Monday, November 26, 2012

Preparing for Leadville Trail 100

Some people would consider me an adrenaline junkie – always in search of a new, body-busting challenge. Sports have always been an important part of my life – I played soccer from the age of four all through college and a few years after. I like to dab into a little of everything – snowboarding, kayaking, mountain boarding, mountain biking, triathlons, fly fishing and anything else that allows me to explore the outside world. One of my first great adventures was the 2009 Florida Ironman – this race gave me a taste of a true endurance challenge. After that, I was hooked and thirsty for my next limit-testing expedition.

I started ultra running in the summer of 2011 with the goal of completing a 100 miler in 2012. My first ultra was a 50 miler in Nashville, Tennessee in October. Unfortunately about three weeks before my race, I began having strong knee pains. I tried everything from stretching to new shoes but the pain would not go away. I was only able to run about ten miles total in the three weeks prior to race day. My goal time for this race was 6 hours 40 minutes – unfortunately I ended up finishing with a time of 7 hours 19 minutes.

During my training for the Nashville Ultra, I had already decided that my next adventure would be Leadville Trail 100 but I was already questioning the decision. Considering I had acquired injuries while training for a 50 miler, I wasn't sure if I would be healthy enough to train properly for Leadville. While doing research I came across Mike Arnstein, aka “The Fruitarian”. He wrote about the results he experienced from having a raw fruit based diet – he claimed this diet allowed him to run injury free and recover from runs quicker.

In mid-November 2011 a friend of mine persuaded me to sign up for a marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston. We decided on New Orleans which was a little over two and a half months away. My knees were still preventing me from training properly – so I decided to try something new – the fruitarian diet. I found a wholesaler and bought one week’s worth of fruit. The first week was a big adjustment for my body but after I made it through the first couple of days, my body felt amazing. I was able to run without any knee pain, and I started to believe in the fruitarian diet. During the months leading up to the race I was eating only raw fruits and veggies and running about 55-60 miles a week. I ended up running a 3:02:20 at New Orleans and was a firm believer in this diet.

I was struggling with some cravings after the race and decided to take two weeks off from the diet. I went for a short five mile run the Wednesday after the race, and when I finished I felt a sharp pain through the bottom of my foot (which was the beginning stages of Plantar Fasciitis). My groin and knee also started to bother me. I decided at that moment that eating raw was the real deal and I had to get back on it. No joke, within one week all the pain was gone. I was running 55-60 miles that next week with hardly any soreness.

At this point in my training I was 5 months out from Leadville. I was determined and more focused than ever on not just finishing but finishing in less than 25 hours. I had increased my mileage to around 90-110 miles a week with majority of it being on roads. I was eating all fruits and raw veggies and running without any pain. I was recovering from runs instantaneously because of my diet.

All I could think about in the months leading up to the race was Leadville. I knew I had put in the training and research to prepare for the race – the only thing I was unsure about was how the mountains and altitude were going to affect me since I live in Nashville. To get acclimated to the altitude, I decided to go to Boulder two weeks before the race. In the week before my taper, I climbed six 14,000 ft. mountains and ran Hope Pass twice. Within those two weeks, I put in a solid 25 hours of training. Now all I had to do was wait for race day…

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