(Part 2 of James’ journey to Leadman status. Also read Part 1 – The Road to Leadman)
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Having already completed the Leadville Trail 50 MTB and 100 MTB means the biking part of the Leadman race series is not as intimidating, scary and overwhelming as the 100 mile run that starts at 10,200 feet and goes up from there. The 100 mile run, the crown jewel of the Leadville Race Series and the final event for Leadman, just 6 days after the 100 mile MTB race, and 5 days after the exciting 10k run (there were dudes in G-strings this year), presents a daunting challenge and is my biggest fear in the Leadman series. I am fearful of the run and the way all the events culminate into the run. It’s even at night, through the dark in the woods.
So, how do you prepare to run the daunting Leadville 100…you run 100 miles not at altitude first, on an easy course, in nice weather, waaaayyyy before the Leadville race. I present the Cajun Coyote 100 mile run in Ville Platte, Louisiana this December 7th. It will be my first ever 100 mile run, but I guess my third official “ultra” since I had two 50 mile runs this past year (Ouachita Trail 50 and Leadville 50). Runs are called “ultra” when they are longer than a marathon 26.2 miles.
So, how do you train for the Cajun Coyote 100 miler? That is a good question with a lot of answers….maybe a different answer for every runner who contemplates it. I probably did not do it the best way, which is I stopped running for a couple of months after the Silver King 50 mile event in July (I was burnt out), and ran occasionally, but still was doing some mountain bike racing which kept the fitness intact. When I decided to embrace Leadman I was desperate to get a 100 mile event under my belt and spotted the Cajun Coyote about 5 weeks off and set a simple plan in place. I would run 5 hour long runs on the weekends to build/maintain/extend endurance (26 miles and 30 miles at 11 minute mile pace the first two weekends), and then run around 10 miles three times a week at a super-fast pace to build strength, tapering aggressively week by week. This is the last week before the Cajun Coyote and I ran 2 ½ hours this weekend at a 13 minute mile pace and this week will be doing two night runs of 3-5 miles at the 13 minute mile pace. This will allow me to get used to using my headlamp and running at night at the race pace of 13 minute miles.
If I run the entire event at 13 minute miles and allow time for aid stations and rest stops (that’s 5 laps x 4 ½ hours = 22 ½ hours) I could finish in 24 hours. That would be fantastic and is probably aggressive. The course is a 20 mile loop, so a ~4 ½ hour per loop time is a 13 minute mile pace. The trick is doing five of them, consistently, back to back. Possibly the math is the easy part (duh), running it is the hard part. Lots of people ask “Do you run the entire 100 miles?” The answer is no. Often times you might “hike with a purpose” up a hill and balance it out by running faster on a downslope. Often I’ll slow to eat, then feel energized and go a little faster. It’s a balance and it averages out over the event. Always start ssslllloooowwwwwwwwww, and don’t burn yourself up too early.
The MOST important part of any endurance activity is a strong proven nutrition and hydration plan. I have a camel-bak with two 50 ounce bladders. I will put 32 ounces of water and 32 ounces of gu-brew in the two bladders and that will get me through 20 miles. That’s approximately 15 ounces of water and electrolytes per hour given the expected cooler temperatures. If it’s warmer I’ll drink much more from the aid stations. I will also drink flat coke and eat lots of peanut butter and salty pretzels and crackers at all the four aid stations around the 20 mile loop. For nausea I have ginger chew candies. I have salt tablets for supplementing potassium lost when exercising (1-3 per hour depending on heat and sweat) and I have naproxen sodium (Aleve) for aches and pains. I have lots of gummy chews for calories (1-2 every 45 minutes). I developed this awkward combination of fuels and food over the course of 3 years. It’s a bit cumbersome, but it works for me and has proven itself over many 5+ hour events.
So we’ve executed a training plan. We have a nutrition and hydration plan. The math has been done and we have a mental plan. What else do we need you may ask….support! We need friends and family and most importantly…LOVE. I am blessed that my good friend Brent is going to come to the event and crew me…have my gear handy at the aid/drop station, have my drinks ready to go into the camel-bak, take my trash and replenish my gels and stuff, coaching and encouraging me, cheering me on. Brent will be waiting for me to finish and I will visualize him and all my loved ones ready to embrace me as I cross that finish line. I hope I can count on a big virtual crowd of Arkansas Outside folks standing right behind Brent whopping, and yelling for me. Be there for me and give me a cheer….I’ll be running to you on Sunday morning with all my heart.
If you have any questions, post them in the comments or email them to me: Jeg920 (at) hotmail (dot) com