Brooks Altitude Training Camp in Albuquerque!

I am back from an amazing weekend in Albuquerque!  The warmth and sunshine couldn’t have come at a better time, and it was exactly what I needed to come back feeling refreshed and ready to be my best self.

I’m super lucky that this is my third year as a Brooks Run Happy Blog Ambassador (previous year’s trip were to Seattle and Eugene!), and the annual trip is something I look forward to all year long. This year we were flown down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to participate in the Brooks Beasts (their elite athlete team) altitude training camp – seriously amazing!

There are so many perks to the program, but the biggest one to me is the friendships I’ve made with the other ambassadors. Some of these girls and I have been friends for eight (!) plus years, and others I just met when I started the program. But all of them are incredible and so inspiring, and I’m so honored to get to stand next to them and represent Brooks!  From left to right: Ashley, Tina, Meghann, Kristen, Jesica, Anne, Janae, me, and Lora.

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My weekend kicked off at 3:30am on Friday — up and at ’em for the first flight out of Seattle.  Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I rocked my shamrock Launch 4’s to get into the spirit.  Thank goodness I had them on because my flight out of Seattle was delayed, and I only had a 35 minute connection in Salt Lake. I had to sprint across the airport to make it!

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I ended up in the seat right behind Janae, so we were able to catch up and talk from our short flight from Salt Lake to Albuquerque (does it ever get easier to spell that?).  We got to our hotel and settled in and had lunch for a bit before the opening events!  First up, a talk about why altitude training is important from Corey Hart, the Brooks Beast’s Team Physiologist. It was super interesting to hear all about how altitude can effect the body!

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After that, it was time to stretch those legs and put all that information to the test. We shuttled over to a local track for a workout with the elite runners! Not going to like – I was super intimidated, but they were all so friendly and normal that I relaxed pretty quickly.

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I was on Team Aqua, led by Katie Mackey – one of the veteran athletes on the Beast team. Note to self – when taking photos, do not stand next to the professional athlete! We were all outfitted in the Greenlight Capri (new absolute favorite — love the power waist!) and the Pick Up Tank.

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We started with a ten minute warm-up jog (and was it ever warm — 85 and full sunshine!), followed by some dynamic stretching.

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We followed our stretches with one of the Beasts’ track workouts.  I absolutely never do track workouts, so this was all new to me, and it was a serious struggle. I’m used to just jogging along at my pace for however long I’m planning to run — not all these short bursts of sprints. We did three minute runs followed by 200 meter sprints. I was definitely feeling the travel and altitude!

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Very happy to be finished and to have survived!

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The Beast team were so fun to hang out with, and it was very cool to see how real and normal they are despite being some of the fastest runners in the world (like Bailey Mires).

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After the workout we had time to shower and change, and then it was time for some much-needed food! If I had one complaint for the weekend, it was limited vegetarian options for the meals. This mushroom was the star, and I could have eaten five of them!

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During dinner, we got to hear from Beast head coach Danny Mackey, who shared his coaching philosophy and his path to joining with Brooks. He was a captivating speaker, and you can tell that his coaching techniques and focus on community within the team are a big reason why the Beasts are so successful.

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I went to bed super early, exhausted from travel and very little sleep the night before. We were up early again to catch a bus to a morning trail run in the mountains. We were all given the new Caldera trail running shoe to test out over the weekend — perfect for slippery gravel and dusty trails.  And check out that cactus!

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The whole group of fifty of us were gathered before the sunrise, ready to log a few miles in the Sandia Mountains. It was still chilly and cool, and breathtakingly beautiful.

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Where the track workout nearly killed me, I think I could have run on those trails all day long. It was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve seen, and despite being at 6300 foot altitude, it didn’t bother me nearly as much the second day.

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We finished up just as the sun came over the mountains. Talk about the perfect start to the day!

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Back to the hotel afterward for a shower and lunch — fueling up for another full day of events!

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While we ate we got to hear from Brooks Beast head nutritionist, Kyle Pfaffenbach!

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His philosophy – and this slide in particular – stuck with me the rest of the trip. "You can’t outrun a bad diet." It is so true, and I know it’s something I need to be paying more attention to, particularly as I get older and my metabolism is slowing down. All the activity and workouts in the world can’t make a difference if the eating and diet isn’t there as well.

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Next up we did some breakout sessions. We had a chance to talk to the apparel team about our favorite pieces and give some feedback on the Brooks merchandise. And then we were led through some strength exercises by a few of the Beast athletes. They are so fit and inspiring!

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Our last session was with a few more of the athletes (including Olympian Nick Symmonds!) to hear about footwear and all the differences in the spike shoes their wear for their track races.

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Our last event of the day was a cookout at the Brooks Beasts’ house up in the mountains! It was this incredible compound with great outdoor space and beautiful views.

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We all gathered in the driveway for an energy bar cook-off! We all had the same bowls of ingredients and utensils, and our challenge was to create the best tasting and most nutritious energy bar in just a few short minutes.

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My team was a little hesitant at first, so I decided to jump in and lead the group — I’ve made energy bars a million times so I knew was I was doing! I decided to keep it simple, and used a mixture of oats, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt.  We flattened the mixture into the pan and added an extra almond butter and honey drizzle on top. We put in the freezer for about ten minutes before slicing into bars.

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And guess what?  Our bars WON the whole contest! We led Katie’s team to victory, and our reward was to be first in line for the food and drinks – score!

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We stayed and hung out and chatted with new friends and the athletes, and got to be there to watch this incredible sunset.

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It was a magical time with great friends, and I felt so incredible lucky to be there.

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More tomorrow on our epic Sunday hike, but that’s all for today! I am so grateful to Brooks for including me on their ambassador team, and to Casey for holding down the fort at home so that I could have such a fun adventure.