I’m in Colorado, and today I meet with my Pacers and Crew to discuss race day planning. But first a short run at 5,500 feet in Littleton. The picture above is me stretching after a run, looking into that gorgeous blue Colorado sky.
Here’s my hope for pacing on August 17:
Today, Mary and I head to Manitou Springs to check out Garden on the Gods and Cliff Dwellings. A little more acclimation training for me and tomorrow – Pikes Peak to bag a 14’er.
I had great flights all day Friday and arrived on time at the Denver Airport. Whitney and Kathleen picked me up and we headed west on I-70 to our lunch plan – Tommyknocker Brewery is my Colorado tradition coming into the mountain from the city, since 2010.
Once in Leadville we waited at our hotel for Mary to arrive and then headed to packet pick up. We walked through the expo and then into the packet pick up for our shirt and bib. I spotted the Leadman booth and knew that one day, one day, I would be registering at that booth.
Weather was a concern for days leading up to race and Friday the weather forecast for Saturday was looking like cold temps and rain. Mary and I were panicking a bit because we both get so cold, so easily.
Dinner was at Treeline and we met Bob and Vicky for the pre-race day meal. I met Bob and Vicky at the Blood Root Ultra in Vermont. We chatted a bit during that race and learned that we were both racing the marathon AND the 100 in Leadville.
At the race start the weather was perfect : 39 degrees and sunny. The weather still showed clouds and rain in the forecast so we carried rain gear.
I started with Bob, Mary and Whitney. Mary and Whitney were running the Heavy Half
The first three miles introduced me to Zombie brain – a phenomena that caused me to stare at the ground, rendered me speechless and my brain couldn’t function except to keep moving forward running/hiking. I didn’t even look at my heart rate. I just moved with the crowd.
The climbs seemed endless and the scenery spectacular. I have to say I’m pretty used to the beautiful high mountain scenery after living in Grand County so many years but being so high up at 11,000 feet, seeing all the snow, it was strikingly beautiful. I walked so much it wasn’t a big deal to take out my phone and take photos.
Leadman and Leadwoman racers wear a special race bib to identify themself. They get extra cheers from the runners since this is just one race in five that they compete in during the summer. If everything goes according to plan, I hope to enter the Leadwoman races series next year. But first, the 100 Run.
Whitney and Bob saw the big black bear that ran across the trail and I missed it by a few minutes. Bob said that seeing the bear made it worth the registration price.
At about mile 13 I felt a little dizzy and thought I should look at my heart rate – 180 at that moment. It scared me so I walked and tried to monitor it better. Then after the turn around point, my stomach started to hurt. Right in the middle, not the side, the middle. I hoped it was gas. Nope.
I told Mary yesterday that I needed to have a tough race. I need to throw up and feel sick. I didn’t even think about GI issues.
I’ve never had issues before. Never pooped or even needed to poop on a run, much less diarrhea.
NOTE: ultra runners talk about pooping all the time. It’s regular conversation for us, for the record.
So there it is – pooping in the woods and then no more pain.
I still have to figure how how to throw up and maybe pass out (okay, not pass out) on a trail run prior to the 100 just so I have the experience and can get used to it. I want to know that I can react to it and not just stop.
Then, it was all about the downhill and finishing. I was surprised that I wanted to walk so much on the downhill. I thought it would be easy to run downhill but it was hard on my heart and lungs still. My legs were fine, really. Kind of cool.
I caught up to Bob a few times during the race and we reconnected after my two stops in the woods at mile 20. We ended up running the last 5K together. The finish line and red carpet were absolutely amazing and I had to stop myself from getting choked up with emotion on finishing this race. After I finished George wandered into the area and we hugged. He drove down from Hot Sulphur just for a 30 minute visit.
Step 4 of 5 in Dream Year 2019 – done!
I signed up for this race so I would know what my body would do at 10,000 after coming from sea level. My heart and lungs exploded from my chest for the first half of the run. I seemed to settle in and feel somewhat better after three hours. Running downhill was still hard on my heart and lungs. My legs held up, though and that is good – very good. I wasn’t sore during the run but post-race I just wanted to sit.
I learned so much about myself and my body during this race and to be honest, I’m scared to death about the 100 mile race. I want to finish this 100 and cross that finish line more than anything in the world. I have a lot of training to do and need to spend more hours on my feet and get to the mountains for long mountain runs to get ready for the 100.
Here’s what I learned and what I have to do: • Write and follow a nutrition plan for 5 days leading up to race • Do not drink electrolytes from an aid station unless I know what it is and I’ve tried it before • Write and send to pacers and crew a detailed Project Plan for the 100 • No more bourbon days before a race (this seems like common sense but then again adventure)
Even after years of living in Colorado and Arizona, I always think of my home as New Hampshire and my home airport Boston.
From 2004 to 2012 my home airport was Denver and often confused it by saying Boston when I began traveling frequently.
Today I’m on my first trip back to Colorado for the Leadville Marathon and to spend time with Mary, Whitney and George; three, true forever friends.
It’s been over two years since I left and I feel like I’m coming home.
But Colorado wasn’t my original western place despite Denver being the first city I moved to at 17 with a plan to live there permanently. I came home after a few days. My first western dream-place was originally Montana, a place with far fewer people and more wildlife; or so I had heard and experienced with frequent trips in my 20s.
I dreamed of the west for a decade and tried to figure out a way to get there; I was too scared to go without a job. In 2004 I finagled a way to move to Steamboat for my job – so Colorado was chosen for me. Almost every year while living in Steamboat or Granby, I thought of moving home but never acted upon it. Then I had a chance to move to Tucson and escape cold, mountain town living, essentially running away from a place that I thought would be my forever-place. I took the Tucson job and moved to the southwest knowing noone.
Colorado had its grasp on me and three years later I moved back to the place I left, for a job that is my favorite occupation to date: editor of a newspaper. Denver was my home airport again.
Just under two years later I moved back to New Hampshire; for many reasons. In reality, running away, running back. I’m a runner; a self inflicted label I want to change.
I run in two-to-three year increments; a pattern I’ve followed all my life. The thing is – I’m not afraid of endings and I’m not scared of beginnings; it’s the quiet times of staying still and stagnant that frighten me the most. It’s two years into this stint back in New Hampshire and finally feel like I’m getting my footing back; and being the person that is joyful, engaged in outdoor pursuits and reaching athletic goals.
This feeling started with a bike, a mountain bike. Well, it started, really, when I got into the Leadville 100 Run. To finish this race would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wanted that feeling to cross that finish line. I started with so many baby steps and here I am two month before the race prepared for the next cycle of training. I’m so ready and feeling confident. But it was the mountain bike that reminded me of joy – the joy of downhill riding and laughing. You don’t really get that joy from running, or at least I don’t. Mountain biking teaches you about living in the moment. Running is more mental, calculating.
Of all the races I could’ve entered or been excited about, why Leadville? Why did the sequence of events happen that led me on this journey back to Colorado? Why did Colorado get chosen for me again? I think it comes back to going away west, coming home east. It was the opposite for Wallace Stegner who wrote that he was born a westerner and had been coming home west his entire life. Maybe Leadville is my coming home west – the fulfillment of the hero’s journey where you go out on adventures and then try to find your way home.
My favorite thing to hear on my phone when mapping a destination: Arrived
Just 26 miles this week. Yickes. I spent the weekend in Maryland supporting Mark during his Eagleman 70.3.
Maryland is beautiful and we got to discover Easton and Cambridge on the Chesapeake Bay. It was great to come south and see this gorgeous landscape. But now it’s time to get back to reality.
I’m a bit behind on my training heading into Week 10 of the 100 mile training plan but seeing the athletes on the Eagleman course is truly inspiring; all ages and body shapes. I actually have been thinking about, maybe, doing an Ironman next year. Maybe. Ironman just announced they are bringing back Ironman St. George that ended many years ago due to dangerous swim conditions in the reservoir. I had such a great time at St. George 70.3 (two-times) despite hot conditions the first time and frigid conditions the second time. Or maybe Lake Placid, since it’s so close.
I’m actually more excited about off-road triathlons and I’m thinking about Mont Tremblant Xterra in September. Maybe. I just get so excited about all the racing possibilities. Back to ultra running……
This week I’m going to try to get some miles on my feet and bike before flying to Denver on Friday. I can’t wait to see how my body responds to 10,000 feet and to hang out with Mary, Whitney and George! I really have missed Colorado!
The Peak Blood Ultra 30 Mile course was tough: two big climbs, so much mud, branches everywhere, and it was 30 miles.
I went out knowing that I would walk most of uphills and that turned out to be a good strategy. The first climb seemed to last forever and when I finally got to the top it was like my legs forgot how to run. I’m so glad I tapered this week and started this race on fresh legs instead of using it as a training run. While the course was hard I never had the ache-all-over feeling I had at the TARC 50K a few weeks ago.
The best part of the race was the aid station people. They were so wonderful and kind and helpful.
The best part of the day was meeting two runners, Janine and Bob.
I started talking to Jeannine in the parking lot and she was clearly nervous. She told me how she randomly signs up for races and didn’t know how she would fare today. Sounds familiar; it’s me since 2007. Her new nickname is #1 since she finished First Female. Pretty good results considering she said she is primarily a road runner.
Bob and I started talking after the first climb. He had an M Dot on his calf but Ironman talk came later – he is running the Leadville 100 and the Leadville marathon this year. He raced the 100 last year but DNF’d before dark now he has a coach and going to the camp. I had so many questions about his race, nutrition, gear. We talked about Leadville and triathlon for most of the race. It’s so much more fun to run with someone to take your mind off the pain.
At the finish I teased the race director about the three mile loop at mile 22. The trail wasn’t even a trail; it was bushwhacking. Bob noted that it was very Barkley-ish. My legs are so cut up from the briars. Why would they put that so close to the end? WHY WHY WHY? The race organizers were so fun and engaging to every racer. Such a fun day. Plus, I was completely surprised to be told I was second female and got a plaque.
It was a good day on an interesting, unique course in the mountains of Vermont so close to where I used to live in Killington. Driving to Vermont is always such a pleasure since it seems like such a different world as soon as you cross the Connecticut River. And it brings back such great memories of living in Vermont, oh so long ago. I drove by the river on Route 100 and remembered it was where my friends and our dogs would play during the hot summer.
I will do this race again. They change the course every year so running it once doesn’t matter. Despite cursing out loud about the mud and loose branches, I loved the course and the event. Highly recommend. It was an unknown adventure I signed up for since they don’t post the course prior to the race, and that is exactly what I got. Plus, I met some new training partners.