Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Silver Rush 50 Follow-up

While climbing in the Sawatch Range during the last several days I had a lot of time to think.  Then, when I was recovering for each climb, I looked into a few things and thought some more.  In my SR 50 race report I stated that I was quite pleased with my result.  Well, now I am even more pleased.

I reviewed my training log again while sitting in the BV Roastery Monday afternoon.  In an earlier post I wrote that I was underprepared for a 50-mile race - at altitude - with big, rough climbs.  That was because I had already reviewed the log before the race.  My training plan had called for eight progressively longer runs that would serve as the foundation of any strength I had for the race.  In other words, I planned my whole program around that long run build-up.  The long run build-up WAS my training plan for the SR 50.  It was through meeting other ultra runners on those 14ers that I began to realize that my "part time" ultra runner routine was an even smaller part time than I wanted to admit.

The log says that I planned to complete four runs of more than the marathon length, culminating in runs of 32 and 36 miles.  I turned my ankle (turtle) minutes into the first long run.  Then came the extreme sweating caused by an unusually hot and humid June.  That weather caused me to significantly shorten four long runs.  Only two runs reached the marathon distance.  The only positive was that those two runs did include dozens of Stru Hill climbs that allowed for about 3K feet of vertical.

During the ten weeks prior to the SR 50 I averaged just under 32 running miles per week!  That is not exactly a solid foundation for running an ultra.  Of course, I did average 111 hilly miles per week on the bike, too.  I do not know how much the cycling helped me climb mountains on foot, but I must speculate that I did gain something useful from all of that work.

I looked back into the training log because two of the runners I met on the 14ers complained about the fact that the weather had kept them from completing their long runs.  In fact, both of these runners (from Nebraska and Illinois) had, like me, been limited to sub-3-hour runs.  Both also complained about ion imbalances and equilibrium problems that lasted for days after long run attempts.  So, I have not been alone in my struggle.  Unfortunately for those two runners, they plan to complete the Pbville 100.  I sure hope that they keep logging mountain miles in that kind, cool, and dry Colorado air.

Duncan was logging 140-mile weeks in the mountains around Gunnison leading up to the race.  Helen told me that she had been logging 80-100 miles per week in the mountains around Breckenridge.  Their results showed that they had solid foundations for that 50-mile effort.  Then again, those two are real mountain ultramarathoners.  I wish that I could run free in those mountains.  I wish that I could gain 3-4K ft in a single climb on a typical run.  I wish that I had nearby mountain tops calling me up to them.  I wish.

The next post will cover the five days during which I climbed nine of the Sawatch Range 14ers.  Now that was some great mountain ultra training!


  1. You must be in heckava good shape. I do think this kind of thing can be done on low miles as long as they are the right miles. I think hiking is a big weakness and your climbs certainly helped.

    I've been running a few years (on/off) but have been consistent for 6 months now and started ultras this year. Hoping to drop a good amount of time next year. Will be doing LT100 in 3 weeks - how about you?


  2. Jay - I certainly wish I could have made it out there to climb and hike before the race. I really believe that I am much stronger after those climbs and I also believe that I would be significantly faster if the SR 50 was this weekend due to increased climbing strength and a more healthy ankle. I am not running the LT100 this year. It takes place one week after school starts, so it is difficult and costly for me to return. I do plan to do it though. Perhaps next year - after once again running the SR 50. Good Luck!