Leadville 100 MTB – Race Report

This past weekend brought the second biggest event in the Leadman series, one that I put a lot of training time and effort towards for the sake of getting a big shiny belt buckle – including a huge three-day weekend on the bike last month. I started the weekend with an early drive to Leadville for packet pickup and killed some time before the mandatory pre-race meeting with a haircut. The meeting was a waste of time, with no relevant race information but plenty of “you’re all amazing, especially these guys who have done the race dozens of times, enjoy the near-life experience you’re about to have, etc. etc. etc.” With that over I slowly made my way to lunch and my hotel, and wound down for the afternoon/evening.

My alarm came plenty early at 4am on Saturday. I microwaved some breakfast, got dressed, put on most of a tube of sunscreen, and before I knew it I was lined up in my starting corral.

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Rodeo Flat Tops Roundup

Earlier this year, the Rodeo guys posted up a trip they were planning through the Flat Tops Wilderness. It looked ridiculous – three days to cover 265 miles and nearly 20,000′ of climbing over mixed terrain in places bicycles are rarely seen. I didn’t know what bike would be appropriate, or if I’d even have an appropriate bike for the trip. I did know, however, that it would be perfect training for the Leadville 100 bike race. So I signed up, knowing I had a lot of work to put in before mid-July rolled around.

Working nights most of the summer on top of raising a family got in the way of a lot of training time, but preparing for this trip and the Leadman series were a big enough priority that I fit in what I could; even so, I was nervous in the days leading in to the weekend. The day the trip finally rolled around, I woke up to my alarm at 3, had a small breakfast and coffee, and hit the road. I got to Steamboat a bit early, but before I knew it we were loading up the support van and getting ready to roll out.


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Leadville Silver Rush 50 Weekend

This past weekend was one I’ve been looking forward to wrapping up for a while now. For the Leadman series, I was only required to do one of the two 50 mile races. Needing a qualifying time to get in a better corral in the 100 MTB, doing the bike race was the obvious choice. If I hadn’t, I’d start the race in the very back, behind at least 1000 people (there were ~1,350 finishers last year) and have almost no chance of finishing under nine hours. So doing the 50 mile bike race on Saturday was a given. At the same time, I went in to this series having never run an ultramarathon – so maybe it would be good to get the experience of a 50 mile run to sort out my pacing, nutrition, etc. And if I did it the day after a bike race, I’d have the bonus of doing those 50 miles on already-tired legs. And with that, another poor decision was made – to do a pair of 50 mile races back to back.
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2017 Leadville Trail Marathon

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The first race of this year’s Leadman series is now behind me. It was a fun one, with mostly good weather and better course conditions than could’ve been expected. I kept going back and forth on staying in town the night before or driving up the morning of, and ended up with a 3:30am alarm on Saturday, in large part due to Owen’s most recent sleep regression. Since I was treating this race as a training run, being a little tired was no big deal. As long as I could finish feeling good and drive myself home at the end of the day, I’d be happy.

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Two weeks to the start

Training has gone reasonably well, though not amazingly so the past month. My shortest week since picking back up after Boston was about ten and a half hours combined run+bike time, and – if tomorrow goes according to plan – this week will be over 18, including a decent hike hauling Owen. I’ve had a few 20+ mile trail runs and some solid bike workouts, and I’m feeling pretty good about the Leadville Trail Marathon coming up quick. I’m reasonably confident that I’ll come out of it no slower than last time, but more importantly, feeling good. Last time I did this race I buried myself in a hole so deep it took all summer to get back out.

At this point I’m actually feeling better about the 100 Run than the 100 Bike. That might be off-base. Next update in two weeks.

Boston is done, on to Leadville

I’m getting ready to leave Boston this evening, but my flight is delayed so I’ve got time to write a few words about the trip.

Boston Logan at night

I got in to town late Friday night as planned, though it was even later than expected thanks to a United delay. I slept in on Saturday – sort of – and wandered down to packet pickup, where I was met with a multi-hour security line. Figuring that most people at an event like this were likely to be Type-A personalities making damn sure they got their race number as soon as they could, I went back to my hotel – The Boston Custom House – and took a nap. When I went back towards the end of the day, I was able to walk through security without even stopping. I went out for a nice dinner with my parents and turned in for the evening.

Sunrise over Boston Logan International.

Sunday was a laid back, 80-degree day. A little wandering down to the water, and a beer up on the observation deck of the Custom House was about it for the itinerary. The forecast for race day was hot and humid, and I kept going back and forth between going for it and just doing a fun run. By the end of the evening I decided on going for it, and slept poorly as a result of the excitement.

Looking northwest from the Boston Custom House

The race was a hot one. I have nothing unique to add from any other race report, so I won’t go in to much detail. It was close to 70 by the start, with a gentle tailwind to keep any sort of cooling breeze from helping. I gave it a go for the first ten miles, and backed off when it became clear I was not setting a PR. I focused on enjoying myself and the experience, and not completely wrecking myself. Despite a pretty ugly time, I’m thrilled to have run the Boston Marathon, something I never ever thought I would qualify for.

I’ve walked 20 miles in the past two days and my legs are still pretty tight, so I’m glad I backed off when I did. It’s been a great time, and Boston is an amazing city. I look forward to coming back and visit, but in the mean time I’m looking on to Leadville. More trail and hiking miles, more cycling, and less time pounding flat pavement. Four months from this moment, I’ll be hours away from the end of the Leadman series. It’s sure – if nothing else – to be memorable.

7 Weeks ’til Boston

It’s hard to believe, but Boston is coming up quick. Harder to believe is that Boston, formerly my A-race – and probably only race of the season – is essentially a warm up for what’s to come. Training is going well, hitting 50mpw consistently (if you count the miles from climbing and skiing Grays Peak a week ago) including a weekly 19+ mile run, along with a decent road ride each week and some light weights.

Last Saturday (Feb 18) I went up to Grays Peak for some exercise, and ran in to Chris Tomer on the summit. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years and have been trying to connect, so that was a fun surprise. Despite gigantic sastrugi, the skiing was very pleasant and even went continuous from summit to car.

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On the summit of Grays Peak Photo: Chris Tomer
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Mike skiing in front of a sun dog Photo: Chris Tomer
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Chris skiing on Grays Peak

Weather and life have made it difficult to keep consistent, and this coming week will probably be tougher.

I’ve settled on a couple gear decisions, the main one being bike choice – I’m going to stick with my FS trail bike, make a couple upgrades, and get some race tires. A new race bike would be nice but just isn’t in the budget. I’m still figuring out shoes, both run and bike. Beyond that, trying to schedule my spring/summer training around family, work, skiing, and races is my current focus on the Leadman front.