My ankle is improving by the day, though it's still maybe 60 percent. Last week, I kind of took my foot off the gas pedal but still got in 83 miles, 12.5 hours and 11,000 feet of vertical--not bad. This week, the foot is back on the accelerator as I gun for 100 miles and 17,000 feet of climbing. It's hard to believe that the Leadville 100 is now a little over five weeks away. What's even harder to believe is that this will be my fourth Leadville 100. There's no doubt that I'm in far better shape than I have been in at least four years.
Overall, I feel good. I'm noticing a bit more tiredness but nothing that concerns me. This is what you should expect this late in your training. I have two more weeks, after this one, and then the taper begins in earnest. Interestingly, I have jury duty next week (they must have heard I'm out of work and have the time?). Who knows what that will bring. Knowing my luck, it'll be a murder trial and I'll be sequestered through Leadville.
Anyway, my recent performance at the Leadville Trail Marathon has given me some good confidence. Had I not messed up my ankle with 3 miles to go, I know my time would have been 4:15 or 4:16, but I'll take my 4:19 and be happy with it. The best part of it is that the race didn't seem to take a toll at all on me, except for my ankle. I had zero soreness afterward and I was 100% honest when I said I could have done it again. That's a sign of being in shape. It seems to indicate that I'm in potentially sub-20-hour Leadville shape. For that to happen, I have to kill it on Hope Pass. There are no two ways about that.
Training for 2-2.5 hours a day, I sometimes turn to my iPod for entertainment. Though I love to run mountain trails while listening to music (AC/DC, Grateful Dead, Seger, etc.), I often find myself downloading the latest and greatest podcasts, which help keep me abreast of what's happening in the endurance and ultrarunning worlds. While many of you are quite familiar with Endurance Planet (namely "Ask the Ultrarunner" with Lucho), Ultrarunnerpodcast.com, and of course Talk Ultra, you may not know about a new podcast called Elevation Trail. It's produced by Footfeathers (also known as Tim Long), who is entered in this year's Leadman competition.
In a recent Elevation Trail podcast, Footfeathers and his sidekick, sociology professor Gary David, discuss concepts of freedom in trail and ultra running. As we all know, ultrarunning is changing. What used to be an outlaw sport that operated underground and far from "civilization" is now becoming more known, recognized and approachable. Even since my entry into the sport in 2005, there have been many, many huge changes.
One of the things I most like about Elevation Trail is that Footfeathers and Gary dive deeply into issues and sometime meander into other sports, like pro cycling and mountain biking, in order to better understand the topic at hand. Footfeathers' dry humor and experience in endurance sports add a lot to the show. As for Gary, I say this as a compliment: listening to Gary makes me feel like I'm using my brain in ways I haven't used it since graduate school (which is kind of pathetic, when you think about it). Gary is clearly an academic thinker, but he's also an ultrarunner, which makes his thought processes interesting. Gary reminds me of a few grad school professors who I'd hang out with in Hillborough Street saloons, like Mitch's Tavern, drinking pitchers of Bass Ale while discussing history and how the sixties turned everything we thought we knew on its head.
But I digress. In their podcast about freedom and ultrarunning, Gary and Footfeathers take on some big issues. Is the sport's freedom being sacrificed at the alter of corporate sponsorships, rules, explosive growth and other factors? Check it out for yourself. And you can download other Elevation Trail podcasts (for free, of course) on iTunes.