Monday, August 29, 2016

Leadville 100 Race Report

Hope Pass #2
Photo: Sandra Carpenter
Another Leadville in the books and finally a race I feel like I gave it my all and my body delivered. What was different this year? What did I do differently? I ran. I ran. A. Lot! A lot more than I have in previous 100s. And I ate. A. Lot. And I suffered better. When I say it like that it sounds simple. Eat, run and suffer. A lot. And that's all there is...

The week leading up to Leadville felt really hectic. Lots of appointments, my parents came in to town to help with the kids, I was up late cooking so the kids had food, by the looks of my kitchen you would have thought I was planning to be racing for days! Even getting to Leadville was hectic. We didn't get up there until Friday afternoon and when I double checked packet pickup it said 7-10AM! So in a panicked dash I ran up to Leadville to drop off drop bags and beg for my packet. I mean I couldn't be the only one to get to Leadville after 10 right? They ended up having another pickup at 5:00 so we had some time to kill after doing drop bags. James threw a fit about riding in the stroller so I parked it by the packet pickup and we wandered around for a bit finally I got my packet, we loaded up and headed back to BV. With the kids it seemed easier to stay there than in Leadville. 

We got back, I scarfed down a hamburger, tried to get all the kids stuff unpacked and them to bed so I could sit down at some point. As I was looking for my keys, I could only find my spare, I came to the horrible realization that my keys were in the back of the stroller that was still sitting in Leadville. Thankfully it's Leadville so it was still there when Dan went back to get it. Needless to say I didn't sleep much before that 2:15 wake up. 
Coming down off Powerlines

I got to the starting line and was surprisingly not too nervous. This wasn't my first rodeo and I knew what lay ahead. I lined up way closer to the front than I felt comfortable but I knew this was where I belonged. And based on the fact that I didn't get passed by a ton of people it was the right place. It was pretty chilly so I had my sleeves over my watch which probably ended up being one of my best decisions. It's a huge pain to pull my sleeve back to check my time so I only checked to see where I was at when I went through an aid station. My plan from the start until Twin was to keep the heart rate low and running easy. I didn't wear a HR monitor but I'm a pretty good judge of where I'm at without it. A few people blew by me on the Boulevard and while it was tempting to chase them I kept'll see them on Hope, you'll see them on Hope...and I did. I actually ran alone most of he way around Turquiose which was a strange feeling, but it allowed me to just run the pace I needed for my race. I got to Mayqueen checked my watch, 2:09 my goal was 2:10, I had carried extracalories so I just refilled and didn't even bother to drop my head lamp. As I left the AS someone yelled out 6th woman and I cringed. Way too early in the race for me to know or think about this. 

Cow pasture
Mayqueen to Outward Bound was more of the same. Steady on the climb, listen to my heart rate and keep calories coming in. Even down Powerlines I didn't let it rip, I needed to keep the quads intact for awhile longer. I got to Outward Bound in 4:18 my goal was 4:10 but I realized I had misjudged how much further the AS is then when I ran in 2013 so I figured really I was pretty close. I cruised through this AS pretty quick. Nick and Allisa were there so I gave a quick wave and kept moving.  I had prepared myself for the 'cow pasture' but was surprised how easy it actually was. Then a couple quick miles on the road, a right on to the trail, I swear I could do this in my sleep, but I distinctly remember this turn because in 2012 Rob and JB were there with high fives and in 2013 I was pumping here. For some reason this section seemed really fast this year. I ran every step which probably had a lot to do with it. The next thing I knew the road turned left and we were cruising through Treeline. This was my first crew point and James came charging out yelling mama! Totally made my day. A couple quick hugs and kisses and promises to see him real soon. I refilled my calories here so I could just cruise through Half Pipe. In fact I didn't even have a drop bag for Half Pipe. In the past I felt like I waited forever to get my bag here and all I was going to need was calories so easier just to carry extras. I did slam a couple cokes and then just kept running. My pace was spot on and I knew I'd make Twin right on time around 7:15. 

The section to Twin is one of my favorites. I love running through the aspens and this year did not disappoint. It's a super gradual uphill so I made sure to reign myself in. Every uphill I asked myself will you run this hill in the last 30? I walked a couple of these but mostly I ran everything to Elbert. At Elbert it was starting to heat up so even though it's only 3 miles to Twin I refilled my water and took off running. Before I knew it I was on the steep decent into the AS with an ear to ear grin knowing I was rocking my splits. 
Heading off to tackle Hope

I quickly saw Dan and my Dad and they pointed out where the crew was. I grabbed some coke while they refilled my bottle with calories and stuffed extra calories and chews into my handheld. More quick hugs and kisses for the boys and then I was off. I knew Hope would be the make it or break it section for my race. Coming into Twin I'd been told I was in everything from 4th to 10th place all of which I tried to ignore. 

I easily ran across the meadows pushing the pace a bit knowing I wouldn't be running for awhile. As soon as we got to the no vehicles sign I knew that was my sign to go into hike mode and immediately switched gears. I was also planning to try to get as many calories in on the lower section as I could and I nailed that pretty good. The climb was actually pretty uneventful. I stayed steady and just kept pressing on. And for maybe the first time in my short 100 career I passed more runners on a climb than passed me! For someone who's climbing is not their strength this was huge! My stomach also didn't completely fall apart. Around 11,800' I had to back off the pace a bit and couldn't get any calories down. But as soon as I crested the pass and began running down I started getting calories in again. Another huge milestone was only Max King passed me on the front side! I cruised pretty easily down the backside and made the right turn to head to Winfield. I forgot how uphill this section is and ended up hiking more of it than I would have liked. 
Hope #1
Photo: Patrick Nguyen

At Winfield I picked up Sandra, she filled my bottles while I chugged some Coke and then we were off. That's the one other thing I really did pretty well, was my AS stops were all super efficient and there was no wasted time. I tried to run as much of the first section as I could. I was really not looking forward to this climb back up over Hope and wanted it over as soon as I could so in my mind getting through the rolling section got me to the top faster. As soon as we started climbing I felt like I was barely at a shuffle. I must have been moving better than I thought because I think maybe one person passed us. I just kept reminding myself, it's a short climb, keep moving, don't stop and before long we were at the top. Coming back getting calories was the same story, once I hit about 11,800' I wasn't getting anything in. But for the first time I also didn't puke and lose any calories. I think the key for me was backing off the pace every time I felt my stomach start to go. I hated going that slow but in the end I was probably faster because of it. 

We hit the top and I started letting the legs go and really running. I knew I still had a long way to go and didn't want to totally destroy my legs but I did run this downhill pretty hard. When we hit the meadows I didn't stop I just kept going. I knew we were ahead of schedule but then Sandra commented she hoped Dan would even be there. I really wasn't worried. I had all my gear planned as if I wouldn't have crew. With two littles you never know so you have to plan to be independent. I cruised into Twin 40 min ahead of schedule and had done the double crossing in 6:20!  In 2013 it took me almost 8:00 so this was a huge improvement. Plus secretly I wanted to see how close to 6 hr I could do it. 
Back into Twin with Sandra

At Twin I had to stop to change socks. They were filled with crap from the river crossing and one thing I've learned if you get something in your shoe that you 'notice' fix it right away or the chance that it will lead to issues later is significant. After Twin was where I made my only significant mistake of the race. I miscalculated the Elbert long it would take to get there and just that I could refill calories here. At Twin I should have grabbed enough calories to refill both at Elbert and Half Pipe but I only packed enough for one of those. The game plan was steady and strong on the climb but not to overdo it. I felt like I nailed this pretty well. But by the time I got to Elbert I was done with my first bottle of calories and the chews weren't going down as well anymore. In retrospect I should have refilled calories here but I just filled water and waited until Half Pipe for the calories. It's a gradual, rolling downhill so we flew pretty quickly through this section, but I could tell I was getting bonky. By the time we hit Half Pipe I was dizzy and starting to get teary. I know well enough now that as soon as I feel like this I need calories. As many as I can get in. Nothing is wrong I just need sugar. So I quickly filled my bottle, downed 3 or 4 cokes and headed off for the two miles to Treeline. I honestly had no idea if Sandra and Dan were switching pacing duties here or at Outward Bound, but I was really looking forward to seeing Dan. I had built in some buffer time in this section giving myself 45 min for two miles and we were moving way faster than that. We came cruising into Treeline still about 40 min ahead of pace and Dan was barely ready to go. 

Heading up to Elbert with Sandra
Still running...
I was stoked to have made it here without a light so far but it would be dark before we got to Outward Bound and we had the road section so I put on my light and a long sleeve, refilled my calories and off Dan and I went. We made great time getting to Outward Bound where I had planned to gear up for night. I changed into my Hoka Challengers, buff, gloves and tights, in retrospect I should have waited until Mayqueen for these as I was way too hot on the climb, grabbed more calories and coke and once again we were off. The extra calories had paid off and I had left the bonkiness behind without any terrible effects. I still wouldn't let myself think about place, although I knew I was somewhere around 6-8th. Some people like to count the false summits on Powerlines but it just throws me off wondering do they consider that a false summit? Or maybe this one? Instead I know the first section is steep but after that there's some runnable flats and before you know it Space Station is there. I just cruised through ready to get running downhill again. Steady, steady, steady...all day and all night and before long we crossed the fourth bridge and hit the road. I just ran right through Mayqueen as Dan stopped to refill bottles and eat. He seriously eats more crap while pacing than anyone I've ever met. At this point I was really slowing down though. I tried not to walk much but we got passed by a couple people, including one girl, and I just didn't have much more in me. But quicker than I had anticipated we reached the quiet cheers of Boat Ramp. I tried doing the math in my head but it was pretty foggy. I knew sub-23 was out but I was pretty sure sub-24 was a real possibility. I didn't want to risk it by slowing down so I just tried to keep forcing the running. Then there's that damn mini Powerlines as I like to call it. It's short but brutal on tired legs. I cursed as I half hobbled half ran this section doing everything I could to stay upright. For as boring as the race really had been for me this is where it got interesting. Just before we hit Sugarloafin I see this guy step out of the dark and yell wanna get peed on? And then start peeing and swinging around madly. Dan starts to take off after him, I'm screaming get back here I am NOT bailing you out of jail tonight. Don't you dare get me DQ'd or I swear... Finally the guy got back in his four wheeler and took off and Dan rejoined me. 

At this point my headlamp was almost completely dead I didn't want to tell Dan because the last thing I wanted was to waste time changing batteries. I was ready to be done. So I tried to stay in his light as much as possible. Until he got a few steps ahead in the cobble section by the train tracks. Next thing I knew I was brushing myself off and Dan was yelling what the hell are you doing? So we switched lights and just kept going. We were maybe half a mile from the Boulevard where it's smooth enough you can get away without a light. 

As the orange light from 6th street began to appear on the horizon I finally let myself believe I was actually going to go sub-24!! And then I saw the girl who had passed me around the lake. I knew I could get her back but I wanted to be sure when I passed her it would be for good this time. And it was. Shortly after I passed her we turned onto 6th and I knew I had it. I ran the red carpet and hugged Merilee to make my race finish official. splits exactly and 7th woman! I never let myself doubt I could do it but I was also never totally convinced it was possible either. But here I was amidst a group of really fast, solid women finishing 7th at Leadville! 

I know no matter what you do sometimes races, especially 100s aren't always going to go perfectly according to plan. But this time it really did. I stuck to my plan, the day gave me everything I needed it to and in the end I had a nearly spot on race. 

A huge thanks to my pacers and crew, Dan and Sandra, my parents for watching the boys, and to Pearl Izumi and Nuun for supporting my crazy races and keeping me healthy throughout. 
My awesome crew

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