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Getting Ready to Finish Leadman

After Silver Rush 50 on July 15, I drove all the way back to Park City as I was excited to get home and see Emily after 21 days.  It was a busy 11 days at home spending time with Emily, getting caught up with things around the house, seeing friends, recovering, training, unpacking, cleaning and repairing gear, re-packing, and having family in town.  I left for Leadville again on July 27 with the goal of riding most of the LT100 Bike course over the first weekend.

Instead of camping, I found a large RV (it has 5 beds) to rent for the 3 weeks.  With the afternoon thunderstorms this would be better for my training and recovery and it is also large enough for Emily and my parents when they are here for the bike, for Emily, Emily Sullivan, and Brent when they are here for the run, and for some other friends who have talked about coming through town.

     Kitchen/dining/living area of the RV.  The photo is taken from the bedroom/bathroom and there are 2 full size beds behind the closed door.

I have not been pushing my training too hard since the Silver Rush 50 as I feel as though I have been balancing a fine line between recovering and needing to continue to train.  Due to this, I wanted to get out on the LT100 Bike course, but make sure that I didn’t over-do it.  In the first 2 days back I rode 70 miles of the course and all but 1,500’ of the climbing.  I had a great ride from the starting line to Fish Hatchery and back on my first day.  This got me on 4 of the 5 big climbs of the course (St. Kevins, Sugarloaf Pass, Powerline, and St. Kevins).  The next day I rode miles 40-60 which took me up and down Columbine Mine (the longest climb of the race at ~7 miles and 3,500’).  Both of these were great rides and I averaged a much faster pace than I thought I would be able to.  Seeing the course and having a good pace definitely helped me build mental confidence for the race.  I have since climbed St. Kevins, Sugarloar, and Powerline an additional time to get just a little bit more comfortable with the climbs.  My running has definitely taken a back seat the last 2 weeks with only 3 runs.  Mentally, that has been challenging since I am placing the most weight on the LT100 run, but I know that I am in running shape and this is the best thing to do.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, balancing the running and biking training has been one of the biggest challenges of preparing for Leadman. I definitely could not have been as prepared as I am without the help of friend and coach Matt Hart.

     Chad at Columbine Mine – mile 50 of the LT100 Bike

Every year the first week of August marks Boom Days in Leadville.  Boom days celebrates Leadville’s mining history and includes things like a parade, numerous mining events, and a 21 mile burro race (running 21 miles with a burro packing 37 lbs of gear).  I was excited to be able to be in town during Boom Days and watch some of the festivities.  The festivities started on Friday night with some motorcycle competitions (not sure how this relates to the mining heritage, but they were entertaining).  Saturday had the parade and numerous mining competitions (single jack leg drilling, spike driving, hand-mucking, singles hand steeling, and more). 

     Leadville Trail 100 Parade in the Boom Days Parade

I have never had a chance to check out Park City’s mining competitions, so this was a great opportunity.

     Spike Driving: see who can drive a spike the farthest into a rock in 5 minutes – quick video

One of the things I most wanted to see was the burro race.  After having heard of these races for many years and having tried to deal with a burro in Ladakh when we were helping harvest, I couldn’t imaging getting a burro to go 21 miles.  The burros were as stubborn as you would expect, and it was a lot of fun to watch both the start and some of the finishers.

     Start of the Burro Race

On the Saturday of Boom Days, Matt came out to get some acclimatization and for some scouting of the peaks for his and Jared Cambell’s attempt of Nolan’s 14.  It has been great having company out here even though I am bummed I cannot join him on his daily runs.

The days are counting, each day more and more racers are showing up in Leadville and by Friday the town will be hopping.  It is exciting, but I also find myself hiding away in the RV resting and focusing.  The next 12 days will likely be some of the most physically and mentally challenging days I have ever had as I prepare for each race, race, and recover only to do this 3 times in 8 days.  Excitement and nervous anticipation are the words the currently best describe my feelings.

Leadman – 1 Down, 4 To Go

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.

Official Race Results