Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jemez Mountain 50-Mile

Early this week I got the burning desire to formalize my 2011 racing schedule so I can actually start focusing on what's next. Plus, we now have a much better idea of Anne's weekend on-call schedule, allowing me to get the racing schedule in order. But, most important of all, I'm seeing good improvement in my foot and so it's time to think 2011!

Except for this week, I've been really satisfied with how my training is starting to ramp us. This week has been off-the-charts busy and we have a sick little boy, which means training has been hard to do. I'm now at about 2/3 running and 1/3 cycling and am planning my first outside run this weekend--my first outside run in a long time. It'll likely be a short run on some very tame trails in my neighborhood.

So as I've thought and thought about my spring races, two events have surfaced. The first is the Eisenhower Marathon on April 9 in Abilene, Kansas, home of Ike himself. That's only three months away. I'd love to PR in the marathon and have decided that in early March I'll make a decision about Eisenhower. By then my mileage will need to be around 70-80/week with very solid speedwork and tempo runs--a lot to ask for when I've been majorly injured for six months now. So Eisenhower is tentative and probably slightly doubtful.

I've also registered for the Jemez Mountain 50-Mile Race outside of Los Alamos, New Mexico. A lot of people say Jemez (pronounded HE-Mez) is the toughest 50-mile race in the U.S. Here's how the organizers describe the course:
The JMTR races take place in the scenic Jemez mountains in Northern New Mexico. The course is on technical trails with a substantial amount of elevation change. The 50k and 50 mile events include extremely steep climbs and descents on very technical terrain. On the course, runners will experience high altitude (over 10,000 feet above sea level), scree fields, stream crossings, fallen trees, and other obstacles. The course has numerous aid stations but there are some long stretches (greater than 5 miles) between aid stations. Please review the course description page for more details. Runners are encouraged to strongly consider their comfort level on this type of terrain before registering.
In his race report, Nick Clark, the winner of last year's Jemez 50-Mile, said "Jemez is easily the toughest 50-mile race I have ever run, and the rate of attrition among runners was, not surprisingly, quite high." I read Lucho's horrifying report not long after the 2010 Jemez race and then, upon reading his report again after registering, couldn't help but swallow hard. Lucho finished sixth at the 2010 Leadville 100. Yeah, Jemez is a monster! I'm going to have to be in good shape, but I really want to peak not for Jemez but rather for the Leadville 100. I really believe you can truly peak only twice--and maybe three times--each year. Just give me a solid showing at Jemez and I'll be happy. Also, I think Jemez will provide a nice idea of how difficult the Hard Rock 100 will be when that day comes for me.

The training plan for Jemez is to get up to 70-80 miles per week with lots of hills and mountain running, along with quality at the track. I'll be going to Boulder when I can to take on Green Mountain and those beautiful snowy trails. The key is to do all of this gradually, not over-stressing my foot. My orthotic will hopefully provide all the support I need.

Who wouldn't want to be a part of this race?


  1. schlarb is looking to run regular sessions up Green (Tues) and on the track (Thurs)

  2. The San Juan Solstice is argued to be tougher than Jemez in some circles. I'll run Jemez for the first time this year and am looking forward to it.

  3. It's really hard to quantify "toughest" because there are different types of tough. SJS is tough because of the altitude along the CT (11K for 9 miles), Zane Gray is tough because of the rugged trail and nasty bushes, Jemez is tough because of the stiff climbs and bomber descents. I've run all 3 and each tough in their own right. Get some hefty long decent training in those legs before Jemez. And just when your legs are tired from the up and downs you'll get to cruise on some flat stuff so save something.

  4. I'll be at Jemez this year, first 50 mile. I too see this as the toughest considering all the components to this elevation and terrain. Train hard, see you there.