Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Adventures148 Comments

Previously.

DNF @ 86.5 Miles.

View all photos from this event. Lots of pictures of friends inside.

Pre-race

Kim (wife), Natalee (sister), and JP (friend) were my crew again this year. Natalee would take the crew chief duties once again like last year. Kim would play a supporting role. JP would help crew and then pace me from 50 to 86.5. Then Natalee would take over and run me home. That was the master plan.

Slept good all week. Slept 90 minutes total on race eve. The tank was full. After a night of rain and lightening, we awoke to 41 degree temps at 2:30 AM for a 4 AM start. But it had stopped raining. Loaded in the packed Hummer and made our way into town. They dropped us right at the start line. I wasn’t out of the car a minute before I started running into the dozens of people that I knew running the race. Accolades to everyone. I snuck down the sidewalk and jogged down 6th street until the end of the barricade. Then ran back up to the start line. Ready to go! All the dudes were there saying hi. Duncan, Timmy, Dylan, Brooks, and on. Everybody knows everybody and they knew me too. Exciting to be included. Once again, I might not deserve to start up front based on finishing results but that’s where my heart lined up.

Start to May Queen – 1:48

Whenever a race starts and they countdown, I close my eyes and calm myself. Then I press the start on the watch and go when they say. This time, my eyes were open and I could only stare down the road with total confidence. The gun went off and we were off. My totally tapered legs were ready and it was downhill for a 1/4 mile so I rolled. Brooks and I gapped the field quickly in our excitement. I climbed up 6th Street on a mission and crested the first hill. I knew my crew was waiting for me at the next corner. I was not running hard or fast, just totally comfortable and exciting to be leading the Leadville Trail 100 through the first few turns. This isn’t a major claim to fame of course. They give trophies to the people that lead at the end of the race. But I was confident enough to take a stand and lead us down and onto the Boulevard.

Brooks actually sped up when we hit the dirt and I slowed. Realizing that the theatrics were done now and it was time to work, smartly. I coasted and was gobbled into a pack. Looking around with my lights it was all the hot dogs. Timmy on my left. Duncan on my right. Dylan off the shoulder. Everyone was chatting it up. I felt like I was not at conversational pace so I back down a bit again half way down the Boulevard. I didn’t want to run solo there so the next person up was Ryan Burch (finished 6th). “Brandon, right?”, he says. Hell yeah, dude. Met the guy once before. In good company now.

Once we hit Turquoise Lake Road, I felt like I should back it down again based on my watch. Ended up running right behind eventual winner, Ryan Sandes. His Salomon crew was filming him on the road here hanging out the car window. I was off his shoulder trying to get into the frame just to mess with them. Good clean fun. They peeled off and Ryan juiced it to regain the pack. I didn’t follow. Instead I held and eventually found some new friends to create the 3nd pack. Brooks was still up front with a few followers. Then another pack with all the big names. Then my pack. A few times early along the lake people in my pack tried to overtake me. Fine, go! But they quickly ran off course and into the woods and then would rejoin and fall in behind. I was the tour guide. As we rolled toward Tabor, we found more than one runner stumbling or cursing, “Where is the fucking trail?”. I would just laugh at them and they would fall in with us. There were no boobies at Tabor. Fans are worthless.

Near the boat ramp, somebody behind said, “Brandon, love the mohawk!”. I wasn’t going to turn and asked who. “Its Wyatt!”. Sweet. Following Wyatt Hornsby for a few years via the blogs now. He big buckled last year. He was shooting for the 20 range this year. So I felt like I was in the right company. We ended up falling into silence and motored around the lake in the darkness with little emotion.

I popped out on the May Queen pavement and yelled “Fuck yeah!”. Great section. My wife was standing there with the video camera. I startled her. Wanted to stop but had business to do. Had a date with a timing mat up ahead. 1:48 to May Queen Aid Station was the split. A good 10 minutes under last year’s time with a lot less exertion I thought. The sun wasn’t up yet but I still dumped all my gear so I could greet the sunrise that would be there in minutes dressed appropriately.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

May Queen to Fish Hatchery – 3:35

Natalee guided me out of May Queen. Probably a 60 second stop. Last year it was a 0 second stop. Felt like I was doing the right thing and taking time. I ran out of May Queen alone. Kind of a downer because I had been with a group all morning so far. This let me settle into my own pace though. Started making quick work of the Colorado Trail. Passed Wyatt who was on the phone. Pizza? Popped out onto Hagerman with Wyatt on my tail. We chatted up the road a bit but then he gapped me while I was refueling. The climb up Sugarloaf brought a few more friends by me. Brendan Trimboli and I chatted for a moment. He looked so effortless. I wasn’t working too hard. But I ran every step while others around me were run/walk mixes. I walked that climb to conserve last year. Not this time. Hit the top of Sugarloaf and suddenly had a nasty side stitch. Damn it. Kept running and only lost a couple spots. Bob Sweeney pulled up next to me near the bottom and quickly told me I went out too fast again this year. I was out to prove him wrong! We ran down Powerline together stride for stride chatting the whole way. He pulled ahead of me on the pavement. That’s when Tim Long came up next to me. We did some checks on each other and ran into Fish Hatchery together. 3:30 on the clock. Lots of hooting and screaming at Fish as always. Lots of people calling my name. Felt like a rock star.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Fish Hatchery to Pipeline

This section of pavement kills most runners. I was amped for it. I put the pedal down and kept running 8 minute miles all the way.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

I could see friends like Pat Garcia back behind me and I was motivated to keep out front. My GPS watch clicked to 26.2 miles near the exit into Pipeline. I was at 4:05 on the clock with two aid station breaks. About a 4 hour marathon, at 10,000 feet, with an 11,200 mountain thrown in the middle, on trail, in the dark…hell yes. And I felt great. The Hummer was there with crew so I took the opportunity for a multiple minute stop. I wouldn’t see them all again until Twin Lakes because there is no crew access in between. Got some stuff down and washed it down with some Gatorade. Natalee walked me to the end then I was off.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Pipeline to Halfpipe – 4:53

Last year, I run/walked this section. Not this time! Kept on the run pretty solid. Felt great until I didn’t feel great. Hmmm. Pulled into Halfpipe and went right into the port-o-pot. Ah, cool. Quick crap. Nicely timed. Started coughing while sitting there and then suddenly puked up all the Gatorade. Out my mouth and nose. Yuck. Instantly felt back to 100%. Damn. Kind of stumbled out of the pot and over into the aid station and try and get some food back in me. Off again…

Halfpipe to Twin Lakes – 6:38

Had a decent run in here but walked the larger of the climbs between the Elbert ridges. Everybody in front of me was too so I didn’t feel bad. Tried to use the time to recover a bit. Pounded my water and was dry just in time for the new Mount Elbert water only station. Filled up quick and was off. Nice addition! Ran solid down to the Twin Lakes aid station and found my crew waiting. I complained about my quads being a little sore. The crew with my consent made a gametime call. They had brought my hiking poles from home and they suited me up with them. This changed my hydration from bottles to backpack. Might help me? My nemesis is up next. Hope Pass.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Twin Lakes to Hopeless

The river crossing was cold as always but I was totally ready for it this year. I knew how many streams and puddles before the river so I didn’t mess around trying to stay dry. I just dove in. No big work there. Popped out of the river and got to the trailhead. Got the sticks sized up and it was time to hike. I hadn’t really shuffled position too much in the last few hours but suddenly people were walking by me like I was standing still. We were all hiking but I was 10x slower. Mike Hinterberg came up next to me with 2 huge jugs of water. He carried on a conversation like we were on a car ride together. I could barely muster up grunts. This climb is kicking my ass again! Drat. I kept working. Took 2 pauses up the mountain to regain composure. Leila DeGrave was spotted just below me in the switchbacks. She is a big buckler too so I knew I was in good company but she was gaining fast. I was proud to be chicked by her but a bit sad for myself. I work the hills…more than most…why can’t I keep up? I can run up Mount Massive but I can’t hike this? Got to Hopeless and just passed through. I needed to be off this climb.

Hopeless to Winfield – 10:30

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

The entertainment begins. As I topped out on Hope Pass at 12,600 feet, I started to see the leaders coming up. Who will it be! Its like a front row seat to a major event…no more like being on the field! It was Ryan Sandes. He had his pacer and they were moving good. He was sweating like crazy though. Really working. 2nd was #30 and I didn’t know him. 3rd was Dylan. He gave me a shout out by name on the pass by. Wished him luck. 4th was Burch. I was really excited to see him doing well after or quick morning exchange. No pacer, he was solo. I think I said “Look at you, you motherfucker! You are four minutes behind Sandes. Roll him up!”. From there the list went on. Timmy. Duncan, etc. At 8th, it was Brendan Trimboli and his pacer Stephen Young. Stephen stopped to take my picture and Brendan exchanged a few words with me. This is key because all the other folks before him only mustered up a grunt or a name. Brendan could carry on a conversation. He looked better than everyone in front of him. So proud of that dude. Finished 11th. Saw more and more people I knew. Finally saw Brooks and Andy Henshaw and Brooks couldn’t even speak to me. He was empty, beat and just grinding. Told Andy to take care of my friend. Got to the bottom of Hope and passed by Bob Sweeney and Tim Long nearly side by side.

The road to Winfield was hot as shit. It had been nice all day but suddenly the sun was full on and temps shot way up. High 80s? Apparently, the Winfield parking was so full that they stopped cars back before the turn to Hope. Pacers and crews were walking up the road all pissy. The good news was that I only had to deal with about a dozen passing cars this year and much less dust. Normally that would have been a non-stop parade of cars. That 3 miles was long and I walked the ups and eventually walked into Winfield as JP came out to greet me near the little historic cabins out front.

Winfield – 1/2 way

Felt pretty good at Winfield. No signs of anything really wrong. Just ran 50 and was ready to run 50 more. Quitting was not even on the radar. This is a huge drop zone for folks. But looking at the clock I realized I went from sub-18 pace at May Queen, to 21 hour pace at Twin Lakes, to now being right dead center on sub-25 hour pace. No room for error.

Kim and Natalee spent a lot of time cooling me off in the chair under the tent. Wet rags on my neck. Ice in my hat. I was hot. I cleaned out my shoes from all the 50 miles of rocks I gathered. Things seemed OK for the feet but honestly I was probably distracted and should have paid more attention to them there. I was a bit dejected about my time into Winfield. I wanted to be sub 10 hours and I had missed that by a bit. David Clark came in just as I was leaving. I was glad to see him in the hunt for his big buckle as well. I was still surrounded by people with similar goals.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Winfield to Hopeless

JP and I headed out of Winfield with a mission to reach the finish in less than 25 hours. My dreams of something significantly less than that had evaporated. I was OK with that. That was the stretch goal anyway. Oh well. As we motored down the dusty road together, we got a chance to catch up on the day so far from each other’s perspective. As well as make some new bets on how today as going to play out. I was satisfied with running the flats and down here and walking the few ups just to get loose again and prepare for the return over Hope Pass. Many of my friends were still coming into Winfield. I stopped for everyone of them and chatted for 10 seconds. Giving them whatever boost I could muster up for them. Quick recaps on their days. Saw Andy Wooten, Luke Crespin, and many more that I had chatted with pre-race. Kim and Natalee finally passed us by in the Hummer. We made the turn into the campground but I told JP something wasn’t right with my feet. I sat on a rock and took off my shoes. Ouch! Both sides, on the balls of my feet, total whiteness. The skin was separating again. Last year repeating itself. I should have switched socks or shoes or something at Winfield! Too late now. My mind raced. I remembered something I learned from Tony and later was reinforced by Dr. Jeremy Rodgers. I took off my socks and stowed them in my backpack. Won’t that hurt? Not as much as the blisters once they fully develop. I knew that the heat and moisture from the socks was creating the problem. So removing them would get more air to the foot but I would have to deal with any rubbing. Let’s move.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

We hit the base of Hope and started up that gnarly climb from hell. Tons of people were still coming down so we were constantly dealing with oncoming traffic. I had the poles out and it added to the mix. It was a total slog. Felt like puking a few times but did not. Was totally out of breath like I was on the front side earlier. It wasn’t as bad as last year but I still stopped a dozen times for pauses to get my breath and calm my heart rate. Never found a rhythm. JP talked to every one that passed us in either direction. And it was a lot of people both ways. Lost places like they were going out of style. Sucked balls. Really sucked balls. The only saving grace I had was that I knew that once I crested that pass, I would be a new person just like last year. So I kept at it. More passing. People coming by that had flown in from sea level days ago and were kicking my butt. Embarrassing. I had acclimated for a whole summer. WTF!

We topped out and I started getting back to myself. My quads were a bit burnt so I was sort of stumpy into Hopeless. We stopped there for maybe 5 minutes to get some soup, GU brew, and more into me. I knew I would run non-stop to Twin Lakes so this was a needed pit stop.

Hopeless to Twin Lakes – 14:28

As promised, I got into the run, found rhythm, and moved downhill. Last year I ran too hard. This year was controlled yet quick. We rolled up a bunch of folks that had passed us on the up. It felt great. We were back in it. Even lost JP back behind me at times as I was in the zone descending. Hit the river, crossed it, then quickly were running again through the marshy fields. JP wanted to alternate in some walks but I would have none of that. I ran until I hit a chair in the Twin Lakes Aid Station. JP asked a medic to come and look at my feet as I was changing shoes. He suggested some duct tape. That was about it. The feet were holding up and the whiteness had gone way down even though they still looked bad. I was encouraged. I slipped into my ugly K-Swiss Kwickies to finish the race. I had 3 choices of shoes but I knew these were light, comfy, padded, and I could run in them. No socks. Time check put me in the mid 25 hour finish now. I gotta move to make that back up.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Twin Lakes to Halfpipe – 16:51

I was in a hurry to get moving. We had really fallen off the 25-hour pace block with that Hope Pass shit. 45+ minutes off the statistical average for that aid station. I could make that up plus its an average. So I got out of there without JP and left him back to gather our cold weather gear and supplies. I knew he could catch me on the climb. But I screwed up a minor item. I didn’t grab my watch charger. This was the spot but neither I nor the crew remembered to suit me up with it. 10 minutes into the climb, the watch beeped. Damn it. It really wasn’t a demotivator. I didn’t need it. But I wanted it. It would tell me how I was helping or hurting the pace gain each mile. So I was blind there. As we climbed up that wall of a hill out of Twin Lakes together, JP started noticing that I would hunch over when I hiked. It was causing me to breath funny. To hyperventalte to some extent. No air. I started playing with it and found that if I just even did a slow jog on the steep hill, I could get air. Came to realize that I have spent hundreds of hours adapting my body to breath efficiently while running. But I have spent about 0 hours on that same skill for hiking. When I do a 14er, I run, I don’t hike. It all made sense. But not much I could do about it now…but run. So I did. Took more exertion I suppose but I was able to find a good pace on most of the terrain and occasionally blazed the downhill rollers. We were making up great time.

JP took my bottle and I was really in the zone. We picked up another couple of dudes and we ran together. JP was talking to them and about me at points and I didn’t even respond. I wouldn’t take my eye of the ball. One word and I might be walking again. I just kept on pace. JP put his light on as it got darker. He wanted to stop and get my light out for me but I grunted “NO” and we kept moving. I could see a bit better but as it darkened I just ran right off his shoulder in his light. I must make it to Pipeline. Now. JP had me take a salt pill after I couldn’t really tell him when the last one I had was. Seemed like a good move.

We pulled into Pipeline just before 9 PM. I was super excited. We have until 5 AM to get 30 miles or so. That should be good, right? In the aid station, I slammed a cup of broth, a cup of coke, a few oranges, and moved out. It was cold now but I was still in my singlet. I put a shirt on but quickly tore it back off once I got moving again. Felt great.

Halfpipe to Pipeline

JP was getting really excited to show up at Pipeline where the girls would be waiting for us again. He felt like we were moving quick and it might shock them. I ran every step. As we turned onto Pipeline, JP took a salt pill for himself and gave me another one. I didn’t ask questions. But with JP holding my bottle, I wasn’t asking for water that often. Just not on my mind because it wasn’t on my hand. I likely gain a bit of a boost from the lack of weight to carry though.

We found the Hummer near the end of Pipeline. I was on fire…nice and warm. Running strong. Nothing can stop me now. I drank a 5 hour energy right there. Stood up, kissed my wife and was bound for Fish Hatchery. Even started singing Nine Inch Nails shit out loud…really loud…while running out of there. This is mine.

Pipeline to Fish Hatchery – 18:29

Back on the road, my pace slowed a bit. JP and I were all alone out there. I started to fell funny. When we got out past the dirt section along the road, I went to a walk. Need a minute, JP. Stomach turned over. Hmmm. He was fine with it. We had been running hard. Let’s do the run/walk stuff. Tried. Started becoming more walk than run. Just no steam. I could see Fish Hatchery in the distance. Must make it there and regroup. I asked JP what time it was because he had the only watch. He told me then I slid out my mini pace chart and saw that I was 45 minutes short on the chart for pace. Recoverable but I just worked that hard and didn’t seem to close the gap that much. Came into Fish and saw the Hummer sitting across the road in the dark. The girls were there at the back. It seemed far away. I told JP to go talk to them and I would just run up and through the checkpoint and be back. Only I can cross the mat so let me go do that.

As I tried to run up to the aid station, energy levels plummeted. I went inside the building, made the loop and came to the food table. Nothing looked great. “Have any broth?”, I asked. “Fresh in just a minute”, she said. I sat in a chair against the wall, leaned my head back, and sort of fell asleep. Power nap? Not sure. They handed me the broth and woke me up in the process. Volunteer next to me started asking me questions. “You have a pacer?” “Where is your crew?” It sounded like and felt like I was a lost boy at the mall. I got a little freaked out and stood up, told them they were outside, and I left the building. I was in another state of mind. I walked down the driveway to find JP. I needed to do something. Maybe the girls had some magic. “Where’s the Hummer?”, I asked. “They left for May Queen”, JP said. Oh fuck. I dropped down a few more notches on the energy level scale. OK. Let’s roll then. All we have to do is climb up Powerline….

Fish Hatchery to May Queen

JP and I started down the paved road to the Powerline entrance. For the first time, I started feeling cold. Give me my shirt. Give me another shirt. Give me my beanie. Give me my coat. I couldn’t put it all on fast enough. I was a walking zombie. I didn’t care to run because I knew we had a 5 mile hike to do straight up hill. Powerline has 6 false summits and climbs to 11,200 feet. Its dark and cold and its the killer of dreams at Leadville. JP stopped on the road to put his tights on before the climb. I wouldn’t do that so I continued on down into the trail and into the water crossing. Something about that moment, being alone, being cold, being sick….I barfed. 8 times. Mostly dry after the first 2. Nothing in my stomach. I spent a few minutes there, gathered myself, and started the hike. I was dizzy but I knew there was only one way to the finish. JP caught up to me and we hiked up the hill together. I wasn’t fast. Passed by a few groups who were relatively chatty. However, we did find some like minded folks feeling like shit as well. Solo dude sitting on a rock, etc.

I finally told JP, I need to sit down. Then I tried to lay down. A 20 minute nap mid-way up Powerline was just what Brandon wanted. JP knew this was not a good move so he kept haggling with me. Finally he saw me getting even colder as evidence by my huge goosebumps on my legs. So like the fucking man he is, he dressed me in my tights right there on the side of the trail. I was getting a bit warmer in those but I needed to move. As I laid there, Cole Chlouber (son of race founder, Ken) came by me. Cole ended up finishing in 25:07…7 minutes past the big buckle cutoff. I didn’t know it at the time but he was sort of my grim reaper of last chance for a big buckle passing by. However, I knew that when we left Fish Hatchery we were tight but still possible. This latest fiasco somewhere up on this mountain just did me in for my chances. It was not recoverable for a big buckle. My dream was dead.

But you are laying there on the side of the course. There is no helicopter. There is no “do over”. You have to man up and stand up and finish. So I did. I stood up and started walking up hill. In retrospect, I probably should have went back to Fish. But backtracking seemed like a major foul. We pushed forward. I kept counting false summits and just knew it would be over when it was over. I just kept stumbling along. I had one pack of shot block in my pocket. It took me 15 minutes to eat 1 of the 6 blocks in the pack. I gave up then and put them away. Once we topped out, I had some hope of a quicker descent but I was a fragile wreck. I was tripping over rocks and just resigned myself to walking it in.

My feet hurt and I stopped to clear out the rocks. I leaned back and suddenly something happened. I had a GU in my back pocket and it just exploded…into my ass crack. My butt cheeks were stuck together with gel. Oh, this is just great. I sort of didn’t care. Pile it all on. Everything is crumbling down anyway. We got onto the Colorado Trail and made the long 3 mile hike through the windy rock trail. I fell over and stumbled many times. My light was fading too. Everything was suck. I was dizzy. I could hear people at May Queen but it just took forever to get there.

We popped out at the Timberline trailhead near May Queen. I later learned that this section took us over 4 and a half hours to complete. I ran every step of it hours ago in less than 90 minutes. I stumbled like a drunk zombie down the road and passed my parked Hummer. The girls were up at the aid station. I was hugging myself to keep warm. JP put his arm around me. Told me that he was going to get me warmed up and feeling great. As we approached the aid station where the food was, Natalee started waving us in. JP ignored her and walked me straight over to a closed/sealed tent…the med tent.


He walked me inside and gave them a quick synopsis. I stood there like a zombie and when they pointed to a cot with a sleeping bag on it, I collapsed into it. They zipped me up in the bag, head included. I started shaking uncontrollably. Maybe I was before, but I felt it now. I was hypothermic. I could hear them getting the low down from JP above me faintly while I drifted in and out a bit. When did he drink last? Eat last? All the answers were bad. Natalee leaned into the bag and gave me a kiss on the face somewhere. I think she was crying. I later learned that she lost it when I turned into the med tent. She had been recalculating our split meticulously and knew something was up. When she saw the med tent, it confirmed her fears. Its a long day and she was very emotionally tied to the event, outcome, me, whatever. Apparently, she got into a fight with Kim and this point because Natalee wanted to take my bib and run the rest of the race for me. Its not rational but everyone was out of it.

Kim was asked to feed me some soup after they took all my vitals. I looked her in the eyes. Lucho told a story last year of feeling like he hurt his wife when he laid in the med tent under similar conditions post race. I tried to see what my wife’s take was. Fear? Crying? What? She was smiling. WTF? Turns out she had read all those race reports I had sent her. Tony’s infamous DNF, etc. I heard her tell someone that this happens…all the big boys DNF at some point. They think its cool. And she knew that nobody had died…yet. Such a confidence booster for me. I ended up laying there for about a 1/2 hour. They would constantly wake me up and ask my name, where I was, and what time it was. I knew the answers. But the time question was a bit harder to answer because it stung inside. 4 AM was the last answer I gave. They were prepared to release me. I had not taken the IV that they offered me because that ends your race. So I was actually free to continue as I pleased. However, I looked at my beaten and exhausted crew. My legs were shaking. It was 13.5 miles to the finish for a small buckle. JP was done pacing and it was Natalee’s turn. She had just gone though a total emotional mess. We had been up since 3 AM on this ride. Its a dark singletrack trail with no ATV (emergency vehicle) access. The sun wouldn’t be up for 2 hours. It took us 4 hours to walk that section last year with my busted feet. So with total conviction, I told them to cut my bracelet. Take me out of the race. I am done.

I will never regret that DNF decision. The prize for me was long gone that night. I regret earlier decisions along the way. I didn’t need to prove I could race 100 miles this time. I did that last year. I wanted to race it harder and much faster. I had nothing left to prove or that I could prove. Time was up.

My crew was able to bring my Hummer into May Queen and load me up into the car. Given the parking madness there, this was an amazing feat in itself. We drove down the dark roads the 7 miles back to home. Just before the house, we could see runners scampering onto the Boulevard. It was getting close to 5 AM and these guys were trying to book it home to beat the clock for the big buckle. While I rode by them in a car headed for bed. We got back to the house and found Tim in bed in some level of pain not able to sleep. We shared stories. I took a semi-supervised shower then fell into bed. My day was done.

I awoke at 10 AM on the nose. That is the official race finish time. I could have still been out there but I was very content to be in bed with my wife alive and well and not much worse for the wear. I knew there would be mental consequences but those were for later. I made the decision to skip the awards ceremony. My parents were back in Longmont watching our kids, it was a long night, and I wanted to beat the rush of traffic out of town. I did want to congratulate my friends but that would have to come later. So with that as my excuse, we packed up and left during the ceremony…kind of a chickenshit move.

When we got home, I retold the story to my parents. Then to neighbors that came by after following me via the Internet throughout the race. I got several phone calls over the course of the day to check on my well being. We hadn’t elaborated much after the last DNF tweet. Some thought I might be in the hospital. I left too much to the imagination there I guess. I just didn’t really know what to say.

My daughter presented me with a belt buckle of my own she made.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Conclusions

Still sorting it out but basically I fucked up.

+ Nutrition: This was the heart of the matter. My calorie consumption started well but dropped off a cliff over the course of the day. Stomach off. Lucho and I talked nutrition on Sunday for a while by phone and I just don’t fuel well over 6 hours or so. I can wing (sort of?) a 50 but I can’t fake a 100. This was the overall factor on my day. I sort of fake this a bit during training because I broke my runs very evenly so I never really had big long days. Lots of medium days.

+ Pace: I went out too fast. That’s what the critics all say. Screw the critics. But they might be right. Brooks and I led side by side from the start to the Boulevard. We were talking and having the time of our lives. I was 100% acclimated and I ran comfortable from the start. Maybe not “super easy” as some would suggest you pace.

+ Hiking: I suck and I can’t breathe. You are going to hike in this race. So practice. I didn’t. I figured it wouldn’t be a game changer. It was.

+ Feet: My feet got fucked up in the water again this year on Hope. I should have done something different this year but I made the same mistake. Dumb.

+ Hypernatremia: So I ran a negative split back to Half Pipe and things were really turning around. Rolling up dozens of runners. Crew did a salt check on me and they refilled my bag. Confused me. So I took more. Oops. I had 3 s-caps in an hour. Felt funny coming into Fish. Washed it down with some broth. Too much salt. Not enough water. Textbook.

+ Hypothermia: Got cold because I stopped generating heat. Sort of an after effect of the above. People were running by in short sleeves and shorts when it was about 30 degrees on Sugarloaf. I was miserable. They were fine.

+ Pride: I let my talking get ahead of my running…again. Last year, I wanted a big buckle, and I got a small one. This year, I said I wanted a big buckle, but I really wanted sub-20 or 21 or something in that range. Sacrificed the big buckle for it. Just keep getting ahead of myself. People told me not to. I didn’t listen. Tim Long told me at my table in Leadville to play it smart this year and come back next year with my madness. I didn’t listen.

Enough?

Next Steps

So now I sit here on a self imposed running hiatus trying to figure out my next move. I ran 86 miles and other than a blister and a little quad soreness, I feel like I could line up to race tomorrow. So much for “went out too fast”. I have hurt more after marathon PRs. But I don’t know if I have the desire anymore.

Well, what do you do when you are in such a moment of clarity yet misery like I was on Powerline? You make promises to yourself. And one that I made pretty clearly was that I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN. I WILL NEVER RACE AGAIN.

Do those promises in those types of moments really mean anything? I like to think they do. When I say “DO THIS AGAIN” was it the race? Was it the way I raced? The way I prepared? The way I pushed on? What was it really? I struggle with that answer now. Never race again? Is that the right answer? Do this for enjoyment only? Racing is really fun, is it?

I am not selling my cabin in Leadville. That’s for sure. I will be back there in two weeks in fact. It will be bittersweet.

But what do I do now? My sister says she will be back if I call on her. JP says that he is racing next year himself…even after looking that misery of mine straight in the face. However, my wife and I only said a few words and the conclusion was mixed. It was clear that this race has become a sacrifice for our family. I feel like its one of the only ones I ask them to make for me. But do I really want that? Do I really want to spend another long season training for this thing? “Daddy’s out running again”. Maybe I stick to shorter stuff and refine my craft. Maybe I am getting too old for this shit.

We were watching a stand-up comedy special this past weekend pre-Leadville. He was talking about religion. He was joking that people ask for forgiveness for their sins. His response, “Your sins are the most exciting thing about you! Wear them on your sleeve.” Something about that rings true here for me. While I hang around with other ultra dudes and feel normal with them, I know this is a unique sport and I am special for being a part of it. It puts a bounce in my step. It has given me purpose. It has opened new doors. It has introduced me to new people. It has made my life different than it was before. So for me as an individual, this is “the most exciting thing about me”. Would you want to give that up?

So why would I shut the door on that because of a few bad hours? I looked that DNF in the face and took it. It doesn’t hurt. It just puzzles me. It frustrates me. Do I really have to now wait 365 days to go give it another shot? What would I do different? How would I raise the bar yet again? Thinking Matt Carpenter style here. Beat him once…never again. Big buckle…nice but I am over that one. What do I really need to feel successful at that race? I got a taste of it through the first quarter of the race this year. I felt more alive in those moments than ever before.

I have had every thought from driving to Leadville right now and running the course unsupported, to jumping in the Bear 100 next month to redeem myself, to never running ever again. All of those are great options…if you are insane or like extremes.

But I will tell you what…I will ultimately decide for myself….but you tell me. What did I do wrong? Did I have a chance? Did I get ahead of myself? Should I go for it again? Raise the stakes?

Should I get a coach…I know this guy…

Are you sick of hearing about Leadville yet or are we just getting started?

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Thanks to my wife, sister, brother-in-spirit JP! Thanks to my parents for coming to watch our kids. Thanks to my friends for the continued advice through the year. Thanks to my followers for making me feel like a rock star out there. Thanks to the Leadville crew for putting on a great race — Life Time has been positive in my book.

Next year is the 30th anniversary of the race. I guarantee I will be in Leadville in some capacity. I just need to decide if that’s as a volunteer, pacer, crew member, or the only place I feel at home…up front on the starting line leading out that race into the darkness.

  • Rob Timko

    Jesus what a experience you had, and not just the race but every day leading up to the race. When I found your blog I thought ‘hey – this guy is fucking awesome’ and it has been my main source of inspiration since I’ve moved out here. That won’t change because of a DNF. I’m sure many other people have been an inspiration to you just the same and I bet they have a DNF in the books too…probably more than one.  “It’s all in the game, yo, all in the game” – Omar Little   I’m quite sure you have some leftover beer. Drink it. when you can, leave your Garmin in the house and go out for a run on a new trail…

    • Rob, its been good getting to know you a bit over the last few weeks.  Watch my video in the post.  Your voice is in it.  I appreciate the comment on inspiration.  I have routinely said that I found my inspiration in others.  Started with Anton, then GZ, then JV, and the list goes on and on.  I am lucky to call them all friends now a days.  So when I hear that I can be a step on that ladder of inspiration to others coming up behind me, its totally motivating, rewarding, ego-boosting, and humbling.  I am just a dude with a family but when I get to hit the trails on the right days, I feel like a rock star.  Let’s run again sometime.

  • Rocky Kroeger

    Hey Brandon!  Rocky here!  Good to meet you at long last on, of all places, Hope Pass on your inbound/my outbound.  Amazing to read your thoughts.  You will be back, better and stronger than ever.  I learned so much this race   – like maybe yoga is important – haha. Anyway, I think you were close, and that the nutrition (perpetuam?), maybe better foot strategy (vaseline/hydropel) which worked for me, and taking the first part easier.  I finished over 28hrs and there were people at Winfield with me who were sub-24 hrs, so that tells me something about what can be achieved with a 11:30-12:00 first fifty.  Anyway, you are the man, and are part of the family…a big part.  Can’t wait to ‘toe the line’ with you again.  Rock

    • Sorry that we didn’t get more time to chat.  We were both sort of busy!  Glad to see that you finished and brought home the prize.  Its been cool following your progress over the years as well.  I know people that have done the first half in 12 and come back to dominate the back half.  I just didn’t feel like that was the hand I wanted to play this year.  Cost me the buckle but I gained in other ways.  Keep in touch.

  • Andy Wooten

    Dude, I DNF’d in ’09 and really it was the best thing for me.  It made me learn some things.  You told me your strategy before the race at the cabin and by god that is what you did. You rolled the dice your way and not only that you had the guts to voluntarily have them cut that all so important green band and take responsibility for it all.  That’s class in my book…  I hope that you are back next year.  And no you are not getting too old!  Give yourself some time before making any decisions I say…  This will be a process for you, trust me… but, I guarantee you will have a solid answer and path figured out by the holidays my friend.  Otherwise man I am just glad you are okay.

    • Thanks for the friendship we have developed.  I thought you were nuts to run but that’s just because I am all anal about everything.  You just ran a 100 mile week then jumped in the race.  Sure, you had nothing to lose but it takes balls in my book.  Nice job on getting it done out there.  I am sure our paths will cross again many times.

  • mikehinterberg

    Great followup, lots of great thoughts here.  I’m very glad you acknowledged the positivity of the surrounding experience, of which you’re a huge part for many people.

    Your questions on what’s next are spot on: you’ll have to decide for yourself.  Don’t listen or worry or compare to other people.  Ultimately the goal isn’t always single number, but an experience that makes us a better person.  For most runners, the game isn’t too see how fast you can get with unlimited training time: it has to be a balance.  And that’s what makes it harder when you have those extra (but most important) roles as a father and husband.  As daunting as a <17-hr finish might be, it’s literally physically impossible for many runners to get a homemade buckle from their daughter.  Guess what?  If you chucked it all, you could go a little bit faster, but that’s not the game.  It has to be fun and fit within those parameters.  Unless it helps pay the bills, that means 4 100s in a year and extensive travel are out of the question.  But you’re going to keep running 50-80mpw anyway, right?  That’s like 10-15 hours a week — TV time for most people.  Clear your mind and keep your body fit, show your girls that everyday exercise is important.  That keeps you ready for solid 50M’s, get those dialed in, and if you like the 100M distance, the extra push is like 3-4 long runs in July.But Leadville is more than just the run as you know: maybe hit the road bike, pick up a mt. bike, snowshoe/XC ski.  Maybe some of this with a kid or all of their gear in a trailer or a pack.  Maybe you do the Silver King events.  And I bet you’ll be just as fit for running a solid LT100 if that’s what you want.  Those are just some ideas, you’ll come up with your own.

    If you want to speed up, you have to slow down.

    (I was going to say this on Hope Pass, but I was running low on water, ha!)

  • mikehinterberg

    Great followup, lots of great thoughts here.  I’m very glad you acknowledged the positivity of the surrounding experience, of which you’re a huge part for many people.

    Your questions on what’s next are spot on: you’ll have to decide for yourself.  Don’t listen or worry or compare to other people.  Ultimately the goal isn’t always single number, but an experience that makes us a better person.  For most runners, the game isn’t too see how fast you can get with unlimited training time: it has to be a balance.  And that’s what makes it harder when you have those extra (but most important) roles as a father and husband.  As daunting as a <17-hr finish might be, it's literally physically impossible for many runners to get a homemade buckle from their daughter.  Guess what?  If you chucked it all, you could go a little bit faster, but that's not the game.  It has to be fun and fit within those parameters.  Unless it helps pay the bills, that means 4 100s in a year and extensive travel are out of the question.  But you're going to keep running 50-80mpw anyway, right?  That's like 10-15 hours a week — TV time for most people.  Clear your mind and keep your body fit, show your girls that everyday exercise is important.  That keeps you ready for solid 50M's, get those dialed in, and if you like the 100M distance, the extra push is like 3-4 long runs in July.But Leadville is more than just the run as you know: maybe hit the road bike, pick up a mt. bike, snowshoe/XC ski.  Maybe some of this with a kid or all of their gear in a trailer or a pack.  Maybe you do the Silver King events.  And I bet you'll be just as fit for running a solid LT100 if that's what you want.  Those are just some ideas, you'll come up with your own.

    If you want to speed up, you have to slow down.

    (I was going to say this on Hope Pass, but I was running low on water, ha!)

    • You are way too wise, you know that, right?  Thanks for all the encouragement over the years.  Its been good to actually see you on the trails this year instead of just on the comments.  The balance is a tough one and I probably cheated it a few times this year but I will try and pay it back over the course of the fall season.  I kind of like extremes if you hadn’t gotten that from me yet.  Tons of ideas on next steps but need to figure out what I want to commit to.  Its hard for me to do anything 1/2 way.  I have a feeling that I am going to need to hike with MAH somewhere in there though.  That guys has legs.

  • Anon_troll

    Yawn. You bought real estate in Leadville for this and DNF’d? OUCH!! (From the dirtbag who sleeps in his truck AND buckled!)

    • Dude, totally.  But I have shared my stories from day 1 of running here and I will continue to.  A major thought in my head while going up Powerline was how I would report this event.  What would everyone think? Then later, I just didn’t care and I knew I had it right.  You get the highs and lows from me.  I try to be real and share.  Its not fake.  I just hope its interesting.  If not, there are plenty of other things to read online.

      My family enjoys Leadville and not the running or the races.  Its not just about me.  We had the opportunity to get a place and we did.  I do think it benefited me a lot since I didn’t have to spend weekends away training there without them.  But it probably hurt me too.  I was way way too comfortable going into that race.  No edge.  But I shared what I had with everyone I knew to help them.

      My running hero sleeps in his truck.  He has 2 Ore Carts.  Then he DNF’d twice.  And I want to be like him every time I lace up.

  • PatrickJGarcia

    Man, crazy.  Glad you’re feeling better.  I say, give it some time, there’s no reason to make any decisions right now.  See you soon.

  • Brandon, it was great to finally meet you over these past weeks — thanks again for being a great host for my friends and I.

    Obviously I wish the result had gone better for you… but rest assured hundreds of others went through something similar. I definitely would not have done it without my experienced pacer Stephen hassling me about calories and pounding his knowledge through my thick skull for 12 hours.

    These trials provide numerous lessons for us all… I know I am still distilling all the thoughts swimming around my mind right now as I write a report of my own.

    Let’s stay in touch — don’t think about the race too much for the time being… you’ve earned some R&R. Hope to share the trails with you again soon.

  • Brandon, it was great to finally meet you over these past weeks — thanks again for being a great host for my friends and I.

    Obviously I wish the result had gone better for you… but rest assured hundreds of others went through something similar. I definitely would not have done it without my experienced pacer Stephen hassling me about calories and pounding his knowledge through my thick skull for 12 hours.

    These trials provide numerous lessons for us all… I know I am still distilling all the thoughts swimming around my mind right now as I write a report of my own.

    Let’s stay in touch — don’t think about the race too much for the time being… you’ve earned some R&R. Hope to share the trails with you again soon.

    • Much appreciated.  You looked solid out there.  I am scared for everyone because that was your first 100 and you weren’t sweating.  Sorry we didn’t get to meet when you were here.  Life is odd sometimes.  We will keep the trails warm for you here.  Durango has nothing on Boulder!

  • I vote for just getting started.  My own score is Chris 1, Leadville 3 – I’m too dumb and stubborn to leave it alone, though.  The finish is one thing, but like you pointed out – the excitement, feeling alive, and uniqueness are what it’s all about.  THE JOURNEY.  Sorry to hear about the outcome, but thank you for putting yourself out there and helping to build a great community among the Leadville 100 runners.  It’s been fun and I can’t wait to do it all again.

    • Dude, I have watched you slog through many a races now and keep your head high…with video too!  Totally inspiring to me.  Thanks for the community development angle.  It was a new role for me and I enjoyed it.  If I didn’t run again, it would be hard NOT to throw the same events for next year!

  • stephen young

    I hope that Brendan sent you those pictures we took on Hope – classic.  

    I really don’t have a good assessment of what happened out there, but based upon what you said happened at Fish (low energy levels, coldness, etc.) it sounds like you didn’t stay on top of your fueling.  As you said, it’s easy to fake it through a 50 without fueling properly, but a 100 is an entirely different animal.  It’s hard to work on fueling for 100’s because it is impossible to replicate the feeling of getting to mile 60 or 75 and not wanting to eat, when nothing looks appetizing, and it hurts to even think about putting any calories down the hatch. The only thing I can think of to help with fueling is to either (1) get on a system that you can’t tinker with, like eat a gel every 30 minutes even if you think it’s going to make you hurl; (2) train to switch to to a fuel that you can stomach later in the race, like when you are done with gels eat pasta; or (3) eat as much as you possibly can when you feel good, don’t be bashful about putting down 2 or 3 gels if you can.  From my own experiences, fueling is the most important aspect of the race and it is something that we need to work on just as much as putting one foot in front of the other. I hope that makes some sense.One last thing.  I’m always inspired by the guys who go out and crush the runs. It takes an unbelievable amount of focus on one thing that I don’t really have. But they’re not as inspiring as the guys with families, great jobs, and lots of good friends who can make time for themselves to go out day after day to train for these races. They’re dedicated to races in ways that the front runners aren’t because they have to make different sacrifices. I can tell that you love running and racing.  So take some time to cool off.  Take some time away from running and remember why you’re doing it.  When you find that, I guarantee you’ll find your way to a big buckle. 

    • Just emailed him for them.  Thanks.

      Fueling was the key.  The other stuff mostly ignited because of that.  I think I need to rethink it a lot for myself.  I have digestion issues so it might not be the same for everyone else.  Thinking of going a totally different route, like whole foods or something.  Will see.

      Appreciate the balance comment but its hard to not want to be the best at something.  I like extremes!

  • Justin Mock

    Pawnee-Buchanan Pass loop, Labor Day weekend.  Hope you can join in.

  • JV

    Damn dude, what an effort. You have come a long way over the past few years and have made a transformation that few have the courage or discipline to make. That courage pushed you to RACE (not just run) this race and made for a memorable life experience. Sorry to hear that it did not go your way, but don’t beat yourself up over it, nobody thinks any less of you. This experience is just a small, but valuable stepping stone to greater accomplishments and some day you will look back and chuckle.

    I don’t really have any poignant advice, but time will heal and it will all sort itself out.

    If I could offer anything up it would be:

    Do what you most enjoy and the rest will fall into place.

    Your family is your #1 priority, so if you feel (or are told) that your heavy training is throwing that balance off, then it could be time to at least re-assess strategy or goals. Balance and compromise are a necessity.

    You should have worn pants.

    But I am stating the obvious, as I know you already know all these things. Much more to discuss, but we’ll cover it at lunch or on our next run, but for now, just rest up and try to reset.

    Also disappointed that there were no really good shit stories this time (but the Gu explosion was funny).

    Oh, I didn’t want to even respond to cowardly Anon Troll, but if you had a smidge of the courage Brandon has, you would come clean with your name. WTF?

  • JV

    Damn dude, what an effort. You have come a long way over the past few years and have made a transformation that few have the courage or discipline to make. That courage pushed you to RACE (not just run) this race and made for a memorable life experience. Sorry to hear that it did not go your way, but don’t beat yourself up over it, nobody thinks any less of you. This experience is just a small, but valuable stepping stone to greater accomplishments and some day you will look back and chuckle.
    I don’t really have any poignant advice, but time will heal and it will all sort itself out.
    If I could offer anything up it would be:
    Do what you most enjoy and the rest will fall into place.
    Your family is your #1 priority, so if you feel (or are told) that your heavy training is throwing that balance off, then it could be time to at least re-assess strategy or goals. Balance and compromise are a necessity.
    You should have worn pants.
    But I am stating the obvious, as I know you already know all these things. Much more to discuss, but we’ll cover it at lunch or on our next run, but for now, just rest up and try to reset.
    Also disappointed that there were no really good shit stories this time (but the Gu explosion was funny).
    Oh, I didn’t want to even respond to cowardly Anon Troll, but if you had a smidge of the courage Brandon has, you would come clean with your name. WTF?

    • You are my number one training partner.  More miles with you than anyone!  Much appreciated.

      Yeah, the poop was totally under control.  I knew it was an amazing day when that was going my way.

      PANTS!  Damn it….

  • What a great read Brandon.  The home made buckle – classic.  Your sister spraying you down and rubbing your legs – what more can you ask than family and friends who would do anything to get you there, including grabbing your bib and running it over the line?

    Don’t worry about making a decision running LT100 again, you have plenty of time.

    I suck at nutrition worse than you and have run into these issues a lot, so I’m sure nutrition is a large part of your wall.  Folks like Lucho and Paul DeWitt ran well at LT100 on lower mileage.  I bet they have some good advice on pacing, fueling, and training.  Maybe getting a coach (for at least awhile) is something to chew over.

    Tony Krupicka said something once (paraphrased) like ‘Running 100 miles is fvcking hard.’  I think he’s right.

    You haven’t lost or wasted a thing – look at where you’ve come from and where you are.  Hell, I beat you by an hour on Pikes Peak several years ago.  🙂

    • Thanks, Brett.  Aware of all that.  May sacrifice some miles for some cross training of some sort.  The sore quads shocked me, for example.  God, I hate weights.

      Maybe we should rematch on Pikes?  🙂

      • Would love to run Pikes again.  I’ll cede the rematch to you on top of the 3 hours you about beat me by at SJS50. 🙂

  • Wow Brandon.  Your exchange with Kim in the medical tent?  I’m glad she could be there for you in such a supportive way.

    I find that the challenges of family and running are one of my primary limiters to training.  There are days where Nataly and I will have screaming arguments because of my running, and then there are days where she’s the most strident coach.  There are days too where I dream of running a marathon with my son, but I constantly need to check myself with that one.  I envy that you’ve gotten to do races with your girls, Deneb and I will get one in soon…I think Justin’s suggestion of Pawnee Buchannan is a tremendous one.  Taking some time off and then getting out and running an epic loop in your (other) home turf with friends may help get a handle on all of the questions this year’s race has raised for you.Thanks for sharing,

    Jay

  • Wow Brandon.  Your exchange with Kim in the medical tent?  I’m glad she could be there for you in such a supportive way.
    I find that the challenges of family and running are one of my primary limiters to training.  There are days where Nataly and I will have screaming arguments because of my running, and then there are days where she’s the most strident coach.  There are days too where I dream of running a marathon with my son, but I constantly need to check myself with that one.  I envy that you’ve gotten to do races with your girls, Deneb and I will get one in soon…I think Justin’s suggestion of Pawnee Buchannan is a tremendous one.  Taking some time off and then getting out and running an epic loop in your (other) home turf with friends may help get a handle on all of the questions this year’s race has raised for you.Thanks for sharing,
    Jay

    • Thanks for the support along the way, Jay.  I know you have that spirit in your heart!

  • Michael Hodges

    Hey Brandon… been following your blog for a bit as well…

    We all have personal reasons as to why we do this. The answers you asked at the end of the report have simple answers if you listen to your own heart. Even if you dont regret your DNF, they always sting, regardless. That sting is what causes all of the questions, reactions, etc… you want to get rid of that sting! I will probably take a year away from leadville to remove myself from the burn of this years train wreck of a race for me. But when it’s in you, it’s in you. I run leadville because it’s a freakin blast. It hurts. It’s an unending challenge. It’s why Duncan comes back, Krupicka, Corfield, Gary Curry, you, me, etc… they have nothing to prove to anyone, including themselves, except for how they handle what unfolds during that specific day. We can’t make rash decisions after shit like this. It’s totally irrational. What you invest in the race, in running, in training is far to great. We are emotional about it no matter how hard we try not to be. This race (and 100’s in general) is far bigger than any of us, on so many levels, most of us, I know I dont, dont have a full perspective on things just before, during, or just after these races. Once the buzz (and the sting) fades, those next steps will be crystal clear as your heart comes out of the fog. My guess is that you’ll be leading us (yeah – I doubt I’ll be able to stay away) into the dark once again!

    And maybe I’ll see you at Bear… we seem to think alike! haha

    Michael Hodges

  • Michael Hodges

    Hey Brandon… been following your blog for a bit as well…

    We all have personal reasons as to why we do this. The answers you asked at the end of the report have simple answers if you listen to your own heart. Even if you dont regret your DNF, they always sting, regardless. That sting is what causes all of the questions, reactions, etc… you want to get rid of that sting! I will probably take a year away from leadville to remove myself from the burn of this years train wreck of a race for me. But when it’s in you, it’s in you. I run leadville because it’s a freakin blast. It hurts. It’s an unending challenge. It’s why Duncan comes back, Krupicka, Corfield, Gary Curry, you, me, etc… they have nothing to prove to anyone, including themselves, except for how they handle what unfolds during that specific day. We can’t make rash decisions after shit like this. It’s totally irrational. What you invest in the race, in running, in training is far to great. We are emotional about it no matter how hard we try not to be. This race (and 100’s in general) is far bigger than any of us, on so many levels, most of us, I know I dont, dont have a full perspective on things just before, during, or just after these races. Once the buzz (and the sting) fades, those next steps will be crystal clear as your heart comes out of the fog. My guess is that you’ll be leading us (yeah – I doubt I’ll be able to stay away) into the dark once again!
    And maybe I’ll see you at Bear… we seem to think alike! haha

    Michael Hodges

    • Well said!  Getting the race report up and over with was more helpful than anything.  Then Tim Long reminded me today that WS100 still takes 50s under 11 hours as qualifiers.  Hmmm…

  • Brandon,

    I’m not going to pat you on the back and say it’s okay.  If you think you didn’t go out too fast, then you’re delirious.  When I caught up to you at mile 23, you were slowed to about half my pace.  You weren’t trained for nor prepared for a 20 hour finish.  However, you could’ve run to your potential, which is a big buckle.  I’ll come crew and pace you from 50-100 next year but only if you listen and, more importantly, adhere to what’s said.  Or you can just keep training and racing incorrectly thinking that simply wanting something will make it happen.

    Thanks again for the place to sleep.  I appreciate it and getting to know you better.

    Tim

  • Brandon,
    I’m not going to pat you on the back and say it’s okay.  If you think you didn’t go out too fast, then you’re delirious.  When I caught up to you at mile 23, you were slowed to about half my pace.  You weren’t trained for nor prepared for a 20 hour finish.  However, you could’ve run to your potential, which is a big buckle.  I’ll come crew and pace you from 50-100 next year but only if you listen and, more importantly, adhere to what’s said.  Or you can just keep training and racing incorrectly thinking that simply wanting something will make it happen.

    Thanks again for the place to sleep.  I appreciate it and getting to know you better.
    Tim

    • Other than my crew, you had the most insight into my strategy, day, and attitude afterwards.  A unique seat but I was really glad to have you along.

      In 2010, you predicted my race time when others had me down 4-5 hours.  Then this year, you told me what to do and I ignored it.  I don’t have a great reason why.  I was kind of set in my ways already so I wasn’t changing a (bad) plan days before.  I know its painful when you tell people the right answer and they don’t do it.  I have kids now and get to do this almost daily!  Sometimes they have to find out on their own.  I don’t know if it was stubbornness or that I just wanted to test my limits.  All in all, I gambled on (maybe) impossible odds and lost.  So no, I wasn’t looking for sympathy in the report.  I know a lot of people will give it though.  That wasn’t my intent with the report even if it reads that way to some.  Its just what I put on the page.

      My crew and I did get comfortable with each other.  They might have thought I knew what I was doing and I was waiting on them to tell me.  I wonder about a co-dependent relationship there.  I know Brownie would have killed you and tortured you if you didn’t do what was told.

      Last year I left the race with a lot of “what ifs” but they were all on the push harder side.  This year I tested all those but left the race with “what ifs” on the push it softer side.  Its like a science project to me.  Maybe I blame Ken…he told me I can do more than I think I can.  Wrong. I couldn’t even do what I thought I could. 🙂

      I appreciate the offer on 2012.  It would be a bonus to have you on my side.  Your experience is something I lack.

  • Jaime Yebra

    I totally dig the honesty with this report and the “going for it” attitude you displayed race day.  Sucks to see the outcome but so impressed with the effort and confidence.  Thankfully no decisions have to be made right now on what to do next year.  For now, relax a bit (hell a lot!), enjoy the family and enjoy some fun running on Green.  Decision on what to do next will come to you soon enough! 

    • Great seeing you out at Fish Hatchery in the morning!  Too bad I didn’t get to run with/up/by you guys later in the day.  Great job.  Thanks for the advice and I will do what I can.  But its a long fall season and I get bored easily.

  • Matt

    Great report. I thought for sure you were on pace for an epic run. Seems like a 100 miler can go sideways and that actually might be the default position. I have random thoughts about doing a Hundo at some points and this tale both says “go for it” and “wait a sec”.  Regardless you are a better man because of it and that is something you’ll always have.  Selfishly, I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey.

    If you want to hit the fast stuff (you’ve mentioned really dialing into a 5k), I have some ideas.

    • Depends on the person, but its worth the journey and I know you followed me on it.  But its a totally different sport in some sense than what you have been up to.  I do really feel like I need to spend a few months peeling down those PRs.  I think it would help my all around game.

      • Matt

        Totally. A 5k to a Trail 100 is about as different as the a track 100m is to a 5k. 

  • Kieran

    I’ve read your blog for a while, and here’s my two cents. Race more. Racing’s like sex — you get better at it by doing it more.  And it’s fun, so, why not? Do 50Ks and 50 milers and maybe another hundo if you feel like it. Your workouts show you have the chops. Race enough and it will come through. 

    • That might be the best advice of the day!  Or maybe just because you talked about sex.  I can’t seem to find a balance.  A few years ago I raced a lot.  Learned a lot but didn’t perform well because of the cycle.  Then I didn’t race a lot and fell apart in other ways.  I couldn’t sleep for nerves before my first Leadville race of the season.  Stupid.  I need to learn how to factor it in.  Right on.

      • One thing racing more will help with is the race day fueling thing.  That’s one of the hardest things to get dialed and it’s totally personal…

        • Kieran

          Jay speaketh the truth.

  • Jesse1612

    The urge to try again is natural and understandable, but there is something to be said for running shorter races–less time away from family and easier on the body.

    Thanks for this post, and for all your posts. I’ve enjoyed following your progress from afar.

    • You were waiting on the hip explosion though right?  Didn’t happen.  Was more sore after my last long run than the race.  Not sure its solved though.  Debating if I mess with it or just continue on as its getting better all the time.

      • Jesse1612

        Early in the year I thought the hip was going to be a big problem for you but at some point in the spring this seemed to become a non-issue. If it starts acting up again, you can get an x-ray just to see if there is impingement. 

  • Gabriel

    Very inspiring! Almost cried like my daughter watching a disney movie. I have followed your blog since winter, watching your progression to elite fitness. I even made a trip to Bolder in July just to run Green and Bear mountain. I live in Los Angeles in the Palos Verdes peninsula. I ran my ass off just to be able to tag Green! Keep running, but leave the Garmin at home just enjoy it. Keep inspiring people we need it!

    • You weren’t the first to tell me that today but you were the first to write it.  Thanks.  Elite?  Ha.  Glad you came out and saw our mecca.  Its a special place.

  • AJ

    Brandon- I’ve followed your blog for more than a year and learned a ton. I passed you going up Mosquito Pass at the Leadville Trail Marathon and as I was going into Stumptown at the Silver Rush (as you were going the other way both times). That is one reason to keep going, because people know you. And because ultra runners inspire others to think big. So you’ve run once too easy and once too hard — why not aim for the perfect race. And by that I mean the perfect race for you, for the way you’ve trained. Quitting on the heels of a DNF is a poor way to go out. No matter what you decide, I have appreciated you keeping it real.

    • Awesome. I can relate to that perfect race feel.  Had it at Boston and live for being back in that moment.  It hasn’t happened.  But it drives me to continue.  I am probably not done.  Its just the 2nd day of the off season and if I start talking about next year already, my wife might smack me in the head.

  • B.B.

    Hell of an effort. I’ve followed for a long time (a lot longer than when I ID’d your snake). I have to say that I share some of Tims thoughts on pacing, but I also felt like you maybe didn’t give the long training runs enough attention despite having good overall volume. I just remember thinking that while viewing your training logs on occasion. You think that played a role? Regardless, I applaud the effort and guts to flat out go for broke. Its something I wish I had once in a while. Long story short, I’m guessing I just wonder if you thought longer training runs would have helped?

    • Yes.  I got a lot out of those broken up consistent efforts but I didn’t have the opportunity to test some of the nutrition types of scenarios that would be created from a really long effort.  I thought the 50 would be that chance but I was off from the gun and couldn’t adapt in time anyway if I would have learned something.  Its worth working on and will be pivotal in future years.

  • George Zack

    Sweet mother of Odin this is a helluva post with a crap ton of comments.  Cool.

    Nothing I can say here that has not already been said or that you have not already thought about.  You know how I feel.  Refer to Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena.”  

    Of course, Brownie is gonna give you a lot of shit, but I you know that.  

    Anyway, let’s go for a run sometime soon and grab a beer.  

    • Sorry, but I still have to dig into the PP weekend reports.  I am behind.  But I know what went down.

      Yeah, quite an outpouring.  Also got calls from people not listed here.  Emails from people not listed here.  Visits from people not listed here.  Everyone came out of the woodwork.  Some days you think that nobody cares but suddenly you find out the truth and its humbling.

      Brownie called me.  I won’t tell you what he said.  It might ruin this image.

      You let me know and I am there.  Its been too long.

  • Sorry, but I still have to dig into the PP weekend reports.  I am behind.  But I know what went down.

    Yeah, quite an outpouring.  Also got calls from people not listed here.  Emails from people not listed here.  Visits from people not listed here.  Everyone came out of the woodwork.  Some days you think that nobody cares but suddenly you find out the truth and its humbling.

    Brownie called me.  I won’t tell you what he said.  It might ruin this image.

    You let me know and I am there.  Its been too long.

  • Ken

    Brandon,

    I think the following quote is appropriate:

    “In ultrarunning, there are no mistakes, only lessons.”- Keith Pippin

    For what it’s worth, I am a pretty analytical guy as well. The best thing I did about 9 months ago was wean myself from the watch. Never been happier, healthier, or run better. Something to think about.

    • I could explore that more I suppose.  It doesn’t feel like a crutch to me.  Maybe its glaringly obvious to the reader though but I can’t see it.  Thanks.

  • Anon NOT a Troll

    Brandon,

     

    I’ve been following your Blog since well before your Leadville 100 last year.  I was pulling for you and bummed to see you DNF.  So far, only Footfeathers has been brutally honest about where you went wrong.  1:48 to May Queen, WTF were you thinking?  “But I was confident enough to take a stand and lead us down and onto the Boulevard.”  That is not confidence, that is lack of experience or delusions of grandeur.  You set the stage for the DNF right there.  If you had gone at a more reasonable pace fueling would have probably been much easier.  When you ask that much of your body, early on, you are going to have problems later in the race.  Your digestive system just shuts down.  Your first split was only 7 minutes slower than the winners first split in each of the races from 05 (1:41 Carpenter record)  through 2009.  In 06,07 Anton went 1:48, 1:47.  You simply don’t have enough pennies in the bank or enough LONG, LONG runs to be at that level. 

     I hope you give it another shot.  You had a very SOLID buildup this year and with another solid year + more Long Long runs + running within your limits you could have a very good result next year.  Good Luck with your decision.

  • Anon NOT a Troll

    Brandon,
     
    I’ve been following your Blog since well before your Leadville 100 last year.  I was pulling for you and bummed to see you DNF.  So far, only Footfeathers has been brutally honest about where you went wrong.  1:48 to May Queen, WTF were you thinking?  “But I was confident enough to take a stand and lead us down and onto the Boulevard.”  That is not confidence, that is lack of experience or delusions of grandeur.  You set the stage for the DNF right there.  If you had gone at a more reasonable pace fueling would have probably been much easier.  When you ask that much of your body, early on, you are going to have problems later in the race.  Your digestive system just shuts down.  Your first split was only 7 minutes slower than the winners first split in each of the races from 05 (1:41 Carpenter record)  through 2009.  In 06,07 Anton went 1:48, 1:47.  You simply don’t have enough pennies in the bank or enough LONG, LONG runs to be at that level. 

     I hope you give it another shot.  You had a very SOLID buildup this year and with another solid year + more Long Long runs + running within your limits you could have a very good result next year.  Good Luck with your decision.

    • Thanks for the honesty.  I have spent more time on that trail section into May Queen than nearly every other thing I run.  It was very comfortable.  My HR felt right.  It was less than the effort I had put in a week prior on that same course.  So I thought I was doing the right thing.  I was backing off.  It just might be more a question of the amount.  I got this feedback on my aid stations with my wife….you didn’t stop long enough….it was 3x as much as last year…still wasn’t enough.  Seems like I trended the right way on some things but might not have gotten them into the correct zone.

  • Glenn

     Epic. You could reorder the conclusions but you have it figured, so now you deal. (But you are NEVER going to be able to be too old while I’m alive, so give that one up.) The Leadville Trail 100 is not done with you yet. I admit my personal favorite is to feel good and start too fast, so I do it over and over, but you can try other better ways to mess up. Experiment.

    • Thanks for being there from the beginning.  Always something new to work on.

  • skatona

    This is silly.  You shouldn’t quit.  You’re a very strong runner and you enjoy running.  Register for the next 100 that is taking place in a 1-state radius, go run a smart, conservative race, finish in 23 hours and knock SIX HOURS off your PR.

    • Your suggestion is tempting, but I also want to give my hip the time it wants/deserves to get better once and for all.  Maybe do some other stuff. 

      On the quitting, the thing there is that I feel like when you make wild promises in the middle of a race like that, you might not have to honor them, but you have to confront them.  I don’t want to be standing on Powerline next year in the same spot saying “I said I wouldn’t do this again”.  Rather be telling myself why I decided it would be different this time.  Not repeating the same mistakes…

  • Your suggestion is tempting, but I also want to give my hip the time it wants/deserves to get better once and for all.  Maybe do some other stuff. 

    On the quitting, the thing there is that I feel like when you make wild promises in the middle of a race like that, you might not have to honor them, but you have to confront them.  I don’t want to be standing on Powerline next year in the same spot saying “I said I wouldn’t do this again”.  Rather be telling myself why I decided it would be different this time.  Not repeating the same mistakes…

  • Woody

    Brandon,

    Anything I add will pale in comparison to the support, encouragement, feedback, and advice others have offered up.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the comments (and your responses) as I feel like so much of what was said could be directed at me.  We never stop learning in this sport.  My Leadville experience was enhanced by you.  The night run, the pre-race BBQ, runleadville.com, and all the thoughts you shared via this blog that open yourself up to praise and critique.  Nobody stepped up the way to did to promote community around this race.  And that community we all felt before, during, and after the race is what made it so dang special.

    Thanks to you and Natalee for hosting us on Thursday.  So many great laughs and I was glad to see that Aaron M didn’t linger on the lake trail the whole time looking for the ladies.  Speaking of Natalee, she encouraged me a few times out there and it was huge at the time.  You had a sweet crew!

    • I really appreciate that direction of your comments.  I really wanted to open things up a bit this year.  The truth is that I was more nervous walking around Costco buying food for the party, than I was standing on the starting line.  I didn’t want to screw up anybody’s race with weird food and I wanted to make sure I had enough for all.  That probably took a bunch of my focus but I would (and probably will!) do it again.

  • Jim Petterson

    Man, what a great set of comments (save for the one). Much to chew on. Like others, I appreciate Tim’s brutal honesty. Good advice to chew on as a few more days pass. I have little doubt you’ll be back to plotting next year’s return soon. More than once I’ve heard people say that they like your writing because you put it all out there…you are who you are. That’s what keeps me coming back for more. Stick to your guns. Learn. Stay off the roads and do more long runs in the mountains!  Hope to join you for a few of those in the months ahead.

    • The comments have been great.  Probably will do another post on those alone.  Appreciate it all coming from you.  But I blame this all on you and your absence from the trails!  Get well and let’s get back to work this fall.

      • Jim Petterson

        I think I’m back. Building…but back. A long jaunt in the Mt. Massive Wilderness?

  • Brandon, I’ve followed your blog this year as I aspired to be a Leadman and used the internet for helpful advice. I really enjoyed reading your stories this year.  Like you, I didn’t achieve my Leadville goal this year. I did the marathon and both Silver Rush 50’s and was in great shape for both LT100’s. I was confident I could complete the Leadman (small buckles). The biggest risk I identified was staying safe on the LT100 MTB and not crashing. So guess what happened? Yup, I crashed inexplicably in mile 21 of the bike. Broke my clavicle in multiple places as it turns out. It never entered my brain to quit. I ended up finishing the race, but in 12:11 because my energy was zapped and I took all the downhills very gingerly. My Leadman quest was over. Plus, I went to the hospital and got the XRays! Surgery was in my future. i was DNS for both the 10K and LT100 Run.  

    Stuff happens, sometimes beyond your control. In your case I think you know what went wrong, i.e. nutrition, going out too fast, etc. You know what you need to do to fix those things. That’s relatively easy. I believe your ego got in the way and you disregarded known advice. You are not that far from your goal. This is a bump in the road. Fix those known issues and you will definitely Big Buckle and get closer to low 20 hours. Don’t give up Brandon! I am not giving up either. Someday I will go back to Leadville and pursue Leadman. You need to go back too! Best of luck to you!     

    • Awesome story you have but a crappy ending.  I have toyed with the Leadman many times (even next year?) but your story is yet another one that tells me its not for me, for now.  That bike is dangerous!  Plus, I don’t like the fact that its a week before the run.  I get that its the challenge but maybe 2 weeks and you could have a better shot at big buckling both.  Right now with only 1 week, you have to be pretty insane to get both.

      Ego definitely got in there. Sometimes it helps you though.  And sometimes it stretches you further from where you should be.  Oh well.  That’s 2 years now where I felt like a “smart” race would have gotten me the big buckle.  Instead, I ran a “dumb?” race but had a blast both times — except for the very end when everything sucks.

      See you out there when you come back to it.

  • Wchornsby

    Brandon: Amazing race report. This was my 6th race of 100+ miles and I can tell you that sometimes things just go bad regardless of how you trained or how locked in you were mentally. I’ve had races, like the 2009 Mohican, where everything clicks. Then at Leadville last year I almost DNF’d but somehow made it under 25. This year, I had a good first half but a rough second half. We all make mistakes (I probably went out too fast). The “man in the arena” quote very poignantly describes the ultrarunner. It takes courage to even sign up, much less show up and take that first step. On that note, the anonymous commenter can go to hell.

    In my opinion, nutrition is the single most difficult thing about the Leadville 100. I’ve yet to totally figure out what works but this year took some strides in that direction. Leadville is a very difficult race–exerting ourselves like that over 100 miles at 10,000+ feet can take the body into overdrive and so nutrition is a major factor in success or failure.

    As a working stiff with a wife and little kid, it’s really hard to train like I want while meeting life’s most important priorities. Sometimes things start to get out of balance. This is the plight of the ultrarunner who has to make a paycheck to support his/her family and also be there for those he/she loves the most. That’s what matters most!

    I look forward to some training runs with you as both prepare for another LT100 next year!

    Wyatt

    • Thanks for the advice.  You have shown a great amount of confidence in your own running over your somewhat brief career so far.  I expect you to continue to chop that clock in the years to come.  I enjoyed seeing you out there on course because I knew we had done some level of similar prep in miles and had some similar goals in mind.  Excited to see you convert yours even when I can’t.

      Its an eating contest with some running thrown in, said by my Dr. John Hill.  Oh well.  Food isn’t my strong suite.  But once they open a Chipotle in Twin Lakes, I am going to so win that race!

      The balance is hard at times.  You seem to pull it off well.  Kudos.

  • Ken

    Brandon,

    On my watch comment, please don’t take it as a criticism of your approach, just an observation of my own experience and food for thought. I am by no means a competitive runner, but I found myself very focused on miles run, training pacing, race times, etc. For some reason ditching the watch solved all of that and I find my running to be much more comfortable and by feel (that includes daily pacing, miles run, etc). Not only is it more fun, but races are a blast without the mental drain of comparing my pace to my expectations. I figure I will truly run my best effort and the time will be what it will be. It is fun to round the last corner of a race and try to guess what my race time will be before I see the clock. I didn’t mean to refer to it as a crutch, but in hindsight, I would say it was more of a “distraction”.

    More important, serious props to you for being so open about your experience and responding to every single comment. It’s easy to engage and be so open when you win. Your openness and honesty in the face of disappointment is very impressive. You’re a class act.

    • Its not a crutch, and probably only sometimes a distraction.  But usually all in all, its a good thing.  More miles, more time, more speed.  Keeps me honest.  I wouldn’t be where I am today with a GPS watch.  I promise.  It clicked with my weird sense of more numbers.

      Thanks for the props on the comments.  Its my favorite part of the whole thing!

  • Thanks for the advice.  You have shown a great amount of confidence in your own running over your somewhat brief career so far.  I expect you to continue to chop that clock in the years to come.  I enjoyed seeing you out there on course because I knew we had done some level of similar prep in miles and had some similar goals in mind.  Excited to see you convert yours even when I can’t.

    Its an eating contest with some running thrown in, said by my Dr. John Hill.  Oh well.  Food isn’t my strong suite.  But once they open a Chipotle in Twin Lakes, I am going to so win that race!

    The balance is hard at times.  You seem to pull it off well.  Kudos.

  • Brian Peterson

    You live once, life is the golden present, how are you going to celebrate it?

  • Aaron M.

    Brandon – Thanks for the hospitality this weekend, and keeping my ice cream cold!  Enjoy your next run, and see you on the trail soon! 

    Aaron 

  • mtnrunner2

    I’m a bit late to the game having been on vacation, but fantastic report and pictures, and your insights are appreciated. My heart sank when I saw your DNF.
     
    I agree with others that your trek is inspiring (race and training, etc.), plus you still made it 86.5 freakin’ miles! You’ve got the wheels, just tweak your timing and intake, and it will happen the way you know it can.

    • Thanks for the thoughts.

      • Zoe Nance

        Hi Brandon, I found you yesterday wanting to post the GPS map for the Leadville 50 mile run.  What I found today was your explanation of what you’re going through Post Race of the 100 miler. 

        I am an endurance coach, an ultra endurance mountain biker, triathlete and now have been dabbling with ultra running.  When I complete a new goal, a new reach in my race a few minutes after crossing the finish line I break out in a cry.  A cry of joy, relief, accomplishment.

        One of my athletes just finished his 7th 24 hour solo Mountain Bike Race.   He brought this post race emotional thing up to me.  He noticed no one is talking about it.  I’ve been researching and there’s essentially no data out there.  There’s some data about “Post Marathon Depression” I feel, it’s more than just this. 

        I want to begin the conversation.

        There’s something fascinating here, and if I may, I would like to use your blog, and anything you have to say about this emotional feeling post race.

        I’m not talking about the physiological responses to a dramatic decrease in exercise, just exactly the same things you were talking about in your blog…where do we go from here, what do we do, do we continue, do we find something else….

  • john-byrne

    Brandon,

    thanks for sharing. I’m quite impressed at the speed which you ran and it seemed effortless for awhile. You obviously have what it takes to compete at a HIGH level. sounds like you miscalculated on some nutrition and warmth issues but hitting 60 miles at the time you did was incredible. I’m envious (in a good way). I wonder if you would have had more energy on the back 50 if you had gone slower the first 50. It’s always hard to hold back when you are feeling good. sorry for the anonymous troll comment – it’s always a risk when you put yourself out there. But the positive to negative comments seem more than 30 to 1 so you should feel good about what you’ve contributed to others. I’m striving for a sub 24 hour finish this year at Leadville but would not entertain a sub 20 hr finish – I’m not anywhere near your ability. I actually finished 29:57:43 in 2005. If you run Leadville again, awesome. If you decide not to, you are still one heck of a racer and should keep your head high. Running 50 miles in +2 mile high altitude is commendable and incredible at the pace you ran it at. Your reflections and comments illustrate how your commitment to long distance, high performance running has brought your family, friends, and fans of the ultrarunning community together. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    John Byrne

  • john-byrne

    Brandon,
    thanks for sharing. I’m quite impressed at the speed which you ran and it seemed effortless for awhile. You obviously have what it takes to compete at a HIGH level. sounds like you miscalculated on some nutrition and warmth issues but hitting 60 miles at the time you did was incredible. I’m envious (in a good way). I wonder if you would have had more energy on the back 50 if you had gone slower the first 50. It’s always hard to hold back when you are feeling good. sorry for the anonymous troll comment – it’s always a risk when you put yourself out there. But the positive to negative comments seem more than 30 to 1 so you should feel good about what you’ve contributed to others. I’m striving for a sub 24 hour finish this year at Leadville but would not entertain a sub 20 hr finish – I’m not anywhere near your ability. I actually finished 29:57:43 in 2005. If you run Leadville again, awesome. If you decide not to, you are still one heck of a racer and should keep your head high. Running 50 miles in +2 mile high altitude is commendable and incredible at the pace you ran it at. Your reflections and comments illustrate how your commitment to long distance, high performance running has brought your family, friends, and fans of the ultrarunning community together. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    John Byrne