Leadville Trail 100 Pacing

A couple weekends ago I got to do one of my favorite things – cover long distances in the mountains at night at a good pace. Several months ago, I received an email from a friend, who was passing on an email from a guy he knew, about someone else looking for a pacer (or something like that). The racer, Scott Loughney, was preparing for the Leadman competition – essentially racing all summer long in Leadville. Scott’s target time for the 100 was 24-25 hours, putting the last quarter of his race solidly in the overnight hours. Perfect.

Saturday night of the race, I headed up to the Fish Hatchery to take over pacing duties and found Scott’s brother Todd all set up and ready for Scott to come in.

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This was my first time at an ultramarathon, and it was quite the scene.

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Scott came in pacerless, having been too fast for his wife to keep up with.

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A few minutes of rehydrating and sorting new gear and we were off, me with two packs to ease the burden on Scott’s legs, which already had 76 miles in them.

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The evening was chilly, but keeping the pace up kept us both warm.

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There aren’t a whole lot of pictures because, well, it was night time and we had a pace to keep up. To my pleasant surprise, Scott had no major issues during the six and a half hours we were moving through the mountains. Temps dropped quite a bit in the last hour, but a good support crew came through with our warmer clothes just in time.

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Scott came in with a time of 24:31 (for a total Leadman time of 45:18, good for 14th in the series), plenty of time under the cutoff for the big belt buckle.

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It was a great time and I look forward to pacing again. I even came away with a valuable lesson – that I have little interest in ever doing a 100 mile race.

Congratulations Scott, and thanks for having me along for the ride!

Leadville and Motivation

The Leadville Trail Marathon is now four weeks behind us. I signed up for it in memory of Rob Janssen, who passed in a climbing accident last year. My training was almost all-consuming leading up to it, as evidenced by my near-total lack of peak skiing this year, despite an excellent spring. The race was an amazing experience, but took it out of me in a way nothing has before. Motivation was nonexistent, energy levels through the floor, and recovery slower than molasses.

Things finally changed his week, thanks to the preseason Salvagetti/Happy Coffee Cyclocross team meeting. After a month of not wanting to do anything, I’m now to the point where I’m even looking forward to trainer workouts. It’s good to be back.

Because I need to get caught up on photos and such, below are two photos from the Bailey Hundo. The first is Christopher Jones blasting the end of Sandy Wash, the second Levi enjoying a free massage at the aid station.

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Long Term Review – New Balance MR00

About five months ago, I picked up a pair of New Balance MR00 minimalist running shoes, to replace the NB MT20v1s that I wore out (uppers were fine – rubber sole was completely worn through and falling apart, after several hundred miles – no complaints here). To date I’ve got approximately 400 miles mixed between asphalt, concrete, and crusher-fine paths on them, and they’re still going mostly-strong. They’re true to size, fit like all my other running shoes in the same size, and they have a very wide toebox.

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Denver Marathon

Well, it’s done. The pain will be lasting for a few days though, my guess is by Wednesday I’ll have full function in my legs back. I didn’t make my sub-4:00 goal, not by a long shot. New blisters started forming and subsequently popping starting around mile 5 and going until mile 22-23, and my legs turned into jello about halfway through. I hoped my general fitness would help me to a quicker time, but no such luck. The three weeks of not being able to do anything at all really killed me, as my HR was up around 190 even while churning out 8:00-8:30 miles. I finished in 5:09:45.

Now a couple thoughts on the race. First, the number of toilets at the start was grossly insufficient. I got there at 6:30, immediately got in line, and barely had time to run over to the bag check and make it to the starting line before the race started. Next, the course that is billed as “flat” is anything but. There are hardly any flat sections, and there are a few multi-mile long gradual, soul crushing hills scattered through the event. The Gu tables really should’ve been stationed right before water stations, rather than out on their own, but that’s not a huge issue, and finally, they need to get some real beer for the finish. I didn’t even bother going to the beer tent, since I’ve heard MGD64 is even worse than Michelob Ultra. Come on, we just did 26 miles, at least give us some High Life. Other than these issues, the event was run pretty well. Volunteers were largely great, traffic control was flawless (for the runners; I’ve read horror stories from people trying to drive through the mess). The official course cyclists were everywhere and helpful.

Once my legs recover, I think I’ll get working on speed for a while, since I can’t do any weight training for a couple more months. I feel a need to go back and do it right (ie break 4:00) but we’ll see how that goes.

No turning back now

Yesterday afternoon, I signed up for the Denver Marathon, taking place on Sunday, October 18, 2009. My goals are as follows: do it barefoot, and finish under 3:30. I hope to do this with 110+ miles a week on my fixed gear (just through daily commuting), one fast run, and then one long run each week. The long runs will be on weekends starting June 13 or 14 (since next week is the Elephant Rock century ride). I hope to do Niketown runs each week on the order of ~5 miles for my speed runs.

I have the photos from Saturday’s BikeDenver metric century ride mostly sorted, but Garmin’s software has me unable to get the track for the course loaded, hopefully that will be fixed tomorrow.

Race Photos

This post will be far less visually appalling than the previous one (at least, I hope so).

Race photos are up for the Colfax Marathon, and for some reason they only took photos for the Half at the end of the race, where apparently everyone looks like crap. Out of 30 or so there are a couple where I think I look ok, but still worse than I think I should look.


What a fun race. I’m thinking now of the Boulder half, and the Denver full.

I had a long weekend

It was a blast but I’m also glad it’s over with. As some of you may know, this Sunday was the Colfax Marathon. I signed up for the half with Nate a few months ago when it was BOGO, and have been half-assedly getting ready for it. That, along with the ill-fated Rainier trip, kept me from getting to the mountains much for a while. I decided to go climb and ski Quandary the day before the race.

Friday night I got to sleep around 10:30, which was a little late given the 3am wakeup call Saturday had in store. Got up, loaded the car, met up with Hans, Mel, Owen, and Aaron at the Morrison Park ‘n’ Ride about 4:15 and we were off. It was raining in Denver, and we were hoping for better conditions in the mountains. We got them.

It was horrendously foggy on the mountain though, and as we approached this CMC group (who absolutely trashed the snowpack by glissading and postholing everywhere), we were getting drenched with sweat. High humidity in the Colorado mountains, especially on spring snow climbs, is exceptionally rare. It was fairly miserable, although it was surreal not being able to see very far around you.
The snow was extremely dusty, and got worse as the day went on due to accelerated melt. Total melt-off is going to be quick this year.

Once we were above the fog, the views were very cool. There was little to no breeze early, so it just sat in the valleys.
Even once we were largely out of the fog, occasional light breezes would push it above us.
Where are we, British Columbia?
A couple hours after starting, we topped out to a beautiful morning. While waiting for the snow to soften up, I took a nice nap. Very refreshing, and necessary for the ski that was about to come.
It turns out we waited too long. When the snow was nice on the summit, it was a horrible slushfest down low. I failed to lock the toe on my Dynafits, and a stationary jump turn resulted in one ski popping off and careening down the mountain a couple hundred feet. I’m told photos of that will be following. I didn’t get any ski photos because I was too busy either enjoying the snow, or being miserable and fighting through it. Having to cross multiple glissade tracks and countless trashed areas didn’t help (thanks a lot, CMC).

We finally made it back down to the car and headed in to Breckenridge for lunch. I had a massive calzone at Eric’s, and was still back to hungry by the time I got home. I cooked up a big plate of pasta and hit the sack at 6:30.

After an amazing evening’s sleep, the alarms went off, again, at 3am. I downed some extra strong coffee, cooked a solid breakfast, got my bag together, and biked down to City Park for the 6am start to the race. I had a strong start to the race, down under a 7:30 pace. I figured it was just excitement and I’d settle down to my 8:00 target, which would get me done just under 1:45. To my surprise, I kept it up through miles 3, 4, 5…soon I was 8.5 miles in with a 7:24 average pace. I kept it up and not much later I was finished, an hour and 38 minutes after starting. 13.1 miles is now my personal record distance, and to do it with 7:27 miles felt great.

After grabbing food and my bag, I went back to the finish to shout at Nate for his finish. He met his goal of sub-two hours, and it was off to the beer garden for some seemingly alcohol-free Michelob Ultra. Shortly thereafter, Amy picked me up for breakfast, and brought me a mini-cake with a great little flag. Thanks hon:


The results:
Overall: 85/2294
Age group: 18/167
Sex: 72/846
Chip time: 1:38:35
Gun time: 1:38:38

ForeRunner Review

I’m past 50 miles on my Garmin ForeRunner 305 at this point, and figure it’s fair to give it a real review now. I’ve still been using a program made by RunnersWorld for racing a 10k, in preparation for my half marathon. The most important thing is for me to get more miles under my feet, and the speedwork is always good for strength, speed, and to keep it interesting. I’ve also started running with music on again, which is a great distraction from the monotony of running.

My only real gripe with the unit is that it averages your pace over far too long a period of time. I’m not sure what the time is exactly, but I can be doing a 6:00 pace after coming down from a 12:00 rest, it will tell me to slow down (because my target will be, say, 7:00) yet it will be displaying 8:00. Other than that, it’s great. You know exactly how fast you’re going (or rather, were going over the past 30 seconds or so), how far you’ve gone, and have a great, easy to setup program to keep runs different. Last night for example the workout was 2 miles warmup, then 7 sets of 1/4mi fast then 1/4mi resting, five minute break, 7 more sets, and finally a 2 mile cooldown. I was out running for close to two hours, which I’ve never done before, yet I never felt bored. It was easy to just keep focused on the next interval. The HR monitor is nice to have, and helps the unit get a reasonably accurate estimate on calories burned for your run. All in all, a good product, especially for half the cost of a 405.

In other news, it looks like the trip to Silverton is off. There’s a big storm (supposedly) coming through, and I’m still a little sick. Bummer.

FiveFingers: 50-mile review

I’ve had my Vibram FiveFingers KSOs for a few weeks now, and have reached roughly 50 miles in them, including a single 25 mile week. At this point, I think they’re great. There’s a freedom to running in them, as you truly feel everything under your feet. I feel faster and lighter on my feet, and my pace is faster for a given effort level than it feels.

The downside is that barefooting really works your calves. My calves continue to be tighter and more sore than I ever could have imagined, and although there is some improvement, it’s still to the point where I’m nearly hobbling around the day after a 8.5 mile interval run. Today is supposed to be a 9 mile easy run, but I’m taking a rest day as there’s simply no way I could do it. Additionally, I’ve torn holes on top of both of my second toes from scraping them on rocks, concrete, dirt, etc. I’ll probably need to patch them fairly soon. That said, I’m sticking with them for the time being. Hopefully by the time I hit 100 miles the soreness will no longer be an issue.

On a side note, I’ve been using thedailyplate.com for the past few days (which is a part of livestrong.com now) after being turned on to it by Nate, and it’s already an obsession. It’s a great way to set goals with exercise and calories, and accurately track how you’re doing on a day to day basis.

Run, then keep running, and then run some more

Since getting my Forerunner, I’ve been putting in quite a few miles (all wearing the fivefingers). The first run was on Saturday, and since then, I’ve done 18.5. If I do all the runs from my training program, this week (Sunday -> Saturday) will be around 33 miles. I’ve never had a 30-mile week. Cool!

A couple weeks ago I was turned on to the Niketown running club (on the 16th St. Mall) by someone at the Slattery’s run club. I’d never heard of it, and information about it online was pretty scarce. I went with Nate, who’s lucky enough to work less than two blocks away. It was great, with quite a few seriously fast runners. I paced one guy for a mile and a half who eventually started pulling away. When I looked at my watch, I was moving at a 5:40 pace (and couldn’t keep up anymore). He stopped to turn back, when a few guys came by who had been moving slower (9:00) earlier, and were up to a roughly 8 minute pace. Then it was 7:30. Then 7 flat. And then 6:30. Half a mile from the end they were gone, as I couldn’t keep up after 5 miles of race pace. Awesome, I’ll definitely be back (especially to get that 100-mile club shirt!).