Another very solid week (Apr. 15-21) is in the books. I finished off a 77.25-mile week with a 21-miler on the Highlands Ranch backcountry trails. I climbed a decent 1,800 feet on that run--not bad at this point in my Leadville 100 training. I ran every day this past week, but never felt like I was pushing the envelope much. I could have easily fit in another 10 miles and still felt good.
I feel like I'm in decent, but not super, shape going into the Cheyenne Mountain 50K this Saturday. My endurance is good, but my speed and strength are a bit off (I've been doing MAF training for a few months now). This time last year I felt in very good shape, and of course we know how the summer ended (with a bum knee, messed up Achilles and nasty Leadville DNF). My big concern this summer is not peaking too early, as I did last summer, because that'll mean I go stale by Leadville and then risk injury. So, to me, it's good that I'm not yet firing on all cylinders. The gradual build-up, with proactive recovery sprinkled in, continues. By July I'll be hitting triple-digit weeks with some big, big outings in the mountains. Now's not the time for that.
One of the big tricks with peaking is that there's a fine line between being in peak shape and being overtrained. It's an art, not a science, and I'm still figuring out the right plan for me. Only once have I been in truly peak shape, and that was June 2009.
Taking the long view, I think my approach at this Saturday's 50K will be to run conservatively (probably at MAF pace) for the first 15.5-mile lap of the Cheyenne course and then get after it a bit in the second half. Last year I went hard out of the gate and faded a little in the end, still finishing fifth overall. The Cheyenne course is challenging but not super hard. It has some technical sections and the second part of the figure-eight loop can beat you up, especially in the last half of the race. The overall key is to remember that this race is part of a process as I prepare for the Leadville 100. For me, nothing but Leadville matters. I haven't been this focused or motivated in a long time.
In other news, I registered for the Leadville Trail Marathon in late June. This will be my fourth Leadville Marathon. Like all Leadville races, it's a very tough course, reaching 13,185 feet at the turnaround point. I think the Leadville Marathon is a very underrated race. It will destroy you if you don't know what's coming.