I just wrapped up another tiple-digit week--102 miles to be exact. I'm now three weeks away from my taper for the Leadville Trail 100. I took a nasty spill last week and fortunately didn't do any serious damage. It was on a sidewalk (!) and the culprits were a) tired legs and b) an uneven block. (I normally never run on a sidewalk but have to on this particular section of my route.) I sprained my right big toe and bruised the hell out of my back.
My mileage since early May has been very solid and consistent--on average, about 90-95 miles per week. Plus, I established a great 70-80 mile-per-week base starting in December (when finally I was over my North Coast 24-Hour injuries) and going through April save about two weeks during the move. At that time I was training (hard) for the Boston Marathon but, with the life-changing move to Denver literally two weeks before Boston, that race was aborted. Turns out my Boston training was great base-building for the Leadville 100.
With three weeks to go, I think this is the hardest part of the training cycle. It's akin to mile 70 in a 100-miler. You're 70 percent there, and yet you still have 30 tough miles in front of you. The key is just focusing on each step toward the big goal.
There is no denying it; Leadville is going to be the hardest race I've ever run. It's not the Hard Rock 100 or the Wasatch 100, but it's nonetheless a huge challenge, run between 9,200 feet and 12,600 feet with only 11 aid stations. Many 100s have 20+ aid stations. Next Friday I'll be in Leadville running a critical section--from Twin Lakes to Winfield (a ghost town) and back. That's about 24 miles and it includes a double-crossing of 12,600-foot Hope Pass. Hope Pass will be a great opportunity to test out my new Black Diamond trekking poles, which I bought at Backcountry.com. They're light and they fold up.
I've trained hard and I'm feeling strong. I'm pounding out 100-mile weeks and am often running at a strong pace when many would be struggling just to put one foot in front of the other. The question isn't whether I have the strength for 100 miles; I have it. The question is whether I'm acclimated enough to handle 10,000 feet for 100 miles. We'll see. Experience with 100-mile racing and mental toughness may make the difference.
I have the Barr Trail Mountain Race this Sunday. It's a 14-mile run up Pikes Peak to Barr Camp and then back. I'm not really going to taper for it, and so we'll see how I do. The plan this week is 90-100 miles.
Run hard. Run happy.