At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I had another very good week, hitting 90 miles, 16,500 feet of vertical and 15.5 hours of running. That's a pretty killer week, regardless of who you are. The week included a 21.4-mile, 7,000-vertical-foot double crossing of Hope Pass on Tuesday and an 18-mile run with a fast finish at Deer Creek Canyon on Sunday. It was one of those really special weeks when things just clicked. I don't think I've run for 15 hours in a single week in maybe three or four years (save race weeks). At the time of this writing, I've put in over 58,000 feet of climbing and 364 miles in the last 28 days. My weight is also down to about 160 even as I'm eating like a horse. I think this is the lowest weight I'll get, and I'm confident I'll put on just a few pounds during my Leadville 100 taper (perfectly normal and OK).
With the benefit of age and experience, I've learned to listen to my body and respond quickly to every ache and pain. I took it easy on Wednesday, as my body needed a day to come back from the Hope Pass run (even as my mind said, "Hey, let's hit it hard again today!"). So I just ran 6 miles locally. A year ago, I wouldn't have practiced such patience and restraint. So now, when I feel "something," I back off and/or hit it hard with ice. Just ask Anne, who sees me icing this and that every night! I do think getting proper sleep and not sitting for eight hours a day have been critical. I feel like I'm recovering between workouts--something I haven't been able to do for a few years now. In my next job, I'm asking for a standing desk. I think sitting for eight hours wreaks havoc on the muscles and soft tissue.
With the Leadville Trail Marathon only days away, my strategy is to taper my mileage/time on my feet after this Wednesday, and hopefully get rested for Saturday's action. The Leadville Marathon is a very challenging race, topping out at 13,200 feet. Some say it's the hardest marathon in the U.S., but of course here in Colorado we also have the grueling Pikes Peak Marathon. My goal on Saturday is to just feel good and have fun the whole way. Miles 17-23 of the Leadville Marathon course have been tough for me the last few years. My hope is that the aerobic efficiency I've developed through Maffetone Method training earlier this year will pay off, but anything can happen at 10,000+ feet, so we'll see.
As those who follow me on Strava may have noticed, I've been training a lot at Deer Creek Canyon. Deer Creek Canyon is fairly close to where we live, meaning I don't have to spend tons of time in the car going to and from my trail runs. My job search has heated up in a big way and right now I'm going to a lot of interviews. So, my "free" time isn't exactly abundant. Deer Creek is the best option for me most days. On rare days when I don't have an interview, I try to venture to places deeper in the mountains. Decalibron continues to be up there on the to-do list, but even higher on the list is a Fish Hatchery-to-Mayqueen-and-back run (about 20 miles). But, as it is, Deer Creek is a great training ground, delivering some very good climbs, plenty of technical trails and decent elevation (7,500 feet). Plus, it's just a lot of fun! I feel an emotional connection to those trails and the entire area.
As the Leadville 100 steadily approaches, I really am at peace and, most important, I'm having fun. I'm putting in some stout training in beautiful places and I believe when race day comes I'll be able to look back on what I've done and feel good about the effort and dedication I put forth (something I haven't been able to do for the past few years). This is a brutal sport that will destroy you and it tends to reward those who work hard. But not always! Even if you've put in tons of training, you can still find yourself broken down on the side of the trail with 20 miles to go in a 100. Hard training doesn't always equal big success; you have to race the right way and show up healthy, too. My approach to training is to continue to be patient and exercise self-control as I put in my daily work and listen to my body. I also need to start "practicing" with Perpetuem, my fuel of choice for Leadville. To date, I'm really not taking in any calories on my runs except for a Hammer gel here and there. I can run for 3+ hours without a single calorie--which I attribute to my MAF training earlier this year. But in 100-milers you need calories. That's where gels and Perpetuem will come into play.
As Yiannis Kouros says, only through patience and solid training can you truly "conquer endurance."