Newbie Cliff Notes

A Day in the Life23 Comments

Be prepared.

Walking at mile 75ish in the middle of the night…freezing to death.

Leadville Trail 100 2010

I got a message from Nathan:

I was wondering if you could provide any insights to this Leadville newbie about things you are going to do differently and mistakes you learned from in the past?

My first thought was….I blogged all that. Go read it. The race reports are long though. The discussion after goes on for weeks. Then I realized that there might be added value to putting out some cliff notes with some hindsight. So here is the essence of what I responded with. I didn’t take weeks to craft it. Just top of mind. Share yours in the comments.


I was probably at my fastest road-wise. I had done Boston months earlier in sub-3. But my main downfall was a few things:

+ Not enough long training runs. I just would always bonk at 3-4 hours and never really addressed it.

+ My hip. Injury bit me on race day. I was hurt going into it. Maybe taper more but it was pretty unavoidable.

+ I was not prepared to walk because I couldn’t run. So I developed massive blisters on the soles of my feet. Couldn’t walk for a week after the race.

But I finished. I gutted it out. Just kept moving. That’s the #1 lesson to a 100. Don’t stop until they tell you that you are cut or you hit the finish line. Any other way out like quitting is not the right answer.


I trained harder than ever. Big miles. 100+ mile weeks. I really changed things. Leadville was my only big race of the summer. I was over confident and antsy when I showed up. I lead the race from the start for a while. My day! Then I started to unravel. I wasn’t eating enough to support that pace sustained. I dropped pace from AS to AS. Then I hit Hope Pass and it kicked me in the teeth. I had no energy to go up it. I went from 18 hour pace to 25 hour pace in those last few stretches to the 50 mile mark. Everything unraveled.

So kept at it given rule from 2010 but ultimately became a zombie on powerline and could not finish. I ran myself into the ground. I did not run smart. I had the base. I just tried to execute a plan I wasn’t capable of or ready for.


I trained slow. I used to run my road 20 mile runs at high 7 pace. Now I run them at mid 9s.

I hiked all winter. I can run up mountains, sure. But in the race at 80 miles, everyone is hiking up. So I practiced that. I hike the same pace as some of my friends running uphill. But I am less spent.

Then for WS100, I focused on an even day and more nutrition. Eat, eat, eat. I did 100% better but it still wasn’t perfect and I suffered for it. I executed much better and built confidence that I can maintain that at any race.


I already know what I would change. I just have to wait until winter…if I saddle up again.


You can’t change anything now. Its too late. All you can do is prepare yourself for race day. I am sure there are 100s of tips. But if you could only remember 3. Maybe these:

1. Eat. This is a eating contest with running in between. Eat early. Eat often. Eat eat eat. Got it? Real food too. As much and as early as possible. Use the aid station food. Try everything they have.

2. Slow. Nobody does but try and even split the race. You can’t bank time. Doesn’t work. Try and get through 50 feeling good. Then that last 50 will hurt but you will run past everybody that is laying on the ground puking.

3. Be prepared. Stuff will go wrong. It might snow. You might blister in some way never seen before. Deal with it. Quickly.

Hope that helps. Its one thing to know that stuff. Frankly I knew it all before running it in 2010. Its another to practice it and race by it. That’s the biggest change for me.

Good luck.