Mile 16 - 2009
Sitting here, jammed into a middle seat on my flight to Denver, going over the upcoming Leadville 100 in my head. Did I remember all of my gear? Did I train hard enough? Will the altitude affect me this year? Will I do ok with just drop bags and no crew? Will the different course (from '09) screw me up? So many "what-ifs". So many in fact, that I've decided it's not worth fretting over. I signed up for Leadville this year completely on a whim. I had known that I wanted to re-run the Vermont 100, but Leadville was an impulsive registration. Honestly, I signed up simply to "get in" before it filled. With that said, I am not one of those people that books a spot just to have it with no intention of truly running. Once I signed up, I had mentally committed, at least to a 75% level, that I was going to go run.
The Leadville 100 race will be my 10th official ultra since I first ran the Vermont 50 back in 2008. I can't think of a better place to celebrate this milestone. Of all the races I've done since I began really running after my AT thru hike 4 years ago, the 2009 Leadville 100 was my proudest moment. I sincerely did not think that I was going to finish the race or even make the cut offs. At the Winfield station half-way point, I almost didn't…squeezing in just 30 minutes ahead of the final cut off. I had race directors telling me there that I should consider dropping because most people that arrive that late don't actually finish. I stuck it out and crossing the eventual finish line, even if it was after 29 hours, was still an accomplishment I have a hard time wrapping my head around today.
The course at Leadville is notoriously tough and has a historically low finish percentage (50-60%). While this is due to the high elevations, and tough climbs, it's also due in large part to the open registration. There are no entry requirements, and anyone can enter to run. This means there will inevitably be a high drop-out rate from underprepared runners. In 2009, I was fairly well prepared, and still barely finished. This race is not one you can simply show up for with the thought that you'll just "wing it" or "power hike the course" in under 30 hours. It's too tough for that, especially if you're coming from a lower elevation. My plane will be landing here, so....to be continued....
I had originally planned a grand pre-race post here, but there really isn't that much more to say. I've arrived here in Leadville now (a day earlier than I had originally planned-long story), and am ready to go. Tomorrow, I am going to go for an easy hike around the Mt. Elbert area to get my lungs working here. Driving through the mountains today was wonderful. I truly feel in alignment when I am amongst the big peaks. I am going to enjoy my few days of relaxation before Saturday. I'm ready, I'm excited, and I'm going to kick this races ass. Bring it!
I will post again after all of my pre-race meetings, medical checks, and pacer discussions.
Wish me luck,