I started this journey back in February of this year. Train for the Leadville 100 as best you can. The question was, what the hell do I do to get ready?
My basic plan was to run whenever I had the chance. I also raced more than I have in the past, mainly consisting of 50K's that I could train right through without really tapering or risking injury. I was worried that if I raced too long too much, I would end up hurt. Since I've only had a few years of actual running to call a base, building as much of one as I could was my main focus. Weekly totals for the last 26 weeks are as follows:
88 Way Too Cool 50K 4:08:46
90 Cheyenne Mountain 50K 4:48:08
67 Forest Park 50K 4:18:16
101 Big Horn 50K 4:05:20
93 Silver Rush 50M 7:44:41
So the only race I really tried to cut back on and race really well was Forest Park, which while a decent time, was a bit of a disappointment at the time. I was lucky to finish 4th, and it was a solid time given my recent history (or lack thereof) in the 50K distance. The only performance that I was really upset with was Cheyenne Mountain, which for whatever reason I just made a bunch of mistakes and ran poorly.
I feel like I've become a much better runner, a smarter runner, in the last year or so. Certainly much of that is from trial and error; learning from previous mistakes that I've made. Way Too Cool was a certain wake up call, though I felt like I ran about as fast as I could have given the time of year and my training, I was supremely humbled to be nearly 30 minutes behind the winner and 24th overall while running a 1.5hr 50K PR. A true showing of where I might be in the grand sense of things. However, I've gotten faster and stronger as the year has gone on. I sort of feel like I've moved just a tad over the edge of being a "rookie" and into the minor leagues. While I've not moved into the big leagues, I have the confidence that on a good day I can be at least respectably close to some of the big league boys out there.
Winning at BigHorn was a pleasant boost, though I recognize that I may have not run against any big time competition. A win is a win, and for a beginner like me, I'm pretty damn proud of it. Running from the front is really taxing, both mentally and physically, and I'm glad to have gotten a taste of winning.
As I look at what is almost certainly my last race of the year, and the biggest one, I'm content with my season as a whole and the work that I've put in. I understand at least a bit why AJW values consistency so highly, because doing the work is tough, and continuing it surely is even tougher.
For now, I'm tending to the hay sitting in the barn, trying to remain calm in front of the largest racing task I've ever undertaken. My main goal: Try to finish before Midnight. I understand things can go wrong. I know I have to take them in stride and work through it. I believe I can do it, and I have confidence in my training and abilities. Game on.