Spurred on by ultra running-bastardized lyrics ("Don't stop, keep it movin' 'til you're fixed up," I sang, even though I never really got "fixed up") to a cheesy pop song played on loop in my head literally from start to finish (20 hours and 15 minutes of J-Lo...wow), I finished the Leadville Trail 100 Run this weekend and set a new record for the Leadman Series of 36 hours, 20 minutes. Thankfully, I also thought intermittently about Wyatt saying, "Go, Daddy, go," which was particularly during the hard times, like when pacer Shane Sigle force-fed me Cheetos on the paved section coming back to Fish Hatchery. "Way to go, Trav, you just ate four Cheetos--that's awesome!" The things to which running reduces us...
Thanks dearly to my family, crew, and pacers--it really was a true team event for us! Vitargo S2 provided awesome fuel, and I also appreciate the support from GENr8Strength, Ultimate Direction, CW-X, HokaOneOne, and AYUP lights (someone on the course actually said, "Wow, you get the award for the brightest lights!"). Coach Josiah Middaugh's workouts were great (well, significantly beneficial, if not always purely "fun"), and our relationship continues to help me with my own training and endurance coaching.
I'm going back and forth between shivering, sweating, and hobbling around the house at the moment, so details will have to be brief for the moment.
After 282.3 miles of trail running and mountain biking around America’s highest incorporated city, Leadville, I'm ready for a little break. The pinnacle of the Leadville Race Series that includes the world famous Leadville 100 Mountain Bike and Trail Run races, the Leadman is a six-week event that requires athletes to keep coming back for more as they race for the lowest combined time in five events: a trail running marathon that tops at 13,186’, a 50-mile mountain biking or running race that climbs over 7,000’ on gnarly Rocky Mountain mining trails, the legendary Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race now featuring some 2,000 competitors, the “insult to injury” 10k Run the day after biking 100 miles, and, last but not least, one week later, the storied Leadville Trail 100 Run, during which, “We send you over the biggest, baddest mountains this country has to offer,” according to pre-race speaker Colt Chlouber.
Racing this many long, high altitude events at a high level over a short time tests an athlete’s commitment and asks a lot of his or her family. I’m really lucky to have a great support team, and my wife and I enjoyed camping with our kids at each of the events. My dad finished his first Leadville Trail 100 Run in 1988 when I was five, and winning Leadman is kind of a homecoming for me--it means as much as any race I’ve done. One aunt and three of my uncles, including Eric Pence, who crossed the line for the 19th time this year, have finished the LT100 Run, so I had to knock it out one of these days.
I’m just trying to show busy adults like me, who have kids and a job, that they really can follow their dreams in athletics and otherwise. Having kids is a reason to pursue greatness, not ignore it, and it’s all about making a commitment and using your time efficiently. Bob Africa and Luke Jay really pushed me out there. They are both tough competitors and excellent guys.
The Leadville Race Series, which pushes and proves founder Ken Chlouber’s idea that “You’re better than you think you are--you can do more than you think you can” is at www.leadvilleraceseries.com.
I think Tim Wagonner, who set the previous record last year, may be gunning for a return next year. I wish him luck and I think he's got a solid chance of taking the record down a notch, primarily through a faster LT100 run time, which he's shown he can do. Dave Mackey (sorry to let the cat out of the bag, buddy) has also been talking about it, and he'll be really tough to beat as well.
Some notes on the races:
Leadville Trail Marathon
3:38, 2nd overall, 1st Leadman
Low: Didn't win the race.
High: Ran hard and fast, and really let it rip at the end.
Moral: Getting kicked all night by a two-year-old in your 1975 Rancho El Rae camping trailer is actually good race prep.
|Every dad's dream moment.|
Silver Rush 50 MTB
4:07, 9th overall, 1st Leadman
Low: Went out too hard and suffered for the entire race.
High: So did everyone else. It's a brutal mountain bike race at 10,000', after all.
Moral: Don't be like everyone else, and go out easier at LT100 bike.
Leadville 100 MTB
7:32, 39th man (41st overall, if you include the two women who crushed me), 1st Leadman
Low: 17 minutes slower than 2011. But that's OK.
High: Suffered, but not needlessly. Went out very conservative, stayed consistent, and finished without really going into debt.
Moral: If running 100 miles, don't race 100 miles on the bike a week before. If you have to, hold back a bit.
Leadville 10k Run
Finished way back and got beat by a bunch of Leadmen.
Low: Took place the day after the 100 bike. Had to really control the urge to race when some other guys went harder.
High: On a rare weekend without the kids, I enjoyed a lot of good time reading and hanging out with Dad.
Moral: Figured I could go ten minutes faster in the 10k but risk going five hours slower next week in the 100 run due to pounded legs. I think I was right, and I felt fine six days later.
Leadville 100 Trail Run
20:15, 15th overall, 3rd Leadman
Low: Just the usual ultra running issues. Lots of Sportslick required in nasty places.
High: Racing with Luke and Bob, and seeing them both succeed. Finishing close enough to Bob, even after he REALLY laid it down, to win the series (Bob also broke the previous record). Seeing Uncle E reach #19, one buckle away from the 2,000 mile big one! Running my first 100 and finally joining the family club.
Vitargo S2 super-soluble carbo drink mix--fuel source for all Leadman events
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest, Jurek Essential, and Fastdraw Plus
HokaOneOne Stinson Evo shoes
CW-X compression shorts, calf sleeves, compression socks, and recovery tights
A few videos from the series: