I'm dressed in a tux, with a size 9 shoe on my 10.5 foot, keeping my posture as proper as possible, watching one of my best friends make vows before the Lord, and pain is radiating throughout my body. Ok, maybe not pain, but definitely discomfort. I've only been standing for 35, maybe 40 minutes, and it comes to me.....I'm not made to be still. I was designed to move. Simply walking down the aisle at the end of the wedding felt so good to me. I couldn't help but think of the times I've ran for hours, without even the thought of fatigue, discomfort, or relief and here I am, having to mentally keep focused.
Less than a week later, Christine and I arrive at 10,200 fasl in Leadville and my chance to see how well I can move....move up a mountain to be exact. We made our home 3 miles outside of town in a roomy tent, waking up each morning to sub 40F temperatures and the smell of camp fires. On Saturday morning, we made our way to the 6th Street Gym to check-in for the Leadville Heavy Half Marathon. Starting at 10,200 fasl and climbing another 3000 ft, this 15.5 mile race was not something I took lightly, but was excited to test my legs and lungs.
Right out of the gate, I started too fast, which has always been my problem in bike races and seems to be carrying over to running. This time though, I slowed my pace after the first mile and settled into what I felt was a sustainable speed. There was a couple guys that sped off quickly, but I kept my eyes on a majority of the lead pack the entire climb. It was interesting to see people's various strategies, as some walked the steep sections early on in the race. I felt it better to run everything down low, although at a snails pace, and was forced to hike sections up high.
I didn't stop at any of the aid stations on the climb, trying to focus on consistency in breathing, which is almost impossible at altitude. At the top, I grabbed a PowerAid and a Cliff Shot Blok, then sped down the hill. I must have gotten my second wind, as I passed a couple guys on the initial 3 miles descending. But that second wind was fleeting, as I was totally gassed on the only short climb during the second half of the race and watched those same guys trot by.
I crossed the finish line 16th, which I felt ok about. It was a great learning experience to see how my body reacted to the altitude and spurred me on to experiment with other techniques when racing a high altitude, high vertical gain race. It also showed me there's no substitute for the long run and the long run must make more of a presence in my weekly routine if I'm ever to run what I feel to be a good race.
Although the primary motive for coming to Leadville was race, the most enjoyable part of the weekend was spending time with Christine. We spent time reading and relaxing Sunday morning at Provin' Grounds Coffee and Bakery, then headed out on a nice bike ride around the old mining town. We packed up camp by noon and headed over Independence Pass, which we thought very fitting (it was July 4th)! We made quick stops in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, then were home bound. We spent the 3rd day of our long weekend (why can't I work 4 days a week every week?) trail running (man were my legs toast) and grilling (I can't believe Christine ate a bratwurst)! Here are a few pictures from the weekend.
A creek near our campsite, showing a picture of the beauty that surrounded us most of the weekend.
A side street in Leadville, with Mt. Massive looming in the background.
If only I were good enough editor to erase the cars and pavement, and replace with horses and carriages in the picture, it would take us back to the Gold Rush and the booming town of Leadville.
One of many beautiful views from Independence Pass. I remember my first time driving over this with my friend Walker. It's still hard to believe I actually live here!
Aspen.....what else can I say?
Lastly, I'll give you some insight into what was ringing in my ears during the entire Leadville Heavy Half Marathon. I actually heard the song on NPR a few months ago and it seems that it's everywhere now.