Hello all. The Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler on July 18th proved to be the turn-around result that I needed. For the better part of the season since May 15th, I have felt flat, lethargic, pathetic, and un-motivated. I also had to battle a few minor aches and pains and a minor illness or two; one which I went on anti-biotics for. Quite a bit of the reason for this was my own doing, having run about 1400 miles in 10 weeks during the spring. For about 8.5 of those 10 weeks, I handled the work-load splendidly, and then I went over the cliff. This super poor physiological feeling lasted right through Sunday, July 11. Sure, I had my highs during that two month ‘down’ period, but for the most part I felt ‘off’ my game. With a prolonged recovery from a decent day at the Big Horn 100 in June, and substantial prodding and advice from my friends, I committed to drastically changing my running for the remainder of the season. So, I woke up last Monday, July 12th with a new-found energy; one which I had not felt for about two months. Despite this new energy, motivation, and resolve, I still went into the Silver Rush 50 this past weekend with something approaching a lack of confidence. Truthfully I had no idea what to expect out of my body and made the decision that I would go out with the leaders and see what would happen.
I found myself running in 2nd place from the start behind Dylan Bowman (a 24 year old from Aspen)(I must apologize: I have been calling him Dylan Brown all week)(Sorry Dylan!). He and I ran together for the first 15 miles or so and we quickly distanced ourselves from the rest of the field. He and I were running hard with the pace feeling surprisingly good. I did not really expect to feel this good running at a fast clip. I used this positive feeling to surge into a small lead around mile 16 as I looked to test Dylan early-on. Despite pushing the pace and focusing on running fast, he remained close through the turn-around. I reached the 25 mile mark in approximately 3:20, to Dylan’s 3:21. It was close, but I decided to not wait for him. I continued to run hard and was happy to have a slight cloud cover and breeze to keep the temperature lower. Dylan hung tough less than one minute behind me all the way through mile 33 or so. At this point I knew I had to ‘go.’ I believe I put about a 4 minute gap on Dylan by the mile 37 aid station. After swinging through yet another fantastic aid station (THANKS TO ALL THE GREAT VOLUNTEERS) I pushed the pace but could feel my pace and energy sagging climbing up the deceptively long and hard Sherman Road.
During this climb, I knew I was giving back time to Dylan. Sure enough, at the top of this climb, my lead was down to a tiny 90 seconds or so. With approximately 10 miles to go Dylan and I had a 30 minute lead on 3rd place meaning the race between us was for the ‘W’. Knowing what I did at the time, I decided to risk ‘blowing up’. The course is primarily downhill over the last 10 miles and I pushed the pace as much as I could but I just could not shake Dylan. He ran tough, less than two minutes behind me while I was suffering my ‘low-point’ for the day. After hammering through the last aid station, I felt better and picked up the pace again. We both were running fast as we headed under a power-line on a dirt road at approximately mile 48. There was a ‘straight-line’ view between the two of us where we both had the opportunity to see the other for the first time in several miles. I looked back and still swear he was less than a minute back. My thought at that time was: “Well, its over, there is no question now that he will catch me.” I was thinking that since he could see me so clearly and knew how close I was, there was little doubt he would catch me. (Just after the finish Dylan and I spoke and he said that at this same moment he caught a glimpse of me looking back to see him. He said that at that point, he knew it was over because I had seen him. He was thinking that if I saw him than I would surge and he would not be able to catch up). Funny how the mind works; there I was thinking I was going to lose because he had seen me so close to him, and he was thinking the exact same thing. It is all about perspective.
The moral of the story? Don’t fold. Don’t quit just because you think it is over. I kept pushing the pace and made it to the finish line in 1st place with a course record winning time of 6:50:56. Dylan hung in there to finish less than two minutes behind me in 6:52:46! What a tight race! Dylan, too, was under the previous course record held by our mutual friend Ryan Burch. (7:00:01). Helen Cospolich took home the women’s race with a time of 8:10.
No doubt Dylan will be up for another great race in one month as he tackles his first 100 miler in Leadville. The Silver Rush 50 is a fantastic goal race in-and-of-itself, but it also serves as a great training race for the Leadville 100. I feel it is very valuable to have a big 50 miler about 1 month away from the 100; I also feel it vital to train at similar altitudes to the 100 miler. From here on out, I have a few strategic long runs planned, but mostly a steady diet of reduced mileage, faster running, and substantial strength training. This weekend I am fortunate enough to be heading over to the Grand Mesa to pace Ryan Burch in the inaugural Grand Mesa 100 miler. This will be Ryan’s first 100 of the season and I am honored to be able to pace this guy. (For those of you who don’t know, Ryan has been torching it this whole season with gigantic PR’s on tough courses, and victories in many events). Hopefully I will have several pics from this race and an update early next week. Until then… here’s wishing everyone a splendid weekend. Live well. Train well. DC