So it’s raining in Leadville, today. First time it’s really been crappy out since I got here… what, 17 days ago? Crazy that it’s almost been 3 weeks already.
Aside from this single day of bad weather, things have been going well. I can’t really complain. I eat pretty poorly, compared to my usual. I won’t lie, I enjoyed my Lime chips with salsa.
The best part about the altitude, by the way, is that if you go to the store, all the containers of food are expanded and on the verge of bursting. So you know everything is fresh, because it all looks like fluffy pillows. Somewhat annoying when you open all your containers of various fluids (sunscreen, mouthwash, etc.) and it all explodes all over the bathroom though.
Meet the Machine
The other day I was out running, practising a remote section of trail in the middle of the woods, when this long legged, tanned dude with a couple of handhelds came bounding gracefully down the trail. We said hello, but after about 10 seconds I heard him yell something like “Is that Bob?!” and I turned around and said “No, Mitch!” and he told me I looked like a friend of his…
Well anyway, we went on our way, and that was that. A couple days later I was at Turquoise Lake to do some easy miles with the dog, and I saw this guy again. We chatted a bit, and again, went on our way.
Well yesterday he actually stopped by my house (saw me and the dog walking) and came over, and asked if I wanted to go for a run. He wanted to do a 20 miler up over the hills and back around the lake. “Sure thing” I said. He added: “On one condition: if one of us is too slow or too fast, we just go our separate ways.” It sounded ominous, but when you run alone 90% of the time, it hardly mattered.
So we met up yesterday morning, and ran our 20 miler. It was tough, my hardest (speed-wise) run to date up here, and the guy was simply killing it. Chatting the whole time while I was panting and gasping for air… Sounded like he was very accomplished, and very fast…
Well as we rounded the lake, only about 3 miles to do, we were running like 5 min/km (8 min/mi) and I was simply dying, and had to stop. He ran on, faster still, and dropped me like a bad habit. I hobbled / walk-ran my way back to the end of the trail. Painful.
Well I did some searching and it turns out my impromptu running buddy is one Steve Peterson… who happens to be a Five-time Leadville 100 winner (!!) and an absolute beast of an ultra runner. (I guess that last part goes without saying…)
I also realized that the pacing strategy I’ve been devising is called “The Peterson Pattern”, which is a more or less “even splits” plan, which is almost unheard of in ultra running. Well apparently this guy did it, and with great success.
Was a great run, I got totally thrashed, and it was an honour to run with a dude who is such a total machine, and so ridiculously humble about it. I got a ton of advice and am stoked to get out there and run faster, now.
Firstly, Steve said something that really affected me. When he asked me what my goals were, I said “Well, to finish is my B goal, and I guess sub-25 is my A goal” (FYI, 25 hours is the cutoff for the “big buckle”. Kinda like “The badass award”. 30 hours is the deadline, or you lose.)
And that sounds a little bit … lame, right? Well at one point he said to me “I was never running just to finish, I was always in it to be competitive”. So that made my meek statement even more lame! I was embarrassed…
Secondly, my landlord (a non-runner, Leadville resident) was talking about the race, when I first got here, and he said “Well you know… most of those guys out there are pretty much walking the whole time!” with a bit of a laugh. Lame, right?
Thirdly, after participating in the Training Camp this weekend, the guys I ran with (fast, great guys, certainly) were really not talking about “racing it”. The talk (and maybe that’s my fault) was really about finishing, and maybe getting sub-25, if it all goes well. Lame, right?
Well all those factors combined made me realize I had gone from a mode of “This is race!” to “I’m gonna take it easy and not rush it and just go slow and steady”. Compared to my last race, where I ran through aid stations in about 5 seconds, swapping bottles like a gunslinger, I had it in my mind that I’d just mosey on in, have a chat, sunscreen, drink, some snacks, change my socks and wash my feet, blah blah…
What a load of horseshit! Am I out there to race, or am I out there to pick flowers?! If I nut up and take things seriously, I can probably cut a good 1 or 2 hours out of my total time. And that is a huge difference. No sitting in chairs, no snacks and chips and dip and who knows wtf else. I’m going out there, and I’m running this goddamn race as a race, and I’m going to aim for 23.5 hours like my plans calls for. That’s my fucking B goal! My C goal (aka near-failure) will be the 30 hour finish. Of course I can finish. If I thought there was a chance I couldn’t finish, I shouldn’t line up in the first place.
I didn’t fucking train for 1 year just to finish. Wtf! I came out here to crush dudes. I came here to finish in the top goddamn 50, to be the top Canadian finisher, to kick ass, takes names, and run 100 miles, not sleep-walk them.
AND IF THERE’S A GOD, HE MAY LOVE THE WEAK, BUT HE RESPECTS THE STRONG