|(Pretty self explanatory shirt design.)|
|(Team GU Demon)|
As I headed into the first real climb of the day, I decided to back off on the pace a little and allow myself to fall into a position near where I hoped to finish (7th to 10th, roughly). I also experience a psychological boost from passing people late in a race, rather than starting off hot and fading. This being said, I still managed to crest the summit of Sugarloaf (11,000ft +) about 14 minutes ahead of last year's time, no worse for wear. Little did I know, life was about to change abruptly.
I had already taken two poo breaks by the time I began descending the powerlines, which is par for the course. What I hadn't anticipated was the nausea that was about to set in as soon as I hit the bottom of the last descent. With a photographer straight ahead, I decided to duck into the trees to puke my guts out as I didn't want to show weakness this early into the race. Once done, I seemed to feel 100x better, shook it off, and resumed running the short stretch of road into the Fish Hatchery, where I took a 5 minute pit stop to replenish as much as possible after my recent GU exorcism. I proceeded to lose several positions due to this long pit stop.
2010 Fish Hatchery Aid Station: 3:38
2009 Fish Hatchery Aid Station: 3:55
Fish Hatchery to Twin Lakes
I felt extremely good after refueling at Fish, and continued feeling that way most of this stretch. Other than a couple more dumps in the woods, I was clicking off consistent miles and didn't walk a step, other than to fumble with a GU, salt, or the iPod. I made up several more positions along here, and bettered my time to Twin Lakes by nearly 20 minutes compared to last year. Nausea gone. No cramps. No falls. Only minor blisters. Sub-19, here I come.
2011 Twin Lakes Aid Station (Mile 40): 5:55
2010 Twin Lakes Aid Station: 6:13
2009 Twin Lakes Aid Station: 7:04
Twin Lakes to Winfield
As I approached the crux of the race course, I performed a self diagnostic and found myself doing surprisingly well. While tired, my legs were still able to churn, and I found myself employing a walk-run-repeat strategy for a good part of the climb up Hope. As always, it seemed like an eternity before I broke out of the trees and got a glimpse ahead to the summit, but eventually I was at the Hopeless Aid Station hanging out with the llamas. I only needed water here, and was quickly back on the trail in hot pursuit of Charles Corfield who was just a couple switchbacks ahead.
I reached the summit around 11:30am (7 hours 30 minutes) and began descending after a short break to catch my breath. Besides another bathroom break about halfway down the mountain, I descended uneventfully, and hit the 2.5 mile gravel treadmill of death into Winfield. This year I was at the base of the trail before I ran into the leader, which told me I was either faster than ever, or the competition was slower than ever. (After seeing how the results panned out, it was definitely the first option.)
Some time was lost on this section due to the blistering heat and sun exposure, and I was forced to walk close to 1/2 mile of it. Regardless, I was still on a nice PR pace as I cruised into the halfway point.
50 down. 50 to go.
2011 Winfield (50 Miles): 8:42
2010 Winfield: 8:55
2009 Winfield: 10:02
Winfield to Twin Lakes
Ahead of pace? Check. Best friend and pacer by my side? Check. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer to that question is nothing... for a while, least.
The backside of Hope pass was predictably hard as always, and the fact that it felt like it was 110 degrees out didn't help the cause. Either way, Andy kept coaxing me along, even if it was just barely one foot in front of the other, and we slowly neared the summit. Seeing lots of familiar faces and well wishers provided a much needed distraction from the arduous task of climbing 3000+ ft, but I was hardly in the mood for pleasantries - I was ready for this sufferfest to be over.
|(It was all downhill from here... literally and metaphorically speaking.)|
2011 Twin Lakes #2 (Mile 60): 11:33
2010 Twin Lakes #2: 11:52
2009 Twin Lakes #2: 13:32
Twin Lakes to Fish Hatchery
I had bad diarhea during this stretch of trail and brought my total bowel movement count to 9. More puking ensued, and I finally started to feel sorry for myself and go into pity-party mode. I've been there before and know that it gets a guy nowhere, so I tried to just suck it up as much as possible. Around mile 65 we had a cold rain to contend with on top of everything else. Again though, I know 100-milers are supposed to suck and just tried to keep going as fast as possible. Despite a long break at the Half Pipe aid station and another at the Pipeline crew access point (where I wanted nothing more than to cry like a little kid), I was still making record time! I didn't care... but this just served to reaffirm that I'm a stronger runner this year than in 2010 - despite the disaster I was enduring.
2011 Fish Hatchery #2 (Mile 76): 14:42
2010 Fish Hatchery #2: 14:56
Fish Hatchery to the Finish
I wasn't doing well upon arrival at Fish. Here I needed to sit for over 10 minutes and warm up and have another mini pity-party. I was just so thankful for my friends and family being there and wanted to remind all of them how grateful I was for them. This was followed by apologizing profusely for the disasterous next 24 miles I was sure to have. I had so wanted to impress everyone with a PR and a great placement, and here I had to kiss that goodbye. Sometimes the mind is willing, but the body is weak.
Andy and I eventually hit the road again and as soon as I hit gravel I needed to hit the trees again for my final bowel movement of the day. I felt good for less than 15 minutes and soon was laying on the ground in the middle of the trail begging Andy for a 10 minute nap. I didn't know exactly what was wrong with me, just that I internally, and mentally wasn't right. I knew my salt balance was off to some degree, but I was experiencing a feeling I couldn't put my finger on.
It was like being drunk, sleep deprived, and having the flu... all at the same time.
Hiking resumed at a snail's pace and somehow we were up and over Sugarloaf in the daylight. Surprisingly, I was actually STILL ahead of last years time by the time we hit Hagerman Road. Unfortunately, with recurring vomitting throughout this stretch, I was mostly reduced to a slow downhill walk that afforded Andy and I some time for deep conversation about, life, love, and why we put our bodies through this crap.
2011 Mayqueen #2 (87 Miles): 17:20
2010 Mayqueen #2: 17:13
2009 Mayqueen #2: 20:00
By the time we reached Mayqueen, I had finally fallen off of my 2010 pace and collapsed into a chair to warm up. I still hadn't been passed or passed another runner in more than 8 hours when Lynette Clymons finally came cruising by. Neither seeing her, nor hearing that I'd closed the gap on Brendan to within 7 minutes was enough to motivate me to attempt running again.
Andy had gotten extremely dehydrated over the last 37 miles and needed to relinquish his pacing duties at this point. This wasn't a problem though, since most people could crawl as fast as I was now moving. Kelly joined me and we made small talk to pass the time, but I was slowly becoming less lucid and more light headed. Before long I was dizzy and could hardly keep my eyes open. This led to repeated tripping and stumbling. After the longest hour and a half of my life we arrived at the Tabor boat ramp and I insisted on laying down again for my own self-preservation.
I would have been content staying on that cold concrete all night, but my crew finally persuaded me to get back up and dig in for the last 7 miles.
For this stretch Andy's girlfriend Lizzie accompanied me and it was again nice to have someone to talk (listen) to. This helped keep my mind active and I was far more alert as we finished our walk around the lake. The only problem we encountered on this stretch was a dying headlamp, but thankfully I had packed extra batteries that would get me through to the finish. As we were sitting down fumbling with my headlamp, my friend Patrick came running by... he seemed to be hauling and in good spirits. I was pretty stoked for him, yet somewhat jealous of the pace he was holding, since I would have killed to get this suffer-fest over with sooner. On-on we went.
Finally reaching the road I knew it was still 1-1.5 hours before I would be done. Combined with the fact that we passed our campsite along the way, I hit a new low. Another mile down the road more vomitting ensued, and after being depleted for as many hours as I had been, this one brought me to the ground - nearly in tears. Here more familiar faces paced, Tim and Marc if I remember correctly, and I eventually got up and we marched on.
Surprisingly, we eventually saw light and then hit pavement just after 1am. I now knew for a fact I would finish and decided to embrace the moment and walk in with an entourage of 9 other friends, family, and fellow runners. As I approached the red carpet I gladly just walked on through - no need to run now. What a relief to finally be done.
2011 Leadville 100: 21:21.31
2010 Leadville 100: 19:57.52
2009 Leadville 100: 23:21.27
For the record, 21 hours and 21 minutes hurts. I can't imagine what the 28-30 hour finishers must go through. After an hour and a half in the medical tent this year's adventure was finally over.
Never before during any race have I wanted to quit so bad for so long, but never before have I been so determined not too. I was not about to disappoint my friends and family who had come out to support me by dropping. I'd never felt as selfish as when I gave into the pain at Hardrock last summer, and held true to my vow to never experience that feeling again.
While I'm on the subject of crew, I need to thank Shelley, Kelly, Eric, Andy, Holly, and Lizzie for providing the hours and days of support and forcefulness I needed in order to get Leadville finish #3 under my belt. It sounds cliche' to say "I couldn't have done it without you", but honestly, I couldn't have. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Until next year...