Thursday, August 22, 2013

Leadville 100

Many people would say that long distance running is an individual sport, but when you plan on running 100 miles it is a full team event and your success depends on your crew and pacers even though they get very little credit or appreciation. 

This was an awesome year to run the Leadville 100.  Not only did both Sean and I have awesome crews and pacers that would be out there supporting us, but a huge number of the Runner's Roost teams were either running, pacing, crewing, or cheering out there. 

The Runner's Roost Crew who ran the 100 included:  Abby McQueeney Penamonte, Corky Dean, Philip J Snyder, Amy O'Connell, Becca Hall, Sean and Laura Wetstine, David Clark, Laurie Nakauchi, Ben Reeves, Seth Spooter Kelly, Donnie Haubert, Chris Sullivan, Oza Klanjsek, Junko Kazukawa, Nick Lang,  and Trevor Williams. (collage by Amy O'Connell)

We headed up to Leadville on Thursday to acclimate as well as to do the medical check in and packet pickup.   The medical check is pretty low key, they basically make sure you fill out a survey about any medical conditions or allergies you have,  and any medications you take and then weigh you so they can evaluate if you are fueling and hydrating properly on the course.  The next weigh in will be at the 50 mile mark at Winfield and then they do a final weigh in after you finish.  In the past, they have held people and made them eat or drink at Winfield if their weight dropped more than 6%.  This year, they promised that they would not do that, but that they were just weighing people for a study on ultra running and fueling/hydration. 

Packet Pickup Security Pup.  We have matching paws. 

Friday, there was a mandatory meeting to inform the runners about risks on the course as well as any changes for the crews.  They did their usual motivational speech where you repeat "I commit, I will not quit." 

Dr. John gives his speech every year about drinking when thirsty and not overhydrating, eating enough sugar, avoiding ibuprofen to prevent kidney failure, avoiding getting struck by lightening, and having proper gear in case of rain or cold. 

Here is most of the Roost crew the day before the race.  Luckily, Nick did not pull a muscle carrying me on his shoulders.  That would have been the dumbest injury before the LT100 ever.  


The race started at 4am Saturday morning. We got up at 2am and got ready and ate some breakfast before the race and then headed over to the starting line. 

Starting Line

The race runs from downtown Leadville on a gravel road to Turquoise lake.  You run on the North East side of Turquoise Lake to Mayqueen Campground.  From there you take Colorado Trail segment 10 until you get to Hagerman Road over Sugarloafin Pass.  You follow the rough eroded and rocky dirt road down the quad busting hill to Fish Hatchery and then run on the most evil part of the race - the road- for what feels like an eternity.  Eventually, you end up on a gravel road and find yourself back on the Colorado Trail, you pass the turnoff for Mt. Elbert and keep going to Twin Lakes.  From Twin Lakes you head through the marsh and across a river and climb Hope pass and then descend a very slippery and steep singletrack trail to Winfield.  Easy as that, and then you turn around and head back to the start. 

The crew has the most stressful job.  Their job is to predict what the runner will need and to get to the aid stations at the appropriate time with the appropriate gear.  This year, traffic and parking were worse than ever and they often had to run or walk to you carrying whatever they thought you would need.   Even though this was my 2nd year doing this race, I couldn't fully predict what I would need at each point in the race.  There are lots of variables: Will it be raining on the top of hope pass?  Is one handheld water bottle enough for this segment? Do I need warm clothing for this segment? Will poles help me climb this mountain?  Do I need to wear a headlamp for this section or will I get back in daylight?  What kind of nutrition will I need?  Should I change my shoes?   The safe answer is to always have more than you think you will need, but it also weighs you down and over 100 miles it becomes a drag.  

Sean Smiling and Running

Sean's Pit Crew: massage, hydration etc. 
One of the highlights of the 2nd 50 miles is that you can have pacers.  They are only supposed to change at official aid stations so most people have about 4 pacers.   Some rock star pacers do the whole 5omiles.   Nobody likes me that much that they would want to stay with me that long. :)  The pacer's job is to make sure you keep eating and drinking, carry your gear, keep you on the trail, keep you moving when you want to quit, and get help if you are having a medical crisis. 

Sean and I both had big goals for the day. Sean wanted to get sub 20 hours and I wanted to get sub 25 hours.  Sean started out with a more aggressive pace than last year and then  bonked and then tried to hold on for dear life until he bounced back again.

I tried to run a very conservative pace.  It was going well until I got to Hagerman pass and then my back started hurting and then the sciatica started.  I kept trying to stretch and to get my back to pop.  Then I realized that my knees were really bugging me when I was trying to run downhill.  I was nervous because last year I had knee pain whenever I ran downhill starting at mile 20.   One of the keys to being successful in this race is to hike uphill well and to be able to run efficiently downhill without trashing your quads.  

The one thing with ultras is that if you feel good it will end soon and if you feel bad it will also end soon.  I got to Twin Lakes  at mile 40 and was excited for hope pass.  The highlight of the race for me is the water crossings and the llamas at Hopeless aid station.   I will admit that I was excited to hike uphill just to avoid having to run downhill for a while. 

Climbing over Hope Pass.

Somehow, by time I was done with the ascent and descent and ascent and descent again over Hope my knees felt as good as knew.  I felt the best I had felt the entire race from mile 60-93.  Once it got dark, I did do quite a bit of hiking because I was getting clumsier and kept tripping on rocks.  My toes were killing me by then from kicking rocks all day and I knew I had a nice blister going between my toes. 

I was a little behind schedule when I got to Mayqueen on the way back and was hoping to still break 25 hours, although it would have meant that I ran the last 14 miles in 2:20 which is challenging at the end of 100 miles in the dark.  I was feeling great leaving Mayqueen but had been slacking on the nutrition because the finish line was so close.  By time I got to the Boat Launch at 7 miles from the finish my body started shutting down and I started shivering.  I was still running in my tank top and shorts because I had been so warm and was in too much of a hurry to make sure I had an extra shirt or jacket.  I knew it was getting bad so I started begging for clothing.  First I took my pacers long sleeve shirt, then 2 plastic bags, a hat, and gloves from another pacer, then a sweater and a sweatshirt from a guy driving by.  We were also using peoples phones to try to get a hold of my crew so they could meet us with more clothing.  I started blacking out and weaving around the road.  I continued the death trudge toward the finish and finally warmed up about 2 miles from the finish.  By then running seemed to be slower than walking.  I walked most of the way until I go to the top of the hill and then ran in to the finish. 

Sean finished in 23:08 more than 1 hour faster than last year and I finished in 26:22 three hours faster than last year.  Neither one of us met our goals, but we did get nice PRs and Sean got another big buckle. 

Sean finishing with his pacer Jared Conlin. 

Sean and his Crew

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture with all of my Crew and Pacers.  My rock star team consisted of Heather Alvarado, Dan Archuleta, Cindy DeMarco, Eric Hislop, John Shea, Kathy Shea, and Barkley.  Thank you guys for everything! You were awesome!

Team Archurado

Sean and his big buckle. 

Blister aftermath
Sean's Cankles
Marinating in Turquoise Lake
Marinating  in Turquoise Lake  
We seem to be recovering faster this year.  Last year we had severe knee pain after the race, but this year we both just have some ankle pain.  Marinating in Turquoise lake did wonders for our muscle pain; now if only the ankle pain would go away so we can get back to running again. 

Huron Peak and Leadville 10K

We went up to Leadville 8/10-11 for a little high altitude taper for the Leadville 100.  We left Saturday morning and drove to Huron Peak.  After some 4wheel driving we made it to the trailhead at about 3pm.  We brought Barkley along to ensure that we didn't work too hard.   We decided to hike it to save our legs for the 10k the next day as well as to ensure we tapered for the LT100. 


Pika wants a Clif bar

Barkley did awesome on the hike, he had me beat especially on the  technical portions.  He can jump 3x his height and never seems to get tired.

We were getting close to the top and saw a couple clouds in the distance.  We got to the top and signed the register and took pictures. 

As soon as Sean took his phone off airplane mode, we noticed a weird buzzing sound.  Sean looked at me and my hair was standing straight up and we realized we were in the middle of a lightening storm.  So we took off as fast as we could and ran down the mountain.  It started to hail/snow/sleet and it got a little slick as we ran down the mountain. 


Muddy Little Buddy

Barkley did awesome.  He did better on the 14er than I did both climbing up and running downhill.  Barkley's only complaint was that we didn't let him eat the pikas and marmots taunting him. 

Leadville 10K

Sunday we went to town to run the 10K which started at noon.  The 10K is one of the events required of the Leadmen and it is the day after the 100mile bike ride and 6 days before the 100mile run.  Basically, it just takes away one recovery day from the Leadmen.  

In spite of trying to take it easy on Huron the day before, our quads were sore from running downhill.  I can't imagine what it feels like to have done the 100 mile bike the day before especially knowing that I would be doing a 100mile run in 6 days.  

The Leadville 10K course is the 1st and last 3miles of the 100mile run.  It starts downtown and then mainly heads downhill and then turns around to climb the hill to the finish.  Last year when I ran the 100mile course I thought I was just tired and wimpy on the way back to the finish.  But it definitely is a hill even in a 10K.

Turns out, I placed pretty well and got 2nd in my age group.   

After the race, we were sure that we needed to get serious about the taper.  The next day both of our calves and quads were sore and we were sure we had done too much over the weekend. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Silver Rush 50 2013

Round 2 with the Silver Rush 50

This was Sean's 4th 50 miler and my 2nd.  Clearly I have been slacking.

Here is a link to our race review from last year with more details about the course.

Sean's ultimate goal was to run it in under 9 hours this year.  I didn't really set a time goal before the race started, but I was hoping to not rupture my Achilles or further injure it and to beat my time from last year. 

Many of you know that both Sean and I have had some Achilles tendonitis issues for the last couple weeks.  Sean's Achilles tendonitis was from lacing his shoes too tight and the shoe putting pressure on the tendon.  Mine has been going on for years- I will jabber about it later. 

Surprisingly, my Achilles pain was finally almost gone before the race started.  I joked that the crash landing off of my bike on Friday on the way home from work cured me, but actually I think it must have been the change in my shoes. My bike looks like it got more injured than I did; I just had some bruises. 

Sean thinks I have pretty legs, I think he is smoking something.
The shoe change: Sean just bought me the Mizuno Ferus shoes on Wednesday night after run club.  My Achilles issues are always related to my lovely Haglund's deformities and bursas that irritate the insertion of my Achilles.

Haglund's Deformity

That isn't actually my foot, but that is pretty much what my heels look like.  The only real treatment options for the condition are wearing backless shoes, orthotics, soft heel countered shoes, heel counters that angle properly, cutting holes in the backs of your shoes,  anti-inflammatories, ice, steroids, steroid injections (controversial), heel lifts, stretching/night splints, or surgery.  I have tried pretty much everything except for surgery.   Surgery is always the last option and a big decision.  There are many risks with that surgery and I won't be having it done until I can no longer manage it.   Anyway, the angle of the soft heel cup and possibly the fact that the shoes are big enough that I can scoot forward in the shoes so my heels don't touch the backs seems to be helping and I had very little pain during the race or after.

If you find me running in these shoes in the future you will know why.

Luna Leadville Hiking Sandals
Oh yah, the race.  So Mike Aish, the winner of Leadville's SilverRush 50 last year and former Olympian volunteered to pace Sean to get him a sub 9 hour time.   (We met Mike the night before at dinner at a friend's cabin- that was one of the most ridiculously nice offers we have ever received- not sure why Mike has had some bad press previously- but that is not at all what we experienced.)  When he offered to pace Sean, we didn't really know much about him, Sean knew how he had finished last year but that was it.  Mike was extremely humble and never even mentioned anything he had accomplished in his life. 

Here is a neat video about Mike from last year.

Mike had done a 30ish mile run the day before up Mt. Albert and over Hope Pass and was doing the SilverRush mainly as a training run for the LT100 this year.   Mike got the job done and got Sean to the finish line 6 minutes early in spite of his achilles tendonitis and respiratory cold.

Anyway, I think that Mike Aish will do really well at the 100 and he is a great guy as well.  

I ran with Sean's best friend Zack.  We had an awesome time chatting and the time flew by.   We kept thinking that Sean was missing out on the fun run.  I ended up losing Zack at about mile 37 and then the miles started to drag to the finish. I ended up getting to the finish line by making myself run at least 100 steps before I stopped to walk for 30 steps.  It was slow and painful, but I did eventually make it to the finish line. 

As always, I questioned the distance, Zack's Garmin Fenix watch said 48.03 and 23.5 miles at the half way point.  My GPS said that I need to run faster if I expect to run 50 mile races with it.   

photo by JeremyEbel

Sean took off 55 minutes from last year and I took off 49 minutes.  See, I am totally slacking. 

Thanks to the Runner's Roost Crew and all our friends for being out there.  Congratulations to all who ran and toughed out the rain, lightening, the hail, and the terrain. Congratulations to all those who made valiant attempts, but didn't get the chance to finish.  It was awesome to see so many friends out there.  Congratulations to Mike Aish, Leila, Ryan L, Barefoot Alex, Hawaiian Shirt Ray, Zack L, Amy O, Dana K, Woody, Katie O, Trevor W., Alex R., Junko, Oza K., Will L., Cindy D., Phil K., and Amanda H and everyone else I forgot.   Thank you Eddie R, Marissa M, Cory L, Allisa L, Milan K, Margo K, Adrian K, Erin R, Tony D., Jeremy E, Sully, the mustache crew, and Zack's parents for all your support out there.