off any lingering jet lag (an easy 6-7-mile run this morning on a local trail helped with that). Then it's time for the big show.
If you want to follow my race live, you can track me online here: http://utmb.livetrail.net/
Simply enter "Bronski" or bib number 5499 in the search box on the upper left. The race starts at 3:00am Eastern time on Friday, August 30.
Finally, another huge thanks to everyone that has supported this year's fundraiser in partnership with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. As I write these words we've raised nearly $1,100 for the new scholarships for gluten-free student-athletes. Thanks for your support!
A bientot! (See you soon!)
P.S. We'll be traveling in Italy after the race, so please excuse us as the blog goes silent for two weeks or so. We're taking advantage of the location to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. We hope you understand. =) We might even bring back some reporting on gluten-free dining escapades in northwest Italy!