Sunday, July 29, 2012

Leadville Training Weekend

This weekend my buddies and I went up to Leadville to do some camping, hiking, and training for the Leadville Trail 100. The goal of the runners was to reproduce the runs done during the Leadville Training Camp. The tricky part of the whole weekends was figuring out how/when we could replenish supplies and how to find the course. I attempted to load the course sections into my Garmin with limited success.

Friday Night

We arrived Friday night and found a beautiful "primitive" campsite near Halfmoon Creek. In fact, the creek was about 5 feet from our tents and provided us almost total seclusion. After setting up camp, the runners in the group decided to head out for our night run. The plan was to run from Twin Lakes to Treeline (miles 60 - 72 of the race). We were a little concerned because the course is somewhat difficult to follow along this section, particularly at night. While I attempted to load the course into my Garmin for us to follow, it didn't appear when I turned my Garmin on. Fortunately, I also brought some printed directions. We managed to find our way without too much trouble (and with the help of some other runners). The other problem we encountered was that Treeline was about 3 miles from our campsite and we didn't have anyway to contact our fellow campers for a ride. After studying a map, we decided to re-route a little bit and just follow the Colorado Trail the entire way instead of breaking off toward Tree Line along the course. The Colorado Trail would drop us about three quarters of a mile from camp and provide a little more scenic run.

The run was beautiful! And, as a bonus, we managed to start at roughly the same time I expect to be arriving at Twin Lakes (7 pm) on race day. That way I got to experience things almost exactly as they will be in 3 weeks. We ran into dusk with a light rain and it was quite fun. My heart rate was kind of high the entire run, I think because I was acclimating to that altitude. When we hit the fork in the road where we were supposed to follow the LT100 course, we went left instead toward Mt Elbert. This added some additional climbing and some gorgeous views. With about a mile left in the run, the skies opened up and a light rain became a torrential down pour. By the time we reached camp, we were soaked through to our core.

After arriving back at camp, we put up a big picnic tent and drank beer over a lantern (it was too wet to light a fire). Our dinner consisted of popcorn, beef jerky, and tortilla chips because it was late and we could not light a fire. All of the runners were freezing as we drank ice cold beer in our soaking clothing.

My impressions of this sections of the course were positive. There is a fair amount of climbing (1500 feet approximately), but it is very runnable. However, it is technical in spots (rocks mainly) and will be challenge if it is after dark. This section will be key for me to run if I am going to have a quality finish time.


No one slept well Friday night. It was cold and it rained most of the night. Besides, who sleeps well their first night in a tent? We awoke slightly before 6 am and proceeded to prepare for our various adventures (the runners were going to run long and the hikers got a late start and decided to some light hiking instead of Mt Elbert).

Greg, a friend from the DailyMile, has been struggling with a couple of injuries and decided to limit his running on Saturday. Instead, he played crew for Tony and I. What a blessing this turned out to be. Our plan was to start the day at the May Queen Aid Station (mile 13 of the course) and run to Twin Lakes (mile 40 of the course). Greg dropped us off and went to run Hagerman road by himself. Since we missed some miles on Friday night, we ran a bit of the Turquoise Lake trail to add a few miles. Then we headed up the Colorado Trail and Hagerman road toward Sugar Loaf pass. I managed to keep a solid pace (roughly 12 min pace) on this section despite the climbing.  However, I did have to switch to a power hike periodically to keep my HR at a reasonable level (below 145).  We popped out on Hagerman Road and saw Tony's car where Greg had parked it. Tony and I took off our jackets and tied them to the door handle and began climbing Hagerman road toward Powerline. The climb was not difficult and it was easy to keep my HR in check. Then we got to run down the infamous Powerline! We ran into several other runners training and they helped us find our way down without getting lost. At the bottom, we took a right and headed toward Fish Hatchery. When we arrived at Fish Hatchery, Greg was waiting for us so we could restock our gear and apply sunscreen. He informed us that he wasn't feeling up to the run and would take Tony's car to Twin Lakes for us (we had left Greg's car at Twin Lakes the night before).

Here I am climbing up Hagerman Road toward Sugar Loaf Pass (outbound).

Leaving Fish Hatchery we did the only real road running of the entire course -- a 5 mile section to Tree Line. But, they changed the course! We followed the old course until Jerry -- a friend of Sherpa John -- came upon us and told us we were off course. Tony and I were faced with a difficult decision. How do we get back on course? The old course was now blocked and clearly marked as trespassing. Worse, the road was washed out. We watched as Jerry and his gang drove off toward the new section of the course. After a few minutes of lively and somewhat panicked discussion, Greg came driving to the rescue! He was headed back to camp and saw us. We jumped in the car and he drove us to the new course where we once again began following Jerry and his gang. In the process, we gathered another runner. His name was Aiden and he is running the LT100 without ever running a race longer than a 5K. Whoa. We followed Jerry, Aiden, and the others for the remainder of the day. The only real drama was a pretty bad calf cramp for Tony. He worked through it and we made it in to Twin Lakes in decent shape.

The day treated us to a steady and sometimes heavy treatment of rain. We finished with almost 31 miles, roughly 5 more than we had planned. We averaged a pretty solid 11.5 minute miles during this section of the run. My race day strategy has me running about 30 seconds per mile slower than that. This section of the course is pretty up until Fish Hatchery. The miles between Fish Hatchery (mile 23) and joining the Colorado Trail (about 34) are the only real non-trail miles in the entire course. However, only about five of them are on pavement. This is a section that I must run consistently inbound and outbound if I am going to make a solid time in the race.

When we arrived back at camp, the hiking crew had a nice warm fire burning for us! And we got to eat our first real food in almost 24 hours, a nice pasta meal.

Tim and Brian (the "hikers") were kind enough to have a warm fire waiting for our return.

Check out our make-shift clothes line! We attempted to dry our soaking clothes by hanging them inside our picnic tent. We spent tons of time avoiding the rain under that tent this weekend.


Sunday was the climax of training, a double passing of the infamous Hope Pass. Hope Pass represents miles 40 to 60 of the race. You run over the pass from miles 40 to 50, climbing more than 3500 feet in 5 miles and reaching 12,600 feet in elevation. The Winfield aidstation is mile 50 and you turn around and climb back over Hope Pass again. Coming inbound the climb is 2500 feet in only 2.5 miles -- roughly a 20% grade. The tricky part about Hope Pass is that it can ruin your race in several different ways. If you go out too hard, then you pay for it and bonk on the pass. Conversely, if you go out too easy -- and are lingering near the cutoff times -- then you better be able to climb the pass quickly or you will "timeout". The latter is what happened to the racers I was going to pace last year.

After a better night sleep and a good meal, I woke about 6 am well rested and ready to go. We packed all of our camping gear into our car and headed back to the Twin Lakes area. This section of trail begins by traversing through a marsh land to the base of Hope Pass. Despite the heavy traffic from runners training, it was not obvious where the trail went. We where lost once again. After about 30 minutes of confusion, I finally managed to get my Garmin to load the course and get us back on the right path. Once we were across the river and heading up the trail, we were treated with some amazing trail and wonderful shade. This direction of Hope Pass is not as steep, but it seems to go on forever. Near the top I felt the first impacts of altitude all weekend (a good sign!).

Near the summit of Hope Pass. Leadville is off in the distance behind me.

The pond that provides the running stream of water along Hope Pass.

A stream along the pass. We had to refill our water from the stream on the way back in.

The summit is in the upper left corner of the screen. These climbs seem to go on forever when you can see the summit from a distance.

After reaching the summit, we attempted to run downhill. The trouble was that it is almost too steep to run or you will do major damage to your quad muscles. It winds up as a slow trot instead. You can see Winfield straight down the hill. We did not go all the way to the Winfield turn around point choosing to turn around at the base of the pass instead. First we took a few minutes to rehydrate and fix up our gear and then we started back up hill. While this section was steeper, I liked it more because it was shorter. I got a good groove with some tiny strides, like a biker with a high cadence, and kept my breathing in a good pattern by keeping my chest wide and my head up. The climb was hard, but it felt manageable. Tony, on the other hand, had a severe bonk like I had at San Juan. He showed his toughness by powering through, barely saying a word. I could tell he was hurting, but we still managed to average a better than 30 minute pace up a 20% grade at 12,000 feet in altitude. I am convinced he will finish the race because he has such a strong mind -- more than half the battle.

We both celebrated at the summit knowing that the worst was behind us. In fact, it sort of felt like the climactic point of my training was behind me. Five downhill miles and I could declare myself as tapering. We got a good rhythm going downhill stopping only to refill our water bottles in a stream. During this stop we ran into a group of runners, several were from Castle Pines and Castle Rock. And, they were with Trevor (from the DailyMile). What a small world! Trevor was nice enough to filter some water for us.

Near the end of our run, we once again got lost trying to cross the marshland on the way back to Twin Lakes. Fortunately, there will be plenty of course markings and foot traffic on race day.

I was surprised that my HR was only a 131 average on this section. Clearly my lungs and my legs are working harder than my heart on these steep climbs. Overall I wasn't too intimidated by Hope Pass. Between the San Juan Solstice 50 and the Grand Canyon, I have done plenty of hard climbs this year. I know this will be harder after running 40 miles, but I am encouraged by how well Tony and I climbed it today. We finished the traverse in a pretty conservative 6 hours and my race day strategy allows for more than 7 hours in this section.

Here is a GoPro video I made of the Hope Pass Segment.

Lesson Learned

Overall I was happy with how the weekend went. We hit every section easily within the time I have allotted for race day, most of them faster. The difficult thing will be stringing it all together for 25+ hours. That said, here are a few key things:

  1. I used Acclerade all weekend and really enjoyed it. I will probably rotate that with my GU Roctane to give me some additional protein and a different flavor.
  2. The altitude only bothered me going up hill above 11,500 or 12,000 feet. This is a huge sigh of relief for me because the altitude really got to me at San Juan.
  3. PocketFuel will have a place in my race day nutrition plan. These little packets agree with my stomach and provide tons of calories in the form of fat and protein.
  4. I am capable of getting this done. But the challenge is much larger than I thought. Running this course gave me an appreciation for how big an accomplishment just finishing it will be.
  5. I was impressed by how much real trail was in the course. You will often hear Leadville called a "road" ultra, but that is simply not true. It is true that much of it is on runnable grades -- by ultra standards. And it is also true that not much of it is highly technical like Hard Rock. But the majority of the course is on dirt. And 80 (or more) of the 100 miles will be on jeep roads or trail. I don't see myself brining a road shoe on race day.
  6. I wore my Saucony Peregrines for the entire weekend and was really happy with them. They will  be my primary shoe on race day.

Weekly Training Wrap - 7/23 - 7/29

Well that was a climactic ending to my training!  I am officially in taper after finishing the week with some training in Leadville in for the Leadville 100.

We ran 58 miles, 14 hours, and 12K of vertical in a 48 hour period over the weekend. My legs are beat up, but my spirits are high. There were dozens of runners training this weekend and I felt as prepared as  any of them.

July is not officially over, but it looks like I will finish the month with 310+ miles, almost 40K of vertical, and more than 52 hours of running (that doesn't include x-training!).  I picked a great time to have my best training month ever. This race is now about my mind, my strategy, and my patience.

19 days to the start of the LT100! And I am freaking out.
Day Miles Notes
Monday 8 Hill Training on TM
Tuesday 5 Recovery Pace
WednesdayRest Weight Training
Friday9 Leadville Night Run
Saturday 31Leadville Long Run
Sunday 18 Double Crossing of Hope Pass
Total 71 About 14000 vertical feet

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 7/16 - 7/22

Almost there! Tough week of training to grind through mentally. The good news is that I am not worn out physically after running 224 miles in the past three weeks. My Sunday run was very solid when comparing pace (9:15 on hills) to effort (135 avg HR). At long last, I get to head up to Leadville this week and see the majority of the course over 3 days of running. This is still technically a training week, but hopefully it wouldn't feel as hard mentally. Training has been spot on for me and I could have imagined it playing out any better. I need to close this week out strong and then taper aggressively. As Jon would say, the hay is in the barn!

Here is some video of Chuck and me running at Waterton Canyon. The last song seems to be everyone's favorite.

Probably the biggest thing I did this week was right an initial race plan.  There is a ton of detail and most of it will probably change after 40 or so miles!

26 days to the start of the LT100!

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Light x-training
Tuesday 10 Most Efficient Pace Miles (8:30)
Wednesday6 Recovery Pace
Thursday10Most Efficient Pace Miles
FridayRest Rest
Saturday 26 Waterton Canyon and Indian Creek
Sunday 14 Most Aerobic Pace Miles
Total 66 About 6700 vertical feet

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leadville 100 Race Plan/Strategy

Race Day Strategy and Plan

Elevation Map | Course Map | Race Guide | Pacing Guide | Crewing Guide


I ask that all of my crew and pacers read the above guides, particularly the Race Guide, Pacing Guide, and Crewing Guide to establish expectations. I am a simple racer and shouldn't need too much other than encouragement, supplies, and company through this journey. My goal is to be fast through aid stations as I am treating this like a race. Here are my objectives for my pacers and crews:
  • Assist me in being efficient through aid stations and re-stocking my supplies.
  • Don't freak out if I am behind time early in the race because I hope to pace this thing well
  • Do not allow me to quit unless there is a medical reason to do so
  • Allowing me to stop and regroup at an aid station is acceptable if I am really struggling
  • Push me to continue working hard even if "A" goals are slipping -- any time is better than that time plus 1 second.
  • Make sure I am staying on top of eating and drinking
  • Slap me if I am being dumb.  Slap each other if you need entertainment.
  • Don't be offended if I put in a iPod in an attempt to zone out


Gear and Food

  • Saucony Peregrine
  • Nathan Pack full of GU Roctane drink
  • Drink Sustained Energy for breakfast (plus a bar of some kind)
  • Hand held full of GU Roctane
  • T-shirt and shorts plus body glide.
  • 2 gels, 2 Pocketfuel, and 1 energy bar (about 920 cals)
  • Assorted essentials in pack (ginger chews, S!caps, Imodium, Chapstick, ibuprofen)
  • Sunglasses
  • Head Lamp

Segment 1 - To May Queen Outbound


The first segment of the course is net downhill and EASY to take too quickly. In fact, it may be the single biggest mistake runners make in this race. The first five or so miles lead you out of town and then to Turquoise Lake trail. The trail around Turquoise Lake is narrow and technical, making it difficult to pass.

I will begin pacing this race for a 27 hour finish. My hope is that I will not slow as much as projected in the second half of the race and finish better than that. If luck is with me, maybe even 25 hours.


Estimated Time: 2:20
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 6:20 AM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 10:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 750 (roughly 55 per mile)
Miles: 13.5

Gear and Food

  • Continue with gear and food from the start.
  • Probably have to refill a handheld with race beverage


  • Warm up slowly to ensure aerobic efficiency
  • Make sure 1st mile is no faster than 10 mins.
  • Start time is 4 am and temps are likely to be in the 20's or 30's.
  • Trail shoes and two water bottles are recommended
  • Head lamp and warmer clothes will also be necessary
  • Tabor Boat Ramp is about 7.5 miles in, probably too early for crew
  • Don't stay too long at the May Queen aid station
  • Crew is allowed, but I think I will pass so they can get a head start on Fish Hatchery

Segment 2 - May Queen to Fish Hatchery Outbound


The next segment contains the first big climb, a 1200 foot climb to Sugar Loaf Pass (elevation 11,100 feet). Portions of this section run along the Colorado Trail and Hagerman Pass Road. The decent from the top to Fish Hatchery is almost 1500 feet.


Estimated Time: 2:05
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 8:25 AM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 12:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 1500 (roughly 150 per mile)
Miles: 10

Gear and Food

  • Switch to a road shoe (Brooks PureFlow)?
  • Swap handhelds and get a full bladder for Nathan hydration pack
  • 3 gel and 2 Pocketfuel (about 800 cals)
  • Sunglasses and visor


  • Be sure to power climb the pass
  • Try to run down the backside of the pass at a relaxed/modest pace.
  • Another quick aid station stop here.
  • It is probably best to drop your head lamp at May Queen.
  • The next section gets warm, so shedding a layer makes sense.
  • Drop head lamp
  • This will be the first time I see crew.  
  • Apply sunscreen.
  • I think I will skip the crew access point at Tree Line and they can go straight to Twin Lakes.

Segment 3 - Fish Hatchery to Halfmoon Outbound


And now comes a lot of road running with a few hills mixed in.  Running a good portion of this section is a must.  Tree Line is a crew access area, but not an official aid station.


Estimated Time: 1:30 minutes
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 9:55 AM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 12:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 700 (roughly 100 per mile)
Miles: 7

Gear and Food

  • No crew, so no food.
  • May refill with race provided beverage


  • There are a few climbs along the road that should be walked
  • Running the 4.5 miles to Tree Line provides an opportunity to walk the rest
  • Be sure to work a good run/walk pattern and monitor HR
  • This section is mostly road and road shoe friendly

Segment 4 - Halfmoon to Twin Lakes Outbound


This section is on single track trail in the woods. You gain about 800 feet (to the Mt Elbert water stop about 7 miles in), topping out at 10,600 feet, before dropping 1,400 feet into Twin Lakes. The descent into Twin Lakes is not a quad killer.


Estimated Time: 2:00
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 11:55 AM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 11:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 950 (roughly 105 per mile)
Miles: 9

Gear and Food

  • Saucony Peregrine (switch back if not already)
  • Nathan Pack full of GU Roctane drink
  • Handheld full of GU Roctane
  • 2 gels, 1 Pocketfuel, and 2 energy bars (about 670 cals)
  • Rain jacket tucked into pack


  • You will be weighed at Twin Lakes
  • There are 3 climbs in this section and the first is the toughest.
  • Spend a few minutes at the Twin Lakes aid station to prepare for Hope Pass
  • Great trail running on this section
  • There is a water stop at the base of Mount Elbert
  • The descent into Twin Lakes is very runnable
  • Wear breathable trail shoes when leaving Twin Lakes
  • Apply sunscreen

Segment 5 - Twin Lakes to Winfield


And here it is, Hope Pass. The first time over features a 3400 foot climb and a 2500 foot descent.


Estimated Time: 3:30
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 3:25 PM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 21:00 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 3800 (roughly 361 per mile)
Miles: 10.5

Gear and Food

  • Saucony Peregrine
  • Nathan Pack full of GU Roctane
  • Hand held full of GU Roctane
  • 2 gels, 1 Pocketfuel, and 1 energy bars (about 670 cals)
  • Keep Jacket tucked into pack


  • It is rare that it will be more than 60 degrees on the pass
  • Push it as hard as possible without going anaerobic
  • Walk the road to Winfield as well
  • A 10 minute refueling period is appropriate here
  • Taking some NSAID might not be a bad idea
  • Carry a poncho or Gortex jacket
  • Could be here as soon early as 2:30 pm
  • The road to Winfield is about 12 miles long and slow, count on an 1:15 to get here
  • Plan should be to pick up Chuck at about 12:30 pm at Cabin
  • This might be a good place to have a bite of a turkey sandwich or something

Segment 6 - Winfield to Twin Lakes Inbound


If you've made it this far and are still ahead of the cut-offs, now is the time to push it a little. The return trip over Hope Pass is not as bad because you didn't loose all the elevation coming down and because you get to run down the road to Winfield. The bad news is that you are probably exhausted. The good news, your first pacer.


Estimated Time: 3:35
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 7:00 PM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 21:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 3000 (roughly 285 per mile)
Miles: 10.5
Pacer: Chuck

Gear and Food

  • Switch to road shoes?
  • Two handhelds full: 1 with GU Roctane, 1 with Perpetuem
  • 1 gels, 2 Pocketfuel, and 1 energy bar (about 820 cals)
  • Handlamp
  • If the weather is nice (no rain), switch to a breathable Jacket
  • Make sure the pacer has a full Hydration pack and spare food


  • Run the Winfield road back to Hope Pass
  • Push it as hard as possible without going anaerobic
  • It is going to be dark soon, be sure to switch mindsets
  • Allow for a good 10 minute break to recover from Hope Pass
  • Stay positive and just keep moving forward
  • Need to pick up Jen at Cabin by 5 pm

Segment 7a - Twin Lakes to Halfmoon Inbound


The hardest part of the race is done. But this section contains an underrated climb of 1400 feet.


Estimated Time: 2:45
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 10:00 PM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 16:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 2000 (roughly 220 per mile)
Miles: 9
Pacer: Jen

Gear and Food

  • Probably have to refill a handheld with race beverage.
  • No food since this is not a crew station.


  • This is where the race can be the most mentally difficult
  • It is now time to run with as much effort as you can
  • No crew access at Halfmoon

Segment 7b - Halfmoon to Tree Line Inbound


This is a quick aid station with a crew stop to come.  This section should be runnable.


Estimated Time: 40 mins
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 10:45 PM on Saturday
Pace: roughly 15:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: -
Miles: 2
Pacer: Jen

Gear and Food

  • Two handhelds full: 1 with GU Roctane, 1 with Perpetuem
  • 1 gels, 2 Pocketfuel (about 600 cals)
  • Make sure the pacer has a full Hydration pack and spare food


  • It is time to start wearing warmer clothes: Hat, gloves, tights, long sleeve
  • Need to pick up Jon at Cabin by 7:30 pm

Segment 8 - Tree Line to Fish Hatchery Inbound


This section may be the easiest on the course.  It is mostly downhill road section that is entirely runnable.


Estimated Time: 1:15
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 11:50 PM on Saturday
Pace: roughly  16:30  min/mile
Elevation Gain (From HM): 500 (roughly 70 per mile)
Miles: 4
Pacer: Jon

Gear and Food

  • Two handhelds full: 1 with GU Roctane, 1 with Perpetuem
  • 1 gels, 2 Pocketfuel, and 1 energy bar (about 820 cals)
  • Make sure the pacer has a full Hydration pack and spare food


  • You will be weighed at Fish Hatchery
  • Once again adding more layers here would be a good decision
  • Refuel and regroup

Segment 9 - Fish Hatchery to May Queen Inbound


And one last beast before you finish, the "Power Line". Be sure to remember that Power Line has many as four or five times. The return trip will include Hagerman Road and the Colorado Trail. The trail is mildly technical and long (mentally).


Estimated Time: 3:40
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 3:30 AM on Sunday
Pace: roughly 21:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 2000 (roughly 200 per mile)
Miles: 10
Pacer: Jon

Gear and Food

  • Two handhelds full: 1 with GU Roctane, 1 with Perpetuem
  • 1 gels, 2 Pocketfuel, and 2 energy bar (about 1040 cals)
  • Make sure the pacer has a full Hydration pack and spare food


  • It takes roughly 90 minutes to climb Power Line
  • Be sure to be bundled up and re-fueled as it will be getting cold

Segment 10 - May Queen to FINISH


This is the final section past Tabor Boat Ramp and around Turquoise Lake. Tabor Boat Ramp is a crew access point that can be valuable.


Estimated Time: 3:30
Arrive at Destination Aid Station: 7:00 AM on Sunday
Pace: roughly 15:30 min/mile
Elevation Gain: 1500 (roughly 110 per mile)
Miles: 13.5
Pacer: Heather


  • Tabor Boat ramp is at mile 93 and can be used as a crew access point
  • Be sure to have enough layers on
  • Be sure to give it all you have and keep moving forward

See Also

LT100 Pacing Strategy


*Editors Note: I have completely re-written this post from previous versions.  My apologies if you reviewed the last version and noticed it is totally different.

Since my initial post on Leadville, which contained information about pacing, I have done quite a bit more research. Let me say up front that there is no one way to attack this. There are lots of variables involved, including: experience, skill, fitness, individual strengths (climbing versus running), the elements, etc... And honestly, I don't know what I am capable of. Since this is my first 100 miler, I probably won't until after the race is finished. That said, my prior races -- namely marathon and 50 mile times -- suggest I should easily be a finisher and have a chance at the "El Plato Grande", or the big buckle, for finishing in 25 hours.

The two sources that particularly interested me are a blog written by Coach Weber, a Leadville finisher and ultramarathon coach, and another written by Dana Roueche, also a Leadville finisher and an "IBMer". Coach Weber has a variety of theories on his site that account for various strategies of the racers. The two strategies that interest me the most are "Buckler", which describes how actual finishers accomplished the task using historical data, and the "Peterson Pattern" where he puts forward the assertion that a racer should be aiming for a near even split by pacing themselves. I am intrigued by the idea of the even split because it suggests that you paced yourself well and executed a near flawless plan. Dana's site is oriented more at "just finishing". Dana's suggestions are very close to the times associated with a 30 hour finisher using Coach Weber's "Buckler" pattern.

Before reading on, glance at the table below with my pacing bands (all splits are based on previous finishers):

Destination Miles Total 25-Hr 27-Hr* 30-Hr Cut Off Time of Day*
May Queen 13.5 13.5 2:10 2:20 2:30 3:156:20 AM
Fish Hatchery 10 23.5 4:05 4:25 4:45 6:008:25 AM
Halfmoon 7 30.5 5:25 5:55 6:20 8:009:55 AM
Twin Lakes 9 39.5 7:15 7:55 8:30 10:0011:55 AM
*Winfield 10.5 50 10:30 11:30 12:30 14:003:30 PM
Twin Lakes 10.5 60.5 14:00 15:00 16:40 17:457:00 PM
Halfmoon  9 69.5 16:15 17:55 19:45 20:459:55 PM
Fish Hatchery 7 76.5 18:00 19:50 21:45 23:0011:55 PM
May Queen 10 86.5 21:00 23:30 25:40 26:303:30 AM
Finish 13.5 10024:59 27:00 29:59 30:006:59 AM

The two most common goals at Leadville are 25 hours and 30 hours, matching the buckles. But I am approaching this as a race. That means that any time is better than that time plus 1 second. In other words, if I reach a point where 25 hours is out of play, I am not going to just walk it in and be happy with a 30 hour finish. I will race hard as long as I can. With that said, I am going to start the race shooting for the 27 hour paces (the Time of Day above is based on 27 hour splits). I am well qualified to run a 27 hour race at LT100. And, the 27 hour pace plan listed above doubles as a go-out-easy plan for a 25 hour finish (aka the "Peterson Pattern"). In other words, if the Peterson Pattern strategy is a good one and I have what it takes, then the 27 hour plan could double as an easy start to a 25 hour finish.

I am pretty sure I will remain at least on 27 hour pace until Twin Lakes (39.5 miles). From Twin Lakes, I will attempt to cross Hope as quickly as I can without blowing out my HR. I plan to take my only extended break of the day (10 - 15 mins) at Winfield to pick up my first pacer, go through medical check, etc... This should help my HR recover and help me get some food down. The strategy will be the same going back over Hope the other direction -- cross as quickly as possible without blowing out HR (and continuing to eat). To have a shot at 25 hour finish, I have to be able to do a double crossing of Hope Pass in 6 to 6.5 hours.

I must accomplish all that in no more than 15 hours (or by 7 pm), then I should be on pace for either 25 or 27 hours. After that, it is just a question of how much I slow the remaining 40 miles. If I can cover those 40 miles in less than 9 hours (13:30 pace), then I will get a big buckle. More importantly, if I manage to get back to Twin Lakes by 7pm, then I have lots of smaller goals to keep me motivated: a high finish, a 27 hour finish, etc...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 7/9 - 7/15

I had a tremendous week, making the best back-to-back weeks I have ever done. Things feel solid and strong, but I am getting bored with training. Other than some altitude acclimation and course scouting/prep work, I don't really think there is much more I can do. Fortunately, next week is really my last hard week of "training". The following week (7/23) is still not technically taper, but I will be doing most of my running up in Leadville on a "guy's weekend", so it should be much less of a mental grind.

In addition to being bored with the training, I am reaching the inevitible phase where I am questioning everything -- is my strategy OK?, have I trained hard enough?, did I set proper goals?, how much information (and when) should I share with my crew and pacers?, etc.. All of it is totally normal and may even be viewed as a positive sign that I am ready. The truth is that I really can't train harder. What I have done is already asking a lot of my family. And, people that train less hard than I did do well in these things all the time. My race is more likely to be determined by my race day strategy and nutrition than training. In the words of Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that".

I tried a couple of new things this week. First, I went out on a night run with some friends that are pacing me. The thought was to simulate the darkness and late night start. All in all, it was a really fun run. But it left us all a little exhausted and hot (it won't be that in Leadville after dark!). The second thing I did differently was to experiment with a run/walk pattern that I found reviewing Coach Weber's website. Lately, I have been starting out slow (9:30 ish pace) and then walk, resulting in training runs that are well over 10 min miles. His training had me run at a good aeorbic clip (the target was a 75% Max HR, which he estimates to be about 8:30 pace for a 3:15 marathoner). Instead of pace, I targeted the 75% max HR (145) for 10 mins. Then I would walk for 3 mins. And it was an aggressive walk, around a 14 min mile. The net result was a long run that was in the low 9 min pace with a relatively low HR (140). I found it a really successful strategy and very easy to keep mentally in the moment instead of thinking about clicking off miles.

This week I also summited my second 14er (Grays Peak). I went with my family and the pace was really slow. Nonetheless, it felt somewhat hard to me. Then I read that Anton can run Grays and Torreys starting from more than a mile before the trailhead round trip in 1:58. Humbling. I really need to head up there when I am a bit fresh (not 6 hours after a 20 miler!) and try to set a benchmark time for myself to the summit Grays and back to the trailhead. I wonder if I could do it in 2.25 hours?

Every day is one step closer to my goal....33 days to LT100

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Light x-training
Tuesday 12 MLR Pace
Wednesday6 Recovery Pace
Thursday10Most Efficient Pace Miles
Friday20 Night Run - Easy Aerobic Pace
Saturday 8 Grays Peak
Sunday 23 Most Efficient Pace Miles
Total 80 About 8800 vertical feet

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 7/2 - 7/8

One last order of business before I put San Juan Solstice 50 behind me: I put together a video.  If you haven't had a chance to see it, check it out here.

After recovering SJS50, I knew I had one push left -- three or four hard weeks in July and then it is taper time. (I am debating whether to go hard all four weeks or include one recovery/cut-back week.) My assessment was that I need to push some big B2B miles and simulate what it feels like to run sore and tired. I dropped my most aggressive set of B2Bs yet, running 52 miles in two days. In total, I ran 78 miles in just over 12 hours or 6.5 miles per hour. And I did it all in 5 runs, averaging almost 16 miles per run. Considering the length of those runs, and the fact that I limited my HR on four of the five, I am incredibly happy with that. I am only two weeks removed from one of the toughest 50 milers in the country and this seemed almost easy. There are no significant pains or injuries. My body is fresh and able to perform when I want it to. I feel like I am peaking at a good time. And, I feel like I have done everything I intended in training, including racing both the Grand Canyon and San Juan 50 conservatively enough to allow me to keep training at a high level.

While running with Jon on Friday, I asked him what more I could do to make a "significant" difference in my training. His answer? Nothing. It is hard to admit that, but I really have done 90% of the work at this point. I've run big miles. I've run long. I've trained at altitude (not as much as I'd like). I've run 50 miles (twice). I've run in the heat. I've practiced climbing (almost 165K vertical for the year). The Leadville Race Guide describes miles 50 - 100 as "no man's land" because almost no one has experienced those miles in training and there is no way to predict how you will handle it. Yikes. I will work in some specificity training and a few more B2Bs to fine tune things. But come race day, I won't have to wonder if I could have trained harder.

Every day is one step closer to my goal....39 days to LT100. Wow, this is going to happen! I remember when it was 10 months away...

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Light x-training
Tuesday 21 Mostly Aerobic Miles
Wednesday31 Mostly Aerobic Miles
ThursdayRestCore Work
Friday9 Most Efficient Pace Miles
Saturday 7 Most Efficient Pace Miles
Sunday 10 More of a marathon type run
Total 78 About 6000 vertical feet

Thursday, July 5, 2012

San Juan Solstice 50 Video Blog

I attempted to video my San Juan 50 experience with Tony. This was my first video gig, so it didn't come out perfect (namely that you are staring at my chin and nose the whole time!). Nonetheless, I think it turned out pretty good, even if long. My daughter Savannah did most of the editing and production.
San Juan Solstice 50 Mile Run from Andrew Wellman on Vimeo.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 6/25 - 7/1

Well, lots to say this week, so let's get to it. First of all, I took a crazy light week last week. This was done entirely on purpose. First of all, I haven't had much down time in the past 18 months and I figured I was due. What better time to take it than after getting your butt kicked by a 50 mile course? Second, my legs were extremely swollen from all the blood and fluid pooling to repair my over worked muscles. The long and the short of it, I could have run sooner, but I just didn't think it was prudent. I think the decision payed off as I was pleasantly surprised at how good things felt when I started running again on Friday.

After some reflection, I have gained an appreciation for the difficulty of the San Juan course and how far I have to go if I plan to make 25 hours at Leadville.  Here are a few stats that I figured out about San Juan by looking at my Garmin data:
  • Four of the five hardest miles were the first climb and the last (where I crashed). I didn't realize that last climb was that hard (though I felt it!) -- miles 42 and 43 were both 15%.
  • Four of the eight hardest miles were in the first climb.
  • There were 13 miles that averaged 10% or more grade of climbing
  • Highest grade were miles 7 and 8, both over 17%.
  • Overall the course averaged 260 of climbing per mile. LT100 is "only" 180.
  • There are somewhere between 13 and 15 miles of SJS50 that are entirely above 12,000 feet (a rule of thumb number for altitude issues). Only about 3 or 4 miles of LT100 is above 12,000 feet.
  • 5 or 6 of those miles above are above 12,500 feet.
I feel pretty confident in my climbing right now. I think that running the runnable miles in LT100 will be the key to my remaining training and my racing. And I feel like my nutrition needs to improve by about 25% to avoid crashing. I will have to re-evaluate that a bit. My plan is to spend more time running local, easy trails these next few weeks working on long, slow runs with walking breaks to push food. And I think I will just go with my higher calorie beverages and give up on Clip2. That alone should provide me an additional 100 cals more an hour. Also, I enjoy the taste of the Roctane Brew and it has been agreeable to my GI system. So it is a no-brainer decision.

Every day is one step closer to my goal....46 days to LT100.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Light x-training
Tuesday Rest
WednesdayRest Light x-training
Friday10 Pace controlled run
Saturday 10 Pace controlled run
Sunday 14 Deer Creek Trail Run
Total 34 About 4000 vertical feet