In 2004, my first year at Leadville, I was happy to have reached the 70mile mark before missing the 70 mile cut-off at Halfmoon Campground. In 2005 I finished Leadville in 29:17. The race came just two months after my Dad passed away and the emotions were still very raw. To this day I view this race as a gift from my Dad who's memory I carried with me throughout the event. In 2006 I came to Leadville in the best shape of my life. In May I had left my job of 12 years at Payless Shoe Source and had plenty of extra time to train that summer. However as the race drew near, Great Plains Running Co was born and a date was set for a September opening. Despite the physical preparation, emotionally I began to loose focus as well as desire. I spent the entire week prior to the race at the kitchen table writing orders and finalizing our bank loan. By the time Saturday came I was exhausted and needless to say failed to finish the race. The lesson...This race is only part physical, you must be totally focused on the task at hand and wholly confident in your ability to finish. One of Leadville's many mottos is "There are no shortcuts" In 2007 I failed to do the proper training, talking more about logging miles then actually running them. It's no surprise 2007 was my worst year at Leadville, barely making the cut-off at Winfield and turning around on the backside of Hope Pass. While it is never fun not to finish, in each of these years I was able to move on fairly quickly, but 2008 has not been as easily forgotten.
As I think back on what went wrong in all honesty I can't blame the weather. Yes I was wet and cold and that I'm sure had some bearing on where I was at emotionally, but the thing I am most upset with myself about is my decision to have a pacer, but then not spending the adequate time preparing her for what she would experience (a cranky, tired, whinny runner) and how best to help me through it, based on what I know works for me when I get to that point. Not properly preparing the person you are going to rely on to "get you through" not only does you no good, but is unfair to them as well. I honestly feel one would be better off going at alone, then relying on someone else to help you through, when they have little clue what to do with you. So, that said, my apologies to MK who did everything she could think of to keep me moving despite the frustration I'm sure she felt and which I could have helped avoid.
So, if for no one other then myself these are the things I should have told MK prior to the start of the race.
- Challenge me with questions and small goals that can build confidence. "Hey Willie, do you think you can run for 30 seconds" (Along Half Moon Rd we lost a lot of time because I got lazy, this is a flat section that needs to be run even if it's partially run you can bank a lot of time vs. walking the entire thing.)
- Build on these little "victories" Move from run :30/walk 2:00 to run :45/walk 2:00 to run 1:00/walk 2:00 and so on. (On the Half Moon Rd at Leadville a run/walk strategy works well from telephone pole to telephone pole)
- Don't ask me if I'm eating and drinking (I'll lie) Just give me a GU and politely tell me to eat it.
- Don't let me become a victim of the race or my own pain. Tell me you don't want to hear me whine. I must stay on the offense to get through.
- Set me up for successful aid station stops. Set a realistic departure time before we're all the way there, give me adequate warnings and then get me out on time.
- If nothing else works tell me I'm probably too old to be doing this anyway then get out of my way.