It was a great week after Boom Days. I rode and ran some final miles, relaxed, made sure I was getting lots of sleep, and eating well. Emily and my parents arrived on Thursday. We spent Thursday and Friday preparing for the race, driving around some of the old mines, getting a great tour of Hopemore Mine, and checking out the local Leadville sites.
The Leadville 100 Mile Mt Bike was my first endurance event back in 2004. At that time, there were only about 750 racers. This year, there were close to 1,800 riders at the starting line. Due to the large number of racers, the start racers in corals based on the prior 2 years of finishing times or times of qualifying races. Since I had not done either, I was put about 60% back. In hindsight, I should have tried to get moved up based on my Leadman time since there were ~1,000 people in front of me and this easily caused me to lose 20 minutes over the first 10 miles.
Friday was busy with check-in and the pre-race meeting. Unlike most events, the Leadville pre-race meeting is a big ordeal. This year, Lance Armstrong surprised everyone by showing up to give a few words of encouragement to all the racers.
Lance, Marilee, and Ken
One of my habits from running is to know my splits and the climbs. When running, I carry a small split chart, since I wouldn’t be able to read this while riding, I opted to write the splits on 1 quad and climbs on the other.
Splits and Climbs
The LT100 Bike has a comfortable start at 6:30AM. I left the RV at 5:45 feeling great and ready to ride.
Ready to Race
The race start was very chaotic. The first 4 miles is downhill on asphalt. It was shoulder to shoulder riding at 30+ mph. Once we hit the gravel and the narrow climb of St Kevins it was still shoulder to shoulder, the speed slowed to less than 4 mph, and it was shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip bumping the entire climb. This climb was painfully slow.
The first 1/3 of the riders lined up waiting for the start
Once at the top of St Kevins, the field opened up for the fast descent around Turquoise Lake, but quickly slowed again on the climb up to Sugar Loaf Pass. The descent down Power Line was slow which was good as it kept it safe. We reached the road and had a fast pace all the way to the Pipeline Aid Station where Matt Hart met me with a fresh water bottle and a couple of turkey sliders. It was a quick 10 miles from Pipeline to Twin lakes that had some of the best riding of the whole race with some winding single track. Coming into Twin Lakes was crazy. Crews lined the trail for around 1/2 mile. Knowing it would be difficult to find my crew (Emily, Mom, and Dad), I had them fly an NDSU Bison flag so I would be able to find them.
My crew at Twin Lakes Aid Station
I had a quick stop to swap water bottles and get a new bottle of EFS and was off for the 7.5 mile and 3,200’ climb up to Columbine Mine and the race turn around. The climb started 2.5 miles from the aid station and right from the start, I had no energy. I crawled for the first 5 miles of the climb getting passed by probably 100 riders. Once we got above tree line I started feeling better and was able to pass some riders, but by then, the trail had narrowed and passing was very difficult. I reached the turn-around about 15 minutes off of my goal splits with the hopes of making up time on the descent. As luck would have it, I got caught behind someone who did not know how to descend and went 10mph. I was stuck behind this person for the first 4 miles of the descent before I was able to pass. This was a frustrating time as all I could do is hold the brakes and wait for an opportunity to pass. Reaching Twin Lakes the second time I was feeling quite good. I spent a couple of minutes swapping bottles and eating some real food and then I was off. We were treated to a strong headwind for the next 15 miles. I got stuck between groups on this section unable to keep up with the group in front of me to draft on them, and not wanting to go as slow as the group behind me. I exerted much more energy fighting the wind on the way to Pipeline than I had wanted to.
Pipe Line Aid Station
I was able to get into Pipeline and leave very quickly in order to latch onto a group on their way out. This turned out to be a huge benefit. We had a group of 12 who spend the next 7 miles working together into the head and cross winds to the base of the Power Line climb. By this time I was tired, my I/T band hurt, and I was really looking forward to being done with the race (there was only 18 miles left). Power Line was as difficult as I had expected, but was made easier by the fact that I had rode it several times in training. Once at the top of Power Line, there was only 1 short climb (mostly on the road left). I wasn’t losing more time at this point, but I was going to be very close to not being able to finish under 10 hours. Even at the top of St Kevins, I was not sure I would make it. Luckily, at the bottom of St Kevins, I group up with another guy who also wanted to go sub-10 and together we were able to pull each other at a fast pace to the base of the Boulevard and then up the final 3 mile climb to the finish line and finish in 9:51. My goal was 9:30 for the 100 miles. The race is actually 103 miles so I was able to meet my goal average speed (10.5 mph), but not my goal pace.
The Leadville finish lines are always an extravaganza. You run or ride up the red carpet and are greeted by Marilee to give you your finishing medal.
After getting a couple of recovery drinks in me, we enjoyed a bite to eat and an Oskar Blue beer before heading back to the RV for an early night since we had another early morning.
Sunday morning was a 7:30 awards ceremony followed by the 10K at noon. My glutes were definitely tired and my right I/T band was very tight. I spent lots of time warming up and stretching before the 10K and was going out to run it at an easy pace. From the starting line, I was running with 2 other guys doing Leadman and we settled into a fast but conversational pace. The race was an out and back on the Boulevard which meant basically downhill all the way to the turn around point. I was dreading the uphill return, but other than the first hill after reaching the pavement, the return was not bad at all. I was able to finish in 50:05 which I was pleased with.
My problems started after the 10K as my lower back and pelvis got completely out of whack from the run. Once I stopped at the finish line, I was hardly able to walk. 3 days later, I am still very sore and have not been able to run. I have had 2 massages and 1 chiropractic adjustment. I think that at this point, I am a little sore from the massages and adjustment and I have my fingers crossed that I will wake up on Thursday morning feeling better.
I went into the LT100 Bike expecting to lose about 1 hour on my overall Leadman placement. With the current standings, it appears that I lost from 60-75 minutes. I also dropped from 8th to 13th place. My Leadman goal was top 5. I am currently 1:45 off of top 5. This is nothing going into a 100 mile run which is my strongest event of the series (if my back/pelvis heals). With my current health, I am not confident I will be able to run a strong 100 or even finish the 100, but I am focusing all of my attention on doing it.