Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sorry, this post was supposed to be up a few days ago.  Such is a life without a constant source of internet.

This morning, I awoke to nothing but pure silence... and this view

I woke up a bit later than usual this morning because I had been watching the meteor shower the night before.  No worries though, there wasn't much on my plate today, other than putting in an easy 13-15 miles on the turquoise lake trail. But let me regress a bit....

Yesterday was a BIG day in terms of training.  It was the final long run, and was the real test of my endurance and ability to deal with the rigors of exercise at altitude.

I was a bit worried about how sore I would be considering the 6 hour effort I had put in the day before.  At dawn I scrambled to turn off my alarm, which was at its loudest setting, and rolled around a bit to see what damage I had sustained.  Surprisingly, no soreness!  Somehow I knew that wouldn't last.

The Leadville 100 miler has two large climbs that provide the majority of elevation gain.  Having already done Hope Pass, I wanted to give Sugarloaf a go to see just how ready I was for this race.

I parked my car at the Mayqueen camping area and looked at the last of my clean running gear.  Luckily, I had saved my favorite pair of Mizuno shorts for a day like today.  Along with the short shorts, I chose to wear a pair of Wave Musha's 

that Sophia had kindly given me to try out.  Since I wasn't doing too much technical trail, I knew they would be light enough to help me up the steep hills, but cushioned enough for going down.  Potable water is something I've had a hard time locating on my long runs here, so before leaving I chugged two full bottles of water to make sure I stayed hydrated. 

I started at a moderate pace, not knowing what to expect of the climb.  I ran over the bridge and onto the main road up to the trailhead.  This section of trail is surprisingly fast and I'm not sure why.  It could be my love of hilly single track or that this section reminds me more of an obstacle course. Something about it is very fun.  

Without a moments notice I'm out of the woods and onto Hagerman Pass rd, and also doubled over in oxygen debt.  After a few seconds recovery and stopping to take a picture, I regain my 8 minute pace and begin a steady climb to the power lines. It was at this point that I took my first gel (one of five I brought with me).  After another half hour or so of climb, I began to follow the power lines through a series of smaller hills, then made my way down the very steep back side of the pass.  I exchanged a few pleasantries with mountain bikers who were toiling their way back up.  I didn't dare laugh, since I knew I would be attempting the same feat only minutes later.

As I made my way to the paved road to turn around, I allowed a jeep to pull in ahead of me thinking it would be a good pacer for the steep climb.... WRONG.  Instead, his gigantic tires spat up monstrous clouds of dust, and so began my adventure in the desert sandstorm.  I eventually decided to stretch for a few minutes and let the dust clear.  During the short break I also took my second gel.

Along most of the Leadville course, the way back is much steeper but much shorter than the way out.  And although I tried my best to run the entire length of the hill, the amount of exertion required quickly put me into oxygen debt and I was forced to walk the remaining large and steep hills.  This was a bit disheartening at first, but soon I realized that I was able to run the more gradual ones.  Finally, the last hill came and my legs were able to stride out.  I used my remaining strength to clock some fast miles on the 5-ish mile downhill to my car.  I can tell this stretch of road is where I'll make my move.

So, as I awoke this morning to Mt. Elbert, I had a good stretch and could feel the miles that have accumulated over the last three days.  I believe this is a good thing, since I have probably shocked my body into building some extra capillaries and red blood cells.  Anyway, the next 9 days are going to be completely devoted to resting up and preparing my mental game.

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