Coming back to Leadville a year after my first ultramarathon to run the same race was pretty important to me. For one, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a complete fluke that I could actually complete 50 miles on foot. There are still times I think back and wonder if that really happened. After all, I do my best to get in 20 miles each week … how did I complete 50 miles in one day?
Going into this year’s Leadville Silver Rush 50 I had a different mindset. I knew that I could complete 50 miles in Leadville and that this would be a training run for the Leadville 100 a month later. It is clear that unless I register for a race, chances are slim that I will get time on my feet. No matter my mindset or lack of training, 100 miles requires your body to handle a pounding for 20-30 hours. That aspect can’t be gutted through very easily.
As always, things didn’t go exactly as planned in the 50 mile race. At least the issues were around one area: nutrition. This is a big factor in life in general. I know what the issue is, but need to find a way to mentally correct it. I just don’t eat enough when running. It’s the most laziest excuse possible: I just didn’t feel like eating.
The plan was set: eat a Honey Stinger Gel twice an hour. That means 60 minutes to do 45 seconds worth of work. Seriously? Couldn’t do that? To make it even easier, I planned on doing at the top and half of the hour. Super easy to remember. Not as easy to do apparently.
I would just get to a point and think “ugh it’s too much work to reach into my pocket and pull out a gel.” Wow. Lazy brain.
Fortunately, my wife is an awesome crew chief and did the polite “eat something or die” conversation with me. It really is a gentle conversation when someone is in the state of going delirious. She’s had a lot of practice with that with me.
I can do the math: 12,000 calories burned – 1,000 calories consumed = potential coma
Yet I somehow completed the 50 miles faster then last year and with less recovery time.
It was about 12 minutes after crossing the finish line when the question on my mind for the past 5 hours was asked:
So are you ready for the Leadville 100?
My answer to that has changed over the past 2 weeks since that finish line. Answering that on the spot involved something of an eye roll, shoulder shrug, and asking for some water.
I had many thoughts over those 50 miles about taking on the infamous Leadville 100. While on the course, I thought that I could do it. Then I started thinking about course cutoff times. I don’t want to have to chase those times. Then I visualized the dramatic difference between the elevation graphs between the marathon, 50, and 100. If you were to compare them side-by-side, the 100 definitely appears flatter. In fact, here you go:
Now trust me, I am under no illusion that the more spread out of elevation gain makes this an easier adventure. In fact, I have found that I am almost faster going uphill then down. So taking away some of the climbing may actually make me slower. Okay, maybe I do have some strange misguided illusions. There is also that giant peak on the chart called Hope Pass. Climb 3,000 feet over 2.5 miles, go down it, then turn around and do it again. I did get a taste of this during the Leadville Marathon where you climb Mosquito Pass … start at 10,00 feet, climb up to 13,000 feet over 3 miles, then gently go back down.
Right now my biggest concern are the course cutoffs. I sit here doing math in my head on being able to just make the first cutoff. Here are the cutoff times:
4:00 am – Start
7:15 am – May Queen (13.5m)
10:00 am – Outward Bound (23.5m)
12:00 pm – Halfmoon II (30.5m)
2:00 pm -Twin Lakes (39.5m)
6:00 pm – Winfield (50m) turnaround
9:45 pm – Twin Lakes (60.5m)
12:45am – Halfmoon II (69.5m)
3:00 am – Outward Bound (76.5m)
6:30 am – May Queen (86.5m)
10:00 am – Course Cutoff
The biggest thing freaking me out a bit is that I have to get to mile 50 by 6p. That’s 12 hours. I did Silver Rush 50 in 13 hours. See the concern? Granted, in the first 50 miles of Leadville 100 there is 5,000 feet of climbing. In the Silver Rush 50 course, there is about double that. In fact, I can get to mile 32 in 8.5 hours after 6,000 feet of climbing at Silver Rush.
All of that is nice math and is interesting to draw out on paper. Action is what will determine the day and making sure I eat. Really, I can’t wait to run at night. That part absolutely excites me! Running at 10,000 feet by the light of a small headlamp with stars shining bright above … poetic.
At the end of the day, this is an adventure to me. Not a race, not a run, not a beat anyone. It is being on the course, being prepared for any situation, and solving challenges with the resources at hand as they arise. There will be ups and there will be many downs. I have some great people that will accompany me on this and I look forward to that almost more then actually completing the course.
This is an incredible community that wants to see everyone succeed. We all know that any day could be a bad day. It is how we react to that which determines how quickly it is changed into a great day.
Am I ready for the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run? I can’t wait!