The Leadville 100 is my running jones.
From January 1st to mid-August each of the past 5 years, it’s what gets me out of bed when the alarm goes off at 4 AM.
But after the sub-30 LT100 buckle has been secured to the Hello Kitty belt, my attention turns to earning another blue & gold ticket to the big dance. In April 2017 I’ll be running my 10th Boston Marathon in a row after meeting the qualifying standard the past 11 years.
Frankly, that surprises the hell out of me.
You see, I’m not that talented of a runner and both Leadville and Boston demand pretty much everything I have.
But they are very different.
Leadville requires a decent base of physical preparedness, but the real trick is the mental part of the race. You can
always ALWAYS take one more step, but after 40 miles without oxygen your mind will try to convince you it’s really not worth it. Finishing the Leadville 100 is +90% mental. With a little lot of help from my friends, I can muster the mental fortitude to make it through two sunrises and find my way back to Leadville.
Boston won’t let me off so easy.
A Boston-qualifier for me is 100 miles of pain crammed into 26.2 miles. And trying to re-gear my legs after 8 months of slow 40+ miles training runs to muster a BQ in just a few short weeks requires pulling a rabbit out of my compression shorts. In a few days at the Chicago Marathon, I’ll be reaching for that rabbit and hope no one is looking.
Here’s how you do it:
- Run 100 miles 7 weeks before your BQ attempt. Or get in a really good base where you don’t have to worry about the endurance part. If you’ve got that base, finishing won’t be the issue.
- Get Thee to the Track. A marathon is to a hundo as a quarter-mile sprint is to a 10K. You need a higher level of leg turnover and the ability to handle intense discomfort for a relatively shorter period of time. For me, the road to Boston inevitably winds around a 400 meter track.
- T-minus 5 weeks – 12 x 400 meters @ 5K race pace or better
- T-minus 4 weeks – Yasso 800s . . . 10 x 800 meters (take your goal marathon time and basically drop a decimal point . . . 3 hr 30 min marathon = 800 meters in 3 min 30 sec)
- T-minus 3 weeks – 4 x 1200 meters @ 5K race pace or better
- T-minus 10 days – 3 x 1600 meters @ 5K race pace or better. This one causes a bit of angst, but I promise you will feel like Pre after that final lap.
- Pray. Or meditate. Or conjure. Heck, eat tofu and do some yoga. Just don’t worry too much. It could be 35 degrees and spitting sleet on race day (Chicago 2006) or 90 degrees and humid (Chicago 2007). That, you can’t control. Let it go. The marathon gods will have their way and, who knows, it might just go your way.
OK, we’re T-minus 14 days to Chicago and a BQ attempt for April 2018. I need a 3:39:59. Staring down the barrel of those 1600 meter repeats later this week. How will Chicago turn out? Who knows. But it does feel good to be in the rabbit hunt.
p.s. It’s been a good run since Boston 2016 when the wheels fell of on a warm day. Here’s a couple videos to get you up to speed:
KT82 Trail Relay on a steamy day along the Missouri River with awesome pacer, James “Frenchy” Lambert and my new best friend, ice. I won. I lost. I was the only one in the solo division.
The 5th Annual Grandma’s Marathon DOUBLE. I won. I lost. I was the only one running.
The 2016 Leadville 100 Trail Run. I beat every llama in the race. So thankful for my pacers and crew . . . Tami, Dan, Susan, Zach and Linda. 5th buckle in 5 years. Each of them the size of a quarter with complimentary Hello Kitty belt.
Fear the ultrabeard.
Happy trails, my friends.