Leadville – My Thoughts

Ok, I better write something before too much time passes… But with Kelly having written the race from her perspective, there’s not much for me to say about the race itself.  Her account was much more interesting, as I just ate and ran.  🙂


First, I have to give huge thanks out to Kelly, Riley, Reece, Dad, and Gordo, for spending 30+ hours allowing me to achieve my goal of running (finishing!) Leadville.  Without them, it would not have been nearly as fun and perhaps not possible.  (I would have had to run unsupported using drop bags with no pacers…)   And not just 30 hours, but the time surrounding the time in Leadville too.

And beyond race day, Kelly, Riley, and Reece put up with a lot of training for me over the past 6 months.  While I did my best to keep up with all family commitments, and scheduled my long runs to be as least impactful as possible, I was still off running an awful lot.  (BTW, this account of “why do you run so much” is a fantastic read.)

Pb in the future – breaking 25 hours?

Next, I’d have to say that right now Pb is not high on my list to run again (but that’s not to say it won’t creep back up there!).   It’s a beautiful course, a great atmosphere, has great history and tradition, and is tremendously challenging.  But I think the race has gotten too big/crowded, and the resulting issues need to be addressed before I’d consider going back.  (I won’t address those issues here, they have been addressed in many other places.)

What would draw me back?  Well, assuming the issues are resolved, the lure of a sub 25:00:00 Pb would definitely do it!  It’s sort of like a sub 20:00 5k, a sub 40:00 10k, a sub 3 hour marathon (or just a BQ).  It’s some arbitrary line in the sand between the “good” and the rest of the field.  And yeah, that challenge is of interest to me.  🙂

BUT, look at the splits below:

(Note MQ2 is not correct…)   I was nearly on a “Peterson pace” for 25 hours up to TL2, which is not quite even splits, but much closer splits than most people are able to manage.  I ran to TL1 in under 8 hours, and had just over 9 hours to run from TL2 to the the finish, to break 25 hours.  What’s an extra hour on the last 40?  🙂  Even if I’d been able to run more than the 3-5 miles I was capable of that last 40, I could have easily taken off an hour to get to 27:00.  Two hours is still a long ways from 25, so what would it take?  (And yeah, you read that right — I power hiked most of the last 40. And the last 3-5 were more of a slog than a power hike!)

Training – not sure I could find more time to run, or if I’d want to.  But all I did the last 6 months was run.  I had a few 60 mile weeks, which is not a lot for ultra runners, but is a lot for me!  No weight lifting, no biking, etc.   Lots more work on the legs — lunges, squats, etc., would have helped.  More downhill running would help (my legs were shaking coming into TL1 at 40 miles, and the 2nd climb up Hope on the return took a lot out of me…)  Here are my weekly running miles the weeks leading into Pb…  The 65 in week 18 was the week of the NF50 in NY and the 96 on week 22 was the week of the 24 hour where I ran 87 (and stopped just over 19 hours in, in order to be able to continue Pb training…).

Acclimating — more time at elevation would also help, but again, not sure I could find the time.  I spent 7 days in June in the NC mountains at 4500 feet, another 10 days in late July at the same place, and arrived in Highlands Ranch (6100′) on 8/5.  We then went to Twin Lakes (9200′) on 8/13.  Training was a bit limited those last 12 days as I needed to taper, and it takes a lot longer to recover at altitude.  I did get a couple of 60-90 minute hike/runs in at 7500-8500 the 1st week, as well as two 14’ers.  But I think that was about all my body could handle.

Some random photo I found on another blog — with me in it!  🙂

What worked:

Shoes – Suacony Virrata (road shoe) the 1st 40, Alta superior the next 20, Hoka Stinson the last 40.  This was all fine.  My feet were about done in the road shoe around mile 38-39, and I was ready for the Stinson at mile 50 but my crew was not able to get into Winfield (assuming Gordo would have carried another shoe across Hope for the river crossing).  But this was all fine.  The only thing I might consider in the future is to *start* in the Hoka, but I’d still change shoes at TL1 and TL2 to ensure dry shoes the rest of the race.

Nutrition – base of vfuel and diluted grape juice (1/3 juice, 2/3 water).  Mixed in some perpetuem.  The hard boiled eggs and nut butters, while they worked in training, were not great in Pb.  I think it was the fact that the 1st hard boiled egg I almost choked on, and the 1st nut butter I had was plain almond butter and was very dry.  The almond butter + honey, or the hazelnut + chocolate, worked better.  I also used the broths and noodles at the aid stations, ate some ptotatoe chips here and there, a couple of small boiled potatoes, half a hamburger at inbound/hatchery, etc.   Nutrition was pretty good throughout the race — there were times I just didn’t want to eat, mostly on the climbs up Hope and Powerline, but I was always able to force a vfuel down and those seem to sit very well in my stomach.

Gear:  Love the new Ultimate Direction AK pack!  Used under armor compression shorts under go lite shorts the entire race, and a 200 weight short sleeve ice breaker body fit T.   Had arm warmers and a hat.  I did get chilly after midnight, even with a 320 weight icebreaker “sweater” on, and had to borrow Gordo’s down jacket a bit.  Started in injinj toe socks for the 1st 60, then switched to a dry pair of thin smart wools.  Lights – might consider a new set up in the future — mine are now a few years old and it shows — lights have come a long long ways!  Used bodyglide and runners guard for chaffing, which was fairly minimal.  (A lot less sweat in CO than I’m used to on the East Coast!)

What didn’t work:

Nothing really jumps out as not working.  Even the wood sticks I picked up to help me over Hope Pass were mostly ok, though I’d consider trekking poles in the future, at least for the big climbs.

4 thoughts on “Leadville – My Thoughts

  1. Pingback: Leadville — One post to glue them all… | 2sparrows

  2. That’s a great pic. Not familiar with vfuel, will check it out. First I heard of Hokas was Kelly’s earlier post. As to training, in place of added mileage (i.e. more time spent training instead of with family), perhaps more intensity in some shorter efforts? Perhaps find some training runs where family can cycle or skooter with you for portions of it? Congratulations, Sean!

  3. I actually ran pretty low volume, with maybe 3 or 4 weeks at 60. Most weeks were 35-45, I think. I did force the kids to ride with me on the rails to trail trail — they’ve done as many as 13 miles riding while I’ve run! 🙂

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