Leadville 100 with Lindsay Herman

Lindsey Herman, originally from New Mexico, moved to Gunnison to attend Western Colorado University and compete as an alpine skier. After a significant ski crash that led to knee surgery in 2017, Herman shifted her focus to trail running. Now she works at her alma mater and is in charge of advancement for the entire Mountain Sports program, additionally, she coaches for Running Wild.

What made you decide to run a hundred mile and how did you pick your first one?  

Towards the beginning of 2021 I thought that I would eventually take a crack at the 100 mile distance, but maybe in 5+ years! Since I am only 24 (was only 23 at the time), I was in no rush. Then, I totally surprised myself when I won Silver Rush 50 mile in 2021.  I accepted the ticket for the Leadville 100 and deferred to 2022.  With the clear belief of my coach and so many others, I decided to go for it! The way that the Leadville Race Series took me in and truly made me feel like family made it a no-brainer for my 100 mile debut. I also love the altitude and just love the sense of place/belonging that I feel in Leadville. 

What did your training leading up to this race look like and did you incorporate any cross training or other exercises in your training regimen?

The way I see it, all training builds on itself. I never focus too much on the specific build for one race, but that is also largely due to the fact that I put full trust and full planning of my training in David Roche’s hands. He knows me better than most other people as an athlete and person, and we work really well together. I trained for and raced the Broken Arrow 52k towards the beginning of the summer, using it as part of my build for the 2022 Silver Rush 50 mile. The 50 mile was another very special race for me, and was also one of my key training runs for the 100.  I think using some races as key training runs also helped me to stay present. It gives me celebrations to focus on along the way, rather than only focusing on the big 100 mile celebration. I also was able to train on most parts of the Leadville course a few weeks ago, which was helpful! The only cross training I incorporated during this build was the occasional fun bike ride and some super short/easy hikes with my dog. I do basic strength training that supports running!

The Leadville 100 is an out-and-back course with a low point of 9,200 ft and a high point of 12,600 ft.  How did you approach this course that runs through the midst of the Colorado Rockies? 

I think that the out and back nature of the course can be a bit daunting, so I really tried NOT to think of the halfway point (Winfield) as one of the “checkpoints” in my head. I tried to break the race up into more bite-size pieces.  Twin Lakes is where I got to see my crew before heading over Hope Pass to the halfway point. Once I was through Twin Lakes, my only focus was on getting back to my crew.  I think a lot of athletes get psyched out when they drop down to the halfway point, have a gigantic pass to climb back up and over, and realize they are only halfway there.  I made a point to not give myself the option to entertain those thoughts.  I refueled tons at Winfield and made sure I got out of that aid station, only focusing on getting back to my crew. 

Another key part of my strategy was to “run my own race.”  I think that is a phrase that gets tossed around often, and can be hard to put into practice. Luckily, I had lots of great guidance and advice on going out with total ease, at least for the first 60 or so miles.  This is where I think I will improve with each 100 mile race. Experience and getting to know my body and my racing style more as I grow will be huge.

A hundred miles is a far distance, especially on your own.  Did you have a crew and pacer(s) to help you along the way? 

Not only did I have a crew and pacer to help me, but I had THE DREAM TEAM to help me along the way! Every single person who helped me was key to my success. My roommate is from Leadville, and her family crewed for me at both Silver Rush 50 mile wins and also at the 100. My dad and step mom also came up from New Mexico. My fearless crew leader was Olga King.  I met Olga when I paced for Annie Hughes during her Cocodona 250 win earlier this year.  Her, Annie, and I have instantly bonded into a little trail family, with Olga as our “trail godmother”.  She calls Annie “Muffin” and calls me “Peanut”.  Olga and her husband Larry graciously rearranged prior plans to be able to crew for me, and Annie paced almost 40 miles (the entire distance I was allowed a pacer).  Olga and Annie were nothing short of perfect support for me!

Photo Credit: Herman Crew

What was the biggest physical and what was the biggest mental obstacle you had to overcome either leading up to the race or during? 

Physically, I knew I was ready. My coach, David, had me ready and I knew it. David is so amazing, and I fully trusted his belief in my physical preparedness. I cannot think of a major physical obstacle in this race or in the build. David knows his sh*t!!!!! Knowing that I was ready physically, the mental game was the part I needed to manage and figure out.  Mentally, I was not sure I was going to finish until I crossed the finish line. I think managing the mental overwhelm of the big distance was the most important obstacle to overcome. I knew I needed to just focus on the next aid station, or being present.  Every once in a while, though, the big distance I had left would hit me and I would feel the overwhelm creep in. Later in the race, it was really helpful to have Annie with me for encouragement and to remind me that we just needed to get to Olga!

Figuring out nutrition for an ultramarathon of this distance is challenging because of the duration.  What did your nutrition plan look like?

If there is one thing I surprised myself with that I never would have guessed before this race, it is this: I freaking ROCKED eating. I have a notoriously sensitive stomach and was nervous about being able to properly fuel for how long this was.  That being said, I also work with an incredible sports dietitian and we planned well for the race. I never do a long run without practicing my fueling plan, and that mostly means LOTS of maple gels from UnTapped. Those are generally my go-to, easy-to-get-down fuel source.  The salted cocoa was my favorite early in the race and the salted raspberry was my go-to as the day went on.  I also had UnTapped Ginger MapleAid in every single soft flask for the entirety of the race. The ginger flavor is delicious (I was able to drink it for the entire 20+ hours) and also helps soothe my WILD stomach! At aid stations, I used some mashed potatoes and lots of Ramen.  I also had Olga shoving large handfuls of Cheetos, potato chips, and pretzels into my mouth at each aid station.  Bonus fuel sources I used were a grape popsicle from a kind stranger on my way back down Hope Pass and 1 cheese stick as I moved back into 3rd place!

Photo Credit: Marathon Photos

Prior to the race when someone in conversation asked you “Are you ready?” what was your response? 

I thought that question was so funny, because if I was overly confident it would likely indicate that I did not have enough respect for the 100 mile distance. My response was that I trust my coach and I have the best of the best support/crew – I trusted my team of people and knew I was ready for a big adventure!

Now that you have completed the hundred mile distance are you a fan, undecided or one and done?  

I am a total fan. I got asked about doing it again mere minutes after finishing, and the answer was YES!  This sport is like a never ending puzzle, and I am hooked. I want to try to fix all of the little things I wish I’d done better or that I learned about now. Then, in the next one, different issues will come up.  The problem-solving aspect is SO fun to me! I don’t think I ever want to be an athlete who only does the long stuff, because I truly enjoy every distance and want to keep building on my speed. I want to do it ALL! I am only 24, so I think these dreams are possible!!

What words of wisdom do you have for someone considering their first hundred miler? 

Get a crew that you can fully trust, who has experience with the distance. EAT A LOT. 

Final question, what is your favorite way to use maple syrup when you aren’t running?

Sometimes I feel like Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf. Maple syrup might be one of my main food groups! I use UnTapped in my morning coffee every day.  I also use UnTapped in every baked good that I make (my crew was fueled by UnTapped muffins!), on waffles, and even in Asian sauces to add a touch of sweetness! I also often made sandwiches with peanut butter, banana, and UnTapped maple post-long run in my build for this 100 mile!!