Well, shit, here we are. It's Monday. At this time next week, I will be driving (or getting ready to drive) back to South Dakota from Leadville, hopefully with a big buckle riding shotgun. Nothing left to do now but wait for the damn race to get here already. The physical part of the training is done, now to get through the mental challenge of the final few days before the big event.
So, I guess a quick recap of what went down the last few weeks is in order. After the trip to Minnesota, I had planned on one more big mileage week before tapering and that's exactly what I did. Ended up with my highest mileage week of this training cycle with a grand total of 103 miles. That was topped off with a 40 miler on the Centennial trail. The goal for that run was to run smart and easy and still have something left at the end (i.e., treat it as if it were a 100 mile race). That goal was accomplished; I finished still able to run when running was appropriate and my legs were minimally tired afterward.
The next week was officially the first week of taper, but my first taper weeks are typically still fairly intense, just with fewer miles. So, I still did some speedwork (hill repeats on the Tinton trail) and still got in basically the same mileage in the middle of the week, I just scaled it back a bit on the weekend. I did feel the inexplicable urge to get in one last Crow Peak run before Leadville, so my long run for the week was a 19 mile Crow Peak Triple. Seeing as I was tapering, I decided beforehand that I would run the first ascent and then take it easier on the next two. I also decided it would be a good chance to try out my trekking poles for the first time, so I carried those along with me on the 2nd and 3rd ascents. Once I found a rhythm with them, they seemed to help, so I think I'll bring them along with me to Leadville and have them as an option for the double crossing of Hope and then Powerline on the way back. All in all, I ended up with just over 70 miles for the week.
This past week was a more significant taper, starting with my first rest day since the last day of June. And, arguably, you could call it my first rest day since May since that rest day in June was occupied with directing the Black Hills 100 and wasn't really all that restful at all, even though I didn't do any running. Truly, I don't really like rest days. They make me feel restless, so much so that I ended up going for two relatively short (half hour each) walks just for something to do. Ended up with about 48 miles for the week, topped off with a trail half marathon, the Victoria Secret Dirty Half, on Saturday. Granted, running a half marathon the week before a 100 mile race may not be the smartest thing in the world to do, but I told myself I'd take it easy and I'd like to think that I kinda sorta did. The fact that I finished 2nd overall doesn't really seem to support that belief but, really, I could've run harder than I did. The simple fact of the matter is that the pace I was running and the depth of the field put me in the position to finish where I did, so I pushed a bit where needed to assume 2nd place and took it easy in other sections. I finished almost exactly 20 minutes behind the race winner, who was the only one to go sub-2 (I ran 2:02:35). Last year there were several sub-2 finishers, so the simple truth is that the field just wasn't as fast this year, and I was the beneficiary. In any case, I don't think I did any damage and it gave me a chance to break in the new pair of Pearl Izumi shoes (EM Trail N1s, if anyone is curious) I'll be wearing for Leadville. And, I've now moved into 2nd place in the Black Hills Trail Running Series season standings, which gives me something to focus on after Leadville (incidentally, after the race on Saturday someone asked me what I had planned for after Leadville and I suddenly realized that I had no friggin clue....haven't thought much about anything BUT Leadville all year).
This week will be about as easy as it gets. Today is another rest day, I'll put in 6-8 tomorrow and 4-6 on Tuesday and that's it until 4:00 AM Saturday. To break the drive up some, I'm going as far as Fort Collins on Wednesday evening and then heading the rest of the way on Thursday. I've got at least one pacer lined up, possibly two. I've got a crew lined up. I've got a pace chart made. I've got lists of shit I need to pack and things I need to do before I leave. I'm both confident and apprehensive and, more than anything, I just want Saturday to get here so we can get this show on the road!