SHAT 2017 - Summer High Altitude Training

The Harriers took to the mountains of Colorado to get some high altitude training in.

The Harriers took to the mountains of Colorado to get some high altitude training in.

It's the middle of July and I can't believe how fast a year flew by. My bestie and fellow Harrier Susan and I touch down in Denver for SHAT Chapter 2! This edition takes place in amazing Breckinridge and with 20 more teammates and friends than last year. It soon turns out to be absolutely epic and as I like to say "The more, the Harrier"! During a fun van ride with a cool crew, we learned that Dan can hold his breath the longest: almost the entire tunnel length. Maybe this is worth a special kudos or award one day? 

Joe and Toko, with the wonderful assistance of Kim and Leland, once again proved that they should rule this country because everything was taken care of. Beautiful villas/houses/castles, you name it, tons of food and booze, the best trails, room for naps or exploring town, games, hot tubs and dancing. I tried to participate in almost everything but oxygen let me down a little so after one or two drinks I couldn't last longer than midnight. I slept like a rock!

And the trails were so much fun. We were able to run at different paces and in different groups. I must say that on the downhills, I experienced some fear of face-planting in boulders and rocks (North Face endurance run trauma), which slowed me down on some technical downhills.

But attacking the hills is the better part in my book! What a feeling when you hit a higher point and see so much beauty around you. 

We were surrounded by plenty of Harriers and yet I was able to run off course and add more mileage than planned on day 1. Luckily Donna and Susan made the same mistake and the three of us found each other and then the best thing happened: strong Harrier men came looking for us! 

Another highlight for me was trading in the Dillon Lake path for a Vailpass 13 miler with Colorado Harriers Liz Tillotson (who I dearly miss during long runs and spin class) and Mallory, as well as New York Harriers Susan, Margaret and Trish. We ran downhill first, (false) flats when we ran through Copper, and finished at the Frisco Marina. It was drop dead gorgeous! I also now understand the need for a hydration backpack in those areas: one bottle of water barely made the cut. We New Yorkers were in desperate need of water and Gatorade once we hit Frisco. 

I loved every moment of the trip and once again it went by so fast.

Not to sound too overly dramatic, but Joe and Toko deserve a statue in regards to team spirit, camaraderie and badassery. Due to some running disappointment this spring, caused by a nasty quad strain, I just felt a bit out of touch with the team and saw my winter running/marathon fitness & dedication go through the drain. And there were so many new faces I hadn't met yet. This trip was all I needed to be back in the right frame of mind and made me committed to show my face back on the track.

And the first friends I made on the team -- back in 2009, over a game of Jenga at Dive 75 & rooftop BBQs, followed by many more cool events and feeling of inclusion -- were Joe and Toko. Even though they traded New York for Denver, their impact on the team and what makes the Harriers stand out: dedication in training AND fun, is still super significant. Thank you JoKo! And thank you Team! 

- Vera Kuipers