Prepairing for the Leadville 100
Training for the Leadville 100 began more than one year before the race in mid August 2009. The first order of business was to get ready for the Kat'cina Mosa 100K (62 miles) in August ’08. That run has more altitude gain (17,404 ft), than The Leadville 100 but at lower altitude and a lot fewer miles make it a lot easier. Then in September came The Imogene Run. This is a good workout plus lots of great trail running and hiking the days before and after. In October I ran the Stump Jump 50K in Chattanooga. This one has some tough and very long climbs. On November 8, 2008 I ran my first 100-MILE run, the Pinhoti 100, here in Alabama. I know this makes no sense, but the Pinhoti has as much elevation gain as Leadville, over 16,000 ft. The run begins near Heflin Alabama, close the Georgia State line off I20. The course follows the Talladega National Forest, over Mt Cheaha and finally ends in Sylacauga. It took me 29 hours and I finished 58 out of about 99 starters. My feet hurt!
In January I ran the Mountain Mist 50K in Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, AL. This race was harder than the Stump Jump. Mid February was the Mt Mitchell Challenge with about 8,200 feet of elevation gain in 20 mile – that is 20 miles up (to the highest point east of the Rockies) and 20 miles down. Mitchell is usually a really miserable race due to the frequent terrible weather. Well it was! Conditions were so bed the Park Rangers closed the top of the mountain way before cutoff at the turn-around for the Marathon on the Blue Ridge Parkway and about 5 minutes before I got there. I was quite mad at the time that they sent me down without reaching the top. After talking to some of the 60 people that actually made it up I decided I was glad they did send me back down. (10 were brought down with hypothermia and 22 had to be driven back down because they could not face the run back down.) The temperature was right at freezing; it was poring rain all the way up until above the parkway where it turned to snow and almost whiteout conditions. People were running through rivers of ice water flowing over “ice.”
Throw in the Florida "Gulf Cost Triathlon" (Half Iron Man) in May where the conditions are always very hot, and the rest of the year will be training for the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run. I will have to throw in a little swimming and bike riding (to condition my butt for 6 hours in the saddle!) to get ready for the Florida Ironman (November ’09) after Leadville. At least I should be ready for the run!!
Of course, after Leadville I will be able to register for The Hardrock 100, which I will do. I also intend to register for the Wasatch Front Range 100. Both are very difficult to get into especially for those that have not completed either race before. Odds are about 1 in 5 for a first-timer. Maybe I will get lucky and get in one of them.
“And why would anyone decide to start ultra trail running at 57? The primary reason was being totally burned out on road running. I was a miler in high school and never quit running. I started running road races in 1978 at the Azalea Trail run in Mobile, Alabama. Less than one year later I ran my first Marathon at Panama City, Florida in 2:51. I guess it is appropriate to run my first Ironman in Panama City too. I bet the marathon portion of the Ironman will not be quite that fast!! I have always had to “TRAIN for the next race” to stay motivated to do hard training runs. I no longer had any desire to run a 5K or 10K or even a marathon so I just about stopped running. All I did was train on my bike. Then, I tried a Triathlon and that was fun and a new challenge. At the same time, I was training for the Imogene Pass Run and doing a lot of trails. Going to Telluride for any reason is motivation enough and trail running and it is easy to get hooked on. That is exactly what happened.
If I am going to put a lot of effort into anything I always push to the limit. If I was going to run, I wanted to run the longest, hardest runs around. That used to be Marathons! On my bike I rode the hardest century rides (100 mile rides) in the Southeast – like Six Gap and Mt Mitchell. Both rides climb about 14,000 ft.
Now that I am competing in Triathlons obviously the next step is an Ironman.
And now that I am trail running, well, the next step was 100 milers. Next will be the classic – The Leadville 100. Of course the ultimate would be The Hardrock 100 starting in Silverton Co. (Probably the hardest run on earth) Oh yes, there is the Badwater Ultra starting at the lowest point in the U.S. “Death Valley” in the summer and running 130 miles in temperatures as high as 135 deg. Fahrenheit. (But it is not a trail run so it doesn't count.)