Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 Leadville Marathon

26.2 miles – 6:35:48 (not a PW, Last year at Pikes Peak finished in 7:03)
6,021 ft of elevation gain with the lowest point on the course at an elevation of 10,184 ft

So this was an interesting adventure. About a month ago I realized I was in full mental burnout. I had a couple of hot long races in May that spelled doom for my trail marathon and ultra-marathon over the summer. Letting my friends know that I was out was the hardest part and they ended up convincing me to stay in the marathon, after all I was trained up for an ultra so I could easily handle a marathon… 

Trip out to Mosquito pass, miles 0 - 9 
Any marathon is tough and if your mind in the game it it’s going to be a rough day. Add to that brutal climbing and crazy elevation and you have the perfect recipe for misery. The race started in Leadville CO, which sits high in the mountains at 10,180ft. First climb on the list was 2,000ft of vertical over the first 5 miles of the race. I was walking 1 mile into the race which wasn’t too surprising and I was the only walker. My body felt fine but my mind just couldn’t seem to get into race mode. In those first 5 miles most of my friends left me in the dust. Going downhill I could easily run 90% of the time. I kept an eye on the giant pass in front of us that we would eventually have to conquer. 

Mosquito pass, miles 10 - 17 
From the aid station it was about 4 miles and 2,000ft vertical to the turnaround point. I walked up the whole thing which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Trees don’t grow above 11,500 and without them the wind was very strong and cold. It was so loud that I was unable to talk with people right next to me. Hiking became so hard that I had to start pacing myself (Hiking!). It’s a little scary when it feels like your breathing is accelerating uncontrollably (like you can’t catch your breath), it’s not a good feeling so you slow down. But I am happy that I never stopped moving, I continued on with relentless forward progress. Nearing the top I was so cold especially my hands I couldn’t wait to get off that mountain. Coming down wasn’t much easier the trail was so technical and in places covered with mud or snow. I tripped and almost went down, I caught myself but my already tired ankle and knee got twisted. They both felt funny as I spent a minute walking it off and then I was back running but now a little more cautious and slower. 

Back to town, 18 – 26.2 
Arriving back at the aid station I felt good about the race or the first time. I had survived the pass and I was heading back to town. In the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet because there was big climb around 20 miles. I enjoyed the downhill this time, no more giant rocks so I could free my mind and enjoy the scenery. The climb at mile 20 was very hard even though it was only 1,000 ft again I ended up walking the majority of that section. Arriving at the final aid station I felt relived I knew the finish was 5 miles away and almost all downhill with one little blip along the way. This was my best section of the race. I recorded my fastest mile running back into town mile 26 was a blistering 8:50 (and my only sub 10 min mile). Over the last few miles of the race the clouds rolled in and about an hour or so after I finished my friends and I got snowed on at the finish line. 

While reflecting on this adventure and reading my own report I feel the burnout really shows. So many times in this race I was weak and willing to just go with the flow. This has to be the least competitive I have ever seen myself. One by one my friends passed me and I didn’t even try to chase them down. At the same time this race showed me that perhaps I am stronger than I think. For six and half hours Leadville striped me down to nothing. During that time I was more miserable than I have been in a race in a long time. But quit never crossed my mind. 

At the start of the race with my friend Tim (he won this crazy race) 

Course Profile 

Just out of town 

Mile 9, Mosquito pass in the distance 

Halfway up Mosquito pass 

Almost to the top 

Top of the Pass 13,170ft 

Heading down the pass 

Mile 26, fastest mile of the day 8:50!

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