by Seth Kelly
Why 100 miles? Why the Leadville 100? Why do any of us run at all? I believe the answers to these questions have both an incredible continuity as well as phenomenal differences among all those who run or run 100 miles at once. This is something I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about in my life; I’ve spent so much time thinking about it and still don’t have what I believe to be great answers, or at least appropriately philosophical ones.
Why do I run? It is an integral part of the lifestyle I both lead and want to lead. Getting up and running each morning is just…what I do. So much so, that if I started to not do it, it would take years before not running was the natural, habitual thing to do. It makes me feel good, think clearer, and forms a fundamental, though not essential, part of my identity. I also genuinely enjoy running.
Why 100 miles? You’d be hard pressed to come up with many activities which provide a more epic journey among such a phenomenal community. I find the 100 mile distance to be incredibly inspiring. Some people love the mile. Some the marathon. I love the 100. When I reflect on the times in my life I have felt most deeply alive, a huge percentage of them are running the last 20-30 miles of a 100 mile race.
Why the Leadville 100? I first ran the Leadville 100 in 2013. I finished 11th in 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 14 seconds. I have run a total of seven 100 mile races; I always knew I would eventually return to Leadville. On top of the previous discussion of my genuine love for the 100 mile distance, I wanted to run Leadville this year because I want to do better than I did in 2013, I know I can do better, and I believe I can do a lot better. So, how much better do I want to do? I always have a general time and place in mind I hope to achieve at each 100, however I consider these goals to be fluid. I refuse to allow success and failure in these events to be anything but gray. My goals are to train well, be excited for the journey, manage the race well, and be tough. If I can achieve these things, I will have a successful day at the 2018 Leadville 100.
The Silver Rush 50 was a few weeks ago, one of the main runs of my preparation for the 100. I am very happy with my race there. I moved well throughout the whole distance, fueled well, had no issues, and kept the effort of the day in context to preparation for a bigger goal, and not the goal itself. I got to run among and say “good work!” to hundreds of people out there on the course working hard and getting it done. (Seriously, great work to any finisher reading this). I ended the day in 6th place, which I was pretty pleased with, and made it into the Runners Roost sponsor tent minutes before a pretty incredible storm came through. Everyone out there who ran through that storm to the finish is a total warrior.
Preparation is going well for the 100 event. My weekly mileage will peak into the 80s few times, and overall I feel quite strong out running every day. My training consists of one workout a week (right now, harder hill intervals or uptempo running on trails), one to two long runs a week done at an effort above an easy run, and then a variety of easy runs, strides, and core work. Almost exactly a year ago I decided to hire a coach for the first time. It has been a privilege to work with David Roche for the last year, and believe I am yet to display all the new tools I have developed under his guidance. Hopefully that will happen at the Leadville 100 on August 18th.
You can’t run 100 miles without eating. I will follow the same nutrition plan I always do: mix it up!! I am lucky to have a pretty solid stomach. I have never thrown up while running. Way back in high school a teammate and I ate a bunch of pizza and then went and hammered repeat 200s on a track, seeing if we could get ourselves to throw up. We both failed. While I am fortunate to have such a stomach, it isn’t bulletproof, and I believe a strategy of a variety of different foods- gels, sports drink, potato chips, peanut butter and jelly, fruit, chews, SODA- really helps keep my tum happy throughout 100 miles. I shoot for roughly 250 calories an hour, am faithful to my electrolyte pills, and drink about 20 ounces of fluid an hour (some sports drink, some just water). I also try really hard not to run or hike at too high an effort during any part of the race, which I think is also important for the stomach.
Some of you reading may be doing the Leadville 100 this fall (if so, I’ll see you out there), others a different ultra, or a marathon, or half marathon, of your first 5K, or maybe you are hoping to find a couple events to inspire you in 2019. Wherever you are at, thanks for reading this second installment of Seth’s Summer of Lead (first edition here!) and BEST WISHES.