I wanted to put in at least 70 miles for the week and have two days in a row of 20+ miles while averaging 9,000 to 12,000 feet in elevation and gaining at least 5,000 feet each day. I was a bit worried doing a 50 mile, 10,000+ ft. gain in a single day so close to Leadville so, instead, opted for the safer but still some what pounding 50 miles split into two days.
To be honest, I kinda felt that the 2 days of 20+ miles back to back would help get my brain in gear the best way possible at this point. It's kind of like doing 50 miles and then having to do another 50, in a hundred miler. OF COURSE, doing the 2 days of 20+ miles back to back is WAY EASY compared to doing 50 miles back to back in a 100 miler. But, it does get the brain and body trained a bit on what it takes to make finishing a big day out like Leadville a success.
Day One, I ran from the base of Snowbowl Road to top of Mt. Humphreys and back. I parked at the dirt lot where Snowbowl Road and Hwy 180 meet (7,355 ft elevation) and picked up the the unsigned/unnamed trail that is a couple hundred yards up Snowbowl Road and on the right. I followed this trail until it met the Arizona Trail and turned left onto the Arizona Trail. From here, I traveled the Arizona Trail all the way up to the short connector (Aspen Nature Trail) to the Humphreys Trail. I then followed the Humphreys Trail to the summit of Humphreys (12,633 ft elevation). Once reaching the summit, it was all downhill back to the car on the same trails I took up. In the end it was a total elevation gain of 5,278 ft and loss of 5,278 ft and 28 miles, car to car.
It was a great day out. I took it super slow, my proposed Leadville pace (walking up any kind up serious up hill and jogging all the flats and downhills), and finished the run in 6 hrs 15 minutes, feeling great and positive. Wow, super slow by normal standards but I know that during Leadville this will be a very reasonable pace for that kind of elevation gain and loss. On to day two...
Day two, I tried to mimic the Leadville 100 Hope Pass double crossing section a bit. To get relatively the same elevation gains and losses at the same elevations as the Hope Pass double crossing, I started at Aspen Corner (8,935 ft elevation) and ran the Arizona Trail and Aspen Nature Loop to the Humphreys Trailhead. From the Humphreys Trailhead, I traveled the Humphreys Trail and Weatherford Trail (high point was 12,000 ft elevation on the Weatherford) to the Inner Basin Trail and down into the Inner Basin to the Waterline Road Junction (9,410 ft elevation). From the Waterline Road Junction, I turned around and repeated the whole trip back to my car.
Another great day out and a very promising effort. I, again, kept it really, really slow (walking up any kind of serious up hill and jogging all the flats and downhills) and finished in 5 hrs 40 minutes with a total elevation gain of 5,655 ft and loss of 5,655 ft and 21 miles car to car. All around, I felt really good on this effort too. I didn't really know what to expect.
I could have started the day with some serious soreness or fatigue but instead I started the run feeling fine and finished feeling really strong. The only part of the run that I felt a bit hammered on was during about a mile of super steep, loose trail leading down into the Inner Basin. Besides that, all was well. I woke the day after the 2 long days of running and felt really good and ready for more. Great sign! No foot pain or other pain in the body and my psych was high. Really good sign! Maybe I will be ready for a good effort at the Leadville 100 run after all.
The only worry I can have at this point is that there is also a ton of flat stuff on the Leadville course and I haven't been able to do any super long flat runs in the last few months due to the foot injury. Hopefully, the accumulative effort over the last 6 months and the stuff I have been able to do the last 3 weeks will help with that part too. We will see...can't really do much about it at this point.
So, with 49 miles in two days with an accumulative 10,933 ft in elevation gain and 10,933 ft of elevation loss, all between 8,840 and 12,000 ft elevation, and another 21 miles of flatter running for the week I made an even 70 miles and some really good elevation training. A good strong week.
Now time to start tapering to get rested up and ready. This week I am hoping to run about 40 miles with minimal elevation gains (maybe one run in the Dry Lake Hills and one trip up Humphreys to get a bit of elevation...but that's it for the steeper stuff). Then it's probably 20ish miles (and maybe a really easy trip up Humphreys...), 15ish miles and then 5ish miles in final three weeks leading up to Leadville.
Can't wait. PSYCHED!
Last Week Total: 70 miles and 11,500 ft in elevation gain
Monday: 10 miles (on mesa)
Tuesday: 6 miles (on mesa by the house and new section of Flagstaff Loop Trail (nice) on mesa)
Wednesday: 10 miles (on Dry Lake Hills)