Looking up for Leadville

Training Run

Matt and Alex training on the White River 50 course

With the Leadville 100 quickly approaching (5 weeks away), training is getting serious. This weekend was supposed to be an epic run of the Wonderland trail around Mt. Rainier. However, earlier this week I called the ranger station to find out it’s still heavily under snow and not ready for running over the course of one weekend.

We quickly found a solution that was turned into an even better solution thanks to our friends Alex and Eric. The White River 50 group had a scheduled training run on the course we’re racing on 7/28 this Sunday so we figured we go down and run the second half of the course. Then Alex had the idea of coming down on Saturday to do the first half, followed by the second half on Sunday for a total of 50 miles in just over 24 hours. How could I turn this down?

So we met up at the start of the race course Saturday at noon with Eric, Alex, and Kat for what would be an epic weekend of running. We set out and quickly encountered a grueling 4000+ climb that took FOREVER to get up, even though we ran nearly the entire ascent (found out later this was not the smartest idea). Thankfully, Kat was waiting at the 17 mile mark for some aid. This was nearly three hours into the run! It was then back down for another 10 miles back to camp.

I died on the way down, low fuel, dead legs, sick stomach. It was miserable. I came trudging in close to 5 hours thinking something has to be done differently if I’m going to make it through these long races coming up.

So after a nice night camping out with the crew, Alex and I headed out for the second half of the 50 mile course with a climb of around 3500 feet. Thankfully, it was a bit cooler and cloudy so we were better off from the get go. More importantly, we had decided we were going to walk all the uphills and run the flats and downs. Holy cow did that make a difference! We ended up cutting nearly an hour off our total time and felt way better doing it. Whenever there were breaks on the climbs with slight flats, we ran, and we ran quickly because it felt good. Then we’d walk when it got hilly again. Julie totally hooked us up with food and drinks at the top of the hill and again at the bottom which was awesome. Not only is it great to get food but it’s even better to see my smiling, loving wife out there waiting for me. And after our refueling on top of the mountain, we began rolling down the long 7 mile downhill, clicking off 6 minute miles the entire way down. It was then a nice run along the river to finish up.

Lessons learned: walk the hills, don’t waste my energy. These long runs are way more enjoyable when I stay within a certain comfort zone. When I get out of said comfort zone, long runs suck! And it’s good to run with friends and have crew (thanks Kat and Julie)!

So Leadville is looking up. I have the White River 50 mile trail race in two weeks and then Leadville three weeks later. I have learned (the hard way) that pushing it up the hills is a waste and a recipe for disaster, I’ve learned it can actually be fun to run for many many hours so long as I keep it comfortable, and I know it’ll be good to have pacers and crew. So Leadville here I come, I’m a bit more prepared, a little better trained, and way more confident.

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