Thursday, July 4, 2013

Leadville Trail Marathon

I went into the Leadville marathon with a fair amount of apprehension.  Up until the middle of May my training had been going along so well but then with my hip pain, training had fallen off a bit, especially the running.  Everyday my hip hurt, whether I was walking or running.  My Leadwoman attempt was in serious doubt.

The night before the race I met up with my coach and a few other Leadman competitors.  It was really nice to finally meet the people behind the blogs.

Race morning we all lined up at a very civilized 8am.  A single cloud above us dropped a few raindrops and as I slowly made my way up the first 4 mile climb, more clouds moved in making for a shady, cool run/hike.  I hit the first aid station in 1 hour (4 miles) and was happy with that.  Even better, my hip wasn't hurting!  I've had this happen before where I deal with an injury and then on race day it's fine.  Whatever, I'll take it.

First climb looking back at Leadville

The next section loops around Ball Mtn and I ran more than walked this section.  A lot of people talk about how tough this section is on the way back so I made sure to pay attention to all the ups and downs.

As I descended toward aid station B I could see a steep road heading up this huge mountain ahead.  I asked another runner if that was the road we'd be running to Mosquito Pass.  She said yes.  Part of me was happy to be able to see exactly where we were going.  The other part of me cringed being able to see exactly where we were going.

The road leading up to Mosquito Pass if you look close

Running through the mining district

Lucho and Sean and Tiana Rockwell were at the aid station and it was wonderful to see them.  They had me in and out in no time and soon I found myself power hiking the 3 mile climb.  Towards the middle it really gets steep and my power hike turned into a survival hike.  The other issue was I was starting to have serious cramps in the arches of both feet and both calves.  I had to really watch my step because every mis-step caused my calves to seize up.  I took some serious S-caps and they helped but the cramps were never far away. 

Starting back down Mosquito Pass
 After an eternity I reached Mosquito Pass.  I remembered what Lucho said and took a few minutes to look around and enjoy the view.  Pretty incredible.  Soon I was on the long, painful, rocky descent, being very careful with my footing and trying not to destroy my quads.  My second time through the aid station, Lucho massaged my calf while I grabbed more S-caps, Sean refilled my camelback, and Tiana grabbed me a couple cups of coke.  It was the best Nascar pitstop ever.

The fact that I was now only 9 miles from the finish and with the coke kicking in, I really started pushing the next few miles.  I knew this feeling from past races, I start slow and then kick it in to the finish.  The return around Ball Mtn wasn't as bad as I was expecting and soon I was on the last 4 mile descent.  The leg and foot cramps were still coming and going and when I really tried to stretch out my stride on the last paved descent they returned in full force.  Another runner stopped and enouraged me to finish with him.  He told me to shorten my stride and that helped.  Before too long I was running faster and picking off a few runners before the finish line.

I went from serious doubt before the race if I could even finish, to hoping to finish in 8 hours to actually having a pretty good day and finishing in 6:42.  I couldn't be happier.  Now on to the Silver Rush 50 mtb.


Shannon said...

Awesome! I'm loving following your experience! I can't wait to read your next post!

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