Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Leadville Update

Leadville is less than three weeks away.

I knew the summer would fly by…Colorado summers always do.  Can’t say the same for those really hot Texas summers I endured for the first 25 years of life.  But to be fair, when your summer runs from February when the plants start blooming all the way to Thanksgiving when you might be able to throw on a hoodie…it DOES seem like forever.

Last Thursday I made the round-trip over Hope Pass with my friend Tim (who is doing Leadman) and it was a really good training day.  That’s not to say my body felt perfect, because it didn’t.  But we were out long enough for me to pick up on the ebb and flow of energy that is inevitable in an ultra-event and practice making adjustments.  I have some experience with really hot weather, altitude, and ultra-distances…but the Leadville 100 will be my first time to combine them all.  I appreciate doing new things which I have never done and of which I am unsure if I can actually do.

Near the top of Hope Pass looking south towards Winfield.

I listened to a podcast interview of Larry King yesterday as I footed it to and from the crossfit gym.  Larry was born, not Larry King, but Lawrence Harvey Zeiger.  Larry King was the radio name he was given by the general manager of a small radio station in Miami on May 1, 1957; at 22 years old and five minutes before his first ever broadcast, he changed his name.  Later he legally changed his name as he progressed in broadcasting and later television.  Listening to everything that he’s learned through the years and the thousands of people he has interviewed, he kept saying one thing.  Larry is a curious guy.  He always loved to ask questions and the always loved the anticipation of not knowing what would happen next (such as a sports game or an election).

One of the aspects of this interview that really struck me was how far a person could get in life, how much they could learn and grow, see and do, just by remaining a curious person.  I wrote about this actually, more than a year ago in my personal online blog.  I wrote about the true definition of curiosity because there is a poor connotation related to curiosity killing the cat.  But the primary definition of curiosity (noun) is, a strong desire to know or learn something which is not a negative thing at all.  The original cat-related phrase was actually, care killed the cat, and at the time care referred to worry or sorrow.  Now that is something I can wrap my head around.

In preparing for a race distance I’ve never tackled, I find the mental game to be the most interesting as the mind sometimes wanders to snapshots of potential catastrophic events (versus what is most realistic).  For example, it’s quite easy for me to imagine being hurled down the rocky and slippery backside of Hope Pass during a thunderstorm on race day.  But I think it may be helpful to discuss the benefit of reframing our challenges, because no matter the obstacle, we all benefit from looking to the future with a more empowering attitude.

In other words, in the grand scheme of Leadville and all of the other awesome challenges I get to tackle in life, I can chose to have a curious mind.  I can chose to view everything as a learning experience without giving it any kind of label.  That is freeing in some ways and really cuts down on wasted mental energy (which is a great thing!).  In light of this, worry would kill my Leadville experience while my curiosity would enhance it.  The trick is to remain curious in all things.  No matter how much we think we know, remain curious.

Twin Lakes, Colorado in the autumn.

As far as the more practical preparations for race day, clothing, footwear, pacing, and nutrition, I do have a loose plan.  Based on the loose training plan I’ve used, this loose racing plan probably comes as no surprise.  For the runner nerds who are interested in a few of the details, I’ll present those next.  For those not interested, thanks for reading this entry, I hope you have a super-awesome day!

Shoes (sandals): Bedrock Cairns, Bedrock Gabbros, Xero Z-Trail

Nutrition: Generation UCAN products, VESPA, real food, salt tabs without caffeine

Pacing/Strategy: Keep it simple.  Try to run about a 10:00min/mile to MayQueen aid station (13miles in).  The trail there isn’t super hilly but it will be super dark, crowded with runners, and technical enough that one needs to be careful.  Tim broke a toe here in his first attempt at Leadville.  Afterward there is a good climb up SugarLoaf Pass, some of which is runnable and other parts will be areas to power hike.  It’s probable that 12:00min/miles will be happening here.  Descend the 4 miles at Powerline in a controlled manner so as not to trash the quads (except the last half mile or so will probably be so steep I will need to up the leg turnover and bomb it so I don’t fall).  A lot of the course is runnable from Fish Hatchery to Twin Lakes so I will try to walk/jog and keep a 12:00min/mile as much as I can.  This should be okay unless it’s really hot or I get sick to the stomach, that can slow me down.

I want to be at Twin Lakes no later than 1:00pm so I can leave no later than 1:15pm, although earlier is better.  Tim says if I can do that I will have a good amount of time to complete the double crossing of Hope Pass, which is usually the part of the race people miss the cutoffs.  After Twin Lakes I will be most concerned with not falling or tripping (breaking a toe or worse).  I plan to pick up hiking poles at Twin Lakes to use for balance going up and possibly in some steep and technical downhill sections as well.  With Hope Pass, I just hope to run as much of the downhills as possible.

If I can get back to Twin Lakes in one piece, it’s more likely I will be able to finish.  Nothing is guaranteed though and I still have 40 miles to go and a steep, 4-mile climb up Powerline near the 75-mile mark.  That said, I should be able to walk a lot of the final 40 miles and make the more lenient cutoff times.  Melissa and Chad will be my primary pacers, although I imagine if something happens I do have backup pacers that will come and help out.  Melissa will be pacing from Winfield to either the gravel pit or the Fish Hatchery and Chad will then pick me up to go over Powerline and carry me (although not literally, that’s illegal) to the finish.

Leadville is a daunting task to even the most seasoned, elite runner.  There have been guys who have won Leadville only to come back and not be able to finish the race for some reason.  I am confident it is possible for me to finish, no question about that.  But I know it is also possible to not finish.  But I do have a plan, instead of worrying about it I have decided to be stay curious.  I do not want an energy-sucking mindset, even in the midst of the race when my energy is low and my brain is attempting to go off completely off the tracks.  That is the true challenge of Leadville, to stay in the moment and stay curious.  I look forward to it.

I have created a Facebook event for anyone wishing to come out to Leadville.  It’s a place to post questions on the logistics of the race, although by all means post questions here if you have them.  I recommend checking out the Leadville 100 website as well since it will have the course map and the most up-to-date information.  Even if you don’t watch me run, it’s well worth seeing the event.  I promise you will see at least a few runners who inspire you.  And it’s beautiful.  It really is one of the best locations in the country to hold an ultra-race.

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