Last minutes updates before the big race

Atop Mount Royal in Frisco, ColoradoThe shotgun will be fired in downtown Leadville at 4 AM tomorrow to start the Leadville 100-mile trail run.

My wake up alarm is set for 2 AM. Ugh.

I believe there are about 460 runners registered, including 7 men in the  70 and up category. Impressive!

I think I’m ready to go. For the first time, I am doing this race unsupported. No pacers and no support crew. (Okay, my friends Kevin and Shelby will stop by to cheer me.)

Going solo means I have to rely on my drop bags as well as the food and water at the aid stations.

Having five drop bags along the course has really forced me to be more organized and prepared. Each drop bag has specific food item (energy gel, protein bars, salt tablets), extra clothes, and sometimes spare  running shoes. One bag contains my headlamp, too.

And speaking of headlamps, I’m looking to not repeat last year’s failure when my batteries died at around 4 AM. Luckily some other racers let me share a light. This year I have a superlight LED flashlight in addition to the headlamp. Together they should get me through the night.

This year I am also using a new hydration system from Nathan. It’s designed for ultra-runners and carries up to 70 ounces of water. The pack is comfortable to run in and it doesn’t slosh much. It also has easily accessible pockets for my gear and spare jacket. My only concern is some reviews say it’s prone to leak. So far, mine has not.

This year’s race comes with both positive and tragic news.

First, the positive: the weather looks great, if not a little too warm with a forecasted high of 72F. They are predicting a full sun, and at mountainous altitudes, that can make things real warm. I am sure to carry my sunscreen, plenty of water and salt tablets.

The tragic news is an Army Blackhawk helicopter crashed Wednesday on Mount Elbert, just outside Leadville. Four were killed. With the investigation ongoing, a portion of the run course has been re-routed.

Hopefully my next entry  will end on a more positive note and with the news of a decent finish.

Good night!

Training for Leadville in a flat town

Stairs at Ren CenOnce again I’m out in Colorado just days away from the Leadville Trail 100-mile  running race.

This is my fourth time in this race. The first was in 2002 when I had my best finish and broke the 25 hour mark to earn a gold belt buckle. I notoriously undertrained for the race and averaged only 15 miles of running prior to race day.

I returned in 2007 with more training mile but finished much slower. That didn’t make too much sense. 2008 was slower still, but at least I could blame that on the seemingly endless rain and snow storms.

But one thing I did notice is I was much better at hiking up steep hills in 2002. I didn’t do any hill training but my home office was in the basement. I climbed my basement stairs everyday. Did that help?

When I moved my home office out of the basement, I wasn’t doing nearly as many stairs.

So this year I tried something new. Once or twice a week I went to the RenCen and climbed stairs. There are roughly 70 flights of 16 steps — or about 700 feet. I’d take the elevator back down. I climbed 2-3 times from bottom to top.

I really couldn’t climb more than that due to the heat. The stairwells are very warm and get warmer the higher you climb.

There’s a nice ice cream shop in the Wintergarden that provided my motivation.

Will this special training help this year? We’ll know in less than a week.

I did climb about 1,300 feet today to Mount Royal and it felt pretty darn good.

Inspired by our Running Hamster

Marshall’s the third hamster we’ve gotten from the pet rescue, and like all hamsters, he absolutely loves to run.

We’ve always had the traditional hamster wheels, but one day at the pet shop we snapped up a Critter Trail Revolution — “the home that revolves” — in the clearance isle.  It’s basically a 14-inch diameter mesh wheel that rotates.

So yesterday Marshall is running in the wheel.  (For the past couple weeks he’s forgotten he’s nocturnal.)  His running inspired me to finally get up and out the door.

I got in a 9-mile run, and when I got home, he was still running.  I think I ran a further distance, but he probably outdid me on time (unless he secretly slacked while I was out.)

And as far as I can tell, he doesn’t sweat either.

I really need to get a bike computer hooked up to his wheel so we can track his distance and time.

My Review of Brooks Cascadia 3 Trail-Running Shoes – Men’s

Originally submitted at REI

Cushioned for running on tough trails, these Cascadia 3 shoes feature adaptable posts to adjust to terrain irregularities and provide stability.

Needs more work on the heel design

By Todd Scott from Detroit, MI on 7/31/2008
1 star out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Rugged, Lightweight, Good Traction, Comfortable

Cons: Unstable heel, Poor heel cushioning

I really tried to make these shoes work as a medium- to long-distance trail runner. After three trail runs (55 miles), it’s apparent that they aren’t going to work. I had hoped to use these at this years Leadville 100 race.

The biggest problem is the apparent lack of heel cushioning for the heel strike. After my run, both my heels are sore for a day.

The shoes are stable on non-technical, flat surfaces. However, on rocky terrain, the heel is quick to twist even after tightening the laces a little past the comfort point.

I’ve been running trail ultras for many years and haven’t experienced these issues with my mainstay, Montrails, which I had purchased at REI.


Run through the Mt. Olivet Cemetery

Yum...  Pancakes...

I recently signed up for a very interesting 4-mile run through Detroit’s scenic Mt. Olivet Cemetery. The race is this Sunday. There’s a 1.5 mile walk option as well.

The key selling point? Post-race pancakes!

I’m already thinking up some punny excuses, e.g. “I nearly died out there.”

You can register on-line. Also, the Free Press has an great article about the race.

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