The Leadville Trail Marathon was tough. This was my first time at this race, and I must say, well done; great course, great crowd, great competition, great weather; great awards; great event. Put it on your schedule for next year. Don’t miss it. Also: check out Anton’s race recap at his fantastic website: http://www.antonkrupicka.blogspot.com/. Did I mention this race is kinda hard? Great job to all the 440 people who finished either the 1/2 or the full marathon. I really enjoyed meeting a lot of you. Keep on training.
I can honestly say going into this race I really did not know what to expect. I knew I was fit. I knew I was very very strong; but I did not quite feel like ‘a runner.’ I have been putting in 100 mile weeks every week and was fairly confident in my pure running fitness, but was more confident in my strength from the cross training (roller-skiing, and mountain biking with the junior teams I coach). My strength training has been superb as of late too: with epic amounts of core work, weight work, flexibility work, and recovery work. My legs, though slightly ‘bulkier’, felt so ‘bomb-proof’ going in, I knew it could be a good day. At the start line; I just kept thinking: “Why not?” “Why not me?” “I can win this thing!” These thoughts were a little bit of a stretch for me with guys like Tony Krupicka, Brian Dayton, Nick Clark, and others in the race. But; I had those thoughts; and I ran that way. I ran with the intention of running my own race; running hard, and seeing if I could steal it!
From the start-line Dennis Flanagan took the lead. We let him go. Tony, Brian, and I settled into a good pace. I really wanted to make sure I ran strong, and not just sit back and see what Tony would do. That would have been the easy way to go. Instead I ran how I thought I should run, and kept a slight lead (1-3 seconds) over him and Brian. We came into the first aid station (mile 4) all even, and launched out of there quickly. Then came some rollers, and a big climb up to Ball mountain; pretty good climb where I ran well, and led those two up the way. At the top, I went off course for a little bit, (the course was marked in two directions; a lot of markers going right, and a lot of markers going left)(It looked like someone may have messed with the markers). Clearly I was confused. Fortunately Tony yelled at me, and I quickly got right back with him. Thanks man. Then we ran fairly mellow down to the next aid station. We were losing contact with Dennis, but to be honest, I had completely forgotten about him. I did not know who he was (none of us did)(he turned out to not only be a good runner; but a really enjoyable person to talk with afterwards). I figured either he was going to blow up; or get lost. Turned out he just killed us out there! Way to go man, and congrats on the course record. From there, we kept heading downhill to the bottom of a big climb which led us up to the 13,200′ summit of Mosquito Pass. That was a good climb. I was feeling very good, and ‘well within myself’ on this climb and tried to pull away from Tony.
I only got a few steps on him, and in retrospect I used a little too much gas on this climb. I stayed in ‘3rd gear’ all the way up to about 13,000′ where I eventually broke and had to walk for about 1 minute and then I got into the groove again, and finished up the climb. So; that was probably the best climb I have had to date, and was happy with how I pushed it, and still felt good (legs are very strong!). Tony passed me just before the top, and gapped me by about 30-ish seconds. That was the last I’d see of him.
I got to the top of the pass, and felt a little nausea kicking in… so, I walked for just a few more seconds, put some liquids down, took some deep breaths, and soon I was back into my stride. I was thinking I was going to be able to shift from ‘3rd gear’ into ‘4th and 5th gear’ on these downhills. I could not. Every time I thought I was getting up to speed, the gears would grind a little bit, and I’d resort to ‘3rd’ again. I just did not have the running legs I needed for the descent. As I rolled back toward the finish, I just kept trying to move faster; I could not, and instead had to be satisfied with running strong. The only problem was: salt! I managed to assume that for me: a cool weather running race that was under 4 hours; that I would not need salt: big mistake. Of course what I forgot was the intensity of the race, the altitude, the sun and the climbing; and it was hotter than I anticipated. So, my stomach was cramping considerably during the last 4-5 miles, and my legs felt more stiff than I would have liked. Anyhow: I will not forego salt next time. Lesson learned. (again). (Man I am thick-skulled).
Anyhow; I managed to keep up my pace, and not die too badly, and made it to the finish in 3rd place: 3:49:47. Decent result. Prior to the race, I thought I was capable of a 3:45 – 3:50. I cut it a little close; but made it. Dennis ran a fantastic course record time of: 3:32. Tony made it in in 3:40. I was 3rd in 3:49. Nick Clark made it in a few minutes back, and Vasque teammate Brian Dayton rounded out the top 5 with a good run. What a day!
As soon as I crossed the finish line I knew something was not right. I felt overpowered by the sun; I had high-quality ‘salt-streaks’ all over my body, and I had to sit down right away. I blew off talking to people, and headed for the comfort of the shady grass. I laid down and puked and dry-heaved for several hours. I felt extremely exhausted, and I was not able to keep any liquids down. (This is the short version of the story). So, for about 3 hours I was incapacitated with nausea and dry-heaving/puking. I apologize to anyone who had to witness that. I really missed my wife on this trip from start to finish, but not having her around to help me afterwards was horrible. Good thing she’ll be around for the Leadville 100 weekend.
After this epic bout of nausea, I managed to get cleaned up, and go and talk with several people. Thank you all for those great conversations. The awards ceremony and dinner was fantastic, and I will cherish the experience from this race for a long time. So, here’s to keeping up the great training between now and the Leadville 100. Remember; the more and better you train; the less you will suffer. The less you suffer, the less your crew suffers. The less your crew suffers, the happier they will be. So, go train an extra mile or two today for your crew. That’s what I am heading to do right now. Live well. Train well. DC