Leadville 100 Training Camp: Hope Pass x 2

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Day 2 of camp. Got a decent sleep but had to be up by 6 AM to get to the convention center to get instructions for the day. I popped right up but the kids and Kim were all pretty groggy. We took the kids and put them all in our bed and I was able to fold up their bed and put away the slide (mechanical portion of the RV that extends when parked). With Kim and 3 kids in the back bed, I drove 15 minutes up the road from the campground to meet everyone. The family had no big plans for the day so they continued to nap while I was inside eating breakfast and listening to instructions for the day.

Hope Pass (12,600 feet) was the crux of the day. Three options were presented. Pick your poison in increasing difficulty. 1) Start at Twin Lakes and go to the top of Hope Pass, then come back down. 2) Start at Twin Lakes, summit Hope Pass, go down the other side, visit a full aid station, then re-climb Hope and return to Twin Lakes. 3) Basically #2 but additionally run the 2.5 miles each way to Winfield (the turnaround in the race). Being that we had been gone for over a week in the RV and this run was all that was between me and getting home, I opted for #2 on the day. Most of the runners seemed to go for #3. Plus, they were staying for camp on Monday, which I was not. I knew I would get most if not all of the value out of the day by doing Hope twice. The run to Winfield along the road is one of the most hated sections of the course so why spoil it today?

I ended up driving the RV down to Twin Lakes with the 2 school buses of runners slightly behind me. I parked the family there in Twin Lakes at the visitor’s center. The kids were all asleep in back and Kim said goodbye. Transportable lodging rules! Other runners drove down too so I met them in the parking lot as one of the buses came in and picked us up. We were not going to run straight out of Twin Lakes proper today. The bridge that is used normally in training camp was washed away this spring. So we had to travel 3 miles west on Highway 82 to Parry Peak campground, which has the next closest bridge. Being that the campground is small, the first bus unloaded and those runners took off. Then we had to wait a bit then it was our turn to unload. Point being that runners were going to be spread out in two groups at the start. I wasn’t going to be first out today. But that was good. Would give me a chance to more properly pace instead of racing to stay ahead.

Some nice rolling hills at the start, but crowds were already walking them. I was in a full on run so it was like trying to drive a Ferrari in rush hour traffic. Although, I made good work of it in a few open fields as well as at the river crossings. People were doing the log thing and I just splashed through. If the SJS50 taught me anything, its that running in wet shoes is no big deal for small periods of time. Got some “wows” on those moves but finally got to the more serious pitch on the trail and moved to power hiking. Got passed by a few folks and passed some myself. A couple guys and I ended up forming a pretty good train and stayed right with each other for the nearly 4+ mile ascent. Never said a word. Just kept on each other. The climb this direction is brutal at the start but then evens out a bit as you get over treeline. Some joggable sections in there. Then some steep switchbacks at the top. However, I was excited to be topping out and get my downhill on, the climb wasn’t that bad. In fact, it went pretty quickly. Two small snowfields at the top and I was on the top of the pass. This isn’t the top of Hope Mountain so it felt sort of lame but during the race, it will be appreciated.

To the north, Leadville in the distance.

Hope Pass

Obligatory self-portrait. Some guy asked if I wanted him to do it and I opted for my own shot.

Hope Pass

To the south, the prettiest cluster of 14ers in the state.

Hope Pass

Took a few minutes at the top to gather myself, drink, eat a bit, then descend. It was lightly snowing up there and the clouds looked not as nice as they could be to the south. But it was time to go down. This side is said to be steeper and seemed to be. But instead of barreling down it with all I had, I took it easy. Kept a good pace. Got passed by 2 people but passed a bunch myself. Never really beat myself up. Was trying to experiment to see if some energy saved here would pay off on the re-ascent. You can see the bottom nearly the whole way down in any clearing you get to so it seemed like the bottom would be right around the corner. And it felt that way as I popped out in the campground to a fully stocked aid station.

“Going to Winfield?”, they asked. Nope! I have a family waiting in an RV and a re-climb of this pass is all that is between us and getting home. Winfield can wait until August. I only had a little regret because I wanted a full-on split to compare to race splits as I did the prior day but that just wasn’t enough to get me to run that road. So I started back up. Immediately, the steepness kicks in and I was powerhiking. Having just been on this minutes ago, the terrain was so familiar. I moved pretty well through it but it wasn’t fast. However, I wasn’t stopping or hesitating. Just constant forward motion. This felt slightly better maybe easier than the prior successive climbs at SJS50. About 1/2 way up, a dude passed me on his climb. He was the leader and he had gone to Winfield already and was back. Nice. Lots of high fives and congrats as I moved up the trail and people were still descending. They probably thought I went to Winfield too. Never lied when asked.

Developed a hot spot on my left heal. Blister was forming from all the rubbing on the back of the shoe. Had nothing helpful with me so I wadded up some TP and shoved it in there. I was close to the top and this wouldn’t be a problem on the descent. Nothing more to report. Just kept climbing and watching the elevation on my watch and counting the feet to 12,600. Made it and without stopping, started the descent. I could see the RV down in the lot 3,000 feet below.

Made good work of the descent. Not super hard but harder than the prior descent. Moved well enough to pass the 2 people that passed me on the ascent. This again was my MO for the weekend — slower ascent, get passed, faster descent, cruise past them. One of the guys and I played this game both days. He was from Lake Placid and that’s what I called him to his face. Kind of funny as we alternated like this. Anyway, moved down into the trees and felt just perfect. Realizing that I had no bonk, no issues, just really running well today. No huge changes from the prior day. Ate Cliff Blocks instead of GUs just for a flavor change. Might have helped.

The trail turned to a lot of loose rock part way down. I was moving well through it but I zoned out and stepped on one too many loose rocks and turned my ankle. Ouch! Kept running on it because that usually makes it forget it just got hurt and keeps it loose. OK, I think I got by that one. Ouch! Another one 2 minutes later. Not too bad. Better be…care…ouch! A 3rd. I stopped. Needed to reset. My ankle hurt so I walked for a minute. The stabilizing motion hurt now. As long as I planted flat, I would be OK. But its not a flat trail. So I got myself moving and babied it. Was used to this from the ankle problem of May so no big deal. Finally got to some trail with pine needles everywhere and it made for a nicer pillow to run on.

Started passing a bunch more folks. These were apparently the ones that just went up and came back down. All walking. I am not exactly sure what the story was but I am sure that if you can’t double cross Hope on a random Sunday, then its going to knock you the fuck out on race day after 40+ miles. I hope they got what they wanted out of the day. The packs gave me motivation to keep moving hard. As the trail finally got flat I was able to motor back along the river very quickly and feeling fresh until I finally charged the finish line and completed my version of training camp.

Got a ride back to Twin Lakes with Merilee. Told her thanks for the weekend and departed. Walked to the RV to find the kids playing in the front window. They were excited to see me and very excited to get rolling home. Everyone missed their friends and own bed! I ate some hot food in the RV and took a warm shower right there too. What a life. Felt like a superstar to have this rig right there to get all cleaned up. I could get used to that.

Analysis time. Not quite sure there is much comparable here since we started at Parry Peaks TH and I didn’t go to Winfield. 6:35 would have been the true 24 goal split. I ran this in 4:35. Figuring it wouldn’t have taken me 2 hours to run the 5 miles on the road to Winfield and back so I should be under the split by a decent margin. However, I was much fresher today given I didn’t have to run the 40 miles to get to Hope itself.

Up the North Side: 1:39:52 (+3424 feet)

Down the South Side: 0:31:57 (-2,619 feet)

Up the South Side: 1:18:51 (+2,644 feet)

Down the North Side: 1:04:40 (-3,437 feet)

North side was definitely longer and ascended more because Twin Lakes sits lower than Winfield. These climbs didn’t really phase me though. That bodes well for race day. Should be a challenge but I will feel that energy once I get back to Twin Lakes after getting over this thing.

Final Thoughts

Getting more long long runs in will be key for me. I found myself easily recovered after all of these runs which shows my training has made me strong. However, I have a little energy and mental bonk around the 2:45 mark of these runs that is causing me grief. Need to get that corrected. Luckily, it fuels me after that point and I come back strong. In a 24 hour race, I will have a lot of time to deal with ups and owns but want to minimize and flatten them as much as possible.

My legs are in great shape. Never a muscle pain. Never an issue. They just delivered over and over. The problem is the fuel and air intake system. Its expected to breathe hard at 10,000+ feet but anything I can do between now and race day to build more acclimatization is going to pay more than 1,000 leg presses would. This means getting high elevation runs in more often or simply sleeping at altitude.

My nutrition is still random but I seem to deal. I guess I know there are going to be ups and downs. Had 1 medium day and 1 great day at camp. As compared with SJS50, where the whole day was off. And my poop went along with that. Never took a single crap in the woods on the camp runs. Compare that with SJS50 where I was in the woods 3 times in 8 miles. When I am on, I am on.

While at camp, I cemented the realization that if we have decent conditions on race day, I will finish that race. While its my first 100 and shit will happen, I feel like I am past what it would take to hit that goal. If we ran it tomorrow, I feel like I could do it. However, the A-level goal of sub-25 seems a little more elusive. I need to go out slow. I need to keep on my game. I need to monitor my walks. I need to execute the plan. This isn’t new to me but it will be a new game to do it for 25 hours instead say 3 hours in a marathon. I will need the help of my pacer and crew in order to keep that dream alive. While I do get pumped up from time to time when splits show a 21 hour possible finish, I feel like that is a ridiculous goal. Finish what I set out to do in sub-25. If I leave some on the table, oh well. Come back another year and run it faster.

Oh and on that acclimatization problem? Decided to up the ante there. We made an offer on a vacation house/cabin in Leadville. Team Shart might have a new training camp headquarters one of these days. Stay tuned.

I went 15.18 miles with an elevation gain of 6,340 feet in 04:35:22, which is an average pace of 18:08. Heart rate average was 143. View my GPS data on Garmin Connect.

  • Steve Young

    Nice post. I’m heading there on Sunday to do the same route. The comparisons to SJS are really helpful. I hope I feel as good as you did (sans ankle rolls). Cheers!