Friday, May 28, 2010

Struggling with the downhills, hitting triple digits and other thoughts

At long last, I hit triple digits in my mileage during the week of 5/17-5/23--103 miles to be exact. This marked the first time since last fall, when I trained for and completed the USA 24-Hour National Championship in Cleveland, that I went north of 100 miles for the week. Last week also marked 13 weeks to go before I line up at the Leadville Trail 100. That breaks down to 11 more weeks of hard training.

In the world of 100-mile training, you run as much as you can and try to spend as much time on your feet as possible. It's a far-different game than marathon or even 50K and 50-mile training. When you're training for a 100-miler, you run and run and run, and run some more even if your legs are trashed. Waking up at 4:30 a.m. basically daily, and running after Noah's asleep, is the only way I can get in the miles and put my marriage, our family and my job first.

The highlight of the week was a Saturday-morning trail run consisting of a combined 10,000 feet of ascent and descent at the beautiful Deer Creek Canyon with Fast Eddy (a.k.a. Scott Jaime) and Geoff. Fast Ed is a very impressive talent, recently winning the Zane Gray 50-Mile and placing as high as second at the Hard Rock Hundred. His resume is full of wins and top-5 finishes.

Fast Ed and Geoff were particularly strong on the downhills at Deer Creek Canyon. This is where I'm (currently) struggling as a newcomer to steep, rocky mountain trails. I need to really develop my downhill running or else I'm going to be an also-ran on the mountain ultrarunning circuit. I think I'm strong and getting stronger at climbing as I continue to adjust to the elevation and build the strength for long ascents. All I now need to do is develop my downhill running techniques--and, most of all, develop the necessary confidence--so I can attack the descents. I'm going to follow Karl Meltzer's lead (as seen here and in the YouTube video below) and purchase some bike gloves to protect my hands for when I fall on the downhills--and I will fall just as many aggressive downhill runners fall. I fell on Saturday and skinned up my left hand pretty badly. The blood was flowing. Gloves would have provided needed protection


As I write this post, I'm in the midst of a "recovery" week, which comes on the heels of three weeks of 90, 95, and 103 miles, respectively. But recovery is a relative term. I'm going for 85-90 miles this week, and then next week go for 100-110. At some point in my Leadville training, I'd like to get up to 120 miles. That will require a day off from work--preferably a day spent in Leadville.

As I prepare for Leadville, I've registered for two really cool races. The first is the Leadville Trail Marathon on 7/3. It's run at about 10,000 feet of elevation with a high of 13,000 feet at Mosquito Pass. Unfortunately, it's not run on the 100-mile course, but that's OK. It'll at least give me some valuable exposure to 10,000+ feet. I'm tentatively planning to stay the night after the race and do a 20-25-miler on the course the next morning--and then go home. I'm going to run the marathon aggressively but not at race pace.

The other race I've registered for is the Barr Trail Mountain Race on 7/18. The Barr Trail runs up Pikes Peak and starts at an elevation of 6,570 feet. The race proceeds 6.3 miles up the Barr Trail, gaining 3,630 feet, with the turnaround at Barr Camp, elevation 10,200 feet. The total distance is 12.5 miles. This will be a very difficult race and I'm super-excited about it.

The Leadville 100 will feature some of the top ultrarunners in the nation, along with a field of probably more than 500. It will be a big-time event. As a guy who puts his whole heart and soul into training, I'll be there to race.


A lot of people may be under the impression that all here in Colorado is peachy with those gorgeous mountains many dream of running. But it's not. This has been a tough transition for us, especially as we're in an apartment and selling our house back in Ohio. A lot of people are helping us throughout this transition--providing love, support and friendship. We're grateful to all who have been there for us.

When we take the long view, we can see that life in Colorado will be magnificent. The quality of life here is very good. We both have great jobs. Parker is a nice place to live and raise a family, with excellent schools. The recreational opportunities in Colorado are limitless. The horse riding culture here is strong (good for Anne). And there are many, many spectacular places to run.

We'll be OK, but right now we're in a tough spot. I've struggled mightily some days, trying to stay upbeat. Through it all, running has been there for me. Training for the Leadville 100 has helped keep me focused and my mind off our troubles.

Run hard and run happy.


  1. Since you are in Parker you should check out Castlewood Canyon SP near Franktown, great for some trail miles close to home. Great running with you!

  2. Hi Wyatt,

    I had a quick question about your 100+ mile weeks and even you 80-90 mile weeks. Are you doing double long runs on the weekend and a longish run midweek or are you using a lot of double sessions?

    I am interested to know as I am running around 60 miles a week and want to increase this to around build 80-100 over the long term without sacrificing family/work time so if you have any advice/tips on this I would much appreciate it.

    Great posts as usual! For someone in the UK it's amazing to hear about running in the mountains, we don't have much about 3,000ft :-).


  3. Hi Geoff: It was great to run with you and Scott. I've been to Castlewood Canyon a few times and love it there. It's not quite a cool as being in the mountains but it's an awesome place to run. Good luck at the Dirty Thirty!

    Hi Richard: Thanks for your feedback! When training for a 100-mile race, during the work week (M-F), I usually run about 10 miles every morning (before my family is up) and then about 4-5 miles in the evening after my son is asleep. I get about 7-7.5 hours of sleep per night during the week and sometimes get tired. On the weekends, I always run as early in the morning as possible, making sure I do get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before. Usually every weekend I'll do a double or two if I need to in order to get in my goal mileage. So, for my 100-mile race training, in a given week I'll do 4-5 and sometimes up to 6 doubles. Good luck with your training--you can do it!

  4. Your welcome on the feedback Wyatt . I very much appreciate you sharing your views on the 100 miler training and thanks for the encouragement.

    Being a rookie at these distances it has taken time and confidence to get up towards 60 miles a week but am ready to leap up again. Have thought about about signing up for a 100 miler in October but I am a rookie in ultras having only done one 50m last year and another one planned in for July this year so maybe I am asking a lot of myself but I have always been feet first with this stuff. How many shorter ultras did you do before first 100 miler?

    Completely share your approach on early morning runs as I have 2 young daughters, coffee is my only friend at that time of the morning :)

    No hard and fast rule with this i guess however do you sometimes put in a single long run on the weekends e.g. 25 miles plus or do you keep to the double long runs?

    Apologies for all the questions :-)