I just wrapped up my fifth consecutive week of 70+ miles--all at MAF (maximum aerobic function). For a few days there I had to run on feel since my still fairly new Garmin heart rate monitor broke on me. The good news is that Garmin provided me with a free replacement monitor. That's what I call standing by your product and looking after your customers. So, I'm now back to wearing my HR monitor and running at MAF.
I'd say I'm laying a really good base for the Leadville 100 right now. What I'm doing now is more or less a page from my old playbook. I used to base build on about 70 miles a week (mostly at MAF pace though at the time I didn't even know what MAF was), and then cut back for a few weeks (to about 50-60 miles/week) before really ramping up to triple digits and starting to work in some specific, purposeful quality. The good news is that I'm running 70 miles a week without really suffering any ill effects. Hell, even my foot is getting much better (which I attribute to a really awesome physical therapist who's pulled the fat out of the fire on more than one occasion). Sure, I have some days when I'm tired and flat, but overall what I'm doing now has me in the "safe" zone. For me, 70 miles a week is pretty turn-key and it's not that hard. Even better, it helps get me prepared for what's to come.
I genuinely believe I can be a fairly decent ultra-distance runner if two things happen: 1) I'm healthy/injury-free and 2) I make the life choices necessary to run big volume. We could also add "on-course training" to that list, as well. Over the past few years I've run decent volume (80-90 miles/week) in my Leadville ramp-ups but not the volume I used to run--because I chose not to. And I've seen my results go downhill. So, really, to me my problem is obvious: I haven't been running enough. If Leadville means as much to me as I say it does, then I simply need to make the requisite choices and run big volume--which I'm in the process of doing.
I see 2013 as kind of my last year of seeing what I can really do. What I can do may be really good, or it may not be that special. But I believe in my heart of hearts that if I'm healthy and putting in the miles (in the right places) I can achieve some awesome personal goals.
On Sunday I actually posted a Facebook update about my golden retriever, Nicholas, who's become my running partner. I take him out for runs a few times a week, though it's hard to run with him on the weekday mornings because it's been so damned dark outside. I prefer to take him out when it's light, when the many coyotes in our area have retreated to their shelters. But we manage to get in some runs, and on Sunday he went 7.6 miles with me--a new distance PR for him (I went on to complete a 16-miler in the snow and ice). In many ways, Nick has reenergized me. His passion for the simple art of running is inspiring and beautiful. He loves it. That's why we do this crazy sport--because we love it. It's not a job or a task; it's a passion. Sometimes we lose sight of that. For me, Nick's passion for running has been contagious. I look forward to working him up to big mountain runs.