Kucza Family preps to Race Across the Sky

Kucza Family preps to Race Across the Sky

“Finishing Leadville is just as important to her as it is to me; that’s freaking priceless.”
-Jacob Kucza

Training for ultra-anything often takes a team. There’s the athlete, and then there is the support network that props him/her up and helps ensure the miles happen, whether they are on foot or on two wheels. When Dirty Kanza became a part of the Life Time family of events, one local Emporian took notice, and decided that the Leadville 100 was the next challenge he wanted to accept. We sat down with Jacob Kucza and his pregnant (36 weeks!) better half Lyndsey to talk running, Leadville, and motivation. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Jacob and Lyndsey are proud parents to Henry, and very active 14 month old!

JACOB’S ANSWERS

DK – What made you decide to sign up for the Leadville ultra?
JK – Leadville is the first ultramarathon I remember reading about in Dean Karnazes’ book Ultramarathon Man.  It has always been a race that fascinated me because of the grandeur of the Rockies and because of the elevation. After completing three marathons, including competing at Boston, I was finding myself obsessed with ultra performances I was seeing on the internet.  At the same time, Dirty Kanza also began to offer a 50km race.  I took their bait and tried my hand at ultras, and I couldn’t stop wondering how far I could make myself run. Dirty Kanza 200 is also in my face EVERY year.  Seeing an event like that, where elites and non-elites both push themselves to a limit few others ever have, inspires me to try my hand at something that really scares me.   Why should I keep training for events that I know I’ll finish?
DK – What other ultras have you completed?
JK – Race the Chase 50km (x2)
Land Run 50km (x2)
Buckin’ Hell 50km in Vancouver, BC
Brew to Brew in KCMO
DK – How much training are you doing each week?
JK – I try to hover around seven or eight hours of training per week.  Nearly all of this is running.  I have tried to average about 50 miles per week during the year of 2019.  For a race like Leadville, I’m hoping my discipline and consistency in training serve me well, as there are essentially no trails and hills that replicate the LT100 course here in Emporia.
DK – How do you fit that training in?

JK – Nearly all of my running is done in the mornings before work.  Having a one-year-old, and an expecting wife, I carve out training time in the morning so I can give my efforts and attention to the family and my job (teaching and coaching) the rest of the day.  Many mornings, the alarm is my worst enemy.  I’ve developed a mantra that convinces me to roll out of bed and put my shoes on: “For Leadville.”

My mileage sometimes wanes with the responsibilities I have in other parts of life, but rest is important, right?  I also have to rely on my years of building a base of mileage and loads of competitions that have helped me callous my mind and body.

Lastly, the past few weeks, my wife has become my biggest motivator.  On the days I don’t want to get into the humidity and drag myself a few miles, she literally tells me, “You better be gone for an hour.”  Finishing Leadville is just as important to her as it is to me; that’s freaking priceless.
DK – What is your favorite part of prepping for an event like this? And what’s your least favorite part?

JK – Training for events like this teach me that I can do hard things.  It’s simple, gratifying, and I can revel in that reward whenever I go do a hard training run or an ultra race.  Another part I like about this type of training is that I have a reason to get outside every day.  With all the technological distractions we have today, it’s so easy to stay glued to a screen all day.  Getting outside, joining friends on a run, and celebrating this awesome sport is so important to WANTING to do this day after day.

My least favorite part of this preparation is the constant self doubt.  I’ve never needed to prep for 10 aid stations and a crew before.  I’ve never worried about meeting cut-off times in races or being sleep-deprived for any competition.  There are loads of uncertainty about taking myself beyond 50, 60, and even 80 miles, because I don’t know how my mind and body will react.  I’ve had to remind myself that it all boils down to simply moving forward, taking in calories, and staying focused on a goal.

DK -. What’s your go to meal after a big run?
JK – A breakfast burrito that hardly be held in two hands is my dream post-run meal.  Cheese, hash browns, eggs, avocado, eggs, hot sauce, beans, and a giant tortilla; Yes, please! Pancakes do the trick too, as long there’s a thick layer of peanut butter on top of them.
 
 
LYNDSEY’S ANSWERS
DK -. You are also a runner – what do you enjoy about these ultras, from the support side?
LK – I love supporting my husband in any length of race, but the ultras have an added element of strength. I love to see how much Jacob can push himself and achieve his goals.
DK – What tips do you have for support crews?
LK – Be over prepared! As time goes on, we have discovered to always pack the essentials plus one. For example, if there is going to be a water crossing, an extra pair of shoes and socks may be necessary. We’ve also started organizing specific “kits” for each aid station.  This helps keep Jacob relaxed when he meets me, and it simplifies my job so we can respond to any unforeseen problems. It’s easier to break down the race into those miles/sections, and what he may need at those specific stops. At first, we only thought about the whole race–it was daunting and unorganized.
DK – How do you manage family routines when JK is putting in big sessions?
LK – Jacob and I both share big session duties. Sometimes Henry (our one-year-old) stays home with me, which is easier for Jacob’s really long runs (longer than an hour). Other times, Jacob takes him in our jogging stroller.  This allows me to run errands, or to even get some alone time!  Our son enjoys the ride, and Jacob gets an extra workout with the added weight. When our son was a newborn it was tricky, but as time went on we discovered how long he could last in a stroller.  They have gone 12 miles together!
DK – Any other tips you have for new active moms?
LK – GEAR:  Two essential gear items are a great, supportive sports bra and a jogging stroller that you feel comfortable running with.  Running postpartum can be uncomfortable.  Budgeting your money for quality gear can make the difference in getting back into an exercise routine!  As far as a stroller, Jacob and I chose the Thule Urban Glide 2 because of its great reviews from multiple running outlets. It hasn’t disappointed yet! It’s easy to handle and easy to stow away. We also bought the necessary accessories that allow Henry to go on runs in all weather conditions. 
MOTIVATION: Know that when you go on your first walk postpartum, you may only make it a few steps down the street.  Eventually, by setting small, achievable goals, you will get back to longer distances.  It takes time!  Also, having a husband that supports you and challenges you can make a world of difference.

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