Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Leadville 100 Mtn Bike and 10K Run

Caitlyn and Pat took me to the start of the 100 mile mtn bike race early Sat morning.  It was a balmy 35 degrees.  I lined up in the "purple" corral which turned out to be a decent place to start.  I passed quite a few people on the 4 mile paved descent and I was able to climb St. Kevin's and Sugarloaf without stopping.

The weather was perfect with clear blue skies which was a welcome relief from all the rain this past week.  I rode a steady effort up Sugarloaf and then proceeded to pass a ton of riders going down Powerline.  Of course the slower people take the good line so that left a less desirable line for me to take but Buzz did great and I never suffered a flat or a mechanical all day.  He was an absolute champ.

I continued a steady effort and by 3:35 I was cruising into Twin Lakes where my entire family greeted me.  Seeing everyone was the best part of the day.  I took off my vest and arm warmers, got new bottles, downed a small bottle of Gatorade, got a little more food and I was off to start the long slog up Columbine.

Best crew in the world!
This is the part I was dreading.  I am a fast descender.  I can drop like a rock.  Unfortunately, I climb like one too!  I had also started to get leg cramps back at mile 30 and I was really worried they would get so bad that I wouldn't be able to finish.  Due to the cramps I had to dial back my effort and "soft pedal" a bit on all the climbs.  I had done this climb during training so I knew what to expect and I just put my head down and proceeded to grind it out for the next couple of hours.  After an eternity, I finally reached the Columbine aid station in 6:10.  This is 10 minutes slower than when I did the race back in 2002 and I finished in 11:50 that year.  I knew my sub-12 hour finish was in jeopardy.

The thought crossed my mind that if I didn't finish in under 12 hours I wouldn't be an official finisher and therefore wouldn't have to show up next Saturday for the 100 mile run.  I also would be able to go home early and attend the first day of school with my girls.  Those weren't unappealing thoughts.  But I quickly pushed them away and got back to business.  If I didn't finish under 12 hours it wasn't going to be from lack of trying.  I owed it to my family, my coach, my friends, and myself to give it my all.  Anything else would be dishonorable.

I started my comeback with one of the fastest descents of Columbine by a female at this year's race according to Strava.  By the time I saw my family again at Twin Lakes I was in a much better frame of mind.  Once again they had me in and out of there in no time. 

Back in 2002 it was the next 40 miles that really destroyed me.  I lost a lot of time.  This year I knew was going to be different.  I have a lot more endurance training under my belt, I now have a habit of starting slow and finishing strong in races.  The paved climb out of Twin Lakes now seemed short instead of lasting forever, I climbed the singletrack section well and cruised into Pipeline where I got my bottles refilled and downed a cup of coke.

There was a strong head wind between Pipeline and Fish Hatchery (surprise, surprise) but I was able to settle in with a couple of pacelines to help cut the wind and made great time to the bottom of Powerline.  That's where I saw my family one last time before the finish and it's always a huge morale boost before the last big climb of the day.  Apparently my girls were finding their own entertainment.

Yep, that's the start of the first part of the climb up Powerline
More severe cramping had me walking my bike up the steepest section (which I'd be walking anyway).  The cramps continued to come and go and I was happy to ride most of the upper section.  After a fast descent to Hagerman and on to Mayqueen I started the long paved climb to Carter Summit.  That's where the cramping returned in earnest and I found myself stopped and almost in tears.  I couldn't believe my finish was in jeopardy because of leg cramps.  I downed some more S-caps and started to soft pedal up the hill.  Finally the cramps subsided and I was able to get into a solid rhythm to the top.
Getting back on the dirt after Carter Summit was great.  I was like a horse smelling the barn.  When my legs weren't cramping they were actually still pretty strong.  I found myself climbing some of the short steep climbs that had others walking.  The descent down Kevins was fast and I just willed my bike to hold it together.  A few raindrops started to fall as I made my way to the bottom of the Boulevard.  I was able to keep a good effort up it, thankful I was on a bike and not on foot like I will be next week.  As I crested the last hill and saw my time would be under 11:40, I let out a sigh of relief, zipped up my jersey, and really enjoyed the scene of coming up 6th St.

My girls ran out to me as I approached the finish line and ran across with me.  My parents were there which meant the world to me.  Merilee hung a medal around my neck and told me I could stop now.  I was tired but not destroyed.  In the coming hours I was happy about how I was feeling.  I knew I'd be able to run the 10K the next day.

Leadville 10K

The 10K takes place the day after the 100 mile mtn bike and is the 4th event in the Leadwoman series.  I woke up feeling really good, not sore at all which surprised me.  After getting our awards for the 100 miler, we gathered at 6th and Harrison for the noon start.  I felt relaxed and knew I would take it out easy, no time limit on this one.

Fellow Leadwoman Kiki and I started out together and made our way 3 miles down the Boulevard.  After a couple miles I was tired of running and wanted to stop.  I really wasn't looking forward to coming back up this road.

We reached the turn-around in 29 minutes and Kiki decided to wait for a friend so I continued on by myself.  I was surprised when I found myself running much of the uphill and feeling better with each passing mile.  I kept my effort level low and I actually enjoyed the climb.

Just over an hour after starting I approached the finish line.  Once again, my girls were there to run across it with me.  Another event done.  One big one left, the 100 mile run on Saturday.  I'll spend this week doing a couple of short runs but mostly resting.  I'm actually feeling pretty relaxed about the run.  I know I'm going into it undertrained due to a recent injury but there's nothing I can do about that now.  The gun will go off and I'll run the best I can until I get 100 miles under my feet and cross that last finish line.

The girls asked if they could volunteer to help put out the mugs for the finishers

Approaching the finish line

Girls heading to the finish with me


Redsie said...

I am very proud

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