Run fast ... fall down

Run fast ... fall down

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 - Leadville 100

I've been intrigued about this race since 2003 or 2004 on a 14er climbing weekend, I was signaled to stop while driving out from a trailhead back in the Sawatch range. It was pretty mellow, someone held out their hand, a runner or 2 emerged from the trees, ran by me and then I was allowed to leave. No big deal in those days, no real crowds, just people running 100 miles.

Ha, so long story short, I've attempted this race now in 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012. All ultimately resulting in unfinished business. This year (2012), I had solid training, completed the difficult San Juan Solstice in June, was well-tapered, and had a better nutrition plan than last year.

My fail of last year was a wrenched stomach between miles 26 and 45, which may have been due to eating too much at Fish Hatchery aid station at mile 23. This year my plan was to stick to liquid calories from drinking solely Vitargo and water. I've practiced this plan in training and in the SJS50.

I hit the ground running at 4AM and stayed well within myself (just barely slower than last year, but felt better likely due to better fitness and more training at running more flat miles) and consumed 500 cals of Vitargo in 20oz of water. I came into Mayqueen Aid at mile 12.5 at 2h36m, about 3 minutes behind schedule.

Nearing the top of Sugarloaf pass early in the morning.
Mayqueen to Fish Hatchery involves the first real climb of the day over Sugarloaf pass. I ran a little bit more of this climb than in the past, but took it easier on the brutal Powerline descent. I consumed another 550 calories of Vitargo and another 30 or 40 oz of water. I was another 6 minutes slower than last year but left the aid station abruptly and wasn't worried. I had kept in mind all morning that I wanted to run much more of the section from Fish Hatchery to Twin Lakes. It worked, I took it easier at the beginning and was able to jog much more.

I hit the half pipe aid station 8 minutes ahead of last year and learned from the aid station crew (who also owned the house we rented in Leadville for the weekend) that my crew had car troubles and were looking for a garage.

I called Heidi and got the scoop. Moreso I just called her to tell her I was feeling great and had made up the 10 minutes I lost in the beginning. I actually carried my phone because I have an app that allows her to see where I am most of the time. It provides my crew feedback about when I might reach various aid stations.

I continued onward managing some slight patella irritation that was expected. I also began to deal with some stomach issues where I had to violently force a burp after every sip of water or vitargo. I deal with this often, whether racing or not, but it controls my races. I need to find out how to fix this. I dropped a Gu Brew tablet into my water bottle which adds some fizz. This helps a bit as it helps cause the burps. It seems I can feel each sip hit my stomach, where it hurts for a while, until I burp, and then a few minutes later I can feel it leave my stomach and am hungry so I take another sip and the cycle repeats.

The rollers along this section felt decent and I was excited to drop into Twin Lakes at mile 38.5 to see my crew, daughter, and one of my pacers to start after mile 50. I felt pretty good and swapped my bottles for my pack and poles. I ate a few bites of watermelon, some chips, and drank a small coke. I was feeling sleepy and hoped the caffeine and sugar would give me a jolt, while the carbonation would aid in burping. I was less than thrilled that my only water source for the Hope climb was my camelbak filled with Vitargo but this was my fault as it's what I wrote in my pre-race plan for my crew to follow. After 40 miles, the taste was less desirable, and I was using my fizzy Gu Brew in one bottle to aid digestion while calories came from Vitargo (over 1500 calories at 8.5 hours in).

Leaving Twin Lakes and getting ready to use my
poles to ascend Hope Pass
I left Twin Lakes (mile 38.5) feeling okay and more than 30 minutes ahead of 2011. On Hope Pass (the big climb of the day), I hit the wall. I slowed considerably on the climb and couldn't force myself to drink. I watched the altitude tick away on my watch much slower than I "hoped". Again this year, I spent time hunched over my poles, catching my breath and letting my raging heart rate drop.

I was tempted to drink out of a stream coming down the mountain as the water looked so clean but then considered the llamas at the hopeless aid station ahead. I was hot and knew the water would be cold but I have had Giardia or something like it before and don't want to deal with it again. I passed on the stream and just looked forward to reaching the next aid station.

Summit of Hope Outbound
Eventually Hopeless Aid station came and I took a seat and downed some Ramen soup, water and coke.  My stomach instantly felt better and I was excited to see the leaders coming down the pass. I spotted numerous famous faces and was excited to watch the race unfold. I hammered on up to Hope pass and began heading down. I jogged some runnable sections on the steep downhill and dodged all the runners coming up.

I knew the next section involved a new segment of the trail to avoid the Winfield dirt road. The turnoff was well marked and reasonably flat. I was behind schedule and anxious to reach Winfield. My stomach hated the downhill and I didn't know what to do, eating was not working, but I knew I needed to. Along the trail, you can easily see Winfield down in the valley but 2 things: it's way down there, and the trail doesn't point that way at all. It keeps going up the valley. Well beyond Winfield it begins to descend and added an additional 1.5 miles to each direction. At a 15-20 minute pace, this makes about an hour difference!

Mile 52 with pacer Ryan in tow
I came into Winfield excited to see my pacer but knew I was well beyond the time to make the strict cutoffs on the return trip to Leadville. I ran through the aid station and weighed in at 138 (9.3 lbs below my starting weight!) The volunteer did not stop me, but said "better start drinking." I had my pacer grab a few things from the aid station but nothing sounded good and my optimism was low.  We left as soon as I could get going and climbed up to the new trail. I walked this whole section and was finally able to jog on and off along the new connector trail. I knew the ascent would be tough so I got as much fruit down as I could and sat down at the Hope trail to get a gel down before the ascent.

The climb was on and we were passing puking runners and felt the general pessimism of all the runners who were likely to be running their last segment. The climb continued, every bit as hard as I remember, and I did my best to keep a steady pace. I did still have to stop many times to offer reprieve to my HR and catch my breath. I did my best to get down some fluids but the stomach wasn't turning around. Daylight faded and I wasn't even over the pass yet. We offered a spare headlamp to a runner in trouble, exchanged names, and then huffed it over the pass.

The clock didn't slow down and I realized the next cutoff wasn't going to happen. I cruised down to the hopeless aid station and was informed they were out of the veggie Ramen, but had potato soup. I sat by the fire and ate cup of that. I probably sat down a little too long here and realized it was time to get on in to Twin Lakes. As soon as I started moving, the soup violently came back up. I felt much better and continued on, running as much of the downhills as I could. The elevation does not drop fast enough on this section. We made it to Twin about an hour behind the cutoff. No juice, my race was over.

I've got some more work to do to figure out how to master these hundred thingies.

No comments:

Post a Comment