Leadville Marathon race report, heart and lungs exploding

Friday

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. 

Whitney walking into TommyKnockers

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.

Race Morning:

Pre Race pics

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

Race Report:

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. 

George at the finish line

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)

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