Friday, May 10, 2013

The Leadville Effect

I'm freezing.  It's 3:10am, I'm exhausted...beyond exhausted.  I'm standing on a barren country road in the dark, shivering and looking in each direction trying to figure out where I am and what went wrong to get me here.  Flurries start drifting down from the sky, it's actually very peaceful and quiet.  As I hobble along barely standing, coyotes start howling in the fields all around me, like they know I'm done and they're laughing at me.  More likely they realized I'm half dead and they're waiting for me to hit the dirt.  My light jacket is soaked through with sweat from an effort in vain.  An effort I'd been training the better part of a year for, all to end up lost and ultimately defeated.  Moments before this, my heart sank as I looked at my watch and realized I didn't have time to correct my error and get back on course.  I'd been running in the mountains for over 23 hours, just to end up alone and shivering.  The only thing to do now was drag my feet back the way I came.  As I walked, I thought about everything that went wrong.  I thought about how I'd let down and disappointed my biggest critic, myself.  Half an hour of hobbling and shivering later, I'd finally be picked up.

I thought I'd take this disappointment as a lesson, that I'd use this as fuel to inspire me to train harder and bring it.  Hell, I was mad.  This was going to push me to legendary intensity in training for my next challenge.  I was going to break down the door, swing in on a chandelier and kick some ass!  August 19th, 2012 was going to be the day that changed me! It did, but it didn't inspire me. Instead, something else happened entirely.

Dec 2012
Fast forward over 3 months later.  I'm driving along in a rented truck, it's moving day to my new house.  I get an email on my phone so I check... It says I got into Western States 100!  I forgot that the lottery was today, Dec 8th.  The previous year, I was so excited I watched the live stream of the lottery all afternoon, never hearing my name called.  This time, I didn't even remember on the day.  In truth, I was so detached from running at the time that I wasn't sure if I even wanted to get in.

I took a break after Leadville, a break from the physical and mental aspects of training.  The fall races didn't seem to fit my schedule and I didn't make an effort to make them fit.  I was content taking a break from running while I focused on other things.  The thought of training my ass off again just wasn't appealing.  There was a time when I'd be through the roof at the news I'd gotten into Western States, a legendary race with the best in the world in attendance.  Instead, I just added it to a long to-do list that could wait for my attention until the new year.  You'd think I'd hit it hard and start training for the race of my life... Instead I ran a grand total of 17kms in December, up a whole 2km from my 15kms in November.  Western States is in June, plenty of time, right?

Feb 2013
Ahead another 2 months, it's now late February and I'm in pain.  I've barely run in Jan or Feb, now I decided to head out to Sulpher for some 20km loops, who cares that I've only run 20km once since Leadville last August.  The weather has been shit this winter, and I'm just not motivated.  It keeps getting warm and wet then the temperature drops and there's ice everywhere.  On this day, the trails were all ice, so I spent 20km slipping and sliding.  My inner thighs were extremely sore after a loop, but I figure it's just pain from my lack of running and it will pass so I stupidly head out to attempt a 2nd loop.  After a few kms, I change my mind and head back, now in massive pain.  I was mad.  Mad at myself for my lack of training, mad at Leadville for taking away my drive.  I was way out of shape and trying to do things as if I never stopped running.  I figured I'll just rest up and feel better soon.  Boy was I wrong.

Apr 2013
Fast forward another 2 months, it's now late April 2013, eight months after Leadville.  I'm standing in my basement, my daughter is taping all of my race bib numbers up on a wall.  She reads the name of each race as she hangs them and she asks about each one.  She gets to Leadville.  I tell her to hang the stupid thing upside down.  Then I changed my mind, I don't even want to see it, I tell her to flip it over and hang the blank side.  The memories still piss me off.  I've never worn my Leadville race shirt, it's still in the bag with the tag on.

Can you spot the Leadville bib?

As I looked at all of the race bibs and medals hanging there, at the backwards blank Leadville bib, it got me thinking.  I had blamed the Leadville effect for everything.  I felt like Leadville took away my motivation, made me out of shape causing me to get injured.  The truth is, I let my Leadville experience take away all of this, and now I was going to let Leadville take Western States away from me too.  FUCK THAT.  I'm going down swinging.  I decided to get ready for the 50k Pick Your Poison race the following week and use that as my final gauge as to whether I can still get ready for Western in time.

I took a step back for some perspective on what I was considering.  Western States was in 2 months.  I haven't run a race since Leadville.  In fact, I've only run over 20km twice since then.  Current weight was 178, up 12 pounds since getting down to 166 for Leadville last summer.  After all that, biggest concern is still my strained groin.  It will heal in another 2 months (it friggin better), but will it heal enough for some decent training?

Pick Your Poison

The weekend before PYP, I grinded out 30km at Sulpher and it was brutal.  I'd planned to do 40km but couldn't, I was in way too much pain.  So on Monday, I visited a massage therapist as I was too sore to even walk properly.  She did some extremely painful work on my adductors, lots of knots to press out.  I took her advise and stretched multiple times a day and used a heating pad multiple times a day the rest of the week.  In spite of  a horrible 30km, I was determined to run 50km at PYP to see if it got much worse.

Still snow at least it wasn't ice

I ran with Chris who wanted to run slow as he had races the weekends before and after PYP, so that worked for me.  In the end, I was in almost the same pain as I was after the 30km run (even after some Advil and Tylenol).  It was a bit better, I was hoping for less pain so I'd have some closure, but this was enough for me.  Western was on.

Two Month Training Plan for a 100 Miler....huh?

It's pretty simple really.  Increase running, eat better, hit the weights, hit the stairs, stretch and heat my crotch.

Increase Running - Multi-run days, squeeze in longer lunch runs instead of usual 5kms, add night runs.  Just run more and get long weekend runs in.

Eat Better - Diet hasn't been what it should over the winter.  As mentioned, I was 178, or 12 lbs heavier than at Leadville (actually 181 after dinner one night, but we won't count that one!).  That was now 2 weeks ago, this week I'm at 174 and it will keep dropping.  Been eating better and have proper portions, not a problem.

Hit the Weights - Yup

Hit the Stairs - Started last week, now bringing the ol' 10lb weights along.  Fun stuff.

Stretch and Heat My Crotch - Healing this crap is essential to training.  Lots of stretching my adductors, Epsom salts and a heating pad.  We'll see.

So, can I get into the same shape I was in for HURT 2 years ago?..... Hell no.  I'll get as close as I can though.

Ready for HURT 2011

I'll start doing weekly updates, this is more for me to read back later when I'm reviewing what I did for training.

Up next is Sulpher Springs at the end of May (2 weeks from this post).  I was planning to run a 50 miler, but the 50 mile option sold out so I had to sign up for the 100.  No idea what distance I'll actually do, depends how my adductors respond.  Likely just 50 miles, or if I'm feeling good 100km or so.  There's a very outside chance I'll get carried away and do 100 miles, but I need to keep in mind this is a training race and I'm not ready anyway.  Western is 5 weeks after Sulpher, I'll want recovery time with some time still left to train. 

First Things First
The Leadville effect may have hindered my training, but it won't stop it.  I'll be pissed about Leadville until I go back and take care of unfinished business.  Next time, as per doctor's orders I'll have to go earlier and spend a week there pre-race acclimatizing to avoid getting fluid in my lungs and being put on oxygen again.  Chris and JD are headed back this year, good for them.

View from Hope Pass

I have to go back eventually.  I feel like I left a piece of myself at the top of Hope Pass, and I have to go back and get it.   Until then, a respectable finish at Western States will tide me over just fine.

Take care,



  1. AWESOME post! if you go back to leadville, i will go with you ...

    have a blast at western! you will be fine! just remember to include some burpees in your training!

    1. You're on! About Leadville, not the burpees.

  2. For Sulphur, take it really easy...I mean really easy. Have fun and don't make it a suffer party. IMO you should not even consider trying to finish 100M. Go for 100k max which is a lot so you can have time to recover. If you take it easy and run a lap on lets say 2:30hr then walk one in 5hr (maybe a bit less), thats 7:30 per 40k, 15hr for 80k, and ~18-20hr for 100k. That way you practice your walking, which is important b/c you will be walking at WS and you can even run the downhills. My point is to never get too tired have some constant running (2-3 laps max) walk at a good pace b/c being on your feet for +15hrs will do you some good (and maybe bring back some memories!) and practice your eating/drinking. You don't want to get hurt at Sulphur, if you are going to suffer and do some damage then do it at WS.

    You'll get to the finish at WS, maybe slower than anticipated but you can do it.


    1. Thanks Carlos. I did 40km at Sulpher on Sunday, I ran too hard and was in agony at the end. 100 miles is not a consideration at Sulpher anymore (it was always an outside chance). Going to take my time and enjoy myself. Will start with Chris and see how it goes, 100k if I'm feeling good. No pressure, so I'll just have fun get some time in.