Saturday, January 26, 2013

Leadville doesn't care.

When I hired my coach shortly after my DNF at Leadville last year I was struck by something he told me.  “If you want to finish Leadville, just do the work.  Leadville doesn’t care.”  By doing the work he meant running an average of 60 miles a week for 50 weeks.  That’s five days a week, every week for almost a year.  That’s what it will take to finish.  That’s what it will take to redeem myself.  That’s what it will take to bring home a buckle.

I have spent the last 5 months doing the work.  After my fall at the Frosty Fifty a couple of weeks ago, I was sidetracked for a week and didn’t run at all.  In addition to losing some training time, I started to lose my mojo.  I really enjoyed not running 10 hours a week and spending more time with my family.  As my knee healed, I began to get back with the program and found myself looking for motivation to recapture my drive and commitment.  That’s when it hit me.  I remembered my coach’s words,  “Leadville doesn’t care.”  It got me running again.  Now, every time I’m not excited about a run I stop and repeat that simple mantra to myself.  It’s written in small font on a sticky note on my computer at work.  It stares at me every day.  Taunting me.  Reminding me.  Encouraging me.  It doesn’t yell.   It doesn’t have an explanation mark at the end of it.  It doesn’t need one.  That sentence is powerful enough, even when delivered in a no nonsense, matter of fact tone.  

Leadville doesn’t care…
  • ·      If I’m tired
  • ·      If my knee hurts
  • ·      If I miss my family
  • ·      If I have to work late
  • ·      If I have to work early
  • ·      How much I think I deserve to finish
  • ·      How great I think I could be
  • ·      How great I think I should be
  • ·      Who I am
  • ·      What I do for a living
  • ·      Where I live
  • ·      Why I’ve decided I need to do this
  • ·      How fast I think I can run
  • ·      How long I think I can run
  • ·      What anyone else thinks
  • ·      If it’s too hot
  • ·      If it’s too cold
  • ·      If it’s raining
  • ·      If it’s snowing
  • ·      Whether I’m sick
  • ·      That I’ve been a runner for over 30 years
  • ·      How much sleep I didn’t get
  • ·      What is on TV
  • ·      That I really want to see that latest movie
  • ·      That sugar-filled foods taste good and make me happy
  • ·      That Perpetuem tastes like warm spit during a long run
  • ·      That Hammer Gels often have the consistency of warm mucus, or cold mucus depending on       the ambient temperature of the run
  • ·      That it’s “too late to run”
  • ·      That it’s “too early to run”
While Leadville may be a harsh and unforgiving mistress, she is one to whom I have given part of my heart and soul.  As I write this, it is snowing outside, there is a fire raging in the fireplace, there’s a pizza in the oven, and my kids are sitting on the floor in the family room watching a movie.  While Leadville may have a part of me, the rest belongs to these moments.  I will do what it takes to finish this year, but I must also do what it takes to be with my family and make them happy.  So, after we eat that delicious pizza, I will sneak upstairs for a quick 6 miles on the treadmill and be done in time to read a story to the kids and tuck them in bed.  Tomorrow I will take turns doing long runs with my wife while we juggle time with the kids. 

Although I realize that Leadville doesn’t care, there are some things that must come first.  While I work hard to get in my miles, I work even harder to make sure I spend quality time with my family.  After all, if it weren’t for them, none of this would mean a thing.  


  1. However, Leadville will be your best friend when you finish! Just stick with it and tell yourself constantly for the next 7 months that there is no alternate outcome other than finishing, no matter what. See you there.

  2. I don't know of anyone thatbhas ever captured, so effectively, my feelings toward that race. When everyone seems to cry out for States and Hardrock, Leadville consumes me.

    Thanks for helping me see I'm not alone...

  3. Ashby,

    I just started following your blog and I love your race report and this particular thread re: Leadville. I'm running it for the first time this year and I absolutely cannot wait! Best of luck in your training and races leading up!

  4. The Leadville Trail 100 is my only DNF. Stopped halfway back in 2008. I wanted to "redeem" myself too. Veterans told me, "You can only make peace with the mountain." I made my peace last year. It was the most fulfilling finish of my career. Best wishes in your training. Crossing that finish line will be an experience you will never forget.