Monday, August 15, 2016

Leadville 100 Race Strategy

Train hard. Fight until the finish. Never give up. -Ellie Greenwood

Drop bags packed
I wasn't sure I was going to even say my plan out loud because that makes it real...that means you have something to live up to. But if you don't say it out loud does it even really count? When I got my LT100 coin I was not in great shape, barely sleeping, struggling to log miles and honestly not even sure if I'd be ready come August. But then I clicked register and it was a game changer. I still doubted I could be ready to big buckle but a 27 hr goal seemed reasonable. But I'm not reasonable. Never have been and probably never will be. On August 20th I'm not going after a 27 hr finish...I'm going for the big buckle (sub-25 hr) and really my A goal is a sub-24 hr finish. The big thing in my planning is regardless of planning to go for a big time goal I want to run the same goal I've had all year...keep it steady. I know even splitting Leadville is damn near impossible, but I'm going to try to be close which if I can I think will get me under 24 hr. Well that and if all goes well, no matter how hard you train 100 miles is a long way to go with nothing going wrong. 

Let no one lay a hand on your dreams -E.V. Lucas


AS Cumm Mileage Mileage Time - 24h Time of Day Split Time-25h  Split Time-27h Split
MQ 13.5 13.5 2:10 6:10A 2:10 2:15 2:15 2:15 2:15
OB 24.5 11 4:10 8:10A 2:00 4:15 2:00 4:25 2:10
PL 28.5 4 5:05 9:05A 0:55 5:15 1:00 5:40 1:15
HP 31 2.5 5:35 9:35A 0:30 5:45 0:30 6:20 0:40
TL 39.5 8.5 7:15 11:15A 1:40 7:25 1:40 8:05 1:45
45.5 5 9:25 1:25P 2:10 9:45 2:20 10:35 2:30
W 50 5.5 10:40 2:40P 1:15 11:05 1:20 12:00 1:25
H 55.5 5.5 12:55 4:55P 2:15 13:25 2:20 14:30 2:30
TL 60.5 5 14:10 6:10P 1:15 14:50 1:25 15:55 1:25
HP 69 8.5 16:10 8:10P 2:00 16:50 2:00 18:00 2:05
PL 71.5 2.5 16:55 8:55P 0:45 17:35 0:45 19:00 1:00
OB 75.5 4 17:55 9:55P 1:00 18:45 1:10 20:15 1:15
MQ 86.5 11 20:40 12:40A 2:45 21:40 2:55 23:25 3:10
F 100 13.5 23:40:00 3:40A 3:00 24:45:00 3:05 26:55:00 3:30

Shoes: Pearl Izumi Trail M2s
Shorts: Pearl Izumi split fly shorts
Socks: Pearl Izumi infinity socks
Hydration pack: Ultimate Direction Ultravesta
Handheld: UltrAspire
Watch: Suunto Peak
Pump: Specta 9, I purposely ordered this one because the slim motor fits in my hydration pack so I can pump and run
Headlamp: Black Diamond 
Night clothes: Pearl Izumi Infinity wind blocker hoody and softshell pants

Maltodextrin powder
Nuun electrolytes
Honey Stinger grapefruit chews
Honey Stinger caramel waffles

Notes to myself with what I need and what my mantra is for each section...

Start to MayQueen:
My plan is to come in a bit faster than I have in previous years, but still keep that even pace. I don't want to even think about breathing hard. Easy, easy, easy! Stick 

MayQueen to Twin Lakes:
Really my plan all the way to Twin is the same, keep the pace easy and slow. I may see crew at Treeline, but basically I'm on my own in this section which is fine. I shouldn't need much other than refilling calories and to keep moving. Steady, steady, steady. No need to blow up here. Stick to the plan and don't get caught up in anyone else's race.

Twin Lakes to Winfield:
The climb up'll be brutal...I know that much. My game plan is NO stops, no stopping, standing or waiting, every second there will be forward movement. I'm climbing stronger than I was in 2013, although I'm still not a strong climber. Its still the same mantra here, keep it steady. That's the name of the game. If I can have a steady, consistent climb I'll be in good shape. The downhill I have no plans to hammer, but looking back my splits were shockingly slow for the downhill. I really want that to be a big area of improvement. I know I walked a lot of the rolling section along the CT into Winfield and I plan to run most of that this year. At Winfield I'll pick up Sandra, but other than that this is a quick turn-around. I want to get back up and over that mountain fast. 

Winfield to Twin:
Almost the same strategy as outbound, with the addition of really hoping not to puke. Or at least puke a minimal amount of times...especially because its really hard to hike and puke and I'm determined not to stop at all on the climb. 

Twin Lakes to Outward Bound: 
The name of the game is to run! The climb out of Twin is a good one up to Elbert so I plan to hike that strong and hopefully in the daylight. That could be a big game changer. It was dark last time I did this climb so I'm hoping the daylight gives me an extra boost. But then its a rolling down to Outward Bound and last time I really lost motivation to run here. Again hoping the light helps, but also I have it in my head that I'm running this section. Sure my legs will be sore by this point, but as long as its just sore you might as well keep running. 

Outward Bound to finish:
I'll switch out Sandra for Dan for the last section. For the climb up powerlines I just keep telling myself it will end. I remember almost crying when I finally came out on top last time. This year I'm hoping to hike it significantly stronger. Its just a count down in my head. As long as I keep moving forward it will only take 1.5 hr or so...its only about 3 miles and it will end. Once I get to the top that's when its game on and the race starts. I have no idea if there will even be any women to catch or not, but I'm not even going to think about it until the top of powerlines. By no means do I expect to be trying to catch a podium spot, but I'd like to see if I can have a strong finish and find another gear coming around the lake. My money is on Maggie Walsh for the win and I expect her to be finished well before I get to MayQueen. She's been kicking my butt all year and is really running strong. Then its an all out downhill to MayQueen and a book around the lake. I do not want that section to drag out...I want to get it over with and hopefully before it gets to cold. I have thought about this section in my head every day for the last 6 months. I know it seems silly to think about this more than Hope, but I know I will get up Hope. I need to knock out this lake section running. Not shuffling, not walking, not crying and whining, but running. So yes, this is the section I think about every lap at FJ, every treadmill run, laying in bed drifting off to sleep. I will be running and I will have a smile on my face. 

Behind every strong independent woman lies a broken little girl who had to learn how to get back up -unknown

Run Rabbit may have knocked me down last year, but I got back up, brushed off my knees and I'm more ready than every to go after it again. I learned a lot last year, I've trained hard and hopefully it all comes together on race day. 100s are different than other races, there is so much that is outside of our control. All I can do is run my plan, eat, and keep my head on straight...and come hell or high water I will be on that red carpet back in Leadville! See you all there!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rest and Recovery

flying on Green
The past five weeks I've ran over 400 miles with nearly 70k in vert, which is far and away the biggest block I've ever had. This week didn't start my real taper but was kind of a "wind down" week before the true taper starts next week. I completely expected my legs to feel tired, heavy and sluggish by this week...basically begging me to start cutting back. But that's not what happened at all! My legs felt fresh, totally ready to charge. Tuesday I ran Green and just felt like I was flying the whole time! Hopefully this is a good sign that I didn't overdo it in my training and that it might actually payoff in a couple weeks. Of course I also seem to have forgotten why I don't run Green in the summer...damn chiggers! Literally every inch of my legs from my shorts line to my ankles are covered!

Then probably because I'd had a few too many easy weeks James got strep and work got crazy. I was thankful not to have the pressure of a high mileage week because that was about all the treadmill time I could handle. Friday came around and James was back in school, the weather was screaming fall more than summer and Dan got off work early so we could meet at Elk Meadows. It was a great easy, relaxed run! So nice to not have the pressure to run fast or get huge vert! So we just enjoyed the rain and cooler temps and had fun! It really made me so glad to be running Leadville this year so I can enjoy fall running! 
Bergen Peak

It's definitely starting to get real now! I even ran in my race shoes on Friday! Now I need to dial in drop bags, kids schedules and splits. And maybe study the elevation profile a bit more. But really I think I'm ready. You always wish you had done more, trained harder, eaten better, gotten more sleep...but it's all in the bag now. All that's left is to rest, relax, take care of your body and do what every good tapering runner does...clean the house! 
he wants his own truck

this is how J does strep

Elk Meadows...did you notice the long sleeve? 

ready, set...GO!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Go Big or Go Home

Gray's summit
These past few weeks have been a major test to see if I could really string together some solid training, but also to see if I could push my training a bit more as I've never been a high mileage runner, at least compared to other ultra runners. But if I want to PR Leadville I needed to do more than what I had been. So far the past few weeks I've been hovering in the 68-80 mpw which is typically what I hit once maybe twice before a 100. Knowing this was Never Summer week and I would likely miss 2.5 days of running I had to go big early in the week. So I took some time off work and got to training. 

I kicked off the week with a run up Grays. I had planned to do both Grays and Torrey's but the weather was turning and with parking near the bottom I was already at an 11 mile run. I didn't feel the altitude at all until 13,900' so I took that as a good sign. I held a steady pace and ran nearly every step of the climb. Of course I paid for this effort and was pretty sore for the next several days. With the weather still not improving it meant a Hope double was out of the picture. I was pretty bummed about it, but since I didn't have time to dwell I quickly came up with the next best plan...a Staunton marathon. It wasn't quite as high in elevation as I would have liked but the vert was there. My legs felt like rubber pushing through that run, but I guess that will help make up for the lack of really long days in my training. I was still happy I managed to keep a fairly decent pace despite the tired legs. Thursday and Friday I went a bit shorter and easier to let the legs recover. And for as sore as they were I was surprised how quickly they did actually recover. By Saturday I really didn't feel sore at all. Hopefully this is a good sign that my legs are really ready for this adventure. My mileage was a bit shorter than I had hoped but with essentially 2 days off running there wasn't much I could do about that. And I still had over 15k in vert so I'd say that makes up for it. 
Staunton marathon

Last week then was my last big week. Back to work meant getting creative about getting in the miles. It wasn't easy and the house is pretty much a disaster at this point, but I did it 80.5 miles and 337ish miles and over 57k in vert for the month! That's almost 100 miles more than any other training month! Well regardless of what happens in a few weeks I gave it my all! 

I had really been hoping that Friday I would be able to get to Hope for that double, but with family responsibilities and iffy weather it just wasn't happening. So I went back to Kenosha to at least run at altitude and finally get up Georgia Pass. For whatever reason this run has been my nemesis and I've been determined to get up that thing. And so I did...and with a 2 hour PR! I ran my ass off on that run. Sure it meant less time on feet, but this run was more about getting me mentally ready for Leadville and finally getting Georgia and with a big PR my confidence has just gone up a notch or two which is at least as important as having an all day run. And with that ends the big training. I have one more normal week of running and then its taper time. All I can do now is take care of myself and get ready for the big dance. What's done is done and all these runs are just to stay healthy and fit, the training is done. 

In other news this happened this weekend...

will walk for grilled zucchini...

charging Staunton

waiting to pace Dan at Never Summer...meanwhile he was chasing away bears...

Seattle running you cannot start school yet...

sunset at Never Summer

Georgia Pass 
Gray's approach

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Test

My biggest struggle this year has been balancing two kids, multiple therapy and doctors appointments, a demanding full-time job and my running. As I wrote out my LT100 training plan I knew this week would be the ultimate test. It had every possibility of being a bagel week. And 6 weeks ago I honestly might have logged 20-30 miles. 

I went in with the mindset to get miles in whenever and wherever I could...early mornings, late nights, lunches, pushing strollers whatever it took. One day at a time. I barely made it through Monday and Tuesday's appointments with only a handful of miles. Wednesday I made up for it with some big running. And then as I loaded the kids into their car seats and turned the car on to head home after school I heard the unmistakable sound of a puking baby. I dashed around the cart to find Robert, the car seat and a good amount of my car covered in raspberries and olives. Really? It had to be the day they served raspberries! My second thought was seriously? The week that was already testing every mental aspect of my being? Naturally the stomach big lasted a full 72 hours which meant a lot of treadmill and stroller running. And very little sleep...Wednesday night up every hour to push fluids, Thursday night every 2 hours. 

Friday Rob wasn't puking so I dropped him off at school with the plan of getting as many miles as I could before he got too fussy for school. That might be some sort of new record for me 21 miles, 3150'of very in 3:02...didn't do much for time on feet but I kept telling myself it was Outward Bound to Twin, the lap at FJ was practice for going around Turquiose...any tricks I could play on myself to try to believe this was really a quality long run. An then as if the week hadn't already been long enough I got to pack up and head for the hospital for another sleep study with James. If you e never had the joy of experiencing a sleep study let me tell one actually sleeps! Long story short it literally took about 5 hours to get J all hooked up. We could only do a few probes at a time to keep him asleep-ish and from pulling the probes off. Around 2:00 I was so exhausted I could t stay awake any more and didn't notice them come back in to hook up the last probes. Thankfully I'm well adapted to functioning on 3-4 hours of sleep. So we were released at 6:15 am, drove home, picked up celebratory donuts, because we survived the week, ate most of the donuts and then took the boys out on a stroller run...because that's just the way we roll! 

I didn't quite hit my numbers for the week but still managed nearly 70 miles and 12k I'm vert! Basically that means I didn't just survive I nailed that test! I know too that mentally to get through this week...and log as many miles as I have on the neighborhood hill, yes the neighbors all officially think I've lost my mind, that this week was more than just the miles ran. Mentally I'm ready for Leadville! I'm ready for a 25-30 hour all-inclusive spa vacation! Two more weeks of big mileage and heavy training and then we start winding down. One day at a time...14 more days...

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Over the last couple weeks I've made
a huge commitment to get myself in the best shape possible for Leadville. But I know it's not just about logging miles in the mountains. If I'm going to build up this quickly and stay healthy my legs need to be bombproof. Now let's not go getting excited that I might have stepped foot in a gym...or even lifted a weight for that matter. Instead I've put together a series of pilates-based exercises to strengthen my core, back, arms and mostly my legs. So far I've stuck with it the past couple weeks and am starting to see more definition in my legs. I'm just hoping it helps. 

As for running I've managed another week of hard training and making running a real priority. This week I hit 80 miles and 11k feet of vertical. My long run wasn't quite as long as I had hoped due to thunderstorms that moved in before I was done. I could have gone for more vert there as well, but instead I balanced it with a super runnable hill at Three Sisters. So while it wasn't the steepest hill, aside from Hope and Powerlines Leadville is super runnable, so I need to be prepared. And I ran this run hard. 

So another week of hard training done. I'm still second guessing everything wondering if I'm doing enough, running enough, strength training enough, hiking and climbing enough, enough long runs, It seems I constantly see posts of everyone else doing 30+ mile long runs every weekend, hiking 14ers non-stop, 3 hour weekday in my head I still continue to wonder am I doing enough. That damn comparison monster is always there. I just have to trust it. I've done this before I know what works for me. And I'm training harder than I have before. So time to trust it. That's all I can do at this point. 

The other thing is I'm really having fun! When I was debating running this year Sandra said to me that she was afraid she was losing me, that I was losing me. And stepping up my training I think she was right. All my running before seemed to be centered around the kids, what time I had to get them, how much it would take away from them, whatever they had going on. I've tried to focus more on what runs I need. And really I haven't given up anything for the boys, I've just mentally told myself my runs are a priority. Now the house may look like a disaster most days and dinners aren't quite as nice as they have been, but the house is clean enough and there is food on the table. Pretty sure that's all that really counts anyways right? And the boys seem to be doing all right...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Decision 2016

Contrary to popular belief this was actually probably the biggest decision I had to make this year. And I did nothing short of agonize over it. I got my LT100 coin on Saturday and had until 3pm Wednesday to decide. It took nearly every minute to figure out if I was going to race in 2016 or defer to 2017. 

The smart decision would be to defer. I'm not in peak shape, I'm barely sleeping which is not lending itself to recovery and there is no telling if I can actually change any of that in the couple months before race day. 2017 I'd be ready to have an amazing race, I'd be perfectly trained, no need for pumping, most likely sleeping more...the list goes on. 

But there's always that what if...what if could be a million things. My heart said you don't know what will happen now. Sometimes there is no second chance, sometimes this is the only chance you get -Gordy Ansleigh rang through my head. 

My heart is 0-2 in 100s...but you never know if you don't try. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed and so I clicked back, back, back on my registration, threw caution to the wind and once again decided to follow my heart. Third times a charm right? 

Despite feeling rushed to train I knew I needed to spend the week after the race recovering. So I ran easy and came up with a game plan to train for the rest of the summer. It's one day at a time and each day I'm making my runs a huge priority. The house will probably be a bit of a disaster, I'm hoping for 4 showers a week and dinner will probably be a rotation of grilled chicken salads and pasta with meat sauce since I can prep all of those ahead of time. 

This past week I nailed my training with almost 70 miles and over 14,000 ft of vert. I'm not a high mileage runner so for me that's a pretty high mileage week. Dan and I also got in a super fun long run at Golden Gate SP. I felt great! My legs were there, no stomach issues, my nutrition was on point and even after I wasn't sore or tired. I could easily have gone longer. It was a huge confidence boost for sure. So one day at a time for a couple more weeks and hopefully I'll be at least in sight of that peak 100 shape. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Leadville Marathon Race Report

I definitely went into this race worried about how much pressure I was putting on myself. Its hard not to think about the fact that this is your last race of the season if you don't place. That's it...over before it really even begins. 
Ball #1
Photo: Brandon Yonke

I didn't go in feeling like I had peaked or was even really that well trained. Since Quad Rock I really hadn't gotten in much quality running...maybe not really anything of any real quality. But now it was go time so I just had to trust that I had it in me somewhere to be able to go top 3 and get that coveted gold coin. 

Dan and I decided it would be too tough to try camping with the boys the night before and probably still too cold for them. So I drove up first thing in the morning. You know when it's already 50F in Leadville at 7:30 in the morning its going to be a hot day. I was about as mentally prepared for the heat as I could be but I hate running in the heat. I found Elizabeth before the start, gave her a hug and wished her well as I headed to the front of the starting line. I also hate starting that far up, but I knew I needed to line up further ahead than I'm comfortable. 

As the gun went off and I felt myself start running I knew I honestly had no real game plan for the race. I think it was about 20 seconds before I thought oh shit this is WAY too fast! I didn't even want to look at my watch, but a quick glance told me I was at  7:30 pace and getting passed. Let the halfers go I thought, it'll sort out at the turn. I turned off the pavement and onto the dirt road in 6:30...I was already 2 min faster than Rob's time and I was pretty sure that was not because I was going to be that much faster overall than him. Once I hit the dirt though I was able to settle into the gradual climb up to Ball. As I climbed I began to remember the miles and my previous times. Aid A...1:15 I think...3:00 to the top of Mosquito...I hit both those times perfectly. 
Ball #2
Photo: Brandon Yonke

I felt like I had climbed well to the top of Mosquito, but I was already back to around 15th I think. I was behind in nutrition despite feeling great at altitude. I got a little dizzy in the last 1/4 mile up Mosquito, but my stomach was hanging in there great. My hands were swollen so I started doubling up on the Nuun and that helped immensely. Coming back down Mosquito though felt like a total cluster. I was passing people coming up, passing people going down, I just couldn't get a rhythm going at all. I have no doubt that my superman expedition in 2014 was playing with my head and holding me back as well. Still I managed to pass a couple girls on the way back to B. As I came up on B I saw Sandra running toward me and was super excited to see she, Dan and the boys had made it! I gave a few quick kisses, filled bottles, and gulped down a few cokes before heading back out toward A 1/2. 

I was really still feeling good. Maybe its because I was now starting to move at an obnoxiously slow pace...well at least for where I should have been. I don't know it just really felt like I was moving well, but I look over my times and I just wasn't. I turned off the road and then made the sharp left turn to go back up that damn climb around mile 20/21. Its miserable and was way longer than I remember it being. I held my place pretty well and stayed close to a couple girls that I knew I'd catch on the downhills. I got to the top and was finally able to let it loose. I picked off a couple more girls on the downhill and was pretty confident I wasn't going to see them again. I remember one guy on that climb turning to me and saying ah last climb I laughed, maybe a bit too much and said oh no there is most definitely one more climb that will make you want to cry, it's not long but its cruel. He found me after the race to let me know I was most certainly correct about there being one more brutal climb. I felt like I actually managed that one well, but again, my Garmin told a different story. By the last downhill I knew I wasn't going to PR, I wasn't going to catch any more girls and none behind me were going to catch me. This is a hard place for me because I just can't find the motivation to push it all the way in. I ran well I think my last mile was a 7:34 pace, but I crossed the finish line knowing full well I could have gone out and done the course again.

Now it was time to wait. I finished 10th and 5th in my age group. I had come to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to get a coin, but you never know unless you show up right? And so I did. The 3rd place girl in my age group accepted the coin and I accepted my fate. And then I hear oh we have another coin for this age group, lets see who else is still're telling me I have a chance? Girl response...lets see if anyones here, ah how about a...s...sio...I'm pretty sure the words weren't even out of their mouth before I was racing up to grab my coin. In the end it wasn't pretty, but my A goal was the coin and I'll tell you what...that coin is just as shiny! 

Gear: Pearl Izumi Trail M2 V2s; Pearl Izumi Fly Split shorts
Nutrition: Vanilla Gu, Nuun lemonade, citrus and triberry, coke
Hydration Pack: Ultimate Direction UltraVesta

Thanks to Dan and Sandra for the babysitting!