Thursday, June 6, 2013

Leadville SR50 Weeks 8 and 7: A First of Many

"Storms makes oaks take root" 

Only the strong (well-rooted) survive. Others get blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain.


Well, I was on a roll with the weekly progress to Leadville report - for a week.  Eh, life.  With my long, vertical runs getting longer and, well, more vertical, things in life are taking a backseat to my training (laundry, kids, food, that little necessity called a job, which I have rearranged my entire Silver Rush training around...).

Week 8:
Miles: 70.07
Vertical: 8609'

Coming off week 9 with the slumpiest of slumps I've ever been in, I attacked week 8 with a renewed spark and extra spring in my step; I dug deep to complete my aggressive plan - and I survived.  And my legs didn't fall off.  In fact, I felt remarkably strong the entire week, yet admittedly by week's end, I was pushing the envelope in energy department.  Fatigue is something I need to deal with in Leadville, obviously, so I racked up this week as one of the best mental conditioning weeks I've had while training for Leadville cycle with the most mileage and vertical I've done to date. (I've hit 67 miles a couple times years ago, but never anything with the leading number being a 7).

A few of highlights for the week first included a record setting long run of almost 5 hours at White Ranch Park.  It was a gorgeous day filled with lots of power-walking climbs and powerful downhill running, and topped just a bit over 4600' for the day.  5 hours of solitude may sound like ecstasy to some, but it can be a bit mind-numbing for me.  When I had about an hour left into my run and feeling pretty beat, I happened to run past a large group of elderly there out and about exploring - and I got my own cheering section!  They asked me if I was training for anything in particular and when I told them the Leadville Silver Rush 50,  they applauded me like I just finished the race, and told me to keep running strong.  I won't lie, their salute to my mission gave me a huge boost, and I finished that run feeling like I can do anything.

White Mountain Ranch Park ranch


The remaining brunt of my vertical mileage that week came when I went to Mt. Falcon and ran 2 mile hill repeats, 3 of them, which tallied a bit over 1100' each.  I still can't run the entire path up Mt. Falcon's steep 10% incline (in comparison, Silver Rush's climbs are 7-8%), but I am getting faster, evident in comparison to numbers two weeks ago.  More importantly, I felt much stronger.

The week ended on a huge high when I paced my Boise Half IM-bound friend Katie to a heavenly 2 minute PR for her at the Colfax Half Marathon.  She said she wanted to run a 2:15.  I said she could run a 2:07, and I made that our goal.  Katie and I chatted a couple miles, then I moved a bit in front of her and had her clip in directly behind me.  I'd periodically turn back to make sure she was still there, give her a thumb's up, and always given a nod of agreement in return.  She felt great, so I ran with that feeling (ha!) and slowly picked up the pace as we progressed.  We ran in at 2:04. I was honored to be such a small part in Katie's very big day.  If anyone needs to hire me for any pacing duties, you know where to reach me.  Just nothing in the sub-7:30 range for more than a mile.
No, it's not sacrilegious to wear Boise race paraphernalia before race day - it's LUCKY!
Week 7:
Miles: 49
Vertical: 6000'

Somewhere in the middle of the week, I set off for my last long ride before Boise (in 3 days - yikes!).  Seeing a "Road Closed" sign on the bike path meant nothing; it was either turn back and endure 80 miles of riding or it meant we hike up and over the dirt and rock-filled embankment to the railroad tracks and down the other side.  I wasn't about to make this an 80 mile torturous hill ride, so hiking with bikes on our backs was the only solution.

Hauling bikes up...
Let's use Katie as our model...
on top of...

and back down (in slippery road bike shoes to add to the fun); the entire process took Katie more than a half hour.  The look on countless guys working on that "road closed" section was priceless; I'll never forget their expressions as Katie finally got down and hauled her bike over the orange plastic "do not enter" netting, getting her bike shoe tangled in the process.  I still laugh when the image pops in my head :).


Not long after this harrowing adventure, I came around a hair-pin turn, hit sand, went down - hard - and soon was down for the count.


You can't tell from the pic (Katie's been fired as official Boise race photographer), but I was pretty dinged up on my entire left side (most notable: my hip.  Nothing like a little swelling in areas you really don't need to accentuate further).  I'm feverishly picking at the monster sized scabs on my forearm and shoulder; should have those totally removed by Boise in a few days.

The crash pretty much dictated the stage for running the remaining of the week, aka: not much; my thigh had a constant, piercing pain whenever I tried to run.  I finally was able to compress the stupid thing with an ace bandage and get in a few miles here and there, but I kept the running mellow; I had a big race in a few days and didn't want to further damage the battle wounded thigh muscle.  Not to mention my knee wasn't exactly happy when I tried to bend it.

Sage Burner 50k:  Week 7 ended with the Sage Burner 50k race on Memorial Day (my plan follows a Monday - Sunday calendar week).  I could write an entire blog post, or five, on the actual race itself and all the thoughts and emotions I felt and survived during those almost 7 hours (6:57 to be precise, and I'll be honest, it looks better than 7 hours!) but I don't have the time, nor the desire to really relive that beast right now (but I will at a later date).  I'll just sum up the race as seriously one of the hardest races I've ever, ever done.  My mental marshmallow state, lead-like legs, and stomach protesting everything and anything in its path, were all fueled by the sole fact that miles 20-end (31.38), I was severely dehydrated.   The course wasn't easy, and in fact one of the hardest technical single-track trail races I've done to date (and longest, too).  It was hot.  It was 2000' higher than where I live and mostly train.  It gained almost 5750' in elevation (another personal record in one run).  All these factors contributed to the 10 mile death march fate, for sure, but it was the fact I wasn't taking in any liquids nor fuel for pretty much the last 3 hours that eventually cooked my race.  I may eventually write a post about this race, because as a training run race, it taught a few lessons I need to fix before Silver Rush if I hope to make it out of the town of Leadville alive.  But I finished, when I really didn't want to.  And I think that says a lot.  It was a gorgeous course, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this race itself; I just made some seriously stupid mistakes. 

Place: 29/37 (yes, a whopping 37 of us finished, 41 started)




Ryan ran the 25k race with a few of his teammates from cross country, and knocked off almost 30 minutes from his race time last year with a 2:33 (almost 3000' of elevation climbing).  I was in serious a state of 'let's get the hell of out here' hurry when I crossed, so I forgot to snap a picture of us together at the end of my race, so on the way home we stopped (one of 28x stops home to refuel my pressure-cooked body) to look at Colorado's infamous collegiate peaks, and finally took the time to smile about my day.  It was pretty cool to know Ryan was out there running somewhere on the same course, at least for the first 2:33.

Mt. Princeton, 14,196', in the background
Week 6:
I'm now in the middle of week 6, with about 5.5 more weeks remaining to Leadville.  This should terrify me, but I'm starting to get my game face on for Leadville and not over-think it too much; just do the work.  I started some high altitude training earlier this week and though I didn't climb as much as I have in the past couple weeks, I felt good at 10,000' (and that was the mission) and completed a 15 mile run .... in mostly one piece. 

It sucks to live in Colorado!
With the weeks dwindling down to a trickle, I plan to alienate the few existing friends I have left here in Denver, including my kids, for the remaining minuscule time I have left to Silver Rush so I can get up high in altitude as often as I can.  It's okay, they're all getting used to it, but I won't lie if I say this being away from home so much isn't a bit draining.  Adaption to the altitude is vital though, so I'll keep at it.

I'm heading out of town as soon as I close this blog and get it posted.....I have a little adventurous half IM I'm super ill-prepared for in Boise to get checked off my race list.  Seems like it was forever ago when I registered last August for it; a time when Leadville wasn't even on my radar, so Boise's taken a back-seat in training.  I'm excited, yet nervous; it's not like I'm any good on my bike, but I've down-graded the race from would 'love to do well' to 'it's just a great endurance training day' - I haven't put the time in on this race to warrant anything decent, and I'm absolutely at peace with that - my focus has been Leadville.  Still, I'll have a blast as I road trip with a few very special people in my life....I'm looking forward to it and think it will be a great endurance training day for Leadville (how many times is it legal for someone say Leadville in one blog post?)

I know there are some who question if I am ready for a race so lofty as the Silver Rush.  Admittedly, I had my own doubts after I finished Sage Burner rather scathed, torn, and shredded.  I know I'm not ideally fit for Leadville, but I think I'm adequately fit enough.  But really, this is what this game is all about for me, this little Leadville 50 miler:  To test myself, on so many levels...

As someone dear wrote me recently....

SR will be hard - really hard - but not once ever, not even for a second will it ever be impossible.   EVER.  It's why you chose it - for a challenge, to find and see if you can find your breaking point.  Isn't that why we do this?  This race will not be that for you - I venture to say you've found your breaking point, and it has nothing to do with running - SR will not be that for you...I can feel it.  You will get out there and you will put your head down so you can see where you are running and you will run that race, and you will eat and drink wisely and you will not try and win the damn thing - and you will not go to the dark places that have you asking 'why or can you'  you will just do it - and you will finish and you will know you can do it.

These words are revisited in my mailbox daily; they mean a lot to me (along with the rest of the email).  I know I will stand at the starting line of Silver Rush, and God willing I stay healthy (and fix this stomach disaster), I WILL finish what I started.  I only need to prove to myself I can do it, those who doubt ... well, let them doubt.  If I don't finish, it won't be because I didn't spend 6 months of my life trying.

Adaptation to circumstances is the key to survival. It’s not the most brilliantly beautiful, deeply intelligent, or ferociously strong among us who survives. It’s the most adaptable to change.  I am changing, I am adapting....

I will finish this Leadville thing.  

But first, Boise's calling....

28 comments:

Gracie said...

That's some tough training- I know feel like a complete wimp heading out my door to do 5 flat miles below sea level. No challenges over here!

Kate Geisen said...

Holy cow...Boise's practically here?? Good luck!!

Your training...all I can say is wow. I believe in you...you've pushed through so much and you WANT this. Best of luck at Boise this weekend!!

Robin said...

Great training and what looks like a glorious place to train! Try to keep the battle wounds to a minimum before your big day! Have a great time this weekend. It's great following along with you. Thinking of my first 50 miler next year :)

abbi said...

That's some serious training! Love the cheering group for the training run. The 50k sounded like a tough one.

Matthew Smith said...

70 miles in week 8? Good grief! That's some solid mileage! It looks like the biking is a good change of scenery/pace! Just stay off the tracks. :)

Johann said...

You are really tough Jill! That is some great training there, well done! Doing the biking thing as well is awesome. Please try to stay in one piece! It seems you've got this desire to start Leadville in multiple pieces. Maybe they can relay for you...? But seriously, you are doing the hard work and it will pay off.

Jenny said...

Awesome training, Jill! Hope you girls have a great time in Boise!! :)

Kandi said...

I wouldn't doubt you for a second. You've got this! You are so mentally and physically strong right now. I can't wait to hear about it.

bobbi said...

"you will not try and win the damn thing" <- LOVE this!

You are SO STRONG Jill! And you've done nothing but get stronger this year. I'm so excited for you!

Footfeathers said...

You're doing great. Nudge that confidence up to match your fitness.

Kiki said...

Jill, you are going to do great at SR. I can't wait to get out on some trails with you here in PBville. Have a great time in Boise and hope to see you soon up here:)

Karen said...

Man, you've been logging some serious miles!! I'd say I want to come and run your pretty trails with you, but I'm not sure I'd be able to keep up!

misszippy said...

I don't think you can't finish well with all that training! You are putting in an amazing amount of running in tough conditions. You'll be ready and then some.

Good luck at Boise...it will be a good solid training day, like you said. Money in the bank!

petraruns said...

I really believe in you. I have seen what you can do Jill - I have seen what you can come back from and how you fight and fight and fight until it's right. You WILL do that. Boise will be great - have fun with your friends and use it to train your body and mind. Leadville is TOTALLY within your ability. YOur friend is absolutely right. You have this. Just keep at it, keep adding more miles to the pile, more altitude -all those little bits add up. Love you to the moon Jill - have fun!

petraruns said...

I really believe in you. I have seen what you can do Jill - I have seen what you can come back from and how you fight and fight and fight until it's right. You WILL do that. Boise will be great - have fun with your friends and use it to train your body and mind. Leadville is TOTALLY within your ability. YOur friend is absolutely right. You have this. Just keep at it, keep adding more miles to the pile, more altitude -all those little bits add up. Love you to the moon Jill - have fun!

Teamarcia said...

Yes, no doubt, you WILL finish Leadville. Your training and perseverance has been amazing. Gosh Boise is THIS weekend! Yikes that snuck up quick--go kick some behind Thelma! Thinking of you!

Char said...

Didn't you Mum ever tell you not to pick off scabs? Or was it - if you have to pick off the scabs don't eat them? Or does that just apply to boogers?

ajh said...

Holy God you're full of interesting news. I have done that hiking around a road closed section to avoid miles and miles on a bike. Once as a runner too - we were actually climbing along the bulldozer (as he waited, stopped). I love the section about the people cheering you! How nice that you got your friend to such an awesome PR!

mighty termitey said...

i died laughing at your pics! too funny!

and now, i'm exhausted.
STOP MAKING US LOOK BAD WITH YOUR BAD ASS TRAINING!

:p

you're awesome.
xo

Adrienne said...

Yes you will finish the Leadville thing! And have fun in Boise! I too have some fun IM 70.3 swag, but of a much lower elevation-Galveston, TX!

And agreed- the pics are bad ass but the training is even more so!

Terzah said...

Good stuff, Jill! I know nothing about training for ultra-distance races on very high mountain passes, but it looks to me like you're doing all the right things, and with other stuff going on in your life, too. Looking forward to being a part of the big weekend in July!!

Mike said...

I'm impressed with a 70 mile week and the Sage Burner and all the altitude training you are doing and Boise 70.3. You are definitely on a roll! Looking forward to your SR report.

I'll have to look back through my blog but I'm pretty sure I hiked part of the gold hill trail two years ago.

Anne said...

I can't help smiling as I read about all these miles you are taking your feet through :) You are doing so amazingly well!! What a beautiful message that is...those are exactly the type of friends you want to keep in your life! I can't wait for the next recap from all your upcoming races...you are such an inspiration Jill! Hugs :)

GZ said...

I will finish this Leadville thing ... THAT COMMENT. Call on that when you need it. You will finish. Make those teeth sweat.

TX Runner Mom said...

I love the scenery on those runs! Gorgeous!

Katie @ Will Race for Carbs said...

I am finally back for my "vacation." I think it was a 70 miler week for me too (but walking while yelling at whining kids). Why does anyone go to Disney World...ever?! Especially after that little piece of hell that was Boise! I love you to death for pacing me and riding with me and enduring that 70.3 with me. I have made a thousand memories in just a few months. I can't wait to see how you do on your A race...your baby. You are the grand master and you will nail this sucker! Hope all is well since I saw you last and I can't wait to party a little bit and watch the video montage that I have yet to create. :)

Irene said...

Wow, you're really on fire! I feel like such a slacker now, but you do give me inspiration to get off my butt and get in gear.

Loved your pictures.

Loved "Adaptation to circumstances is the key to survival."

XO

The Green Girl said...

You go, girl! You are such an inspiration to me.