Welcome to another episode of Ace toes the line at Leadville.
For those who like to read ahead, here is the short-short version:
DNF. Cut at Half-Pipe Outbound in 8:19 elapsed.
For who like more than a tweet, the short version:
DNF.Right on pace for the first 13.5 miles to MayQueen. Complete and utter implosion (and many explosions) on the way to fish hatchery. Never recovered. Cut at Half-Pipe Outbound.
For those who like gory details, bear stories (no live bears involved,) and my witticisms, read on. The long version ensues...
Someone asked me how my preparation for this race had went. Since I've posted twice in the last six months or so, let me sum it up. Blart. On the one hand, I had not lost nearly enough weight to even consider being in this race. It was worse than it has been previous years and obviously represents one of the biggest challenges. On the other hand I had some good running (Best June mileage total ever,) some good results (North Fork-agonizingly close,) and had done a fair amount of strength and core cross training. Someday I may tell you about the time(s) I checked my man card at the door and did some "fitness classes" at unhealthily early times in the morning a dozens of times...but I digress.
The routine was the norm, we stayed at a lovely place in Twin Lakes this year which had great views of Hope Pass, just to remind you of the "little" mountains that you have to climb over. We made our preparations and got to the starting line at 3:35 A.M. on 6th and Harrison.
As has happened at every race thus far we had some great friends with us and those ready to jet in and pace if necessary. Thank you so much for being a part. I so appreciate your friendship and support it means the world to me!
And since I'm throwing out thanks you's, I must say thank you to teh wifey and to my family for all their support. I wouldn't have made it one step without them. Thanks. You guys are the best crew ever! (As adjudicated by countless random observers who say exactly that.)
One of the funny parts about being at the start line of Leadville is that when I turn on my Garmin GPS watch I get the unique message of "Multiple HR rate monitors detected." Too funny. Another funny thing was at the start in the giant herd of 800+ people? I wound up standing right next to the same guy I sat next to in the pre-race meeting. Go figure. We enjoyed a few quick jokes and the shotgun fired. Asking if this is the 50 m fun run is still my go to favorite.
I took off. I was pretty stressed to be honest. I was trying to relax but thinking about the cutoffs had me geared up. The first four-five miles I took off and while trying to take it "easy" I was motoring down the boulevard.
A couple observations about the trip to MayQueen. First of all there were a lot of people running. A LOT. In addition there were a lot of people dropping dukey. And many did not bother to get off the trail very far. It was a nasty smell. I mean NASTY. I about puked from the smell. Please people take care of your dukey, don't share with the rest of us.
Second of all on a much funnier note I was just past Tabor boat ramp when someone started tapping me on the shoulder. Thinking someone wanted to pass, I moved over and looked back. There was a short, skinny fellow who, judging from his accent, was from Brazil or somewhere else in South America. He was staring at me with a wide-eyed look and finally said, "YOU ARE A BEAR!" I assumed this was in reference to the gross disproportion of our two physical sizes, and I looked down at him with a menacing look and responded with "I just ATE a bear." We both laughed and then I added a remark indicating that I thought you were supposed to be burning fat in this race so I had a lot of extra. Before taking off in the darkness of the morning he responded by saying that in that case he would be back to eat my arm later. A hilarious conversation to have in the middle of the dark around Turquoise Lake...
I started to slow a bit at this point, but generally just kept my place in the conga line. I pulled out of Mayqueen feeling relatively good. I was still running decently, I felt somewhat tired because I had pushed it somewhat but generally felt good to be right where I wanted to be. 2:38 or so into Mayqueen. I saw the crew, made a body glide addition and took off. No puking before MayQueen a new record. Unfortunately it didn't last.
I started up the Colorado Trail off of the trailhead and I was instantly gassed. My heart rate shot up, I couldn't control my breathing I was a mess. I started puking and couldn't stop. I came up empty and still was dry heaving. Awful. Slowed to a crawl and still was feeling awful. I just couldn't understand it. I had felt good and was doing so well and then here we go again. It felt like defeat.
I got up to Hagerman road and now my ambitious goals for improving my time for this segment were not going to happen. My mental perspective was shot. I will admit it, I let myself be defeated. Instead of just recognizing I was having a tough time and wait for it to be done I succumbed to the wretchedness of it. I did try to push through a few more times, but again there was something whether it was acclimation or just not being in good enough condition but physically I couldn't push without pegging out the heart rate and losing control of my breathing. The trip to Fish was the slowest of any time I've run this race by a lot. I honestly thought I would be cut at Fish for the first time ever and many times that sounded like a really good idea. That's not easy to admit but it is the truth.
I got to the aid station past the normal cutoff and was told they were giving fifteen extra minutes. I honestly don't remember much of that aid station as I had not been able to drink or eat anything for the last two hours. I staggered through and was mostly thinking about how there was no way I would make the half-pipe cutoff. More silly defeat thoughts. My crew got me through, they were awesome as usual. Then I struggled out onto the road and puked some more.
Upon getting to tree line with no physical chance of making the cutoff I figured I would just stop and catch a ride there. Teh wifey had other ideas. She was not going to let me give up on myself even if it was only a symbolic gesture. We had a discussion and eventually I relented. There would be no voluntary DNF only a missed cut off. At the time I didn't like the idea much but sitting here now I am of course very thankful for her insistent support. I suppose some may have thought of her as being a bit rough, but it was exactly the kind of love I needed at the moment.
As I pushed up the last few miles to half-pipe I ran into a lady I had met during my first attempt. She was the one who saw me go off course and had been futilely yelling at me to come the other way (I had my headphones in at the time.) We reminisced about that and pushed through the hot dusty trail. We saw some folks who had been ahead of us walking back towards Tree Line and were told they had been directed to walk that way after being cutoff. That was a bit concerning as I didn't really feel like running all that way only to have to walk back. Eventually I got the scissors applied to my band after missing the cutoff and got a ride from my lovely crew.
I suppose there is not much to say at this point other than a big thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. I'm sorry I didn't produce a better result. I wouldn't say I feel this race is impossible or that I will never try again, but I do know it will take a significantly more comprehensive and thorough preparation effort before I will consider signing up again.
Party on Garth.