We are now at the section we’ve all been waiting for, the signature of Leadville, Hope Pass. This section is brutal and should not be taken lightly. You may not have a problem while actually climbing Hope but it’s damage will manifest itself later in the race. No one is spared.

-Leadville 100 Trail Run Race Guide, a horror novel

Before we begin, let me thank you one more time for your incredible support of the Life & Hope Fund to help cancer patients.  As of August 16, we are up to $13,166!  Want to help?  CLICK HERE!  Do it, it feels good. 🙂

And on with the blog…

As of this writing we are two days away from the Leadville 101.5 Trail Run.  The math wizards at the Leadville Race Series announced this week that a last-minute change to the course will add 1.5 miles.  That’s according to the race officials . . . runners who have been on the new section claim the change will add closer to 3 miles.  Either way, they are not changing the entry fee for the race so I am choosing to view these extra miles as a FREE PRIZE!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tami and I have been in Breckenridge since Friday evening and have been busy with work around the house and work around work . . . it was a busy time to get away but I really needed to get up to altitude.  Our house is at exactly 9700 ft above sea level and I’m hoping we got here early enough for my body to have added a few extra red blood cells to more efficiently carry the fleeting oxygen molecules that occasionally waft by.

We took a break on Sunday to climb Quandary Peak which is just a few miles south of  Breckenridge on the Tenmile Range.  Quandary is one of Colorado’s most beautiful and well-defined 14ers and comes in #13 on the list of 53 at 14,265 ft.  We got an early start and it turned out to be a perfect day.  I shot some video (surprise!) and threw it together last night.  Take a peak at the Peak:

This was Tami’s first 14er and my second.  After the first 100 yds working up the trail I could see the fear in her eyes.  What would be an easy climb in St. Louis puts even the most fit of bodies into oxygen-deprivation shock . . . it takes a bit for things to regulate.  She set aside the discomfort, put on her inner-mountain goat and did a great job chugging to the top.  The hiking guides state that Quandary Peak is one of the most hikeable 14ers.  That may be the case, but it is far from a walk in the park.  The average grade from the trailhead to the summit is 19.4% – that is really, really steep!  By comparison, the average grade for the Pikes Peak Marathon is 11%.  Tami agrees with me that it is more fun coming down than going up.  But, as life would have it, you can’t truly enjoy the former without putting in the time on the latter.

I always get anxious a few days prior to a race.  You train hard for months and then back off during the taper to allow your body to heal and hope that the magic of supercompensation is actually taking place as you drift off into slothfulness.  This time it has hit me even harder.  Frankly, I am tough to live with right about now.  My apologies to friends and family for being such a pain in the a**.  The anxiety stems from two primary sources.  First, after training very hard for months, my body is wondering why I have been taking it so easy these past couple weeks.  It is ready to go and go looooong.  Second, this is about the time that you start to wonder if you can do this thing.  Here’s a tweet I posted a couple days ago that provides some insight into the darkness of my soul over the past couple of days:

 4 days to #LT100 , going to take today and tomorrow to wallow in self-doubt, 2nd guessing & paralyzingly fear. Just let me enjoy the moment.

Fortunately, the anxiety starts to diminish 24 to 48 hours prior to the race and I am starting to feel the darkness pass.  Crew and pacers (aka friends & family) have been arriving throughout the week and we have our first and final team meeting this afternoon to go over race logistics.  Good friends, Dan & Linda Turpin arrived on Tuesday.  Dan and I got in a final 6 mile run yesterday.  I am hopeful that his sense of direction is better than mine.  Eldest son, Collin, arrived yesterday and passed out after one beer at altitude.  Cousin and pacer, Susan Vickerman, arrives today bringing Todd and Kerri to help with pacing and crewing.  I am very, very thankful for their support and company, even if I have been a big crab.

This tidal wave that is the Leadville 101.5 Trail Run is fast approaching.  There is very little left to do other than realize there is very little left to do.  As that final step in the process takes place, I plan to take it all in and enjoy every painful moment.

Life & Hope Fund Update: $13,166 of awesome thanks to YOU!  Do you have any idea how many cancer patients formerly at the end of their rope will now find hope thanks to your efforts?  You done good!  Special thanks to Frank & Jennifer Larson, Teresa Kenna Hinton, Kim & Bruce Larson, Matt & Jennifer Wilson, Chris & Alyson Barker, Greg & Marian Snapp and John Barlett.  The Bartlett family started to the Life & Hope Fund to honor John’s wife, Diana, and help other cancer patients be as healthy as they possibly can be.  I am so honored to have John’s support and to do my small part.

Training Update:  2037 miles YTD and DONE!  Two days off prior to the race.  After four 50-mile training runs and two good runs on the actual Leadville trail, I feel like I have done the necessary work.  Leadville will get the best I can throw at it . . . and we’ll see if it is enough.

Once again, thank you so much for your support of this effort and the Life & Hope Fund!  You make me want to do this thing to the very best of my limited abilities.