A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not in Western States, Contemplating Leadville

December 5 morning comes. Western States 100 lottery day is here, or rather the day they post results onto their website on who was accepted into the race. Knowing that I only had a 15% chance to get in, I surf my way over to the website and checked out the list...

I didn't make it.

Ah, oh well. I knew the odds were against me to begin with, but the flat rejection still shocks me a little. I think it's the effort made to qualify for the lottery to begin with. I ran 100 miles in Vermont partly to qualify for this lottery, and that is a lot to ask of one person. To be rejected by that, well, does come with a shock.

I already had a Plan B ready to go...the Canadian Death Race. This is a beautiful 125 km race in the middle of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta that I longed to do. But the date of that race falls on August 1 this year, which might pose a problem. You see, the Vermont 100 this year falls on July 16-17, which is only 2 weeks before the Death Race and I am entertaining the thought of going back, even though I haven't made a choice yet. So it would either be Vermont, or Death Race, but not both.

Real tough decision to make. But I have to start firming up my schedule now.

Enter the Leadville 100 race. The Race Across The Sky. Lowest altitude of the course is 9,200 feet with the highest being around 12,500 feet. One of the very extreme races that I had those crazy thoughts of doing maybe 3 years down the road when I establish myself fully in ultras. You know, one of those things that you always dream of that you keep pushing several years into the future but never comes. 

Well, on a lark, I went to their website, and...

Date is August 20-21. Great timing. Keeps the Vermont race an option, and...

REGISTRATION IS OPEN. (oh, crap...)

Yep. No lotteries, just a straight up registration for the race. Just give the $250 and you're in.

(Aw crap...the temptation!)

I finished at Vermont a tad over 28 hours. Now, statistics show that people at sea level suffer a 10-20% of performance loss when they climb up to 10,000 feet, and more if I go above 12,000 feet. The Leadville course itself is a tad hillier than Vermont also, with a total altitude change of 19,000 feet from start to finish. Given the shape I was in last year, that would put me slower than the 30 hour cutoff to finish the race.

"Ahhh, but you're still capable of getting into top shape Pete.", my evil conscience says.

Good Conscience: "Couldn't you just want to settle down and lead a normal life for once?"

Evil Conscience: "And miss this opportunity? Come on. Think about how exciting it is to complete another 100 mile race, this time without oxygen."

Good Conscience: "Oh great. Why don't you just try to hold your breath for 100 miles in a local race? Why do we have to do this race?"

Evil Conscience: "Because it's Leadville!!! It's another leg of the Grand Slam of Ultras. Plus, it's an opportunity to get away from the daily grind of NY and NJ."

Good Conscience: "Remember we did 28 hours in Vermont, and that is with oxygen. We have the same 30 hour cutoff in Leadville, and we can't do it with last year's fitness. We'll really need to ramp it up to compensate for altitude."

Evil Conscience: "So a little more training. OK, let's do it"

Good Conscience: "NOT SO FAST!!! Here's the deal. The only way that I'll go along with this is that we have to train like we never did before. And that means a great diet too. You press that "Register" button ONLY after I have your word that we will commit FULLY to training for the 8 months, shedding weight, and fully immersing ourselves in the ultra lifestyle. Only then, when I have your word, will I accept going into the race."

So here I am. It would mean a lot of tough sacrifices, but necessary if I am to complete this race.

The decision will be made in two or three days.

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