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Race Preview: 2011 Leadville Trail 100

Posted Aug 19 2011 2:33am

"Keep doing what you're doing SJ. There's a lot of us out there that follow you and are routing for you. Keep your head high and you'll continue to do great things." - Shawn McTaggart

2010It was pouring buckets outside as the sun had set on the 2010 McNaughton in Vermont races put on by Peak.com and Andy Weinberg. With a westerly wind blowing hard into the barn doors, I knew snow was eminent. I wanted nothing to do with it and for the first time in a race this long, I failed to make it to at least 100 miles. I'd run 60 and was milling about the barn, trying to get all of my things together so I could pack up, shower and get a goods night rest. I saw in a camp chair, shivering, wrapped up in a sleeping bag and talking to a fellow runner about perhaps quitting doing this ultra thing. That's when Shawn McTaggart came in and told me the quote above.
What was I supposed to expect? Two weeks prior I had completed a loop at the Barkley in Tennessee. In a little over a month I was to run the Western States 100. Of all the goal races I'd ever had on my list, the top two fell as book-ends with this race. After struggling to cross the finish line at Western States, I raced the clock in Vermont and finishing that race for the 4th time, except for the 1st time in over 24 hours. By the time I got to Leadville last year, I was a beaten man. I was tired, trying to complete the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running on little training and a base of a hodge-podge of races to limp through the miles at over 10,000 feet. Leadville worked me. It was more running then I expected it to be. The cut-offs were tough and I fell flat. I left Winfield with 10 minutes to spare and arrived at Twin Lakes 2 fifteen minutes late. I DNF'd.. and it stung.
After Leadville I returned to New Hampshire and started resting. Wondering what was next. I had planned my annual October Project and I even failed in my attempt to run that. After 62 miles and 25 hours on my feet.. I called that adventure done some 60 miles short of my finish line. Then the thinking really set in. Do I keep going? Do I stop? What's next? I've done everything I've set out to do. I have nothing to prove to anyone.. not even myself. I withdrew myself from the running life, ran mostly when I felt like it which wasn't often, and buried myself into my schooling at UNH with it being my senior year.
20112011 LT100 Finish Line Brew
As I began to wrap up my studies at UNH, I had one thing in particular on my mind. Redemption. First chance I got to sign up for Leadville, I took it and my training began slowly until I finally wrapped school up at the end of May and moved to the great state of Colorado. Upon moving here, I picked my training back up to levels that I hadn't trained at in over two years. I've run a focused training regimen, which included a dry run of Hope Pass, which I hope will find myself successful on Harrison Avenue. Heading into Leadville, I've gone back to the drawing board. I'm prepared with much of my trade secrets and routines that I've alienated since late 2009 and am going back to what I know works.
I'm having a hard time predicting how this weekend is going to go. This is a tough race for sure. What I learned in my DNF last year is that you need to be ready for it both physically and mentally. For the first time in my years of running, I have no idea if I'm even close. All I can do is show up in Leadville and hope for the prefect day, and trust my training. Hope for my plan to play out and everything to go right.. so I can make it back to town with a buckle in hand. I'm terrified. Mostly because I go back to last May.. thinking about if I want to keep doing this. I feel like this race is going to define how my ultra journey plays out.. and what story is told. I'm nervous.. and scared.. in Leadville again. This is one of those moments.. where something or someone kicks you down.. and you show your ability to get back up. I'm gonna need a big hand... This is for redemption.

2011 Race Goals:1.) Finish2.) Sub 29 Hours3.) Sub 27 Hours
Weather reports are calling for Highs in the Low 70's and low's in the upper 30's. Afternoon Severe Thunderstorm are poised to carry winds in excess of 50 mph and hail. I would't have it any other way.

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