There are no mountains to be found around me and very few hills. I am lucky that my house is located in a community that has a "trail" - it is a paved bike path - that runs around the community and that we actually have some nice elevation change. However, most of the elevation change is of the gentle rolling hill type with the biggest hill not being that big. Think the hill you run up after you leave Damnation at Rocky Raccoon and bottom out before heading up towards the interstate for that left turn - that hill.
So how would one prepare for the hills of the Cactus Rose course or - let us get crazy - the Western States Course or Leadville or Hardrock..... my head is spinning now. Anyway, let us just focus on Cactus Rose at this point. This is a hilly course and certainly nothing crazy but something that a flat lander needs to prepare for. That brings us to stairs. The inside of buildings. The area that few people venture with no sun and no wind. A stagnate, stale, lifeless world that most avoid by taking the elevator.
I have access to a building that is roughly 730 ft tall and the stairs go almost to the tippy top but not all the way. However, they do go several floors below ground for the parking garage, so I think taking credit for 730 ft is legit. I typically power hike this stairwell in about 13 minutes and then work my way back down by descending 10 - 15 flights and then running back up for 5 - 10 flights. I am currently repeating this for a 30 - 45 min workout 4 days a week. I plan to work up to about 2 hours once a week and doing the 30 - 45 min workout the other 3 days.
I figure this probably gets me 1,400 feet of vertical in a 30 min workout and close to 2,000 in 45 min. That number seems like a lot to me but it certainly jives with what I see being reported on blogs of people who run lots of vert in the mountains. The Cactus Rose course has 1,824 feet of ascent for each 25 mile loop and I am hoping that the countless hours spent in the stairwell this summer pay off when I toe the starting line in October.