Leadville: First 100 Mile Attempt
After 2 months of living and training in the High Country, I was ready to toe the line for my first 100 mile race, the Leadville Trail 100 Run, an out and back course with over 18,000 ft. of climbing starting in Leadville, down The Boulevard, around Turquoise Lake, past the Fish Hatchery, up the Colorado Trail, down into Twin Lakes, through the river, up and over Hope Pass, down into Winfield at the 50 mile mark, and then back.
Coming into the race, I had logged over 500 miles of training at altitude, and almost 80,000 ft. of vertical. A week before the race I also spontaneously signed up for the Leadville 10K, my first 10K ever, and surprised myself by running a 7:48 pace on the 3 miles out and a 9:12 pace on the return for a 0:52 finish. I had also experimented a lot with hydration and nutrition, all that I needed to do was connect the dots from aid station to aid station on race day.
Unfortunately, the race did not go for me as planned. By mile 20 I was already struggling with some leg issues, and by mile 40 I had slowed down considerably due to tight quads. But my crew took good care of me and I was able to continue and proceed with the climb up Hope Pass. Since I had done this climb many times in training, I knew I could do it, specially with the help of hiking poles, and I made the 12,600 ft. summit well before the cutoff time.
Climbing down to Winfield, however, was another story, my quads prevented me from running, and just jogging or walking was too slow a pace to make the cutoff. But, I had promised not to quit, so I kept going. On those few miles to the turnaround, I was very happy to see so many of my friends who had made it to Winfield already on their way back to Leadville, many taking the time to give me words of encouragement.
After just over 14 hours of running, and meeting my pacer at Winfield, we hitched a ride back to meet my crew and officially call it a day. The next morning, I was up early, and went to the start line to see my friends finish. Though my race was over, the magic of seeing others finish is still very very powerful. And to witness their accomplishment, running all night to make it back home, was truly inspiring.
That night, I went out to dinner with my Leadville Family to celebrate and we were already making plans to run the race next year. How could I not? Leadville feels like home, and running in the mountains here is like nowhere else I’ve ever experienced. After all, during my time here I had the best trail running Summer ever. And the only sadness I feel is because Summer is over, all my friends have gone home, and the skies over Leadville are cloudy and gray.