The halfway point at Leadville is a place called Winfield. Its an old ghost town that comes to life with droves of people on race day. Its the hardest place on the course for crews to get to. And its one of the easiest spots for runners to call it a day. The "Leadville 50" as we call it at times for those that do not carry on from that point.
This year, race management is changing the logistics a bit on Winfield. Crews will be able to travel to Winfield until the first runner comes through. Then they will stop the road traffic and make people park along the road. This should be an interesting change to the most frustrating crew point on the course.
Although Winfield is the mathematical center of the race, I am not giving it any weight this year. Its simply a line I have to go cross. I will have no crew or pacer at Winfield. I am not even putting a drop bag there. I plan to touch the line, grab some food, and return to Twin Lakes -- the real half way point of the race out at mile 60.
The whole plan is to shave time off Hope Pass. That's a tall order in the sense that its always the crux of the race for me. But the good news is that I have hours I can gain even by running this decently. I have been incapacitated before there. My splits are not very predictive.
What's different this year? 1) Poles. Trained with them. Uphill and downhill. 2) Training. I went to Hope Pass many times this year as opposed to zero to one times other years. 3) Drugs. I have drugs for my lungs that I experimented with on those runs. We will see if that is enough.
This brings me to Twin Lakes where I pick up my pacer and we mount the charge going into the evening. If things went well on Hope, I should have the time on the clock I need to make it happen. I usually bonk on Powerline and then mentally cave around the lake. But if the time on the clock looks right, I am sure I can reverse that easily through some wishful thinking.
That's what a year of planning got me to. But I also changed a couple other things worth noting:
1) UD AK pack - No more handheld bottles. Been using this pack all season and will continue with it for the race except on Hope Pass. I will go to my hydration pack because its easier to drink hands free. Worked at Bighorn but I was a little slow on fluids.
2) Starch - I have been using UCANN in the water all year and did at Bighorn. Been liking it and not bonking as hard or as much. Will continue to utilize at the race to prevent the sugar highs and lows. Although I supplement it with sugar in the form of Cliff Blocks.
3) Shoes - For the final and probably more controversial choice, I am forgoing trails shoes for this race. I am actually wearing a pair of shoes with 3000+ miles on them. They look like shit. For my daily runs, I throw on a pair of black Nike Free 5.0s. These are my go to shoe. It evolved out of the says when they produced the legendary Nike Lunartrainers. RIP. I love the sock feel and I never have issues with these shoes. But I always go to my races in something else and get beaten up. So this time, we are calling up the daily workhouse to the race. I did train in them last month up high and did fine so I am confident they will do what I want them to do. Change of shoes in the drop bags in case.
4) Pacer - Bringing Tim out of retirement(?) to help me get this done. At WS100, his skills (and they are skills) helped dig me out of a hole. We got momentum and then built a cushion that carried me to the finish. Never proud of having a bad moment in a race but if I could run Western-2012-style at Leadville, I would take that deal any day.
That's what brings me back. Planning. Thinking. Waiting. Executing. Waiting for that late race surge that makes you feel immortal -- even if just for a few hours. Then you go back to your desk Monday and wait 365 days for it to happen all over again. Hopefully with a big shit eating grin on your face.