Monday, July 13, 2009

Leadville Trail Marathon

This past Saturday I ran the Leadville Trail Marathon in Leadville, CO. It is a high-altitude race starting at 10,200 feet and running up to Mosquito Pass at 13,128 feet (22 miles of the 26.2 are over 11,000 feet). I have been traveling a bit lately, and so I was not really in great shape for the run (not that I have ever been in great shape), but I knew I could do it...even if it was ugly.

Elke and I drove the Westy up on Friday afternoon and "camped" at the Leadville RV Corral. We actually got a good-night's sleep and the guy only charged us for a tent site. The bathrooms were clean and a hot shower felt great before and after the run.

The course is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking (on a few levels!). You start in the town of Leadville, run through the old mining district, and then up into the mountains, alternating 4WD roads and single-track. With all the water this year, the mountains are green and the wild flowers are in full bloom, making the run visually spectacular.

I ran most of the first half of the race with fellow Team C.R.U.D. runners Keith Grimes (this is the start of his Leadman attempt) and John Courtney (18th marathon this year). There were actually about 8 or so C.R.U.D. runners running officially this year, and Paul DeWitt, the course record holder until this year, ran "un-officially" pacing his father who was shooting for a sub-5 hour finish (which he accomplished).

Well, with me, it did get ugly! I actually started out strong and ran the first 10 miles feeling fine. It was really hot, and I sweat a lot, but I was hitting the S! Caps about every 45 minutes so I never did have cramping issues. What I did have was stomach issues. I started to get nauseous about 10 miles in, and this did not let up for another 12-13 miles. I either had to slow way down to a walk or throw up. In fact, indicative of how slow I had to go, I do not have sore legs after the race at all...I hardly was able to push them!

I finally had a big "purge" at the final aid station (I actually walked away and behind some bushes), and then flew down the final 4 miles back into Leadville. But by this time I had lost over an hour of time off of what I should have come in at (around 5:30), finishing at 6 hours and 31 minutes. I finished strong, passing lots of runners (and never being passed by anyone) down the final leg of the race, and was amazed at how good it felt to be breathing the thick air at 10,000 feet again!

In the end, it was fun. I enjoyed the conversation and trash-talking with guys early on in the race, and the atmosphere and vibe in Leadville are comfortable. This event and its hosts are top-notch, except the T-shirt is way ugly (Note to those who design race/event T-shirts: Photos don't look good on shirts...its like those frosting portraits on birthday cakes from Wal-Mart). I do plan to run the race again next year, and I am hoping to be in better shape by then. This run is a kicker but one you feel good having completed.

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