What Went Wrong

A Day in the Life34 Comments

So been ready to put this to bed and move on. Haven’t really spent much time analyzing the race but I wanted to put a few things out there for my own edification.

In 2011, I, along with about everyone else, was convinced I went out to fast. So this year, the plan was easily correctable — go out slow. Now there is a bit of debate on whether it was slow enough. I put together the splits based on a 23 hour finish but knew I had 2 hours to play with on that in order to still finish in sub-25. So I felt like these splits would be more conservative yet give me some room to run faster or slower depending on how the day went. I found myself walking around the lake in the first miles of the race and still staying on the back of the train of runners I was with. It couldn’t have been easier. Anyway, here are the splits.

So I stayed in front of the splits but a negligible amount through Twin Lakes really. And I felt fine. Then I lost an hour on Hope outbound and another hour twenty on the inbound. That blew right through my buffer. I was 40 minutes behind at Fish then. And I didn’t have the reserves to rally that back. So I threw in the towel a bit into Mayqueen and totally on the way to the finish. The clock had passed my goal time and I resorted to just finishing in the time it took to get there.

So what happened over on Hope? Well, Hope always sucks. I specifically trained for the hike this year. I never in bad shape on either side of the climb. I moved 100% better than previous years. I stayed with my peers for the most part. But it wasn’t enough. Does the data show I did better? Well, here is 2012 vs. 2011.

So Hope outbound both years was about the same at 3:5X. This year was longer with the new section by just less than a mile. So I guess its a net improvement. But it just wasn’t enough. I needed to be closer to 3 hours and change instead of 4. I have more work to do there. One place I might have lost time too was at Twin Lakes aid outbound. I changed shoes there too whereas I didn’t last year. So probably another 5 minutes there that I didn’t spend in the prior year. Still good but not enough of an improvement.

Then Hope inbound was the next. I was 4:20 this year and 3:58 last year. Ugh. Slower. More distance. I also changed shoes before Twin Lakes checkpoint and it took a bit longer as I was messing with Injinji socks for a few minutes extra. But even with those excuses, it was an equivalent or slower time. It wasn’t even close to the 3 hours I had predicted in the splits. I cautiously ran downhill there this year too. I usually bomb down and just die as soon as we hit the flats because I am spent. This year, I didn’t so that probably killed the time too.

Coming into Fish this year at over an hour behind last year and knowing that last year’s split there wasn’t good enough, dealt another mental blow. Maybe I am too dialed into the splits at Leadville. I feel like I know the data too well and that causes me to think more like a betting man than a racer. I knew the odds were not with me last year at Fish and they couldn’t have been this year either.

I was happy to finish this year and redeem myself from the DNF of 2011. But I know I can finish that race in my sleep now. I can run 60 miles any day there and hike it in under 30. Done deal. That’s how I can get 1000 miles there someday. But the real game for me is executing a good race there and I have to sharpen my pencil again. Its going to be more of the same.

I need to continue to perfect my hiking. Its a lot better but I am just status quo now. I need to be better. Especially if HR100 ever happens. So I will continue down that path.

I also need to get my speed back. I have spent so much time running long and slow and I have gotten good at it. The day after the race I was ready to run more. I started back in actually running 48 hours later with zero issues. Its what I trained for. But I didn’t have the speed I needed. I have found that in running I need to embrace what I am afraid of. What am I afraid of right now? Running fast. How the hell did I ever run a sub-3 marathon? Everyone says that a marathon PR doesn’t matter in ultras and for the most part I agree. However, I need to start turning my legs over faster once again for that long stretches at Leadville where you can bank up some time. Yes, bank time.

So I think I am off to regain some speed, build some strength, hike all winter, and come back to run that course harder than ever. Slow isn’t the game I want to play. Smart is. We will see how it plays out. I have 8 more tries to run the race of a lifetime in Leadville. Stay tuned.