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, September 5, 2011

Learning from Leadville and Planning the Future


After the DNF in Leadville I had time to think real long and hard about what I was doing. What went right. What went wrong. How to improve, etc. DNFs always come with an emotional sting, even when the organizers are the ones that pull you from the course.

And as always, I always compile a list of things that went right or wrong in all races, so that I can learn from the experience and try again, without the mistakes. My list for Leadville is shown here...

Things That Went Wrong

1) Heart rate was sky high. Even with more than a week at 10,000 feet, my body never fully adapted to the altitude. Basically I either need the full 3 weeks up at altitude or use one of the remedies (nitrogen tent or Altolab) that are purported to help to those of us at sea level.

2) Even with heart rate sky high, I was able to make cutoffs, that is, until I hit the climb of Hope Pass. The hill was extremely slow going because of my existing weight. 195 pounds can definitely work against a runner going up a major hill. If I even have hope of completing this race, the weight has to come off.

3) The training leading up to the race was pretty experimental, doing mostly runs only. There are some aches and pains in my feet right now from all that mileage that might amount to something unless I back off from the mileage for a small bit of time.

Things That Went Right

1) Pacing was OK, even when pushed to make the cutoffs. Although the heart rate was sky high during the entire race, I managed to get some good running in for most of the course.

2) For a sea level guy, going 50 miles at 10,000 ft. should be considered an accomplishment. I do harp on myself a lot for not finishing the race, but I should acknowledge that I did 50 miles at that altitude. Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me will fail to acknowledge it.

3) Mental capacity for finishing the race was commendable. That I CAN acknowledge. Right from the start I had to operate in "damage control"; trying to maintain a pace when the heart rate was in the Red Zone over the 50 miles needed a bit of mental fortitude, and I'm glad I got that right. There were various places where I could have just quit, but never thought about it and kept going. That, at least, is a plus.

That is my short list in a nutshell. There is no giving up in me, and even though I wrote off next year for another attempt, I would like to see if I can try again in 2013. As for training for these things, I don't think this current form of training that I did this year did the trick. If anything, I will be going back to my strength and train primarily for triathlons next year. What I always find time and time again is that triathlon training is one of the most balanced forms of training that is out there. Maybe going back to that training will actually help in ultras as well! I also want to see if I have the physical and mental capacity to get back on that podium as I did in the 1990s. If all goes well in 2012, then I can try to attempt Leadville again in 2013, hopefully in much fitter shape and with a lot less weight.

That's the overall 2 year plan. Of course, life might get in the way of this plan, but, at least it's something to shoot for in the future.

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