Finally some time to update the blog with what you all came here for!!!
The first thing I would like to do is thank my wonderful crew and pacers!!! YOU GUYS ROCK!!! To Ben and Sophia: Thank you both....you got my butt out of Winfield when I looked totally cooked. You paced me and listened to me complain about how far I still needed to go. You were there to encourage me when I needed it!!! THANK YOU!!!! To Erin, Danny, and Hayden: YOU GUYS WERE AWESOME!!!! Hayden.....I felt so bad for you at the restannt the night before...they were out of milk...I wanted to go get you milk at the gas station 2 blocks down!!!....Thank you for putting things in prospective for me Hayden. I felt the same way the last 25 miles....I wanted my finish and I wanted it now!! Sometimes the milk comes later than you would like but hey.....it tastes that much better when you get it. Erin!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!! THANK YOU!!!! When people were asking me questions 24 hours into the race at May Queen.....I didn't have the answers. Do you want pb&j, a ham sandwich, pickles, ramen, coke, water, salt??? I don't know?? How in the hell do I know?? I just want to finish!!!! NO, I don't want that, No not that, not that either, M&M's...no!!!! Ok, maybe M&M's....WOW those are good!!! I will take all of them!!! You knew what I needed. Thank you!! Bailey and Kristen!!! I LOVE YOU!!! I LOVE YOU!!! I LOVE YOU!!!! You guys had to put up with this goal of mine since you met me in April!!! Thank you for your sacrifices...the long hours of waiting for me to get my training runs in before you could see me....KRISTEN...the BIKE RIDES in the heat of the day that practically killed you!!! I can not repay you enough for your patience and understanding throughout this training and race period. I can only hope that I will be able to return the favor in your lives someday. Bailey, as I have told you many, many times.....you get one shot in this life. Give it your best. If people tell you that you can't do something PROVE THEM WRONG!!!! Only you can decide what you want to do with your life....don't let anyone get in your way. Shoot for the stars sweetheart. If you miss the first time...try again....don't give up....never give up!!! Just do it!!! And if you fall there are plenty of people that LOVE YOU and will support you and prop you up so you can try again. We are here for you Bailey!!! We want to see big things out of you over the next 5-10 years!!!
LEADVILLE: August 22nd 2009
The alarm went off at 2:25 am on a beautiful Saturday morning August 22nd. As far as the weather goes it couldn't get much better than this. Highs in the high 70's may be low 80's for the day....lows in the 40's....maybe a small chance for rain. The locals were complaining it was going to be too hot out there during the day....they are not used to high 70's-low 80's in the mountains around Leadville. This made me laugh having to deal with the extreme heat and humidity of Kansas on a day to day basis. The weather would be perfect as far as I was concerned.
I ran into Paul Schoenlaub at the pre-race meetings the day before. Knowing his expertise in finishing this race I had decided ahead of time that I would like to hang with him for at least part of the race. I discussed my idea of going out at a fairly fast pace for the first 13.5 miles into May Queen (around 2 hrs and 10 min. or 10min/mile pace) and he said that was what he usually went out at so it was set. I was to meet Paul at the starting line and run with him to May Queen.
As planned I met Paul and we were off at 4am with 504 other runners determined to beat these mountains. The pace was brisk but it felt good after 3 weeks of taper, and the altitude never seemed to bother me too much. The course is fairly easy to May Queen. I compare the trail to the Clinton North Shore trails...the only difference....this was running along side of Turquoise Lake at around 9000 feet altitude. I made it to May Queen in 2:05 or 5 minutes faster than I would have liked but right where I needed to be. I lost Paul at the aid station...he was in and out quickly and that was the last I would see him for the day. Thanks, Paul, for the help on this first part of the race. You gave me the confidence to go out at that pace and to not worry about it.
The next section is from May Queen to the Fish Hatchery. This is a difficult section due to the climb up over Sugarloaf Pass also known as "Power Lines". I began my climb up from Turquoise Lake on the Colorado trail. This 1.5 mile stretch of trail was not as difficult as I remembered. Lots of sections to run on. It felt good to do a little climbing since the first 13.5 miles were fairly flat to down hill. My plan was to get to Fish Hatchery in 4:15 or so....As I approached the top of Sugarloaf pass however my stomach started to go south and I started to worry a little. Two years ago I had stomach problems and a lot of difficulty in taking in food. This ultimately lead to me missing cut off at Winfield (50 miles). The other little issue I had at this time was that I fell on Hagerman Pass Road (the smoothest section of the race). I tripped over a rock and put a pretty good cut into my knee....I bled out like a stuck pig. I told myself "I need those red blood cells to carry oxygen at this altitude. They are not doing any good running down my leg!!!" My worries subsided as I decended down the power line side of Sugarloaf and hit the road section right outside of the Fish Hatchery. I was able to eat again...and I decided the stomach problems were due to the altitude (Sugarloaf pass is at around 11,000 feet). I came into Fish Hatchery (mile 23.5) at 4:10 or 5 minutes faster than predicted....and I was feeling pretty good about things at this point. It was 8am and the beautiful sun was beginning to light up all of the mountains around us.
On to Halfmoon Road and Box Creek Pass. I didn't have a time set for here as the crew was not going to meet me at this aid station. Of all the sections at Leadville this is my least favorite. It is mostly on roads (paved roads at that) and you know exactly where you are the whole time because you can see for miles around. It was starting to get a little warm already on the paved roads out of the Fish Hatchery. I decided to impliment a walk run strategy during this stretch. It would be too easy to run this whole section and burn myself up. It worked out well, although the section seemed to move by pretty slowly. For those familier with Leadville, you are probably wondering about Box Creek Pass: normally, the course goes to Halfmoon Campground at the base of Mt. Elbert. Well this year the course was diverted due to a helicopter crash on Mt. Massive on the Wednesday before the race. The military closed the area off for recovery efforts, thus the course change. Four military personal died in the accident. As I said in a previous post, I dedicated this run to the military personal overseas. I added these 4 people to my dedication prior to the run.
Box Creek (mile 30.5) to Twin Lakes (39.5) is a beautiful trail. If you ever get a chance to make it to the area this is a hike that you should not miss. You get beautiful views of Twin Lakes from above from the north. I felt good along this stretch and had a goal to get into Twin Lakes by noon (8 hours). Things were going well for me at this point up until about 2 miles outside of Twin Lakes. I think I was at this point getting nervous about climbing Hope Pass at mile 45 and wanted to conserve energy. Also I figured out from my watch I was going to get into Twin Lakes around 11:30am or 7:30 (1/2 hour faster than what I predicted). So I did a lot of walking until the main downhill stretch into Twin Lakes. Even with the walking, I made it into Twin Lakes in 7:33 (just under 11:30 pace per mile).
The hard part of the race was this: the next challenge was getting from Twin Lakes (39.5 miles) to Winfield (50 miles) and back to Twin Lakes (60.5 miles). This is the most difficult part of the race as you have to climb up over hope pass at 45 miles and 55 miles. Hope Pass is at 12,600 feet and there is not much running on parts of it -- much less walking!!! Twin Lakes is at 9,000 feet so there is some major climbing to do. I had in my mind that I could do the round trip in around 7 hours. Well it took me 3:40 just to get to Winfield...I was pretty tired and beat up and walked most of the road into Winfield. Plus, when I got there, the medical check told me I was 7 pounds under weight. That worried me as I felt like crap....I was tired and I needed fuel. Lucky for me Ben and Sophia were there to get me fueled up and on the road. Another plus....I didn't have to run another step of this race by myself. Pacers were with me the rest of the way, starting with Sophia at Winfield...her job was to get me back to Twin Lakes. As we started down the road out of Winfield I started to get my strength back and was ready for the big climb back up Hope Pass. As we started up Hope Pass I found out quickly that Sophia still had her "Sea Legs!!!" I was powering up Hope and Sophia was my mule (she had my pack of water and everything). Suddenly Sophia was exhausted and needed to give me my pack back. I took it and carried on and for a minute there thought I had lost my pacer. Fortunately she began to feel better and caught back up with me. I am glad she did...she would have missed out on the beautiful views of Hope Pass. From Hope Pass you can see the whole course laid out before you and it was a beautiful clear day!!! I was a little grumpy on my way up Hope, telling Sophia she needed to scold me for not drinking and eating enough food, but we stopped briefly at the Hope Pass aid station and refueled and then powered down the north side of the pass to Twin Lakes. I made it to Twin Lakes in 15:16 minutes (60 miles down) and it was still 7:16pm....lots of light left for the next trail section. This meant that it took me 4:03 to get back over Hope Pass....round trip time of 7:43 for 21 miles. 43 minutes slower than I wanted but remember I came into Twin Lakes 30 minutes ahead of schedule so I was only around 15 minutes off of what I wanted to be at. Not bad for being 60 miles in. (15:08 min/mile pace)
The rest of the race I did not have any predicted times to get into aid stations. I just wanted to maintain pace as long as I could and see what would happen. At Box Creek Canyon (69.5 miles) I was in at 17:35. Pretty good still but I could tell the miles were starting to catch up with me at this point. Through the initial 69.5 miles I basically maintained a 15:10 pace per mile. I was still close to 25 hour pace!!! Could I maintain??
NO!! I couldn't maintain!! The wheels came off.... The next section....Box Creek Canyon to Fish Hatchery was brutal. As I said before...you know exactly where you are the whole time. I lost focus at this point mentally and never did get it back. The survival walk begin. Ben was my Pacer from Twin Lakes to Fish Hatchery. He was impressed with my running until Box Creek...We walked out of Box Creek and continued to walk. Even with all the encouraging words by Ben to try to get my butt moving I just didn't want to do it. I knew in my mind I still had 23 miles to go when I got to Fish Hatchery and it was becoming a daunting task. I walked my butt into Fish Hatchery exhausted. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes to do those simple/easy 7 miles!!!! I suddenly had dropped to 20 min/mile pace!!! Yikes!!! Looking back I knew in my mind that I could walk the sucker in at that point and basically shut down mentally. Kind of makes me mad looking back at it. I just got tired of playing the game and wanted it to be over with!!!
Next up....Fish Hatchery back to May Queen (miles 76.5 to 86.5) and up over Sugarloaf again. This is a brutal section of climbing back up Powerlines, this time with my wonderful pacer Danny Miller. He got me up that pass at a pretty good clip; unfortunately the walk fest continued on the downhill side into May Queen. Total time for this 10 mile section was a pedestrian 4:07....WOW!!! almost 25 min/mile pace!!! Probably could have walked backwards faster!!! At least it was an absolutely beautiful night to be out there!!!!
May Queen to Finish: 13.5 miles.....I kept complaining to Danny how slow I was and that I was running out of time again even though in the back of my head I knew I had plenty of time to finish. I left MayQueen at 4am (24 hours into the race...wow...I have been up for 24 hours straight now on my feet...no wonder I am moving this slow!!!). Danny kept me plugging along and before I knew it I was back on Pavement with 5 miles to go. That is when my final pacers took the reins....Bailey and Kristen. I talked them into walking in the last 5 miles with me to my grand finish. I complained to them too, but they wouldn't listen to me. They told me to just keep moving and I did. Pretty soon the town of Leadville was in view, and then the last hill before the finish line. At the top I could see everyone waiting for us to arrive. As I got about 1/3 of a mile out I began to run again. The legs actually felt pretty good after all that walking!!! The first thing that crossed the finish line was my lips as I knelt to the ground and kissed the line that I had run away from some 28 hours, 51 minutes, and 21 seconds before.
It was a beautiful sight!!! and one that I wished that had come quicker. People that know me know that I am not a very patient person. I want things to happen now...fixed now...done now....over now. This race has taught me patience....it takes a lot of time to train and a lot of time to finish!!! This was my first finish at a 100 mile race. The farthest I had been prior was 62 miles. What did I learn? I could have used some longer training runs. My body wasn't prepared (mostly mentally) to continue much past that 65-70 mile point. That is okay though, as I never have to do this again. One of the reasons I did this event was to prove to myself that I could go that far. I know I am a talented runner. Always have been....so why shouldn't someone with my talent be able to finish 100 miles. It was just a matter of putting it all together. And it came together on this one glorious day in August in Leadville, Colorado.
One last point. Leadville will never be the same to me now. When I go back in the future (to pace it for Danny!!) it will have a different look to it to me. I don't know how to describe it and I don't think that I will try here. You can't put something like that into words...it is just a different feeling. A special feeling about a special place to me. I guess you would just have to do it yourself to understand what I mean. Time to get on the running shoes again. There are more miles to go!!!!