The big race is now four days away. My neck, which I somehow strained last week, is much better but still not quite 100%. What I thought was a cold is probably allergies, which is kind of a relief (update: It's a cold!). The caravan leaves for Leadville in a few days and I'll have about 48 hours to make the transition from 6,100 feet to 10,000+ feet. There is a chance I may go up on Wednesday for some extra time at altitude.
It's hard to say where I am as far as fitness. At this stage in the game, it's easy to start second-guessing how you trained, etc. I've done enough 100s to know that there's nothing one can, or should, do the week of the event except chill out and get the final preparations done. Back to my fitness. My total miles for this Leadville 100 training cycle are the fewest I've ever put in for a 100. I've averaged about 5 miles less per week than I did in 2009 for the Mohican 100, when I think my fitness was pretty darn good. In case you're interested, I've averaged 76 miles and 12-13 hours per week for the past 18 weeks this year, getting ready for Leadville.
Other measures I look at are total runs per week and average mileage per run. Last year for Leadville my per-run average was 10.4 miles, which I blame for my foot injury that had me sidelined until January. This year my per-run average is 9.4 miles, which is nearly identical to my per-run average for the 2009 Mohican 100 (which I won, by the way). Also, this year I averaged 8.4 runs per week; in 2009 for Mohican I averaged 8.9 runs.
Another factor I can't overlook is the quality I've put in. My quality isn't as much as many other runners but, for a guy who has a busy full-time job, busy wife and young son at home, I'm pretty proud of what I've done. I got in some good miles at places like Mount Falcon, Mount Herman, Bergen Peak and Deer Creek Canyon. Most of my trail runs have been between 7,000-8,000 feet. Limited time has made it next to impossible to get way up there, though I did manage a new PR at the Leadville Marathon on 7/2 and did the Mount Evans Ascent, too. Day in and day out (read: Monday-Friday), I'm running at between 6,100-6,300 feet. Through it all, I've maintained a commitment to tempo running, yoga stretches and core strengthening.
One of the big changes I've made this year is lengthening my taper. I started cutting mileage 4 weeks out, though I kept my hours up 4 weeks out by incorporating cross-training. Looking at training in terms of hours and not mileage is a change I'm still dealing with. Being a native East Coaster, it's hard to look beyond just the miles and see value in time on your feet, but I'm getting there.
At this stage, numbers are kind of meaningless. In 100s, it's what you do in the last 40 miles that makes the difference. My plan is to run my own race, stay focused on the task at hand while the elite guys and gals take off and burn up the course, and try to be super-strong in the final 40 miles. I'm not concerned about placement, but, yes, I would love a time under 20 hours if that's even remotely possible for a slightly above-average Joe like myself.
Get 'er done.