Mark is the founder of TrailAndUltraRunning.com and recently moved from Texas to Salt Lake City, Utah with his girlfriend. Leadville was a preview for his A race in two weeks; the Wasatch 100 in Salt Lake City. He completed 79 miles in 21 hours and DNF’d when he still felt really good to save his legs and body for the next race.
See Mark’s pre-race interview HERE.
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 155 lbs
100-mile races attempted: Wasatch will be my first real attempt
Miles per week: 55-95
Next race: Wasatch 100 (September 7, 2012)
Congrats on a strong training run Mark, and good luck in Wasatch in two weeks!
Lara: What was your finishing time?
Mark: I DNF’d at Fish Hatchery. I covered 79 miles overall. My plan was to pull out at Winfield (the half-way point) or try to finish if I was having a magical day. 79 miles turned out to be the perfect distance. I was starting to feel the pain after 21 hours on my feet and couldn’t decide whether I would be just sore or injured for Wasatch (the Wasatch 100 is three weeks out). I have no regrets about not finishing this race; I could have simply not gone to Leadville but a 79-mile training run gives me some nice training and confidence going into my A-race.
Lara: What was your favorite moment in Leadville?
Mark: My favorite moment was probably hanging out at the Hopeless aid station; the llamas absolutely rock and so do the volunteers. My second favorite moment was getting to hang with the Trail And Ultra Running crew the night before the race at the Sugar Loafin’ Campground. I loved the gluten-free pasta you cooked up on your little stove, and watching Jerry’s pacer Mark assume his “Party Boy” persona was priceless.
Lara: What Aid Station stood out for you the most, in that you were looking forward to getting there or it was incredibly special because of how your body was reacting?
Mark: Definitely the Hopeless Aid Station because of the sheer beauty of the place and how inaccessible the place is via any mechanical device. Hopeless is truly a remote place and seeing the quantity of supplies that the llama’s packed in for 800 runners was incredible.
Lara: What kind of gear did you carry that worked great during this distance? Did you have any trouble with anything?
Mark: The Nathan HPL #020 never seems to fail me. None of my gear gave me any trouble. I’ve worked on finding the right shorts, socks, shoes, shirts and hats that work with and for me vs. needing to “manage” them.
Lara: How was your nutrition?
Mark: Nutrition was a mixed bag for me. I stayed ahead of my nutrition until mile 60 using chocolate GU’s and food from Aid Stations. Ramen and coke were my two favorite aid station supplements. At mile 60 I drank an Ensure Plus from my drop bag. Instantly it didn’t sit well and I spent the next 10 miles burping. During that time I drank 10oz of water if I was lucky and ate only half a GU. At the next aid station I had to work hard to get my energy back. Luckily I was able to stomach a couple of cokes, a piece of turkey and some strawberry chomps. This eventually got me going again.
Lara: How did the Leadville 100 compare to other Ultra’s you’ve done?
Mark: I can’t compare it to other 100’s, but compared to other Ultra’s in general it feels like it’s been sterilized to accommodate the maximum number of people organizers can fit onto the mountain. I’m not a big fan of Lifetime’s ownership of the race but loved the volunteers, the town and opportunity for personal accomplishment.
Lara: What would have done differently during the race?
Mark: Now that I’ve been on this course and know what’s coming, I’d say I would have gone out a little slower. I hit a sub 6/hr 50k and then 11:50 to Winfield (51.5) and blew up my quads a bit. Next time I would pace it a little slower in the first 50 miles.
Lara: Was there a person that was either physically present or that you carried in your mind during the race that gave you motivation and energy to keep going?
Mark: That’s a good question. No, this race wasn’t dedicated to anyone. I ran this one for me and just enjoyed the course because I didn’t expect to finish it. I thought about Leadville as a training run for Wasatch. I’m dedicating that race to my friends who are coming to support me… my race will be for the team. Wasatch has been my A-race for a while and I’ve come to think about it as a run for every person who cannot get on the mountain, whose body has limitations and won’t allow them to experience mountain running for the sake of health and happiness.
Lara: Mark, can you talk about why you pulled out?
Mark: Simple. I signed up for Leadville prior to getting in to Wasatch via the lottery. I wanted at least one big name race to run. Once I was selected for Wasatch that became my A race and I lined up friends and family to fly into Salt Lake City to pace and crew. Leadville got scratched off my calendar but as the date got closer I still wanted to go for the experience, run a little and visit with the other TAUR writers. A friend, Ron Hammett, was lacking some commitment and we decided to show up and provide some accountability for each other. My plan was to drop at Winfield or finish if I still felt good. Instead of 50 miles I went to 76 where the moment felt right to drop. I was still uninjured but starting to feel body parts breaking down which might cause problems for Wasatch 3 weeks later. In hindsight I think it was a good call. I’m feeling good and raced a fairly hard 5 miles on Tuesday, three days after I DNF’d at Leadville.
Lara: Mark, how did getting off coffee before Leadville affect your ability to intake caffeine during the race?
Mark: Eliminating coffee and caffeine worked very, very well. I went down to one cup of coffee a day in the final two weeks before the race so that when I used caffeine I would have the biggest boost possible. We all have our personal secrets about getting us through ultras. I’m a caffeine runner. I’ve got other tools in the toolbox that are important, but not sure I’d be able run without caffeine.