Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leadville 100 Training Part 3 - Full Moon 50K

My last race before Leadville was the Full Moon 50K in Arkansas.  I used this race as a training run and so I decided to make this my highest mileage week yet.  I've hit six consecutive weeks of 100 plus miles.  Last week was 125 and this week after finishing the 50K would put me at an all time high of 147 for the week!  I've never run that much in training before and I really feel so good, I feel like I could have hit 170 because I did take Sunday off.  So I am very optimistic about Leadville.

The Full Moon 50K helped add to my optimism because it went even better than planned.  Helping matters was unusually cool temperatures albeit very humid.  Rain and clouds had moved in and so it made it much more tolerable.

Friends Chris and Tim came with me and they were doing the 25K and we were camping at Lake Sylvia and so that made for a very fun trip.
Thanks to Ken Childress (Trail Zombie) for the photos.  I always love his photos and he has the best blog in the ultrarunning world!  Is it just me or am I getting a lot of wrinkles around the eyes?
As we signed up, I got to visit with my ultra friends who I had not seen in awhile and that is always nice.  Plus I signed up for the AURA ultra series.  Not sure how many races I will get to complete this year but I will try to make more of them so that maybe I can be competitive.  I've always wanted to run the series but often things come up that prevent me from attending races.

Oklahoma Ultra Friends

The race started at 8 pm and my goal was to run at about 85% - 90% effort.  A little harder pace than Leadville but not too much.  I hoped that I could run the 50K and stay very consistent and strong and finish the race without much of a struggle.  Of course, a 50K is never that easy but I wanted it to feel like not a big deal and build confidence for Leadville.  I also hoped to finish around 4:30 or 5:00 hours depending on conditions and that would make me feel pretty good.

RD Suzie gave the instructions and she does such and excellent job hosting this event and all she asks for is a $5 donation!  What a bargain!  Most marathons today charge over $100 and they are no where near as good as this event!
Kens pic of the start - great pic
The course goes a steady up clip for the first 8 miles to the 25K turnaround.  Then it is rolling with still a little more up to the 15 1/2 mile mark.  I started at a good clip but definitely tried to keep the pace down.  It was very difficult not to race as people passed me and I kept thinking I wanted to run harder but I had to tell myself that this was training, not racing.  Certainly I was sweating a lot but otherwise pretty comfortable at mile 8 aid station.  I did have some self-doubts as always - why am I doing this?  Who is crazy enough to run from 8 pm until after midnight in the middle of a forest in Arkansas in the middle of July?  Why do I have to always have these stupid challenges.  The thoughts would come to my mind and I would have to force them out especially as the night grew darker.

Love Ken's pic here because it really captures how the night sets in the forest as you climb!

But the dark night is just what I needed to simulate Leadville and I needed to run in the dark until after midnight to get ready for the LT100.  So I kept on running strong without much effort and hoped I would continue to feel good until the finish.

Just before the turnaround I encountered a 50k leader.  There was an older guy running on the left side of the road and I was on the right so we were taking up a lot of the road and this runner would have to split us through the middle.  The older guy was one of the early starters and was working so hard.  I truly admire these people as he will stay out there most of the night and will never give up!  They work much harder than I do and have a much greater spirit than me. 

Unfortunately, the front runner did not have the same appreciation or respect as he shouted 'Wake UP Dude!' as he approached us.  Apparantly he was worried that he might have to break his stride to avoid a collision with this older fellow.  First of all, this guy who worked far harder than you is not a 'Dude' and deserves more respect.  Second, a little ego check is in order as you need to realize that this is not the olympics and you are not Ryan or Meb.  Third, AURA has a great link to a section on trail etiquette, a refresher is certainly in order.  That's my two cents worth because this really bothered me and was so disrespectful.

I hit the turnaround and wished Lou a happy birthday!  I don't know what we would do without people like Lou and Charley Peyton to support us.  She is also a legend and an inspiration.  Most people have no idea all the things she has done because she is far too modest than to post them in a blog like me.

Coming back, I continued to feel good.  I monitored by body for signs of impending bonk but it never happened.  It was hard not to really push hard.  I had hit the turnaround in 2:09.  I felt like I could have come back really fast but just kept that steady pace because the goal was to finish and feel like I could just keep going.

Somewhere around 5 miles to go, I encountered one the infamous Copperheads.  This race is run on a forest road and I've heard that Copperheads like to lay out on the road to soak in the heat though I had never seen one before.  It happened so fast I am not even sure I saw it but I think my brain was just trying to put it out of my memory.  I was in mid stride when I saw it's distinctive patterns just to my left and then ran on my tip toes for the next mile with the iwwy jibbies flowing through my veins. 

I finished strong in 4:16 (far better than hoped for) and immediately downed a beer offered to me by Chris, who along with Tim had been having quite a good time in the two hours they were waiting for me to finish.  I felt pretty comfortable and certainly could have kept running although the humidity was beginning to take its toll on me because I was soaked!

But this was just the beginning to my big training plan because after camping in the car that night and sleeping from 2:30 to 7:30 in the morning, I was going to drive home, grab some things, kiss Suzanne good bye and head off for 14 more hours of driving and three more days of training in Leadville!  If I could complete this training, I would surely be tough enough to take on Leadville a month from now.  And that is for the next blog post.


  1. You didn't tell me about the snake! That is freaky!

  2. Smart training, Tom. I'm stoked that you're peaking at the right time. Hope you run the perfect race at Leadville.