Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Leadville 100 race report

 Leadville 100 run.

I'm pain, I'm hope, I'm suffer
Ain't no mercy there for me 
Do you bury me when I'm gone 
Do you teach me when I'm here 
Just as soon as I belong 
Then it's time I disappear


 10th place male.
11th over-all. Tina Lewis is a bad-ass!
1st Leadman/ new course record.

My pacer, Tim Long's, race report.

This picture could easily be all I need to post.

This was taken heading out of Twin Lakes inbound at mile 60 by Rob Timko. At this point in the race I had lost the Leadman... something that I had worked for since last November. The reason that my bib number was 101 is that I was the very first person to enter Leadman. I paid the entry fee just seconds after registration opened. Then I woke up the next morning and headed out in the dark with a headlamp and I got to work.
 The first race was the marathon. I was fit and I wanted to put a point on my Leadman bid. I ran well and finished ~25:00 ahead of the next Leadman. I Googled the second place guy, Troy Howard, and I got a slap in the face. When I thought about doing Leadman I looked at the past results and arrogantly thought that I would easily crush it and take the record with little effort. My ego was knocked down a few thousand notches when I saw that Troy had not only beaten me at last years Leadville 100 bike... but he is a far more accomplished ultrarunner than me! At the Silver Rush 50 he put time in to me. At the 100 bike he crushed me and took back all the time and took the lead.
 The 10k on the Sunday before the 100 run was certainly a pivotal point. I hate racing with passion... but when I'm motivated to race, I race with passion. I took a huge risk and ran very hard to take back the lead by just over 3 minutes heading in to a 100 mile run where 3 minutes isn't even counted. But I needed this 10k, and the lead, for my head. I was still sore in my calves and hamstrings when the gun went off for the 100 run... but my mind was in a great place which will always trump the physical.
 Saturday 3:00am.
 I woke up a few minutes before the alarm and had my coffee. No food, no calories. My stomach was in knots as usual and I tried to just relax. I walked down to the start in the dark with visions of the Hawaii Ironman in my head. Visions of walking by the big Banyon Tree on Alii Drive in balmy, humid air were replaced with pine trees and a cold chill. I felt amazing and was ready to get going.
My hydration sponsor... a random dumpster and Duct Tape. Photo: Rob Timko
Photo: Rob Timko
 The start...
I started up front (white shorts) wanting to place myself well early.
Photo Rob TImko
Photo: Rob Timko
Not start fast, but definitely be in the mix. Very relaxed and easy to Mayqueen and I felt great, I could see the lead guys. I ate a Powerbar (vanilla) plus 2 bottles of maltodextrin with 100g of carbohydrate (1040 calories) to Mayqueen. I kept up with ~400-600 calories an hour for the remainder of the race.
 Up Hagerman... whatever.
  Down Powerline I started to feel sharp twinges in my quads and hips which freaked me out. Begin the self doubt. By the bottom of Powerline I was definitely limping. I caught my friend Scott Jaime which definitely lifted my spirits. Scott is as solid as they come, if I was with him then I was doing well. 

I'm in white in the back
In to Fish Hatchery and on to the 'long' road section.

Scott with his usual big smile! Me in white just behind.  Photo: Megan Hicks of irunfar
 My energy was awesome but my quads and hips were crazy tight. Every downhill caused sharp pain in my legs. The section from Fish Hatch to Twin Lakes is beautiful with rolling jeep roads and single track. I was struggling through here but eventually reconnected again with Scott Jaime. He was struggling with sciatic pain (I've had this same pain and it's nearly impossible to function) yet he was SO positive still. Here's a bad-ass runner in pain and when I catch him he has nothing but positive affirmations for me. I told him my quads were shit and he said "Don't worry! They'll come back! Stick with it!" His comments really stuck with me and gave me a lot of hope. Thank you Scott!! Rolling in to Twin Lakes I had to basically walk the steep downhills, every step was miserable and I was only at mile 40... 60 fucking miles to go!?
Walking in to Twin Lakes

With my eventual pacer Tim. Photo credit: Luke Crespin
Talking to Ben and Liv at mile 40. I got so much energy from seeing my boys, enough to fight some more for sure.

My awesome wife and kids. 
 Ugh... the hardest 20 miles of the course were in front of me. Up the front of Hope Pass I felt OK. I had my hike on and was content to just cruise and conserve. Down the back side I could barely run, my quads and hips were locking up and I was happy to finally see the new section of the course which was rolling/ flat. I came down in to Winfield feeling relieved to have just hit halfway, although I was WAY off my goal splits... I hadn't seen Troy yet.
 I picked up my pacer Tim Long at Winfield. I had been looking forward to this moment. Tim is just amazing on every front. A solid person and a solid runner... and I'm very hard to impress. I knew that my day would turn around the second he joined me... I was wrong. We headed back up out of Winfield and saw my danger man Troy coming in about ~6:00 back. Tim and I got chatty and completely missed the turn up the trail, a very well, overly marked turn! We ran for nearly a half mile before we realized that we were off course. Tim had never seen this part of the course but I had JUST RUN IT! Totally stupid mistake on my part. We turned around and ran for what seemed forever back to the turn... it ended up being a 9:00 loss and although we couldn't be certain we thought that now Troy was in the lead. This was only the beginning of the worst.
 Up from Winfield to the top of Hope Pass absolutely demoralized me. I was dizzy, stumbling, taking breaks every chance I could. I told Tim that I was done. The thought of being able to run another ~45 miles was unimaginable. And Tims response? Laughter. Laughing AT me. This is something that I will never forget... he actually thought it was funny that I thought I couldn't still win because he so completely knew that I could. This was amazing to me and it wouldn't hit me until later.
 Near the top I looked back and saw Tina Lewis running like a goat up Hope Pass... amazing! I got to meet her before the race and she's just awesome. Tina went on to crush the field (guys included!) to one of the fastest times ever at Leadville.
 I made it over Hope and down to the Hopeless aid station where it's impossible to feel bad. The Hopeless aid station is a surreal, fairy-tale place.

The volunteers are so happy and enthusiastic to help. Tim and I spent a fairly long time here stretching and getting in much needed fuel. The Ramen soup was so good and the feel of the place made me want to stay and just hang out. We started down very slowly. I was hobbling along and at times Tim was walking as fast as I was running. Every single step shot pain through my quads and hips... EVERY step. People were blowing by us like we were standing still. Down Hope in to Twin lakes...

 Twin Lakes Mile 60
 We got word that Troy had put 24:00 in to me over just 10 miles of Hope Pass. Ouch. 24:00 isn't a huge amount of time with 40 miles remaining, but this was Troy Howard. It was very difficult to stay positive about winning Leadman, and to be honest I was very happy for Troy. The guy didn't just half-ass Leadman and he's a crazy solid athlete. If I lost then I wanted to lose to someone that I respect tremendously.
  
 As we headed out of Twin Lakes Tim suggested we sprint up the ridiculous 40% grade to "make it look good". Laughter was my response as he choked down ate his cheese and ham wrap. A few minutes later he would be flicking cheese in to the forest wondering why he even tried to eat it. We hiked much of the climb out of Twin Lakes as I pounded fuel and tried to consider what I could take back from Troy on the flats. My legs never really felt good, but they stopped feeling horrible and we started to roll for the next ~10 miles. Long stretches of 7:30 miles with tons of positive talk and thoughts. Things started to snowball as I finally realized that my legs were manageable, very painful but I could deal with it and my mental state started to come back. Tim would check his GPS and tell me that we were putting 1 minute a mile in to everyone on course right now, maybe more. At times we were running quite fast. I was anxious for a time split and I wouldn't get a good one until Fish Hatchery so I pushed as hard as I could.

Fish Hatchery Mile 77:

Sir Howard... bad-ass.
 I got a time check at Fish from irunfars Bryon Powell that Troy had left ~7:00 ahead of us. We had done it! In the last 17 miles we had taken back 17:00! God it was good to hear that. But even more telling was that Troy had spent a very long time at the aid station. I stopped for less than a minute to fuel and grab a warm hat and a light. Now the hunt began. Tim and I thought for sure that Troy would put another ~5-10 minutes on us on Powerline, climbing is his thing. We caught a couple of runners at the base of Powerline and looked up to see two guys on the first switchback, maybe 3:00 up... it was Troy. We power hiked the steeps and ran the not-so-steeps and very quickly we caught the two guys. We tried to be patient and just sit back ~50 meters. Tim knows how good Troy is and was very cautious about passing him too soon. I was like a dog on a leash with Tim straining to hold me back. I remember him saying that if it came down to the last few miles that Troy would run on bloody stumps to win... so I shut my mouth and waited. Eventually one of them looked back and saw us and at that point Tim yelled "Is one of you Troy!?" Nice... very subtle Tim! Troy turned around and replied and we bridged up to them.
 It was really cool to meet up with these guys, with out a doubt the greatest moment in this entire series. Here we are out on a completely desolate stretch of track, exhausted, fighting just to move, coming face to face with an incredible competitor. Troy just gave me a huge grin and extended a hand and said "Nice work! Congratulations." I'll never forget that.
 We moved past and tried to be conservative. It would have been so easy to hammer as we were both jacked up from the pass, but at this point we still had over 20 miles to go. Jog on the flats and downs and fast hike on the ups. At this point we all had our head lamps on so we were able see anyone behind us. Dropping down on to Hagerman Pass road we had ~5:00 on the next headlamp.

 Mayqueen Mile 87:
 The last time I had seen my wife was at Fish Hatchery and I was ~7:00 behind Troy... running in to Mayqueen I was super excited to let her see where I was. My wife is the most amazing support and me doing well, or bad, affects her tremendously. I wanted to get to Mayqueen mostly to put her mind at ease.
 Mayqueen in 2010 was my undoing. I foolishly denied warm clothes and it cost me over 1:30 in time due to hypothermia. This time I made sure to almost overdress and it worked out perfectly. Tim and I ran very well for the remaining 13 miles, fast hiking the ups and running everything else. We had been yo-yoing with Liza Howard since Mayqueen and we had her lights behind us much of the time, but then they disappeared for a while. Once we hit the Boulevard there were lights behind us again and I was paranoid that Troy had come back, not really an unrealistic scenario, so I pushed every chance I could just to make sure... even though those lights were over a mile behind... my mind had lost the ability to rationalize. Tim was solid for me here as he's great with numbers. His maths had it as a near impossibility that Troy could come back here.

 On to 6th Street and the final mile. We had rented a house near the finish line, so my mom was waiting by the side of the road and I stopped to hug her and tell her how much I love her. Then Tim and I ran down the final stretch reveling in what we accomplished. The past ~10 months of training, focus and sacrifice were coming to an end and I made extra, extra sure to feel this. What I felt was a bit of pride, a bit of joy, and a  TON of satisfaction. Satisfied. That word kind of sums it all up. You could not have scripted the way the Leadman played out. Back and forth with basically a dead tie heading in to a 100 mile run. Then on the day neither Troy nor I truly melted down. We were both nearly equal and strong (considering the fatigue of the previous weekend) with the main difference being the timing of our bad patches happening at different times. Mine was early... his was late which made the difference.


 Thank you SOOOO much to my amazing wife for putting up with my selfishness and sacrificing for me. Jo has been my rock for over 12 years now... there's a reason I have my wedding band tattooed on my finger.
  My sister drove 12 hours to be part of the crew (again) and it was great to see her out on the course and she did so much to make the day happen.
 My kids. Although they don't get it... they sacrificed with out a choice. All the days I got up at 3:00am to run, that took away energy that I could have spent on them instead. Never again.
 And my pacer, Tim Long. I can't thank him enough. The guy is just so solid across the board. I have avoided even considering what the result would have been had he not paced me, certainly it would not have been as good. Huge thanks to you Tim!

 And of course thank you to YOU. The support and good words I get from you guys really does come in to play. I appreciate very much my followers and your comments give me good energy!

 That's all I have to say about that.   

50 comments:

  1. So cool to see you reveling in the success...and the moment. You earned it. Congratulations.

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  2. Thank you Jim! Troy really did make my Leadman experience what it was. Had I easily won it wouldn't have been half the race it was.

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  3. righteous. this has been great to follow. thanks and way to go!

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  4. That pic cracks me up, can't stop laughing.

    Congrats!

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  5. A real race report? No trips to the ER? Smiles in every picture? Who is this? You've changed man...or maybe just peeled back a layer. Its all good.

    People often say what you said at the end...about choosing time away from family and not doing that again. I've said it. Feels selfish at times. Its that mental crutch when you are running and telling yourself that you should be doing something else. But I find its more about quality than quantity. Your family wants you to be happy. If this activity does that, then you will be better for it and so will they. Your time with them will mean more. Continue to integrate them into it. And when you aren't there, your kids will be bragging about how their Dad is a bad ass.

    What's next? I will give you a few days. But it better not be fishing because that is for wussies, not bad asses.

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  6. Justin- I know! It's just the best.

    Brandon- Great stuff my friend. I could have expounded on my feelings of being 'satisfied' in the last mile. I've been at this for a long time. 17 years I've been chasing goals and I never felt satisfied. Coming down 6th Street on Saturday though I really felt a finality to the huge push. Absolutely I will continue with new goals, but I don't feel the need to chase anything any more. Probably Mt Evans again, maybe Pikes Ascent next year? The 400 on the track? And hell ya I'll be fishing my ass off with my boys :) It may not be bad-ass but it is definitely sweet.

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  7. Congrats Tim, the write-up gave me chills. As someone who has followed you for a long time and communicated with you occasionally, I am very happy for you. Great job, you made all your lurker followers proud!

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  8. Hey Tim,
    Couldnt be happier for you to read how this all played out. Laughed out loud readign it in my office at work, getting a little misty near the end. What a ride you've taken us all on through these posts. Thanks. Congrats again.

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  9. Great race report, great blog, great podcast and great run. Congrats! I was vacationing in Colorado the weekend before the race but had to go back to the East coast on the same Saturday, but followed along on iRunFar's Twitter stream. I was up till late to see "Lunco" come in and secure the Leadman. Went out for a MAF run the next day to celebrate.

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  10. Excellent! It was a real pleasure to have met you the day prior to the race then see you go through each of the aid stations. I truly enjoyed being out there and watch your race unfold as much as attending to my pacing duties for my runner. Great report, as well!

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  11. Great Job Tim!! Way to take care of business. I've learned a lot from your training and in return feel like I'm better off all the way around. it's been fun for me and my family to follow since we witnessed your not so fortunate ending to Silver Rush last summer! Keep doing what makes you happy and the rest will take care of itself.

    James

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  12. Good for you! Congrats. Excellent way to put it- satisfied, dont have the need to chase anything anymore. You are amazing and I think we all learn something about ourselves when we read you posts.

    Thanks Lucho

    - Long time lurker

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  13. Proud of you in so many ways Tim. Not about the result, but about the process. Now you can turn to absolutely dominating the master's nation in shorter-distance races :)

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  14. I meant "Lucho" of course..., not "Lunco".

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  15. COACH!!!! So proud of you- I have thought of you so often these past few months. you RACED! good on you.

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  16. When they make a movie about this, the climax will be when you guys go eye to eye there at 80 miles on Powerline.

    Hmmm ... lesee, who plays Lucho? I think Mickey Rourke might do it. John Turturro for Tim Long.

    I got your Pez dispenser. Seriously.

    Well done.

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  17. that was gz in that last comment.

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  18. Solid race Tim.
    Your comeback was nothing but impressive. I have no right to pass you in a race, I thought I was going to be 5 dollars richer! When you came screaming by after Twin Lake, I knew the race was on. Nice job!
    -T

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  19. Thank you all for the good word!

    GZ- I'm thinking Thomas Jane (google his movies). Thank you my friend.

    Todd- You FLEW by me on Hope! You were solid on the day man, way to go!
    And I'm very happy to have cost you $5 :) First chance I get I will buy you a beer (or three) to pay you back.

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  20. Thank you Eric! Yes, I feel like I know you. Thank you for following and being here!

    Dad who is not fat- I actually saw a license plate in Leadville that read "fatdad" but I didn't have a camera! I was so bummed. Thanks!

    Jake- Awesome! I hope your vacation was great. Too bad you couldn't have stayed just one more day!

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  21. You achieved your goal and Troy missed his. But you both are connected in that through these races you brought out the best in each other. Connors / McEnroe. Leonard / Haggler. Magic / Bird. Lucho / Howard. It is the fiercest competitors in sport that make us realize that our biggest adversaries can complete who we are. Congrats to you both! - Gary D

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  22. GZ is right, this story is better than Duel in the Sun Boston Marahton stuff! Seriously great race, congratulations - I am truly inspired!

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  23. YOU are one bad ass dood! I knew I was in good company running with you! Always smart, always! It was such a pleasure to run with you and then watch you and Troy race back to Leadville. What an amazing thing to watch! And what an amazing summer you have had! Rest up and I will buy you a beer or 4.

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  24. John Tuturro plays me, GZ? Wow, thanks a lot. Nobody can play me. I guarantee it.

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  25. Great job Lucho, hell of a run!
    AZK

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  26. Tim, you crushed it. Psyched for you.

    ~stu

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  27. Gary D- Very cool comment man. Thank you!

    Scott- Absolutely! I would be honored to have a few (or 4 or 6) nice IPAs with you! You played a role in my day and I'll always remember Leadman with you in it.

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  28. What a journey...I think back to the video of you riding tons of vert in freezing temperatures speaking into the camera 'I'm winning Leadman right now'. The hole in your elbow large enough to hold a couple gels, and so on...

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  29. This race report feels so "right". There clearly comes a moment in our lives when we really know that we're in the right place. This was truly everything you've worked for all if these years! The tri's, marathon's, this was really "it". It tested you (I do have to wonder about the 3 minutes you gained in the 10k, truly tested you in the 100 miler), in the way you've always needed and wanted to be tested. Seeing your boys, your wife, your family...what an incredible moment and experience. You will have this day the rest of your life, you deserve it! And, the race between you and Troy does make "Duel in the Sun" look like a walk in the park!

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  30. Congratulations from Spain Lucho!!! You also have followers here. Enhorabuena!!!

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  31. WOW! I turn my back for a year or so and you go and set a Leadman record. Congrats! I will use this VERY inspiring conquest in my own trials and tribulations this weekend in Penticton. YOU are a badass!

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  32. Lucho-
    Awesome work. I've been cheering for you the whole way. Good work on the blog and keep up with "Ask the UR" podcast.

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  33. It was easy to see from the beginning of the summer at the marathon that you were going to have a good series. Having it be a close race with another awesome athlete must make it that much more special! You both crushed it. Congrats!

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  34. Great job, after reading your blog for several years it is great to see you conquer a race, more like an EPIC conquer. Congradulation to you and your family. I am sure they are all proud of you.

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  35. Hi Lucho,

    Following your journey for the past ~6 months and then seeing you achieve your goals, strangely, brings a sense of euphoric happiness as if I achieved the goals myself. I don't even know you and I don't even run. I just happen to admire & enjoy witnessing crazy awesomeness.

    - Anon Lurker

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  36. Wow! Great job! So stoked to hear this, so happy for you.

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  37. So great to read about it, and to see the hard work paying off. Excellent, but are you sure you didn't eat any breakfast...

    http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/547278_422020371166497_1096556689_n.jpg

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  38. Awesome, inspirational job dude!!!

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  39. Thank you so, so much for all the comments. I'm sorry I can't reply to everyone! But for real, I love it and appreciate it. You all ROCK!

    Dax- Let's touch base soon man. Your post today choked me up. And eating was never so funny!

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  40. Congratulations! What an awesome feat ... or should I say "feet"! LOL So inspired by you and your constantly following through on your dreams.

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  41. I keep returning to the page to look at the photo; It captures so much.

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  42. Congrats!! That is truly an amazing performance! Loved reading this. Shared on Facebook and you now have some more fans. Maybe you need to come do a clinic in KC.

    Gene Field

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  43. Amazing work man and thanks for taking us on the journey with you. Really incredible following you through the training and now the successful completion.

    The little guys might not get it right now but one day they will, and they will be proud as hell of their dad!

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  44. Nice work. Satisfaction is a great thing. Enjoy the retirement. I will be doing the same. Enjoy that family time!

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  45. I listened to the Endurance Planet podcast on the Leadville race yesterday while doing my long run. The story made me not feel the wind and rain pouring down on me for about three hours, it was great!

    Thanks for being an inspiration, a source of wisdom and of course congratulations on Leadville! :)

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  46. This is the 1st blog post of yours I have read. WOW!! congrats on such a big accomplishment.

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