Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Colfax Marathon

After almost 3 years of no road marathons, I have signed up for the Colfax Marathon, which is May 21 here in Denver. The last time I really focused on a road marathon was the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix in 2013, though I did run a 3:04 at the Colorado Marathon in 2014 (was not a focused effort). I am excited to lace 'em up and give Colfax a go.

At this point, I have some tiered goals for Colfax, each of which gets me to the BIG goal, which is to qualify for Boston in 2018. I am not 100% certain I will go back to Boston (last did it in 2007), as I really enjoy skiing and not training hard over the winter, but it will be nice to have the option. So, the tiered goals are:

1) 3:10 or better - would mean I beat my BQ by 5 minutes, virtually guaranteeing me a spot in Beantown next year.

2) 3:05 or better - this has been my typical road marathon time over the past few years.

3) Sub-3 - the last time I ran a sub-3 was 2009!

Between now and then, I will be focusing on mile repeats and increasingly long tempo runs. Game on!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

How I'm Going to Be Ready for Leadville

My race schedule for 2017 is firming up quite nicely. Going into 2017, I kind of wanted to run a road marathon and go for a Boston Marathon qualifier time but I didn't know how that might fit into the mix, or if I was willing to put in that kind of training. But over the past few weeks, I have been doing some quality workouts, like track intervals and tempo runs, and I plan to keep it up as it seems to be improving my turnover. I've also gotten in a few 20-milers and plan on another one tomorrow. My weekly mileage is between 60-65 right now...a nice early season base. As this process has unfolded, the road marathon has entered my mind. I do want to go back to Boston.

Top-end speed has always been an asset of mine as a long-distance runner. I can think back to several races where I was in a sprint finish against another surging runner and managed to cross first (my banner photo captures one of those moments). And yet, over the past few years, I have definitely felt it slipping due to aging. And not just top-end speed. I am losing speed all the way around. Use it or lose it. So I am working hard right now to get some speed back.

I still have a long way to go before I consider myself ready for a Boston qualifier effort on the road but things are coming together and I am eyeing the Colfax Marathon on May 21. I would be thrilled to cross the finish line in under 3 hours and 5 minutes.


People say to me often, "a marathon must be easy for you!" My response has always been that if all I had to do was run 26.2 miles at a slow pace, then, yes, it wouldn't be that hard for me or nearly any ultrarunner. But to "race" that distance in pursuit of a goal time...super hard. When you are racing 26.2 miles on the road, every second counts. It hurts and the pressure is on. I kind of like that!

When I was on a nice run in 2008-2009, breaking 3 hours in three consecutive marathons, the effort I put into those races was significant but, being in my mid-30s at the time, I recovered pretty quickly and moved on to the next thing. When I look at 2009, for example, I am shocked by what I was able to do within my own abilities. Now that I'm 43 years-old, I am well-aware that, after a potential BQ attempt at Colfax this spring, I will need some recovery. That's what First Endurance Ultragen is for! But the recovery window will need to be limited because Leadville is on the horizon.......

From Colfax (haven't yet pulled the trigger on it, but it's likely), it's going to be the Leadville Trail Marathon on June 17, the Chase the Moon 12-Hour on July 7-8, and then the big one...the Leadville Trail 100-Mile. I will use the Leadville Trail Marathon as a long training run up high. It will not be a race effort. Same with Chase the Moon, where the goal will be 50 "easy" miles in 12 hours, which I feel is quite doable. I had considered making the Silver Rush 50-Mile Run up in Leadville my 50-mile training effort going into the 100-miler but I feel that Silver Rush might put me in a recovery hole given that it's 50 miles above 10,000 feet in the mountains. Chase the Moon, which is hilly but not mountainous, seems a bit "smarter." When I look back on my running "career," all of my best 100s were preceded by 50-mile runs. So I feel strongly that I need a 50-mile effort and Chase the Moon fit the bill perfectly. Doesn't hurt that it'll be logistically easy to pull off, given that it's just up the highway from me.

Throughout the summer I will be making a point to get up high and train above 10,000 feet and ideally knock off some 14'ers. The name of the game is steep and high. On the list as of now are:
  • Grays and Torrey's Peaks - did these in 2013 and want to go back, but this time I will start from the lower parking lot right off I-70.
  • Hope Pass double crossing - required!
  • Longs Peak - will be logistically challenging to pull off but it's on the list. Backup would be Pikes Peak.
  • 20-30 mile effort on the Colorado Trail starting at Kenosha Pass.
  • A few new sections of the Colorado Trail, such as the section from Copper Mountain up to Camp Hale.
I feel that if I can get in several efforts above 10,000 feet, where the terrain is steep and nasty, I will be ready for a good crack at sub-24 at Leadville. I have two efforts of 22 hours and change at Leadville and would love to make a run at that kind of time but for 2017 I am gunning for sub-24. I know my stomach will go south, so it's really a question of how I minimize the impact. And I think that more training on steep terrain up high, all within weeks of 80-90 miles, will hopefully better condition my stomach for what will come on race day.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Going Back to Leadville, the "Race Across the Sky"

Yesterday I got the absolutely awesome news that I've once again been selected in the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run lottery. I was super nervous! Many Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run qualifiers have sold out, which meant my list of backups (were I not selected for Leadville) was shrinking.


Even with five finishes going into the Leadville lottery, I just didn't know what my odds were. Were my odds the same as someone with no finishes, or did I have extra tickets or some other consideration that increased my chances? I just didn't know. Lifetime Fitness has the right to run the lottery how they see fit (so long as it's fair, which I'm sure it is), so I am not here to tell them what they should and should not do. But this I will say: Good on them for having a public event where the results were announced.

Actually, I do have one suggestion. Given that so many races quickly sell out these days, I might recommend that Lifetime move the lottery up a month, so it happens maybe right after the Western States drawing.

At any rate, I am so glad I'm in. The work to prepare begins now! I have my eyes on the 1,000-mile buckle, which hopefully will come in 2021. I am committed to it. But that'll be a topic for future posts.....

When I look at my Leadville finishes, I am well aware that my results are getting worse. I am sure aging is a factor, but so is my stomach. While, at this point, there is nothing I can do to stop the aging process or make my sensitive stomach ironclad, I am sure I can improve on things a bit. For starters:
  • I am going to increase how much time I train at elevations of 10,000 feet and more. This will require some short-term sacrifices, for sure, but it should help get me better-prepared for the Leadville elevations..... 
  • I am going to put a greater emphasis on vertical gain so as to reduce the stress on my body (and stomach) of the big ups and downs that Leadville brings. This will mean a somewhat smaller emphasis on pure volume.
  • On big outings to the mountains, I will practice raceday nutrition. This one is a no-brainer.
  • I'm going to have fun. There are some runs that I'm eager to finally do this summer....
I am not so naive to think all of the above, plus a few other things like using Ultragen for recovery and Optygen to boost performance, will result in a race without stomach issues. I will have stomach issues; the key is to minimize their impact as much as possible. But if I do what's listed above, it will help, especially on the Hope Pass section, which has cost me a ton of time in recent years.

So the 2017 schedule is now shaping up nicely. I am in the Leadville 100 (August 19) and also the Leadville Trail Marathon (June 17). I am looking to add in a spring road marathon (maybe Colfax on May 23) and potentially a summer 50-miler, such as Silver Rush. Silver Rush is about 6 weeks prior to the 100, so really good timing.

Congrats to all who got in! It's going to be an awesome 2017!