The 2018 Leadville Trail 100 is in the books. With that, my 2018 training & racing comes to a close (with the exception of one or two final “fun” local races I may jump into over the next two weeks).
The following recap is as much or more for my own reference for the next time I attempt the LT100, as it is for anyones reading pleasure. It will also serve as the final piece of my ‘2018 training & racing recap series’ (each post listed above).
In my last post I left off with a recap of my final few weeks of training for the LT100 and my intended ‘taper’ into the big day. I was able to execute my taper plan more or less to the letter written. All the final pieces fell into place within the final two weeks. After analyzing my final few Race Prep sessions and a 90-minute high-altitude XC race my final “numbers” for my year long build of fitness looked like this…
BY THE NUMBERS
- Final Bodyweight = 144 lbs.
- FTP at 6000 feet elevation = 321w
- equates to ~ 330-340w at elevations under 2500 feet
- equates to ~ 270-280w at elevations over 9000 feet
- w/kg = 4.92 at 6000 ft.
- Complete Power Power Profile results July HERE
I’m really happy with this improvement from back in November coming off of a long break from serious training and racing for most of 2017. I was hoping to get my bodyweight down a bit closer to 140 lbs. but I think with the improved strength training this year I am just running a little heavier than in my early 30s. I’ll take the extra mass as it has kept me healthy and more powerful as a result.
I’ll check this off a as successful training program and diet commitment for the last 9+ months.
I was able to get up to Leadville a few days prior to the race to rest, acclimate, eat, and spin around. Also to remove from myself from the the “noise” of life at home being a parent and business owner. This proved to be a great choice, and one that I was lucky to be able to pull off. Come race morning, I was ready to give it my best effort!
Leadville 100, with the exception of perhaps the very front of the race, is or becomes a time-trial effort at some point in the race for just about every rider. My goal was to ride as comfortably as possible (ie. don’t use any more energy than required) to make the front group over the opening two climbs and tricky Powerline descent, so to be within a group to hide in across the rolling middle section to the base of the Columbine Climb. It would be here that I’d begin my TT-mode (ideally with another rider or two for company) the remainder of the race. I knew I had the “power” to get over the climbs with the lead group, although it would come a greater cost than the eventual podium finishers. I figured the ‘free ride’ across miles 20-40 would be worth the cost and I would gain valuable time over my chasers.
This all played out just as that. I kept my HR and power output as low as I could while maintaining contact with the lead group. This ended up being a 20-minute, 302w NP St. Kevins climb; a 12-minute, 311w NP Sugarloaf climb; and a ‘balls out’, power-sliding, descent of Powerline! Whew! I made the split and was in the top-ten to make it to mile 20 at the bottom of Powerline. What didn’t go as I had hoped was a solid group pace to Columbine. It was more leisurely than I had hoped across the 20 rolling miles. This allowed our group to swell to about 15 as some stragglers were able to latch back on before we reached Twin Lakes.
Starting the climb up Columbine I was one for the first detach from the lead group as I knew what kind of effort (power) I could manage on this hour-plus long climb, and it was not going to be the same as the lead group. I knew several in the lead group would ride away and stay away, while others would likely overextend themselves and I might seem them in the final miles of the race later on. My goal was to ride as close to 275 watts with a heart rate around 160 bpm as I could for the length of the climb. I knew this was sustainable for me and that I’d still have some legs left later on when I need them for the two tough climbs at the end of the race.
Up the climb I slipped back to 15th position (ended up with 1 hour, 6 minutes or so up and NP of 246w, as I faded a bit in the thinning air). At the front, after Columbine, there was a lead group of five, then singles following after that all about a minute apart. At this point I was alone with 14th about a minute ahead and 16th a similar amount behind. With Columbine behind me, it was now time-trial time! I kept up on fueling, although consuming a bit less than I anticipated, at roughly around 200 calories an hour (all carbohydrate as First Endurance EFS and Coke).
The solo-TT was the rest of the story. I managed to claw back two riders over Powerline that were paying the price for going too hard too early, moving into 13th place. Kept after it from there all alone. Due to all of the solo-riding (and the Columbine ‘re-route’ that I was told added 5-10 minutes) my goal of reaching the finish in under 7 hours was looking less and less likely. Power was declining rapidly with fatigue setting in (Powerline climb was about 35 minutes, 238 NP; Turquiose Lake climb was 18 minutes and 226 NP). However, I didn’t want to give up so I pushed hard over the final climbs, down the final decent, only to feel the onset of Adductor cramping hit me as I got onto the ‘Boulevard’ for the final 3 mile drag up to the finish. I had to back off to avoid a full-on cramp, and at this time it was clear sub-seven was not in the cards today. I strolled up and into the finish at 7 hours, 7 minutes and in 13th place overall.
Despite missing my time goal, I’m extremely pleased (and exhausted) with my effort on raceday!
I feel my 9 month long build up was an ideal combination of strength, power, speed and endurance to leave me in great form for the race. On the nutrition side, I think getting in a few more calories per hour would be ideal, assuming I can stomach them, something around 250 might leave me with more power in the final two hours. Along similar lines, my racing strategy maybe could have been more conservative in the first two hours, but to be honest, if I were in same situation again I would do the same things again….hang on as long as I can before backing off into my own pace.
Now with my “A” race behind me, I have one or two more smaller events left on the calendar in the closing weeks of August. After that I’ll be looking towards September for some recovery, both mental and physical. This month of ‘transition’ between my 2018 and 2019 season will be pretty mellow. I’ll continue to ride, although it will be much more low-key and fun as I coach our local High School MTB team through their fall racing season. I will also get back to the gym more frequently. Through the last month of prep for LT100, gym time was limited to once a week for basic maintenance. Come September, I’ll bump it back up to 3 or even 4 days per week while riding volume is very low and relaxed.
As for 2019, I’m not sure exactly what the plan will be other than for sure I will get back to Base Building (following our Base Builder Program) through the Fall & Winter months. Come October it will be time to rebuild the strength, power, and speed for the next year.
Crazy to think, but I’m already looking forward to reaching new PRs and higher achievements next year, then in 41st year of life!
Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
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