Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Leadville Marathon Preview
The 2007 Leadville Marathon was just my second Colorado trail race after moving here from New York City in October 2006. At the time, I was pretty excited to get across the finish line of the high-altitude lung buster (topping out at 13,200') in 4:16, which was good for sixth on that day. It also turned out to be my last race before a debilitating back injury that had me on the sidelines from late July '07 to April '08 - almost nine months with nary a step run.
The fitness rebuilding process was a reasonably fast one, and by the fall of last year I found myself in decent racing shape, with perhaps my best run coming at Steamboat - my first ever 50 miler - where I finished 10 minutes back on Ryan Burch for third. Since Steamboat I've been able to build my fitness to new levels. After a really solid winter of base training and a spring of high miles focused on running ultra-distance events, I'm really excited to springboard to the second half of the year, with a focus on faster, shorter races.
So the trip to Leadville this weekend will bring me full circle to where I was two years ago. Not only was the marathon my last meaningful race before injury, but I was also just a month away from toeing the line for my first 100. While I did start the Leadville 100, my body was severely compromised and I ended up dropping at the Fish Hatchery, just 25 miles into the race. Those were the last miles I ran before the spring of '08. Now, with the 100-mile distance checked off the list just three weeks ago, and my body back in shape, I'm excited to see how much faster I can run this course than in '07. I am fully confident that I am fitter and faster than I was two years ago, but the question I want answered is by how much?
1. Beat my 4:16 and sixth-place finish from '07
2. Break 4 hours
3. Finish top three
4. Break 3:45
6. Set course record (Paul DeWitt, 3:39)
In setting goals, I like to reach. I'm a believer that if you set tough goals, you'll train and race harder to meet them. I'm reasonably confident I can take down the first three goals, although #3 is somewhat out of my hands depending, as it does, on who shows up, but 4-6 are definitely stretch goals. Hopefully I'll be able to meet one of them and come away from the race with a grade of at least 66 percent.
The organizers of the Leadville biking and running races do a great job putting on their events - an excellent job in fact; however, they come up short on their use of modern technologies. An increasing number of races are putting entrant lists up before their events start, but Leadville continues to resist (or not bother). As such, it took a bit of internet sleuthing to figure out who may or may not be running.
Here's what I know: Duncan Callahan (Leadville 100 winner '08, Fruita 25 winner '09) has the event listed on his blog-based racing schedule; Bryan Dayton (Mount Evans Ascent winner '09, 4th '08) is looking to take down the course record, according to a news release announcing the Vasque trail running team; Corey Hanson (four-time winner of the Horsetooth Trail Half and local speedster) will be there kicking off his quest for Leadman'dom; Anton Krupicka is in town and in training for the Leadville 100 next month, making it not beyond the realms of possibility that he'll run. Other speedsters may or may not show up; however, the prize money on offer at the Barr Trail Mountain Race is the biggest pull for trail runners this weekend.
If all four of those guys show up at the start line on Saturday, which I hope they do, my hopes of finishing top three will quickly become a stretch goal, but certainly still within the realms of possibility, while my goal of winning would become a long shot. So we'll see.
Regardless of the competition, I'm excited to be injury free and in good shape right now. The biggest race for me out there on Saturday will be against the clock and my trail-running neophyte of a ghost from two years ago. Bring It On.