This past Saturday the whole year of training finally came to age, it was time to try and run my 1st 100 miler and I choose Leadville. Leadville is a classic course that you have to give respect to, if you don't it will chew you up and spit you out. With the average elevation at 11,000 feet above sea level it is one of the highest 100 milers in the country and below is my experience.
50 miles out and back in the midst of the Colorado Rockies. Lowest point is 9,200 ft. and the highest point is Hope Pass, 12,600 ft. The majority is on forest trails with some mountain roads. Pacers allowed after the 50 mile point. 11 well-supplied aid stations with cut-offs; 5 are medical checks.
Here is the race Profile, you read the 1st 50 miles left to right then backwards for the second 50.
The weather forecast for both Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th was a high of 55, low of 30 with a 60% chance of rain and snow up to 4-8 inches. It never did snow that much but there was lots rain and hail with some snow. It was an interesting day of weather.
The start of the race at 4:00 am was much better than I expected based on what NOAA was predicting for the weekend (see above). There was little rain and I was more awake than I thought I would be considering I only got about 2 hours of sleep. It was a good thing that I went up to Leadville on Wed night to get away from the everyday crap that goes on so I could rest as much as possible. The 2 previous nights I slept 12 and 10 hours each. I ran nice and slow from the start, taking my time getting to Mayqueen, mile 13.5 or so. I stopped to take a leak a few times which is good, means I am starting out with good hydration. I continued on around Turquoise Lake where I ended up behind a line of dozens of very slow folks which helped me start out at the slow pace that I wanted. I have a bad habit of taking off at the start line and burning myself out in longer races, for example you can go back in my blog and read about Red Hot 50K and Greenland 50K where I did this. There really was nothing eventful about this section. It was really neat to see about 500 headlamps going around the single track trail of the lake though. I made it into Mayqueen at 2:18, about 3 minutes slower than I intended. At Mayqueen I ate as much as I could, half a banana, half a peanut butter sandwich, a bottle of Cytomax, fig newton and some candy. During this section I had lots of water, candy, and a gel. I was trying to stay ahead of the calorie curve as much as I could. I spent a few mins in the tent refilling my Camelback and kept walking up the road while eating everything that Ashley was giving me.
I was going good leaving Mayqueen and looking forward to climbing up Sugarloaf, but as I climbed to the top of Sugarloaf there was a rain/snow/hail storm. Even with the storm I was able to keep a good clip up and down the hill which kept me some what warm considering how wet I was. I was wearing lots of clothing along with my Gortex jacket but that did not make a huge difference. I came into the Fish Hatchery some what cold about 2 hours later for a total running time of about 4:18 at this point. I changed my gloves because my hands were freezing and headed out on the road to treeline. The stretch from the Fish Hatchery to Halfmoon my least favorite part of the course, so I had to work to keep a decent pace here, usually I run/walked this section in training all summer, using the telephone poles on the road, I would walk one and run three, but today on the outbound I was able to run all the way to Treeline and run/walk the rest to Halfmoon. During this section I ate 1 gel, granola bar, some hard candy, and drank most of my water bladder. At the Fish Hatchery Ashley feed me half a peanut butter sandwich, 1 bottle of Cytomax, and an oatmeal pie cookie. On the road to Treeline I drank one more bottle of Cytomax.
I came into Treeline at 5:04 and Halfmoon at 5:34, still close to my goal pace.
From Halfmoon to Twin Lakes I was able to keep up a good run/walk cycle that got me into Twin Lakes at 7:35. During this section I was starting to have trouble with nausea so my food intake drop drastically. I drank lots of water during this section, almost the whole bladder, but only ate some hard candy. This was the start of mistake one. When I came into Twin Lakes I tried to get caught up on my calories. I ate some watermelon, 1/4 of peanut butter sandwich, cookie, and one bottle of Cytomax. Looking back it was not enough calories as you will see in the next section. Also in this section I took the wrong trail and by the time I realized it I was far down the hill. I cussed myself out because I did the same thing a month earlier in training and new better. This mistake cost me about 15 mins and 1-1.5 miles.
The run from Twin Lakes to the top of Hope is where things started falling apart. The climb up Hope was very muddy and it started to hail on me pretty hard, when it was not hailing it was raining. There was so much hail on the trail that it looked like it was under an inch of snow, the trail was whited out. I was having all kinds of problems with staying warm that by the time I hit Hopeless aid station at 9:26 the aid station worker pulled me and wrapped me in a blanket. I was shivering and was not responding to their questions very well. They wrapped me up and started pushing chicken broth and magic mash potato drink. They told me that I got this way because I did not have enough calories for my body to generate heat, not good. After about 20-30 mins I bounced back and left to run down to Winfield, the halfway point. On the way down I drank a bottle of Poweraid. I got into Winfield at 11:39 into the race, 30 mins behind my goal pace but still OK in my book considering what has happened so far. At Winfield I ate some more potato soup, bottle of Cytomax, and some noodles, this was all I could handle right now. After chowing down Nick (my pacer) and I took off up the road at a quick walking pace.
The climb back up Hope was hard and a good challenge. Nick drove me hard up the hill and we reached the Hopeless Aid at 13:51 into the race. When I reached Hopeless, I thought I was doing OK. I sat down on a log by the fire and ate some more potato soup. While I was sitting there Nick was in the tent getting himself some food another runner started puking right next to me, this causing me to loose everything that I had in my stomach. After a few minutes and some Poweraid Nick and left to get down to Twin Lakes. I had Nick get in front and just hold a quick power hike down the hill, I did not think that my stomach could hold up the the jarring action of running. Some where along this muddy trail another mistake was made and I can not pin point when it happened. As I was sliding around in the mud I twisted my left knee really good I think. It started hurting like hell and a couple of times it even just gave out on me as I was trying to walk down the hill. I was very thankful that I decided back in Winfield to use my hiking poles on this section. I think I will be using them all the way to the end. I tried to jog/run a couple of times across the field to the river crossing but my knee just would not let me, it would just give out and I would catch myself with my hiking poles. As we were coming into Twin Lakes I was starting to run out of energy. I have puked up everything that I had eaten since Winfield which meant that I had not had anything but Poweraid and Cytomax for calories since the 45 mile mark and this was mile 60. This was not good. I got into Twin Lakes at 15:32 into the race. At Twin Lakes I took the time and put on dry clothes and shoes since the night was coming. I was going to do everything I could to stay warm since my experience during the 1st time over Hope. I ate some more soup, other food that I can not remember, and drank some hot green tea to warm up the insides. After about 15 mins in the aid station my new pacer Tim and I took off for Treeline.
As Tim and I took off to climb out of Twin Lakes, little did I know that this next section was going to be a true test for me. The first mile up the hill went alright, but then I just stopped in the middle of the jeep road and puked up all the food I just ate at Twin Lakes, there went my precious calories into the dirt. Tim and I just kept walking, between my knee pain on any kind of up or down hill and my quickly disappearing energy this was all I could do. Finally a few hours later of me stumbling through the woods Tim got me to eat 2 crackers which stayed down. This was a good sign, now if my knee would just rebound. During this section I had to stop a lot to rest, I just had no energy at all. Tim kept asking me to eat and I kept turning him down. This was another mistake on my part, I should have made myself eat even if it was going to come up. This section was the longest section ever, we got into Halfmoon at 19:40, it took me 4 hours to go 9 or so miles, my race was falling apart. In Halfmoon the lady in charge of the cut offs (I can not remember her name) got me to eat a couple more crackers and 1/4 of a banana. She talked to me and told me just to keep trying to keep food down and to keep going. It was pretty safe from there to the Fish Hatchery to experiment to see if I could get my energy and knee back. With that advice Tim and I headed out of Halfmoon to meet the crew and the new pacer Patty at Treeline. From Halfmoon to Treeline is about 2.5 mile jog down the road, we walked it, I had no energy. During this short section I kept seeing some weird things. I saw some wild life that was not there and someone walking between Tim and I. That was very weird and the first time that that has happened to me. I also kept falling asleep while walking, when this happened I would stumble or trip which would wake me up and kill my damaged knee. Thank god for the hiking poles, they saved me so many times.
At treeline, I must have looked like death. When I got there my crew threw me in the truck to warm me up and try and get me to eat which I would not do. Finally Ashley started rubbing honey on my gums and with in minutes a little energy came back to me. With this new found small amount of energy my new pacer Patty and I headed out down the road to the Fish Hatchery. By this time my left knee was trashed. I already knew that there was no way that I was going to be able to make the climb over Sugarloaf with it. I was OK going on with low energy but not with my knee. During this short section to Sugarloaf I went back and forth in my head trying to figure out how to get myself up that mountain, there just was no way. I knee was giving out and I was falling over just walking down the road. By the time that I reached the Fish Hatchery at 22:40 into the race I threw in the towel with no regrets.
I know that I am not a great writer but I hope that you enjoyed sharing this little story with me. I would like to thank Ashley who has been putting up with me and my training for the past 7-8 months, she was also my main crew and was supposed to pace me from Mayqueen to the end, sorry we did not get that far. I want to also thank Dan for helping Ashley crew me all day and letting us use his truck. Thank you to all my pacers in order of what they did or were supposed to pace, Nick, Tim, Patty, Rebecca, and Ashley. It meant a lot to Ashley and I for you to come up to Leadville to try and help me complete this course. I am sorry to those pacers (Rebecca and Ashley) who did not get to run.
Even though we did not make it 100 miles as a team we were still successful! I am very happy and proud of this effort. At the same time I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I also learned a great deal about the great people that I have surrounded myself with. Next time we will go even farther!
Here is a slideshow of all the pictures that I have.