LooseCrew-JeffO: A Simple Goal


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Simple Goal

I have to admit I'm getting nervous lately.
Over the months, I've been listening to all sorts of advice from all sorts of 100-mile veterans. I've built a training schedule that I have hoped will address every aspect of what I need to be - in mind, body, and spirit.

I include mind and spirit, but I'm afraid the only mind and spirit training I've focus'd on is geared towards running. Overall, my mind and spirit are a bit atrophied when applied to any other aspect of life. When Leadville is over, I need to get back to basics.

The problem with advice is that it has to be taken with a grain of salt (or an e-cap?) Advice given by sub-23hr runners is of little value to me. Not worthless, of course, but skinny speed-demons don't have the same issues as me. They don't need as much oxygen, salt, food, water, etc. Too often they say, "Oh, sure, you can get a sub-25hr!" Reality check. I weigh about 30-40 lbs. more than these folks. I may not be fat, but increased weight has a significant impact on performance, especially spread out over 100 miles with considerable climbing. I don't want to sabotage myself by following "good" advice too closely. I can't get lazy that way. I have to debrief myself after every significant training and racing event to learn about ME. What are MY needs? What do I need to do at Leadville? I have to figure this out. No one can do this for me.

The August issue of Runners World has a story on pg. 18 where David Wiley tried to follow the "expert" advice of record-setting runner Ryan Hall. Result was Wiley bonked. Wiley had been running long enough to figure out what he did wrong and why, but not until he'd destroyed his race. You can take advice, but you have to totally re-apply it to yourself.
One thing Hall told him that is completely accurate is, "Run by effort rather than pace." So in training, I've tried to know what my effort is. I try to increase my pace without increasing my effort.

Of course there's tempo runs, etc. You have to leave your comfort zone to improve, but otherwise I'm learning what this body can do on long runs.
And anything changes the equations. You think you have yourself pegged, but then the temps are few degrees higher than you're used to and that causes you to miscalculate. Or it's the altitude, or the humidity, ... And if you make your mistake(s) early enough in a race, your fate is sealed. Like me not eating at Collegiate Peaks 50. Shame on me for having to re-learn what I already knew. Distracted by so many other details to keep straight.

At Leadville, I'll have pacers to help nag me about whether or not I'm hydrated, or fed, or whatever, but we're not allowed pacers until 50 miles. I hope I don't ruin my race before then.

One reason I wanted to run the LT100 is it seems impossible. I always loved doing things that seemed impossible. But this is the most impossible thing I've ever tried to do. I thought that as I trained, this feat would seem less impossible, but it still feels as impossible now as it did two years ago. I don't doubt that I can finish. But as I keep analyzing my training and race times, it's not looking very good that I'll reach the 30hr cutoff. I've met too many "unofficial finishers". I applaud them that they didn't give up. That is truly heroic. Even if they weren't physically tough enough to make the 30hr limit, it takes extra mental/spiritual toughness to continue after the race is done.

But I'm not doing this to be an "unofficial finisher".

Many years ago, when I was a machinist, I didn't have the time or money to go to school. So I gave up my social life (not much to give up there), and exercise, and goofing off, and spent every spare second of my life for about 18 months dumpster-diving for dead computers, software, and books. I built a lab in my basement and nagged myself unceasingly. "You will be brilliant! I don't care if you FEEL brilliant! BE brilliant! DO IT! FEELING brilliant is a luxury. You WILL do this and you WILL succeed!" I was brutal on myself. I quizzed-out and got certified. Then on the last exam, the bar was raised. I thought I needed 70% to pass but they up'd it to 85%. I was certain I'd fail. But then that brutal voice stepped in. "You WILL PASS THIS TEST!" It wasn't confidence at all. It was more like someone holding a gun against my temple. "I don't care WHAT you have to do inside that head of yours, but you WILL PASS!"

And I did.

A week later I was a white-collar worker. A year later, I had doubled my salary. I come home clean, there's no hazards to my hearing, fingers, no chemicals I'm exposed to, no abusive bosses...

I might have to find that voice again. I'm not sure what affect it'll have on my personality, though. I think runners - especially on teams and especially in giant public events like Leadville - should be smiling, exuberant, supernovas of positive energy. I need to set a positive example. Running as if I have a gun against my skull might get the job done, but I think it would be a negative thing for both myself and my teammates.

So, as with advice from speed-demons, even my own previous personal experience has to be reapplied to this new situation. And there's tons of details to keep straight. I need to think of a simple goal. No matter how complicated, painful, messed-up things get at Leadville, I need a simple, positive goal that's bigger than myself, or simply crossing the finish line under 30 hours.
I'll have to think about this.


At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Meghan said...


I may not know much about this thing called running, but I am positive that you CAN finish Leadville in under 30 hours.

You have solid physical fitness that CAN carry you through. This should be the base upon which you rely and you build the rest of your physical, mental, and emotional game plan. I think the biggest thing to "work on" as your plan is your mental strategies. I suspect (I don't know from experience, though.) that the "mental game" is a huge part of this ordeal.

You are doing the right thing in training yourself as a whole-body.

Following your journey these months has been quite thrilling. And I'm sure the ride ahead will be just as interesting!



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