Thursday, July 19, 2012

LT100 Pacing Strategy


*Editors Note: I have completely re-written this post from previous versions.  My apologies if you reviewed the last version and noticed it is totally different.

Since my initial post on Leadville, which contained information about pacing, I have done quite a bit more research. Let me say up front that there is no one way to attack this. There are lots of variables involved, including: experience, skill, fitness, individual strengths (climbing versus running), the elements, etc... And honestly, I don't know what I am capable of. Since this is my first 100 miler, I probably won't until after the race is finished. That said, my prior races -- namely marathon and 50 mile times -- suggest I should easily be a finisher and have a chance at the "El Plato Grande", or the big buckle, for finishing in 25 hours.

The two sources that particularly interested me are a blog written by Coach Weber, a Leadville finisher and ultramarathon coach, and another written by Dana Roueche, also a Leadville finisher and an "IBMer". Coach Weber has a variety of theories on his site that account for various strategies of the racers. The two strategies that interest me the most are "Buckler", which describes how actual finishers accomplished the task using historical data, and the "Peterson Pattern" where he puts forward the assertion that a racer should be aiming for a near even split by pacing themselves. I am intrigued by the idea of the even split because it suggests that you paced yourself well and executed a near flawless plan. Dana's site is oriented more at "just finishing". Dana's suggestions are very close to the times associated with a 30 hour finisher using Coach Weber's "Buckler" pattern.

Before reading on, glance at the table below with my pacing bands (all splits are based on previous finishers):

Destination Miles Total 25-Hr 27-Hr* 30-Hr Cut Off Time of Day*
May Queen 13.5 13.5 2:10 2:20 2:30 3:156:20 AM
Fish Hatchery 10 23.5 4:05 4:25 4:45 6:008:25 AM
Halfmoon 7 30.5 5:25 5:55 6:20 8:009:55 AM
Twin Lakes 9 39.5 7:15 7:55 8:30 10:0011:55 AM
*Winfield 10.5 50 10:30 11:30 12:30 14:003:30 PM
Twin Lakes 10.5 60.5 14:00 15:00 16:40 17:457:00 PM
Halfmoon  9 69.5 16:15 17:55 19:45 20:459:55 PM
Fish Hatchery 7 76.5 18:00 19:50 21:45 23:0011:55 PM
May Queen 10 86.5 21:00 23:30 25:40 26:303:30 AM
Finish 13.5 10024:59 27:00 29:59 30:006:59 AM

The two most common goals at Leadville are 25 hours and 30 hours, matching the buckles. But I am approaching this as a race. That means that any time is better than that time plus 1 second. In other words, if I reach a point where 25 hours is out of play, I am not going to just walk it in and be happy with a 30 hour finish. I will race hard as long as I can. With that said, I am going to start the race shooting for the 27 hour paces (the Time of Day above is based on 27 hour splits). I am well qualified to run a 27 hour race at LT100. And, the 27 hour pace plan listed above doubles as a go-out-easy plan for a 25 hour finish (aka the "Peterson Pattern"). In other words, if the Peterson Pattern strategy is a good one and I have what it takes, then the 27 hour plan could double as an easy start to a 25 hour finish.

I am pretty sure I will remain at least on 27 hour pace until Twin Lakes (39.5 miles). From Twin Lakes, I will attempt to cross Hope as quickly as I can without blowing out my HR. I plan to take my only extended break of the day (10 - 15 mins) at Winfield to pick up my first pacer, go through medical check, etc... This should help my HR recover and help me get some food down. The strategy will be the same going back over Hope the other direction -- cross as quickly as possible without blowing out HR (and continuing to eat). To have a shot at 25 hour finish, I have to be able to do a double crossing of Hope Pass in 6 to 6.5 hours.

I must accomplish all that in no more than 15 hours (or by 7 pm), then I should be on pace for either 25 or 27 hours. After that, it is just a question of how much I slow the remaining 40 miles. If I can cover those 40 miles in less than 9 hours (13:30 pace), then I will get a big buckle. More importantly, if I manage to get back to Twin Lakes by 7pm, then I have lots of smaller goals to keep me motivated: a high finish, a 27 hour finish, etc...

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