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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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.

A season of big ambitions

Four years ago, I ran the Leadville Trail Marathon, and swore off ever running ultras, ever. That same year, I paced someone for the last 25 miles of the Leadville 100, and doubled down on my commitment to never do ultras, and especially to never, ever run the LT100. Then some things changed.

This will likely be my last year with a good level of run fitness. I qualified for the Boston Marathon at Colfax last year, and am currently getting ready for that. Then I figured, “what the hell, I’ll do the Leadville Trail Marathon again, and see if I can pick up a qualifying spot for the LT100.” Then I saw that there were a few remaining spots for the Leadman competition, which, among other things, includes an entry to the LT100 run. And bike. And 50. And marathon. And because the organizers may be mildly sadistic, a 10km the day after the LT100 bike.

And so one of those days that seems to come along every few years, when I make a decision that I know I’ll regret before I ever even commit. Expect some snapshots and updates once in a while, along with some potentially-rambling thoughts about what I’ve gotten myself in to. I’ve got a big summer ahead, with lots of running, cyling, and big days in the mountains. In any given week for the next couple months, I’ll be trying to run about 50 miles, get in a decent bike ride or two, and spend a day in the mountains. Last week was a down week, with only 27 miles ran and a cold road ride.

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A ski flag, seen in Kerr Gulch yesterday.

Back to normal (?) this week, and hopefully weather this weekend will cooperate. It’s certainly been weird lately.

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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