Thursday, August 26, 2010

Race Report - Leadville 100 part 1 of X; AKA Top Ten Things I learned from a DNF at The Race Across the Sky

Wow.  What an experience.  It has only been five days since I toed the line on 6th and Harrison in downtown Leadville, but it already seems like a lifetime ago.

The short-short version of the race report:  DNF (Did Not Finish).

The long version of the race report:

It was really a whirlwind leading up to this.  So many preparations, planning, packing, etc went into just getting there.  We rented a condo at Copper Mountain which is about twenty-five minutes North of Leadville.  So just the going-on-vacation stuff took quite a while to get together, let alone the ultra prep stuff.

Let me interrupt right now and say my wife is amazing.  Her planning, preparing organizing, getting my stuff ready for the crew to use, being the crew chief, getting food ready for 11 people for several days, packing the van, taking care of the kid-crew; the list goes on, - EPIC!  None of this ever would have come off without her.  Thanks baby.  I can't say that enough.  Plus she was a huge encouragement to me and sacrificed all along the way of the last eight months just to allow me and enable me to get to the starting line.  What a debt of gratitude I owe, it is hard to express.

We had so many good friends with us for the days we were there, some who volunteered to crew, some who were there to pace, and wound up crewing, it was just a joy to have them there.  Even though I don't think any of them had ever been to an ultra, they were the best crew I could have imagined!  They were exactly what I needed.  Thanks guys and gals.  And I think some of them might even be plotting to try it themselves next year...
Pre-Race Meeting on Friday- Packed!

So thank yous done, we drove up to Copper on Thursday and got settled in.  I love being in the mountains in the Summer and despite a whole lot of rain we had a nice relaxing time leading up to the race.  The pre-race meetings on Friday were a lot of fun.  We learned a lot, and just started getting the "vibe" of the race.  The author of Born to Run was introduced and was apparently there running?  perhaps scouting movie locations for a Born to Run movie with Jake Gyllenhal if rumors are correct.  At one point during the talk, Ken Chlouber the founder of the race had all the runners stand up and promise not to quit.  He had us repeat the phrase aloud, "I commit, not to quit."  about five times.  I know it is cheesy, but I take giving my word very seriously, and it was a meaningful moment to me.  I already knew I wasn't going to stop until they cut my band or I was done, and this just reinforced it, both personally and as a group.


Protect the Band!
During registration we were given a wristband that had our name, weight and number on it.  This is the band that, if you don't make a time cutoff gets cut by the infamous "Lady with the pink scissors".  I'm not sure why the scissors have to be pink, but so it is.  Thus my mantra for the race became, "Protect the Band" and my previously mentioned "Buckle Up, Baby".  I intended to protect my band from those scissors and never let them get close to it.





On Saturday morning we were up at 2AM, made the last minute adjustments and drove on into Leadville.  The energy on the dark street that morning as runners were getting checked in was off the chart.  It was an incredible situation.  As I stood there, I just thought back to all the work and training it had taken to get there, both for myself and the other runners who were there.  There were apparently 850 runners registered and 650 or so made it to the starting line, making it the biggest 100 miler in North America?  There were quite the cast of characters as well.  I saw some people running in sandals, someone in a pink tutu, a guy with wings on a hat, and people from every walk and stage of life.  

Just past the starting line, downtown Leadville.
As the countdown on the clock approached zero I said my last minute good byes, gave some hugs, said a prayer, and the time was here.  The Leadville 100 was on, and the runners, (hey that means me!), were off.

To be continued...

Part 2


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