Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Leadville 100

An update on the Leadville 100 is needed so I thought I’d sit down and write about the Race Across the Sky. The night before the race I lay in bed counting off the minutes until I fell asleep. I tossed and turned but finally fell asleep for at least a semi-restful half night of sleep. I woke, ate some quiche, and left to race. The bank thermometer read 47 degrees at the start of the race. The day and the race would be perfect. The race started smooth enough and I found myself chatting with other runners. Our lead pack was unorganized as runners yo-yoed back and forth from the dark abyss facing us to the caterpillar of headlights meandering on the trail behind. I settled into a comfortable pace aiming to hit an 8 hour half. Once we got to Turquoise Lake, the lead pack slowed as the terrain footing was a tad trickier with numerous roots and rocks. Our lead pack consisted of Rob Krar, Michael Aish, Ian Sharman, Zeke Tiernan, and myself. No one wanted to push the pace… yet… so we chatted and commented how we were at the best place during a 100 mile race. We all felt good and we were all leading the race. This would soon end.

We ran through Mayqueen aid and regrouped going up the Colorado Trail to Hagerman Pass Road. In the early morning as we hit the Hagerman Pass Road the group disintegrated. It was if the group woke up and it was time to race. Krar and Aish took off with Tiernan following close, I was 4th and quickly losing ground which was fine with me. I had already decided not to race until mile 75… or so. Ian had stopped for a quick break and was somewhere right behind us. I race on. Tiernan dropped back once and we talked before he took off again down Sugarloaf. This would be my last company until Winfield. I ran on eating every 20-30 minutes and downing a bottle every 60-80 minutes. Nutrition was perfect.

I soon got to Outward Bound (Mile 24ish). I could still see Tiernan 1 minute up on me, but Aish and Krar were nowhere in sight. At Outward Bound there was a course change that went through a field rather than on the paved road. I found the change to be great. It was nice to be off of the busy paved road and instead on soft dirt and grass smelling the morning dew instead of exhaust. There were a few gopher holes to be avoided but the course change was great! The next 16 miles I jogged and enjoyed the views. I felt great, I ate great, I drank great. Sharman caught up near 2 mile prior to Twin Lakes and passed. I now sat in 5th place… the race unfolded and was underway.

I started up Hope Pass. A mile before the Hopeful Aid Station I ran out of water… not to worry I’d be there in 20 minutes. I got to the Hopeful Aid Station refueled and soon left. Above me I could see Tiernan and Sharman about 3 and 5 minutes ahead. Perfect. “I’m right where I want to be.” I soon crested Hope Pass and ran slowly downhill. Once again I ran out of water and within 5 minutes refueled at a natural spring coming out of the mountain side.

Winfield at last. The time was about 8 hours and 15 minutes into the race. I was still 5th place. Perfect! I started up Hope with Marco Peinado trying to eat a some ‘real’ food: solid burrito. However I could eat very little. I tried to eat some gels and then some other snacks however my stomach rejected everything. Then the downhill pounding ensued and I was unable to drink water. As I slowly jogged downhill I mentally sought a solution. The answer was get to Twin Lakes 60, refuel, and then race… hopefully hit the proverbial mental and stomach restart button.

At Twin I stopped and slowly refueled, watching runner after runner run by. “Patience.” I told myself. Finally after 20+ minutes of resting and refueling I left with Hope behind, hope ahead, and hopes held high. I walked up the hill from Twin with pacer and fellow Leadville teacher Jeff Spencer. I started running and eating however my stomach issues soon returned and I found myself keeled over at the side of the trail viewing the pine needles on my knees first hand. Unfortunately this tale was on repeat for the next 2 hours. Finally Jeff found the right combination of nutrition and water. I slowly cantered into Outward Bound (76) at sunset. I was in 19th place and finally feeling better. I picked up my next pacer Mark Steinbeck and was off. He kept me fueled with Coke and other snacks.

At the top of Sugarloaf we ran through Space Camp. Space Camp was an incredible makeshift aid station set up and run by local Leadville residents. I had heard about preparations for the camp however the energy and participation at the aid station was a huge surprise.  A special thanks to Leadville’s Shack Club and everyone who participated in Space Camp. With moral high we continued through the now thick dark shroud of waning summer night. We soon arrived at Mayqueen 87.

I sat in the warm tent for 5 minutes gobbling candied bacon. I was now hungry and ready to eat. The tent was warm and comfortable but as always, you can’t get too comfortable. My last pacer was Kristin Louderback who jumped in and kept me going with encouraging words and stories for the last few miles. At last I finished. 21 hours 58 minutes and 26th place.

Overall the race… was 100 miles. I had highs and lows, but I got through them. I raced in the incredible Hoka Stinson Lite. I can’t say enough about this shoe. I had incredible cushioning while still maintaining a sturdy and light base. I finished the race with the least damage to my feet I’ve ever had after a 100 mile race.



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