(That's totally a bag of Cantaloupe in my hand!!)
Lot's of hoopla surrounded LT100 this year - overcrowding, altitude, too many "roads", an awesome field of men and women at the start - and I was a tad nervous to be part of it. I'm "low key." No need for lots of racers, just give me a trail, and I'll run it! So upon hearing that appx 800 people were going to start the 100 mile race, I was a little apprehensive. WTF did I sign up for? I've never ran a trail race with over 250 people, so this would be interesting.
I was set up in terms of aid on the course - My stellar boyfriend, John as lead and only crew member and rockstar runner Jamil Coury as my pacer. Despite my reservations about the race, I was stoked.
As the 4am start approached, I shed my clothes and got my game face on. 100 miles is a long day, no use getting too worked up, just ease into the day. When the gun went off, it was real - I was here part of this epic, historic race, and WOW, just wow. I tried to start up front, so I didn't get stuck in the line going around turquoise lake. Taking it all in, that's what the first couple of hours would be about - the dark, the experience, the scenery, the event. I've never been so prepared and confidant (in a good way) to run 100 miles, and in my head "this was my day."
Quite honestly, it's kind of a blur from the start to twin lakes. I remember these vague pieces, and maybe because that's when the battle began - after twin lakes. I ran smoothly and conservatively all the way through twin lakes. Here are some pieces of random thoughts I do remember before twin lakes.
- HOLY SHIT!! THIS IS FREAKING BEAUTIFUL!!!
- Umm...all these down hills are great, but wow, going up them...SHIT! Especially POWERLINE and coming back up from Twin Lakes.
- The roads really weren't that bad. It felt like the farm land in Illinois (minus the giant mountains in the background).
- Um...I crapped in the woods 3X...yeah, I said it!
- I ate lots of fruit and dates (I am so sure #4 and #5 are unrelated ;) )
- The Colorado is AMAZING!!!
- Even those 4WD roads are great. At one point I was feeling all trail snobby (like WhereTF is the single-track), and I looked over and had about the most amazing view of twin lakes. Yep, sometimes you aren't following the best, awesomest path, but really with views like this, how could you complain.
- I was feeling the altitude for a while, but then it went away...and then it came back (c.f. HOPE PASS).
- John really is awesome as crew chief. I know it's boring, but he really seemed excited everytime I saw him.
- At Twin Lakes, I was really excited for the rest of the race - the night, HOPE pass, picking up Jamil and chatting, etc.
Twin Lakes to the top of Hope
No one told me about all the water crossings. There were about 4-5 gianormous puddles and then the river. It was refreshing, but unexpected. I was kind of worried about my feet being wet, but they dried quickly.
The Climb of Hope Pass was relentless. It broke this lady down. The first section was real slow. Once my legs finally adjusted, I started passing people. Now it is beautiful, but taking in the beauty was tough through the suffering. I had my nose on the trail most of the way up. Still everytime I looked up it was magical. I did get the pleasure of watching amazing runner Anton Krupicka run down with his pacer Dakota Jones - the whole time singing The Killers (me not him), thinking about the song that goes "He doesn't look at thing like Jesus." Actually I listened to my IPOD the first time halfway up the Hope Climb, and it was The Killers, Hot Fuzz album.
Getting to the aide station at was awesome. The food choices weren't that great, though, and I was in need of something that they didn't have (what? I have no clue). The worst trick of the entire race was the climb up to the top of Hope from the aide station. OMFG! Best way to describe it. On top of this I was having a sinus reaction - my nose felt like it was onfire, and my head hurt like crazy! It was slow going to the top, but once I made it there, I headed right back down.
Backside of Hope
The backside of hope was great for about the first ..50 mile. The trail was skinny, and the leaders (besides Anton) were coming up, so it did get a little crowded (for a minute). After the first. 50, it was Zane Gray style, which was really frustrating, because I wanted to FLY down. I took my time, telling myself it was 100 miles, and there was no sense in tripping, and I safely made it down.
Follow the dusty Road to Winfield
This was probably the only bad part for me where I began to notice that 800 other people were on the trail. Crew vechiles were coming in and out creating a nasty dust storm. It sucked. It was hott and dusty. I hope next year, they don't allow crew here or find an alternative way to get crew here, because it was too much for the runners - and it was a little unsafe. I endured a really shitty section - pretty, but shitty because of the cars, and Getting into Winfield was awesome. John and Jamil were waiting. I loaded up with food, and Jamil and I rushed out to climb Hope again.
We ran lots of the road from Winfield to Hope. Very quickly I learned that I was running with a celebrity! Lots of shouts "Hey Jamil!" Most people thought he was running!! LoL!
Once we got back to hope, it was game time. The climb up last time really drained me, and we had to do it again. This time it was slow going. Nose closer to the trail, one step in front of the other. At some point, I gave Jamil my pack to "mule" for me!! Awesome. Although, I did feel bad about it. Still beautiful, still difficult, although, this time, once we were at the top, it was really downhill from there. When Jamil and I finally got to the top, I started yelling!! YEAH!! I conquered Hope Pass...funny, I was pretty messed up.
We stopped back at the aid station, and I sat with a cup of noodles, but the sinus pressure began to build up again. We had to get off that mountain!! I ate as quickly as I could, and we began the descent.
As we descended, I started to fully recover from the double Hope!! Thank Gwad! Hope pass really makes you doubt your abilities to finish. Going down the other side was much better. I went as fast as I was comfortable with. We got back down, crossed all the puddles and the river, and safely make it to Twin Lakes.
At Twin Lakes, I changed shoes and refueled (they were the same shoes, I just didn't want to do another 40 miles with wet, muddy shoes & socks). I also asked someone about the sinus stuff - no one seemed to think anything of it.
Twin Lakes and Beyond
After some time regrouping, Jamil and I were back on the trail - the best section of the CO trail, which would consequently be uphill for a while. Right after, I felt a twinge in my right foot. A really freaking bad twinge. I stopped to check for swelling, and I got nothing. This twinge would not go away. This twinge would stay with me for the next 9 miles. This twinge would cost me my race.
I tried to keep the pain to myself. I kept thinking it would just go away. Pain is temporal, right? I logically assessed it with Jamil, but came to the conclusion that it would iron itself out. Um, yeah, was I wrong. 9 miles, 1/2 uphill, 1/2 downhill. I approached the uphill with the pain, thinking, I had to walk it anyway, and that when it came time for downhill, I would run. The pain grew worse with every step. I was limping pretty significantly. I became really dejected. Luckily, though I had Jamil, I listened and talked about lots of fun running stuff, and it kept my mind occupied. Still thoughts would creep into my head about how I would go 30 more miles on this. I kept a positive demeanor. This is probably one of my strengths - to laugh and joke when I feel like shit.
I had fun with Jamil, but the three hours and nine miles between twin lakes had left me with one aching foot (I assessed it as an 8) and one pronounced limp. When we got to the aid station, I had to determine whether to continue. Fuck! What a decision. So many factors. The Dr. Assessed it, tried to scare me with stress fracture stuff, a guy came in saying I couldn't drop, and I had Jamil with me and John waiting for me (both people I didn't want to let down). After lots of wavering, I decided to let the Dr. tape it, and at least make it to John down the road 4 miles.
After taping it, I went to put my shoe on, barely put pressure on my foot, and I was almost brought to the ground. I'd like to think I can handle pain - I've been through child birth when the drugs all wore off! I tried to stand and walk a couple of steps, and it became clear that I would not be able to finish the race.
Dropping from the race sucked. Dropping from any race sucks. I was FINE except for the foot...hell I was GREAT! While waiting for John, Jamil and I laughed and joked. I was the most wide awake person at the aide station. When John showed up he even had to carry me to the bathroom. Fuck!!
I awoke the next day in some random parking lot kind of sore...(after 70 miles kind of sore is pretty freaking amazing)...with an really nasty feeling foot. I limped pretty significantly through the day, through the airport, through my next 12 hour teaching day at ASU, and I went to see a sports Dr. on Tuesday. Peroneal Tendonitis - two weeks of no running.
By Tuesday - I was no longer sore except my foot...and still today, I have an unsatisified feeling, having not hit a finish line. I was ready to run strong unto the night. When I dropped I had more than 8 hour to run 30 miles and hit a sub-25 hour finish. I am unsettled about this race.
Leadville was by far the coolest race ever. I had an absolute blast. I want to go back NOW!! I want to go back next year. I want to finish the race that I was ready to kill. Right now, I'm going to nurse the foot, and ramp up for Javelina - then maybe put some plans to return to leadville together - or AC or Wasatch or who knows!!
I need to give MAJOR props to Jamil for driving all the way from Silverton to pace me. Without him, I would have dropped no doubt at 70, without even reconsidering the foot taping. In fact, he really turned my mental status around. He was really awesome about ever so slyly trying to convince me to try to continue - even through the pain - without telling me what to do. It was a BLAST running with him, even if I was having a bad go of it.
Thanks to all my WMRC & BT training partners - Lizzie, Honey, Laura, Mark, Boone, The Courys, Kirk, ROBIN, Joe etc. your support really helped get my butt up the hill for all those fun runs!!