The day of the Leadville Marathon had finally arrived. I felt like I was not fully ready, but I knew I would race well. Training over the last month had finally started to click and I felt like I was finally seeing the training dividends pay off. Earlier in the week I had been out for a solid near 4 hour run with Duncan Callahan and Marco Peinado. I often will gage my shape by my walking ability after a long run. If I can still walk normally and go out for a normal 1-2 hour run the next day then I know I’m starting to get into ultra shape. After the training run I felt great. I knew I could be top 3 in the Leadville Marathon. The question was: Who else would race and how I would feel?
Overall, a great race. I ran in the Hoka Mafate which provided ample cushioning for the cantaloupe boulders I had to avoid on the pass. Like clockwork the race got underway. The gun went off and I stepped across the starting line. Unlike clockwork I felt a twinge in my gluteus. Had I pulled something 1 inch into a race? Luckily no, but it would take the better part of 3 days for the knot to subside. With the glute knot not factoring into the race I was able to start rolling. I reminded myself the race is not won in the first 100 yards. By ¼ mile into the race I had slowly moved into 2nd place. Granted 1st was Megan Deakins the eventual winner of the Heavy Half Marathon. When I write I moved into 2nd I felt that I actually just did not slow down as others had.
My goal was to maintain the pace. By 2 miles in I had a hefty lead, it seems living at altitude helps these thin air races. I did not want to slack off and did not, but my mind kept telling me that I was jogging along. Around mile 4 I finally saw a competitor behind me. I had rounded a switchback and could see Mike Aish only a few seconds behind me and coming up strong. Had I been running slow? I continued my blistering pace and as we climbed I maintained a strong lead. At this point I knew I would place in the top 2 no one else was near.
I told myself to keep up the tempo regardless of all. I had to maintain. By the time we started up Mosquito Pass I had a marginal 15 second lead. I knew I had to run all the way up the pass. This was an uncompromising goal. I had to run it all. As I “ran” up the pass I passed dozens of Heavy Half Marathoners. We had caught up to them at last. They had taken a more direct approach as the marathoners had run more of a serpentine half loop to the pass. I ran and although it was over 12,000 feet, I felt solid. I topped out on the pass, ran around the check in, yelled out my number to an official and turned to repeat my steps down. I was focused. Several people including Mike commented after the race about my race intensity. I was intense and focused.
From this point I ran all the way down Mesquite and over to Adelaide Park. Then I had to take the Jeep road back up to Ball Mountain. On the way up I had to walk about 100 yards. Not because I felt bad, but simply because it was steep and I could walk as fast as I could run. Of course my mind told me I was going slow and that someone would catch me at any moment. Eventually I topped out again on the flanks of Ball Mountain and took off knowing I only had a few miles left to reach the finish.
Unsure of my lead I hammered down hill and used every opportunity to push the pace. I would not relinquish such a lead this late into the race. I hammered down averaging 5:30 miles or faster and crossed the finish line in 3:45:45. Results can be found here: http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/results/trailmarathonheavyhalfrunresults/ The course was modified to avoid some snow on Ball Mountain consequentially there was a good deal of additional elevation be gained. Next year I’ll be shooting for the course record.
Read below for a short synopsis of the last two months.
April: After racing in Salida in March my season had at last begun. I kept training hard and even had a 140+ mile week mostly in Moab during Spring Break. I felt strong, albeit in need of some more speed. In mid April I raced the Dessert Rats 52 mile race in Fruita. I went out and ran consistent finding myself tied in 4th place with Duncan Callahan. It had been raining hard but was letting up and I felt like I was about have a great race. Unfortunately all the rain turned the clay prone tails to sticky clumpy mud that makes you rethink why you run. Of course the answer comes that I love this kind environment… just not that day. The mud slowed me down more than I would like. At times it was faster and more efficient to walk than to attempt to run only to slip and fall. I pushed on and ended up 5th in just over 9 hours; what a slug fest!
After fruita I went out to Cincinnati for their annual Flying Pig Marathon. It was not my day. A month prior I ran a PR for a marathon on a treadmill in 2:52 (not recommended). I figured I should be able to run about a 2:42 on the course. I felt sluggish from the first mile and only managed a 2:57. Oh well, it was a fun trip at least.
After the Flying Pig I was able train harder and focus on my bread and butter races: The Leadville Race Series.