On March 30th I made the trek down to Flagstaff Arizona for another altitude stint. For the past 2 years I have gone in late summer (August/September); however, this year coach Matt and I decided to change things up a bit. Each time I have gone to altitude in the past, I find that I gain overall fitness. There is something to say that working hard at 7000ft does really pay off, at least for me it does.
This time around I am staying in the Flagstaff Ranch area with a house full of runners including Jonny Wilson, Amy Van Alstine (2014 USA XC Champ and 5th at Carlsbad 5000 in 15:30), Matt Llano (61:XX half marathoner who was just on Team USA for World Half Champs), Maegan Krifchin (70:xx half marathoner) plus Rob (non-runner).
I arrived in the late afternoon on the 30th to mega windy conditions. Let me just say that it was an interesting landing in Flagstaff. It was also an interesting first run. Let me tell you, the headwind that day and for a few days after that was brutal! The good news was that I didn’t really have too much of an adjustment period. My easy runs were pretty much the same pace that I was running back home. The only difference being the hills. Hills at 7000ft take it out of you no matter what I think.
Wednesday I think it snowed. At first I was thinking it wasn't too bad. I had an easy run to do and I had run in snow many times before. Then the storm picked up including the wind. Wow was that wind ever cold! Hands and face frozen, nothing that a hot shower couldn't fix though! Thankfully the snow was mostly gone by morning.
By Thursday I was ready for my first workout. The first workout at altitude is always brutal. Or at least it is for me. It is a reality check that you are up high and that you have to work that much harder. Once you get the first one over with, it gets easier though.
For the most part my days are relaxing. Filled with running, eating, reading, movies, computer time and sleeping. Initially the days would go slow, but soon they would speed up. Of course I want them to slow down, as the faster they go, the faster my holiday time is over!
The only downside of the trip so far is that on April 1st, I learned via Facebook of all places that my entire work (seniors facility) was being terminated. With some questioning, I found out that all 120+ employees received pink slips on April Fool’s Day stating that as of September 25th of this year, we were all unemployed. No April Fools Joke unfortunately. Basically my facility has lost 3 million dollars since it opened in August 2008 due to lack of proper funding by VIHA or Island Health. Or at least that is what my work is saying. We are all being laid off and we can reapply for our jobs back with a significant reduction in pay and benefits.
What sucks? Is that I, along with many of my coworkers, started with that place upon opening. We just celebrated (delayed) our 5th year of service not even a week before the pink slips. Happy 5 years, you lose your job! I had been counting down the time until this August when I would hit 6 years, where I would then begin to earn extra holiday pay. As a runner, my holiday time is important to me. It helps me with training camps and also to be able to attend races. Instead, right when we reach that marker, we are laid off. We can try to get our jobs back and start again at ZERO. FIVE FREAKING YEARS OF TENURE GONE! So much for seniority.
People keep asking whether or not I will apply for my job back or move on. Trust me, I would love to move on. I feel like I am getting screwed over. I have residents who have been with me nearly 5 years and I can’t imagine they are happy. I will likely reapply for my job because it works well with my training; however, anything can happen between now and September. I will definitely be exploring options. My question is, what happens again in 5 years? My work promised this would NEVER happen and here we are.
The one thing I can say though is that I am glad to be away from the facility during this time. My coworkers are going on a rampage to stick up for our residents to ensure they get proper care. I support my coworkers and my residents, but at the same time I am glad to be away and avoiding the immediate stress. I can’t imagine what it was like to be there when the news broke. Thank god I am away.
In the meantime, I am here to train and that is what I am going to do. I will put work behind me and not worry about that until I return home. Good luck to my coworkers. Fight hard and I will join you when I am back. I have completed workouts 2, 3 and 4 here now and each one gets better as I get more and more used to the altitude.