6 days. 120 miles. 20,000 feet of elevation gain. The Transrockies Race is a grueling course for which it takes months to prepare. Priya Seshan, a FHIXer since 2015, credits getting her FHIX with helping her embark on this once-in-a-life time challenge. Keep reading to learn more about her journey.
What inspired you to participate in the TransRockies Run? What exactly does the run entail?
In 2009, my longtime friend told me about the TransRockies Run, a 120 mile, 6 day point-to-point trail race in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. My friend tried to convince me to run it, but I was too intimidated by both the extreme distance and altitude. A city girl at heart, I am not an “outdoors” kind of person, and the race involved camping and being outside.
However the challenge of the race intrigued me. How did runners run so far and how could they take on such a challenge, I wondered. It wasn’t until after I ran and finished my first ultramarathon in November 2014 that I started to consider entering the TransRockies Run. I remained tentative about diving in for quite some time, until I decided to sign up for the August 2016 run. I wanted to test myself with a huge challenge and see the world in a unique way. Unfortunately, in 2016, I had a stress reaction in my tibia, so I had to defer to August 2017.
The TransRockies Run is a 120-mile course in Colorado. There are approximately 20,000 feet of elevation gain over the 120-mile course, which traverses rocky terrain, including the infamously steep Hope Pass near Leadville. The altitude, climbing of mountainous terrain, and back-to-back long mileage make this race a challenge for any athlete!
How is this race different than other races you have done in the past?
I’ve been a runner since I was 14. I ran in high school and have run marathons, a 50-mile ultramarathon, and an endless number of half marathons as an adult. However, I had never entered a multistage race, where I would be completing long back-to-back runs for almost a week straight. The altitude was also something to contend with. I had only run one half marathon race at altitude in the past, and I was sick the entire race! It is a challenge to run long distance at altitude, but to add camping to that makes the experience even more demanding.
How did getting your FHIX help you train for the race? What other training did you do to prepare?
Fhitting Room helped me gain lower body strength. I can run for hours, but I have a variety of running injuries and imbalances. Strength work is a weakness of mine. Fhitting Room helped me rev up my glutes and quads, as well as work on my core strength. I took a class each week to prepare and I was challenged each time.
Often during Fhitting Room classes, I had difficulty with an exercise, while the rest of the class appeared to do it with ease. I felt out of my element, but the FHITpros came over and encouraged me to do more reps or showed me how to modify. The trainers made me feel comfortable embracing something I struggle with. These FHIXes reminded me that I was going to be out of my element during the race, but I could successfully push forward and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Most importantly, with time I noticed that some exercises were getting easier and that I was getting stronger. I really feel like step ups (modified box jumps) were invaluable as they increased my quad and glute strength, and prepared me mentally to tough it out when I was doing long climbs in Colorado. I don’t think I’ll ever look at step ups the same and will push myself more now in class even when my legs are screaming from them—they were that valuable.
In addition to getting my FHIX, I did yin yoga, ran easy twice a week, and completed a long run and a long hike each week. My mileage was not at all optimal because of an old hip injury flaring up, but I strongly believe that cross training at Fhitting Room was integral in helping me run the race.
Who are your favorite FHIT pros and why?
All of the FHIT pros are wonderful. However, I do have my favorites! My favorite FHITpros are Eric, Dennys, Daury, and Carlos. All of them meet me where I am at and modify the exercises so that I can do them successfully. They help me with modifications and they recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to the classes.
In addition, all of them have great playlists! This helps me unwind after a long, intense day. I work as a social worker in a public school GED program with young men and women in East Harlem, many of whom are returning to the community post-incarceration.
I would definitely recommend trying a FHIX, even if it seems intimidating—while some individuals may fly through a class, they too had to start somewhere.
Do you have a favorite exercise you’ve learned at Fhitting Room? What about a least favorite?
My favorite exercise is the kettlebell swing, or anything with kettlebells!! I really enjoy the swings and it is an exercise that I can see progress in from week to week. It’s also nice to swing a weight and get out some stress after a long day! My least favorite are—you guessed it—burpees and squat thrusts! I am still working on perfecting my squat thrusts.
I am not flexible at all, and have yet to be able to swoop my legs up in one graceful move as the FHITpros do so easily! Squat thrusts and burpees also raise my heartrate and leave me breathless, even though I run so much! It’s my goal to master the squat thrust and then move on to perfecting a burpee! I know it is going to take time, but one has to start somewhere!
What do you remember about your first FHIX?
My first FHIX was in 2015 at Penthouse with Eric and Dennys. I remember feeling intimidated by all the fit people in the room and worrying about being able to keep up with them. During the workout both Eric and Dennys came over to me multiple times and gave me modifications and form corrections. At the end of the class, I felt tired, but also inspired to get stronger.
I may not ever have six pack abs or look buff, but that’s not why I get my FHIX. I take classes at Fhitting Room to stay strong as I age into my 40s and to supplement my running. The vibe at Fhitting Room has been so encouraging that I have since introduced the classes to my friends.
What was the most challenging part of the race? What was the most rewarding?
There were so many moments when I questioned what I had gotten myself into! I had a prior injury that was acting up and then I fell right before the race so my ankle was swollen. Camping outside and being very cold made the race more challenging.
Two of the hardest days were day 4, which had a 40 percent incline grade, and day 6. On that last day, I woke up vomiting from altitude sickness and had to run 22.5 miles. At mile 7, my legs locked up due to dehydration. I had a tough stretch but was able to get back on track from miles 13-16.
Unfortunately, I got cut off at the 16.5 mile mark and wasn’t able to finish the race in it’s entirety. For about 5 minutes, I was devastated, but then I realized that it was okay—I had tried hard to accomplish my goal, but fell short. I really do believe that had I not been sick, I would have finished. Sometimes it is the journey that counts, not the destination.
I had two extremely rewarding moments that stand out in my mind. The first was on day 2, when I got to the top of Hope Pass, which is on the Leadville 100 course. This was the highest climb of the week and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. The climb was tough, but when I got to the top, I was able to appreciate it so much because my own legs had gotten me there!
The other rewarding moment was seeing my older sister at the finish. She had flown out from NYC to support me in the last stage of the race. Although I got cut with six miles to go, having her there meant so much. I had tried my hand at something so completely out of my comfort zone and put it all on the line when running the race.
How did you celebrate post-finish line?
I attended a banquet with my sister and other runners, which was a great time! I then stayed in Beaver Creek, CO for a few more days to relax. Once I reunited with the rest of my family, we went out to eat at my favorite Mexican place and had margaritas. I guess you could say that I had a celebration for each day I ran.
What will your workout schedule look like post-race? Are you training for any more races coming up?
I took a well-deserved week off after the race. My plan for the next two months is to attend Fhitting Room for strength work and do yin yoga to increase my flexibility. I am slowly building back my mileage with easy running, and will resume long runs in preparation for some fall marathons. In six weeks I will tackle the Chicago Marathon, which will be my 13th marathon. I also plan on running the NYC Marathon for fun. After that, I’ll focus more on Fhitting Room so that I can correct my imbalances and come back stronger for races in 2018.