Monday, June 28, 2010

Leadville Training Camp by the Numbers and the Pictures

My height: 6'00”
My weight: 207
Days at camp: 2

Day 1
Total miles run day 1: 26; May Queen to Twin Lakes
Minimum elevation run day 1: 9,255
Maximum elevation day 1: 11,135
Total elevation gain day 1: 3,069
Total elevation loss day 1: 3,773
Running time: 4:55:52
Total time: 5:12:05

Day 2
Total miles run day 2: 23; Twin Lakes to Winfield and back, the double crossing of Hope Pass
Minimum elevation run day 2: 9,232
Maximum elevation day 2: 12,557
Total elevation gain day 2: 6,785
Total elevation loss day 2: 6,799
Running time: 5:48:00
Total time: 6:21:35

Pictures taken...MANY
Fun had...TONS
Do I think I can finish Leadville?...ABSOLUTELY!

Pics from Day 1

Pics from Day 2

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Picture of Recovery: Exploring New Mexico

This past week my Leadville training plan called for a recovery, a scant 36 miles of running. I don't so much have a problem with running low miles during the week but on the weekends I do like to head out for some multi-hour romps through the wilderness.

I thought I'd take the opportunity of my scheduled short runs to get out to rediscover some of my old haunts that I visited in my backpacking days. There are several trails that the GeekGrl and I once hiked that I have longed to run but I've always been hesitant to throw myself out into the New Mexico hinterlands for 25 to 30 mile efforts by myself.

So, this weekend I had a couple 10 milers on tap and wanted to head for new ground and higher average altitudes. Saturday found me at the Santa Fe Ski Basin heading out onto the Windsor trail. My plan was 10 miles but I also wanted to see if I could get to one of the mountain lakes without getting too far off plan. The Windsor trail starts off above 10,000 feet and never goes lower. The trail is very runnable most of the way and I was able to reach Spirit Lake less than six miles down the trail.
Windsor Trail

Single track through the mountains and a quick rest at Spirit Lake.

San Pedro Parks
The next day was Father's day and I wanted to spend time with the GeekGrl and both of us needed 10 so I drove her out to about the flattest high altitude running that can be found, San Pedro Parks Wilderness just outside Cuba, NM. It was another glorious day and at a starting elevation of 9300 feet the air was cool and clean.

This run starts with a mountain lake within the first mile so our destination was simply a trail intersection about 5 miles down the Las Vacas trail from where we started. San Pedro Parks has the “Parks” part in the name because of the several highland marshes that exist along the several watercourses. The entire Las Vacas trail is incredibly runnable with several small stream crossings and a few “parks” where you have to splash through some shallow mud/water for a hundred yards or so.

We had a fantastic time running through the woods.

At our turn around point we had a leisurely break lounging about in a sun drenched meadow.

I couldn't have asked for a more restful weekend. Next weekend is the Leadville training camp and as much as I am looking forward to that I really want to get back to put some bigger miles on these trails.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Leadville: A Valles Caldera Marathon Race Report

I woke up Saturday morning ready for my weekly long run in preparation for the Leadville Trail 100. This training run had a twist though. It was a race and the GeekGrl decided ahead of time to drop back to the half-mary so I was on my own. I had only one goal; run the best damn mountain trail marathon I could muster and, with any luck, break five hours.

My time for the Valles Caldera marathon last year was 5:22 and this is a course where you don't really expect to make huge gains in time. Add to that the fact that I am at the end of a build cycle. My mileage the past three weeks is 58, 62, 65 and this week I'll end up with 63 so I was not heading in to the race after a quick taper.

I was trying to remember what my fitness was like last year when I did this race and assume it was good considering that two weeks after this race last year I beat my Buffalo Springs 70.3 PR by 15 minutes. Of course I didn't have the same kind of running base this time last year that I do this year but then again last year I wasn't coming off almost 6 weeks of low mileage running with a knee injury. I figured worst case scenario it would all be a wash and I would end up with another run in the 5:20 range.

Still, regardless of what I assumed, I had to give it my best shot and that meant sub 5:00. My other motivation for a good showing is despite the fact that I have been training hard for Leadville nothing really shows I just keep slogging through one event after the other. Maybe nobody really notices or gives it a second thought but it does bother me that I have put it out there that I'm running Leadville and I can't seem to put together a strong showing. I have my reasons for the apparently lackluster season but it is still good to actually have something people can look at and say “Oh, he is training.”

As the race began we had to take a slight detour around a fire that was being contained by the forest service fire fighters but there wasn't too much smoke to contend with just a bit of minor bushwacking. I decided to take a risk right from the starting gate and see how long I could hang on to fellow Outlaw Margaret. She beat me by about 30 minutes at this race last year and she is also training for Leadville. Two other Outlaws, Mark and Steve, were also in the immediate vicinity and are also people who are faster than me. At the first downhill I decided to make a break for it since I am the faster downhill runner. My assumption is that they would catch me on the flats and we would leapfrog for as long as I could hang on.

I have to assume they all had different plans for the race because I never saw them again. I ran as hard as I felt I could but I still ran a smart race. I didn't have any desire to simply run hard and blow out half way through the race. I hiked the uphills and took the downhills as fast as I could and that worked well. That is the strategy I used last year. That is the strategy I use at all trail runs. However, this time there was a huge difference. My ability to run slight up hill sections was good, my ability to run the flats remained strong and my ability to run hard downhill stayed with me from beginning to end.

By mile 18 I knew I was going to break five hours barring any significant problems so from then on out it was strictly about getting the best possible time. I kept pushing and started looking around for people that I might be able to actually race to the end. During the final three or four miles I passed about six people and was able to keep pushing including a strong sprint to the finish line. Final time, 4:33:41! The final results have yet to be posted but last year that time would have been good for 11th overall. This year times were faster but I'd bet I'm still in the top 15 overall. Finally, a result that shows I am working hard toward Leadville.