I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions… but for one reason or another I seem to have developed rather stubborn January traditions to start off my endurance season. For as many years as I lived in Texas, my year would start off with the Bandera 100km USATF trail championships on the second weekend in January.  When I ran my first Bandera I was happy to finish, and quite certain I never needed to run that race again… yet I ended up toeing the line each January, year after year after year (taking roughly an hour off my PR each year until I placed among the top 10 women when I last I ran the race in Jan 2016, ha!). 

I’ve since left Texas but my January still follows a remarkably predictable pattern: only it’s not Bandera anymore; I have graduated to Aconcagua instead. As I am writing this I am back in the valley that marks the trailhead deep below the White Sentry’s towering flanks. The 2018 expedition team and Libby all have returned to the US, and I am spending time in Penitentes (the valley settlement) and on the mountain to invest time in building more red blood cells and to strengthen my lungs and legs at altitude.  

home sweet home.  or the ultimate training camp?

There is one thing that’s different this year though: Instead of spending more time and money on the normal (Horcones) route, I splurged on an even pricier permit that allows me to approach Aconcagua through the Vacas valley and explore the Polish Glacier / Plaza Argentina side of the mountain.  It’s something I had wanted to do for years, and I am stoked to finally get to see a new perspective of the mountain that I know and hate-love so dearly. 

19,000ft on the Normal Route - looks so peaceful and mellow, doesn't it?

As of now my plan is simple: spend the next three weeks getting stronger at altitude, hopefully tag the summit once or twice in good weather, and towards the end of my permitted time go for a longer endurance effort to see if the altitude training was effective in advancing my mountain running skills.  To say that I’m curious about the outcomes would be an understatement. High altitude training camp officially starts today!

Per the usual I’ll have the occasional blog/Instagram update - connectivity permitting - and GPS tracking.  I’m all by myself on this particular adventure so if you feel so inclined to say ‘hi’ via the GPS messaging function please don’t hold back (but be aware that my response times may vary, particularly when I need to preserve battery).

With that, as Libby would say.... here’s to another #EneroDeEnduro!

With the gang at Nido a couple weeks ago.  I'll miss the team while I'm up there!