The first of the Leadman events has come and gone. The Leadville Marathon was on Saturday. I was planning on this race being a high intensity training run so I only tapered for 5 days before the race knowing that regardless of tapering or not, my time would be within around 20 minutes. My goal was 4:45 and 4:30 if I was feeling really good. This was the first race where I attempted the liquid diet that has been working so well for Emily the past few seasons. I found it difficult to feel fulfilled, but I was always full and was able to take in close to 2800 calories. It seemed to work well for race day as I didn’t have to make any restroom stops during the race (I don’t think that has ever happened during close to 5 hours of hard running.
The race started at 8AM so I was up at 6 in the cold, 35F morning, for breakfast and was in town by 7. It warmed up quickly once the sun was up. There were just over 500 marathon runners and 400 half marathon runners. The starting line was quite congested, but I lined up in the third row and felt great running the first 7 miles in the top 20. Just before the mile 7 aid station, a group of around 12 missed a corned and lost 2 minutes and at least 10 places as we backtracked to get back on course. I quickly go this out of my system and moved on. At this point I had been enjoying the course of single and double track past numerous abandoned mines and lots of mine relics. The mile 9.8 aid station was at the foot of the Mosquito Pass climb, Here is where I made my second mistake (I hadn’t realized my first mistake yet). I had my bottle filled with Gu Brew. I assumed it would be mixed half strength (since this is how drink is mixed at most every race I have ever done or helped with). It wasn’t and it did not sit well in my stomach. I toughed it out on the climb up to 13,600’ Mosquito Pass (see previous post) and quickly turned around to descend not wanting to spend time at the crowded, high elevation aid station. I was hoping to make up time on the descent, but there were so many people still ascending that it took longer than I had planned. I reached the aid station at the bottom of the pass still running on close to a 4:30 split. Sean Meissner and I had been running together and leap frogging each other all day. He convinced me that the climb back up to the next aid station was runnable and it would be the only way to stay on pace. It was a hard climb (over 1,000’ in 2.8 miles), but he was right and I was able to run it. I was feeling good, but definitely getting tired. I had been running in the red zone a long time (my final average heart rate was 157 which is very high for me for that long), but I knew there was only 7 miles to go and only 1 small climb. Everything was good until mile 21 at the start of the climb when my calves and hip flexors started to cramp up. Here is where I realized mistake #1. I had not brought any eCaps with and it was hotter than I had planned and now I was behind on electrolytes and cramping. As the guy behind me caught me, he was kind enough to give me his last eCap. It definitely helped and I figured that with only 1 mile to the aid station, I would get more there. Unfortunately, they had no salt so I took in a cup of Coke and a Roctain gel and kept moving hoping for the best. the last 3.3 miles was all downhill and I was planning on doing it in 25 minutes which would have me finish at about 4:37. I was moving good on this last section and was slowly catching the runner ahead of me. at mile 24.5, both calves seized up with my feet pointed straight down. I dropped to the ground screaming in pain. Luckily a mt biking came up on me as this happened. I couldn’t even sit up. He rubbed each calf for 30 seconds or so and I said I needed to get going. I stood up and started hobbling down the road eventually moving into a jog of 7:30-8:00 minute miles. This section was supposed to be fast (6:30 minute miles at the slowest) and it was all I could do to jog a 7:30. When I was on the ground, I got passed by 1 more runner, then another runner passed me with 200M to go and a third runner with 20M to go. There was nothing I could do, had I pushed it any harder, I knew my calves would seize again and drop me. I just had to hang on and cross the finish line.
I crossed the line in 4:42:58. I made my goal, but was disappointed at how poorly I felt during the race and for making 2 rookie mistakes. I was 25th of 509 racers, 11th of 128 racers in my age division, and in 8th for overall Leadman. My real goal for the summer is top 5 Leadman. At 8th, I am only 21 minutes back from 3rd after what I consider one of my weaker events (I do not consider myself a good marathoner since it requires more speed than I have).
I spent the rest of Saturday stretching and icing my calves and eating. I was hoping they would recover well, but on Sunday they are very sore. Today, I did an easy 20 mile bike to stretch out the muscles and iced for about 30 minutes in Half Moon Creek. I will start running again tomorrow as it is less than 2 weeks until the Silver Rush 50 and I want to get out and run the course.
- Aid station before and after Mosquito Pass climb/descent
- Mining relics along the course
- More mining relics along the course