Monday, July 30, 2012

Five 100-mile victories in 2012 for Jeremy Bradford!

Not sure where he fits in the pantheon of ultrarunning, but my former pacee Jeremy Bradford is having an epic year, despite flying totally under the radar.  He's won three 100-mile races in the last six weeks (five total in 2012 -- originally I thought he'd only won four), two of them by obliterating the course records.  While these fields weren't 'A-list' competition, his times have all been stout while running in extremely challenging conditions. That 95-degree weather you've been bitching about these last two months?  He's run three sub-22 hour 100s in those conditions, with only one week rest in between each.  And by rest, I mean he only ran a 4:30 Leadville Marathon on one of those weekends. Plus, he ran a 2:06 Evans Ascent the week before the streak began. And I'm pretty sure he did a 5K or two in those six weeks as well.

This is not what I looked like after my lone 100-mile finish (photo courtesy of Grand Mesa 100 blog)
On Saturday, he broke Ryan Burch's Grand Mesa 100 course record by nearly three hours. Say whatever you want about competition, that merits attention.

He's a self-admitted racing addict, so if his body holds up, he's going to start accumulating some serious hardware. Call me crazy, but if he stays motivated and healthy (admittedly, big ifs), the dude could have 50 100-mile wins by 2020.

I told Jeremy about this post, and he corrected me. I originally thought he'd only won four 100 milers this year. Turns out he's won five:  1) Moab 2) Coyote Springs 3) Black Hills 4) Happy Jack (Laramie 100) 5) Grand Mesa.

Off the top of my head, here's the list of people I know who have won five 100 mile races in one calendar year.

1) Karl Meltzer
2) Jeremy Bradford

Not Krupicka, not Roes, not AJW, not Jurek, not Koerner.  Is there anyone else out there who's won five 100-mile races in one year on the men's side of things that I'm missing?  There can't be many, because until recently, there weren't that many 100-mile races.  It's quite possible that Jeremy and Karl are the only two human beings on that list.  And that's pretty damned awesome.

Could Jeremy beat any of the truly elite ultra guys head to head in a single race?  Almost certainly not. But could they consistently put up the same kind of performances he has over a six-week stretch?  It's an open question. For my money, I'm guessing that for most of them, the answer is no.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Over the past 15 days, I’ve run further than a marathon four times – all four times with the majority of the terrain above 10,000 feet.  Plus, I’ve done the Hope Pass double twice.  That may sound like a lot of running, and, indeed, it was, but I really felt as if my body was adjusting to it well. I could tell that I was getting faster and stronger with each run.  And I’m training for a 100-mile race, so no matter how much I run, I feel as if it’s not enough.

But last Saturday, I did a little throw-away speed workout, and I may have gotten myself into trouble.  I’ve been trying to do one easy speed workout a week during the last couple of months, just to toss in a touch of anaerobic work in with the volumes of aerobic work.  On Saturday, I planned to do a little fartlek workout for a couple of laps around Wash Park.  I was a little tired from a Hope Double on Thursday, but I didn’t plan to push it.  Either way, on one of the faster sections I felt a slight tweak in the back of my leg, in the same vicinity of the injury that had me sidelined for most of the winter.  But, whereas the injury last November immediately forced me to stop running, this twinge just made me want to cut the workout short.  It didn’t feel too serious.

I jogged it in.  Then on Sunday I ran an hour easy. I felt the tweak on occasion, but, it didn’t strike me as anything other than a slight tension. Then, on Monday, I went up to Leadville for what I had expected to be a back-to-back-to-back session of long days at altitude – what I had planned to be my last serious workouts before I started to taper.  


I expected to feel sluggish from the heavy mileage over the previous 12 days, but instead, I felt amazing.  Besides kicking a rock around Turquoise Lake and taking a spill (some things never change), the run was as smooth and relaxed as any long run I’d ever done.  But then, right around the Colorado Trail, I started to feel the twinge in the back of my leg, and then it started to scream at me.  Of course, these things always seem to flare up when I’m 14 miles into a 28-mile run.  I didn’t want to risk anything, but there I was 14 miles from my car, storm clouds building, and without a lot of options. 

The twinge was never serious enough where it impacted my stride or made me think I needed to stop immediately, but it was serious enough to make me decide to cancel the last two days of the back to back to back.   

I’m in Denver now.  I took yesterday off, and I’m going to go an easy four or five miles today, and we’ll see how things go from there.  My preference would be to run at least 60 or 70 miles next week, but my body’s going to be the ultimate arbiter on that one. 

This is a slight setback, for sure.  I don’t think a four-week taper is ideal, but sometimes ideal is a luxury you can’t afford when you’re pushing the limits. I’m very happy with how my training has gone over the past three months.  Given where I was and wasn’t fitness-wise around the time I ran Boston, I’m feeling amazing right now (apart from Mr. Twinge). I think if I can heal up and get to the starting line fit I have the potential to run a very good 100-mile race next month (at least by my standards). 

Now it’s just a matter of resting up and executing on race day.  Good luck to anyone looking to get in a few more hard training sessions for Leadville. Stay smart and healthy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Leadville Trail 103-Mile Run? (parallel trail, my #@s!)

Went out to Leadville Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  On Tuesday, I ran the first 23 miles of the course out to Fish Hatchery, and then jogged back into town, which ended up being about 31 miles and 5-plus hours.  Felt strong through most of it.  I had some foot pain on the outside of my right foot after 20 miles, but it only bothered me in the latter road sections.  Considering I ran a 50k, I can't complain.

Camped on the Winfield Road near the Sheep Gulch trailhead on Tuesday night, and then went out for a double Hope Pass trip on Wednesday morning.  Felt super strong doing the backside, making it up to the top in 62 minutes without getting my HR above 145.  Then struggled a bit on the return trip on the front side.  My HR wasn't that high, but I felt exhausted from the previous trip up the pass and the previous day's efforts.  Better get used to it, I suppose!

On the way out of Winfield, I noticed a trail sign that pointed to Winfield.  I had been out here a few weeks ago, and I bumped into the folks that were working on this trail. Last year, I heard about a "parallel trail" that was supposed to be put together for this year's race, and I assumed that this must be it.  After all, there aren't any other trails around here that connect the Sheep Gulch Trailhead to Winfield.

Even just a few weeks ago, the trail was definitely not finished, with entire sections being semi-rugged forest without any grooming.  Now it's done.  According to the people I spoke with, the purpose of the trail was so that folks walking on the Continental Divide trail wouldn't have to take the Winfield Road.  The guys and gals working on the trail didn't know anything about the LT 100.

I figured I'd give it a gander, now that it was finished.  I ran on it for a mile or so, and it was benign enough.  Then it started to climb a bit. Ok.  Nothing too serious, but enough to push me to a walk after the previous two days' efforts.  But if I didn't run it on relatively fresh legs, I won't be running it on race day.  And then it kept climbing.  After two miles or so, I noticed Winfield way the frick down the hill to the left, but the trail kept going up and off to the right.  At this point I was starting to get annoyed.  I was nearly out of water and I was getting farther away from where I was supposed to be going.

For your information, here are what parallel lines look like:



So, if we are using these lines as our standard, that's not what's going on with this trail. The trail is coterminus with the Winfield Road, but it ain't parallel.  On this trail, you wind around in the forest, you go back up the side of the hill, you go to the right and farther away from Winfield, and then you go nearly a mile past Winfield, and then you go back to Winfield on a rocky dirt road that goes past the Winfield sematary (which, I must admit, was kind of neat).  Once I got back to Winfield, I jogged back to my camp site. 15-minute miles on the trail immediately turned into sub 9-minute miles as soon as I got back on the road.
By my math, this side trail adds 1.3 miles to the trip out to Winfield each way, with nearly 800 ft of extra elevation gain in total.  It's not crazy technical, but it's got some tricky rocky sections, for sure. If this is, in fact, where we are going to be running in August, I would expect it to add 25 minutes or so to the leaders' times, and more for everyone else, proportionate to how much slower you are than the leaders.  It was kind of pain to run into Winfield, and based on the elevation profile, it would probably be worse going back. Perhaps not worthy of a complaint if you're getting ready for Hardrock right now, but if you have time goals at Leadville, this trail will force you to readjust them, period.

Anyway, happy training. Just thought I'd pass along. Please share if you have any additional information on whether this trail is where we're going to be running in August. If I had a vote, I'd definitely pick the dusty road over this little trail, but that's just me.