|Elevation Gain||17,365 feet|
|Rank||139 of 342 finishers/802 starters|
|GPS Analysis||Garmin Connect|
I'll commit, I won't quit.
For the 3rd consecutive year, I lined up in Leadville to run 100 miles. Having completed 100 miles back in June at the Western States 100, I had some added confidence. But leading up to the race I had my usual worries. Once again on paper, I felt like I had this race in the bag. But you never know until the gun goes off.
I had been told by everyone in the world that I went out too fast last year. I was ready to rectify that this year. I lined up at the start in the 2nd row just to be with all my buds but quickly dropped back after we start rolling of the start line. I was in no hurry to get to Mayqueen this morning. I stopped near the Tabor Boat Ramp to do my business and then got back in line very causally behind a freight train of people. The train was so long that they kept getting into traffic jams going around the lake. I actually found myself walking a lot around the lake as my pace was fast enough to keep in formation. I arrived at Mayqueen in 2 hours and change then proceed into the aid station where I ate 1 of everything they had. My plan was to fuel early and I stuck to it.
I mixed up running and hiking to get to the summit of Sugarloaf. I was looking at my target splits and I had plenty of time to get there. I took the Powerline descent very easy and rolled into Fish Hatchery right on time. This was seemingly going according to plan. I left Fish without a bottle on accident and my sister made the run back to get it then back out to me on the road in a total sprint. Such dedication.
As is the case every year, the road to Pipeline sucked a bit of the life out of me. It felt very familiar. I was lucky that my wife and kids had just arrived on the scene though and were cheering me on down the road. Definitely broke up that section for me. I came into Pipeline feeling OK. I took time to stretch out my quads and there was nothing sore as of yet. My crew was spot on at each stop making me eat, working through the list of things available, and more.
I rolled out of there and was on the way to Half-pipe. This section always does something to me. Deva vu. The rollers through there just seemed to be insurmountable. I kept finding myself slowing and then moving to a fast hike. This was runnable stuff but I seem to gravitate towards more aggressive terrain. This wasn't doing it for me. I came into Half-pipe and did a quick split check and I had fallen off the mark. That just meant that more people usually run more of that.
From there, its similar stuff on the way to Twin Lakes. I wasn't gaining positions but a few folks slipped by as I was being overly cautious with my effort level through this section. It just drags on for me. As we start finally dropping into Twin Lakes, I felt myself pick up speed and that seemed like I was back to normal. But I quickly figured out that I was 15 over on my arrival split there. I had buffer but this wasn't a good thing. My crew was waiting in Twin Lakes with a shoe change. We got that done and I was off. Probably a longer stop but I was busy the whole time.
I don't know about this...
The river crossing was the lowest I had ever seen. All the preceding gross puddles of dirty water were gone to my surprise. So it made for a quick trip over to the start of Hope Pass. Frankly, I was looking forward to this climb. This is one of the 2 key things I worked on over the winter. So I changed gears and started pushing uphill. Last year, I was constantly out of breath and being passed by everyone. This year, it was much different. I was passing the weaker climbers and keeping in range with some set of equal climbers. It felt good. I made good time on the climb but was excited when the descent began.
I always have trouble switching gears on that descent. Probably took a mile before I really started feeling loose and was moving well downhill. Another guy came up behind me and we moved swiftly together to the new junction for the singletrack to Winfield. I wasn't too sure how this section was going to go. The road we used to take always sucked but it was a known quantity. This new trail was back to that rolling terrain that seems to zap me. There was a decent amount of sun exposure so it was getting hot. I wasn't pacing well through there and found myself walking a lot. I really started losing all that time I had made up on the climb on this section. I was mentally getting distraught. I could see Winfield but the trail just kept going west. Then eventually we cut back to Winfield and I jogged in an hour behind schedule.
I refueled a bit, picked up my pacer, Nick Pedatella, and we were off. Nick like all new pacers was hopping to run. I wasn't. There was a gradual uphill to regain that trail so I was locked in hike mode until we reached it. We made our way back to the Hope Pass trail and began to climb. This climb is the worst in the race. Its steeper than the other side. I have bonked, puked, and nearly passed out on it over the years. This year was better. Probably 100% better. We actually did some passing but also were passed our fair share. I didn't have to stop to regain my lungs at any point. It was just nice and steady to the top and I think we had some conversation a bit long the way.
I tried to run back down Hope Pass more conservatively. In prior years, I think I bombed down to fast and it took it out of me. So we made good time and held position mostly on the descent. After re-crossing the river, I stared hiking behind Nick. I found out I could hike and keep up with him just as good as running. He wasn't happy with it. But I just didn't feel like I had a lot of gas to push. We rolled into the aid station at Twin Lakes and went into preparations for night fall. I changed my shoes back to my Hokas. I found the Crosslites seemed to destroy my feet more in that 20 miles back and forth to Winfield more than the 40 miles prior.
Nick and I started hiking up out of Twin Lakes. I felt like I was moving decently through there. The splits seemed faster. But things were setting in. My return from Hope Pass took an extra hour over my splits. Combine that with the hour I had lost in the first half and I was over the mark already. But anything can happen. Repeating history, I found fresh wheels on the way to Half-pipe. Came in there with about 7 minutes more lost on the splits but the data shows it was nearly 30 minutes after than my outbound trip through that section.
We met the crew at Pipeline in the dark and I bid Nick farewell. I picked up my next pacer, Eric Jungbauer, and we headed out. It was fun to have some fresh blood in the mix and Eric was excited for his short stint over to Fish. I found myself getting colder through this section and had to stop a couple times to layer on more clothes. This seemed like a bad sign. Fish was a turning point last year for me at this race and I didn't want to repeat.
I changed pacers again at Fish picking up JT for the Powerline climb. We chatted on the road as he had some data on the race winners and other events on the day that I was sorely lacking. We turned on to Powerline and I was determined not to bonk here this year. I put my hike to work and all my practice on this hill into play. I ascending without ever breaking stride. It was light years faster than 2011. After topping out it was time to run but my legs wouldn't have it. They were stiff and solid and I could not loosen them up. I did some squats but it wasn't helping. Running was also starting to make my stomach feel very unsettled. I started getting really cold too. I bundled up with everything I had on but was still losing heat.
We made our way through the Colorado Trail. I was moving quickly but I was not running. I couldn't find it. My lungs started their usual Leadville gasping. We popped out on the road and found the crew at the truck. JT quickly popped open a cold one while I jumped into the truck and re-outfitted myself with pants and a down jacket. I needed to get warm fast. Final pacer change with Natalee coming on board for the trek back to town. With my legs all stiff and my lungs not cooperating, it was going to be a long 13 miles back to town. I told Natalee about the ridiculousness of walking from Mayqueen to the center of Leadville. But that was our mission.
I wasn't moving as swiftly at this point. I was zoning out. Natalee could sense it but I was trying to dull the pain. I knew we had a course PR in the bag with just walking. So we did. It seemed to take forever to get to the Tabor Boat Ramp. When we did, I glanced at my watch to see 25 hours on the clock. I was 7 miles short of the goal time. This return always takes a long time and I had hoped I would be in better shape here but I was not. We kept motoring. The sun rose for the 2nd time on this run as we were on Turquoise Lake Road. My home was a mile up that road but I couldn't go there just yet. We turned onto the Boulevard and made that journey to the top. I had to keep convincing myself to continue. I wasn't going to drop but I just wanted to be somewhere else. I finally got into it a bit once we hit pavement and started towards the finish.
There was no magical moment as I headed down 6th street. I found myself slowing to be sure this big group surrounding a runner in front of me go through so I could get a clean finish line photo. I crossed the line and was done. There were no tears or emotion this time. It just felt like a repeat of what I had done there before but slightly faster. I avenged my 2011 DNF but not in a amazing fashion.
Another running season in the bag. Thanks first and foremost to my wife, Kim, for putting up with this thing once again. It was a busy summer of running-related events culminating in me disappearing for August to be in Leadville fulltime. I hope I made you proud. Thanks to my sister, Natalee, for crewing me once again. She did it as WS100 and LT100. Giving up two weeks of her summer plus travel to support my efforts when I used to just beat her up and stuff as kids. I am lucky that she likes this scene so much. Thanks to my friend, Eric, for coming out and being part of this at WS100 and LT100. It was fun having your fresh perspective to remind us that this is crazy. Thanks to pacer Nick Pedatella for coming up early, advising me for many years, helping the crew out during the day, pacing, and hand feeding me turkey while I ran. Its amazing to have friends at this caliber step in and help me finish these races. Thanks to pacer, JT, for coming up from Colorado Springs after racing that morning and doing the late night shift with me over Powerline. He kept me moving and probably felt my frustration and tried to keep my spirits up. The dude even stayed to watch me finish and then drove back home to watch his fiancee cross the finish line at Pikes! I wish I had his energy. Thanks to all my fellow runners and friends here in Leadville. Once again, you made me feel like a celebrity out on course by constantly yelling my name. I lost track at some point but there were over 90 shout-outs along the way from runners who came up by me or we passed going the other way and you called me by name. I didn't know 1/2 of you but I wish I did.
I am proud to be a 2 time Leadville finisher. I am proud that I was able to complete two 100 milers in one summer. But there was a sting to not getting that big buckle this time around. But I made peace with it in those last 13 miles going around the lake accompanied by my sister. I will reflect a bit on where I went wrong in another post. I gave it a shot 3 times and came up short each time. It feels like I need to step away now. People asked me after WS100 if I would go back. After I thought about it, I decided no -- unless I felt I had some distinct new edge that would catapult my results. Leadville feels the same at this point. But that could be the "day after" talking. I am the self-proclaimed mayor of this town for god sakes.
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OK. Last post before the race. A few last minute things for those that are new to this.
+ Leadville Race Series Tracking - There is promised to be live race tracking somewhere on the race site. Sometimes these things work and sometimes they don't. See how it goes. Bib #470.
+ Twitter - My crew should be tweeting throughout the day.
+ Facebook - The tweets cross-post to Facebook.
We start at 4 AM. Ready to go. A year in the making.
I opened up the training compound once again this year to all my Leadville friends to come join us for food, drink, and race chatter. Natalee and Eric helped me prepare all the food and host the party. We ended up having cars parked up and down the street out to the main road. Probably 50-60 people total stopped by.
Eric on meat!
Sir Nick still on duty.
Bill Dooper, ultrarunning's biggest fan, showing Tim the "magic list" and getting his feedback.
Chris had to work but still got to hang out and party. What a deal.
Mike Aish with camera crew still getting some last minute tips.
Frank Bozanich (winning-est ultra guy ever?) gives Tim some words of wisdom.
Slow Aaron Marks always knows what to bring to a party.
Clarkie telling Nick, Tony and I how PI is going to give out $500 to the top of Hope Pass. Better redo my splits!
Proof that Laurie is not actually sleeping all the time.
2 guys in this picture have beat KJ. It can happen.
Eric had a long day. We removed the drink from his hand.
Thanks for coming everyone!
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Just got back from a test run and I am happy to report my camera solution for Leadville is ready to roll!
Insert caption here.
Leila told me that when she was getting her crew instructions from Woody he said he was going to get all "Brandon-esque" for a minute. Uh oh. Its becoming legend.
And the yarn? Who can forget the yarn!
So how about this...Crew!...3rd year at Leadville. Just did WS100 2 months ago. You know what to do!
No major changes but a few things I have thought about:
+ One bottle all day. Its going to be cool. I will pick up another if I change my mind.
+ Wearing Hokas from the gun to Twin Lakes. Then switching to Crosslites. Then back to the dry Hokas when I return to Twin Lakes.
+ Pick up the hydration pack at Twin Lakes inbound for the night.
+ Give lights to Nick at Twin Lakes inbound.
+ May Queen inbound will only be accessed from the north.
+ Eat early and eat often.
Of course there will still be a 4 hour pre-race briefing on Friday night.
Just left race HQ...its on! Officially confirmed. Decided this afternoon. 1.8 miles total R/T added in my estimate. Finally going to run over 100 in Leadville.
Been asked enough times...what's your goal for the race? I have answered it differently depending on who asks and when they ask. Its not to be coy. Its more that I continually change my mind. There are multiple levels of success here. I will list them in importance to me.
So first and foremost, the goal is to finish Leadville and return to a non-DNF streak. Finished in 2010 -- by walking 40 miles. DNF in 2011 at 86.5 at about 4 AM -- 6 full hours before the race ended. I feel like I have plenty of time to make this happen given the will. 1000 mile buckle just needs finishes.
B. Big Buckle
So that is sub-25 hours. This was the elusive prize for the last 2 years. In 2010, it was my first 100 and I had no business chasing it. I just got into the hype like every other 1st timer saying that was my goal. But the real goal was to finish a 100 mile ultra. The Leadville 100. I did that. In 2011, I blew off the big buckle. I convinced myself that I was sub-22 ready. Maybe faster. I blew up. I missed the goal and with that the big buckle slipped away and I had nothing to show for my effort. Lesson learned. So this year its more about that buckle. I could see myself getting it in the bag at some point and starting to turn the engines down.
C. Show Potential
This is really the crux for me. I want to see if all my anal preparation, my 3 years of experience here, my possible altitude/home-court advantage can deliver me a "feel good" race. That type when you cross the line and you know you nailed it at a 95% confidence level. What will that run look like this year? Well, give the 23:22 at Western, and the ~40 minute slowdown for this course, and everything else -- I think I can run this in 23 hours. Yes, that's faster than Western. But this is what I trained for. I know this course. This is the end of the season. No holding back for another 100 miler in 2 months. Ultimately, a 100 mile PR would probably be the success criteria here.
Here is what I have been refining for a month. I tagged it at 23 hours. This allows me a full 2 hours of downside if its just not the day I hoped for. I would plan to spend most of that on the inbound section if needed. And if things are feeling right, I will try and stick to this and be able to pull off the goal that will leave me smiling all winter.
That's 10:15 to Winfield. And 12:45 back. The data from 2011 shows that the average return is 3:30 longer (+/-15 min) for sub 25. Sub-22 is 3 hours. That means I am pulling it tighter more than the average. But the average has a lot of blowing up factored in there I figure. I could mess with +/-15 minutes across the board but its a net-zero change I figure.
With the 23:00 target, I won't have to be as anal as I was at WS100. There I was running minute by minute at each aid station and I found it stressful on the day. These numbers make me run something slower than last year for most of the day, yet leave me plenty of room for variance and still making the majority of the goals on the day.
So I will print this, stuff it in my pocket and run. I will not be glued to my watch all day. I only check it at the checkpoints to give myself a sense of faster or slower or just right. Most of all, it tells my crew when they should expect to see me. Hope I can keep them believing in my ability to hit my marks!
JP had held the sole pacer spot for me for my first 2 Leadvilles. However, this year he was going to tow the line himself (but is not starting now) so I had to go and find some new folks to make this journey with me. Frankly, I couldn't be more excited with this group. Should be a good mix of fresh blood throughout the day and night just when I need it.
Winfield - Pipeline (22.5M)
Nick Pedatella - Without a blog, Nick remains the most underground ultrarunner out there. Racking up top 10 finishes nearly wherever he races, he should get me back over the pass and cranking back to the north side of the course.
Pipeline - Fish Hatchery (4.0M)
Eric Jungbauer - Fresh off his first 5K, I have my business partner running the road stretch with me. The change in line up during the section could help pump me up given I usually bonk right at this point. I won't want Eric to see that.
Fish Hatchery - May Queen (10.0M)
Jon Teisher - The most painful part of the course will be lead by my arch rival. He doesn't want me to beat his PR on this course so he will likely lead me into the woods and beat me silly. I will do my best to prove to him that I am the supreme champion in our ongoing feud.
May Queen - Finish (13.5M)
Natalee Fuller - She felt ripped off last year because she didn't get to run a half-marathon at altitude in the middle of the night with me. Oh well. Payback will be coming her way. I plan on running every step of that section.
After the big show in Leadville last weekend, the burros moved south to the town of Buena Vista for the final race in the Triple Crown series. I headed down there to see the action first hand once again. I found George and Jack over getting signed in and weighed in pre-race...and making out? George says he is the Ass Whisperer so you do what you gotta do to get your donk to run!
Justin came out of ass retirement to run today. Could he be a factor? We will see. I had a feeling it was more up to Willy than it was Justin.
The blessing of the burros. Yes, they threw water on the asses. George was getting some saddle tips from Bill Lee (white beard) minutes before. There is always an old guy with a crazy beard in any mountain race.
The scene at the start line with only a minute to go! Lots of burros this week. Not sure if the short 11 mile course attracts more competitors or what.
Brooks and I were spectating together. So we jumped in the truck and drove down to the far end of the course and ran about a mile in to catch the racers doing their thing in the wild. George was in the lead pack but wasn't breaking away like in previous weeks. It was more running this week combined with a bigger field combined with more singletrack. Jack just didn't seem to be able to find that open up and down to make his move.
We got back to town to await the finishers but figured it was going to be tight. 3 racers pulled onto Main Street together. George had about a body length on them.
I took video of the start, mid-race and finish. See the live action!
So I was a bit back when they finished. I wasn't thinking it would be such a "horse race" to the finish. I regret not being up at the line to see the noses come across. Proud of George and his work with the burros this summer. I personally would have been stoked to win at Fairplay and Leadville like he did. Buena Vista? Eh. Great job, buddy.
Overall, I met many people who have changed their racing to include animals in it. Who's next?
That's it for my 2012 burro coverage!
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