Leadville Heavy Half Marathon 2011

Activities9 Comments

Distance 15+ Miles
Time 2:36:11
Rank 8th Overall; 3rd in Men 30-39
GPS Analysis Garmin Connect


Going into the summer I figured I need to do a couple races before the LT100. So I signed up for the Silver Rush 50. Then figured we would be in Leadville for the 4th of July so I might as well race that weekend too. I don’t particularly care for the marathon course here but have fond memories of the half marathon. They share much of the same course but the half spares you the 2 trips around Ball Mountain. So I figured that would be a good race for me since its only two weeks before the 50 and it might actually be sort of fun. Run up, run down. Done.

Kim let me off the hook and I could have left any day during the week but some weird work stuff didn’t get me in the mood to get out the door. Finally, I left on Thursday and arrived to 40 degree temps and rain. Yuck. It was summer 100 miles away. Never fear — it was perfect once again the next morning. I did a little 3 mile jog then went to packet pickup. Race HQ has moved across the street into a building that Lifetime Fitness purchased. They have been renovating it. Looks nice but kind of lost that homey feel. There aren’t any trinkets or buckles on display there yet either. But they opened for this weekend so I expect them to dress it up in the weeks to come.

My family arrived later on Friday. I was glad to see the arrive. I was in a weird funk all day. Maybe it was nerves? I hadn’t raced seriously in months and I was sort of freaking out. I don’t know why. It wasn’t rational. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I wasn’t worried at all. I could run that course in my sleep. What I seemed to be worried about was just having a bad day. I was not trusting in my training. I was sure that I would take 2 steps and fall apart and come in last and life would suck and I would be embarrassed. I have no clue why this emotion came up but I was only glad that it was going through the motions now instead of in August at the big dance.

Things were further complicated by Kayla (our almost 2 year old) not wanting to sleep. I gave up and went to another bedroom. I subsequently could not fall asleep. My body ached. I sat on the floor in the dark for 2 hours and stretched slowly while playing Tiny Wings on my iPhone. I wasn’t tired. Finally, fell asleep and woke up on my own around 6 AM for a race start at 8 AM.

Showed up to find the usual scene in front of the 6th Street Gym. I hit the john and did enough business that I was confident that was it for the morning. Nice. Walked up and fell in line about 1 deep right behind the Lifetime CEO. I recognized him from last year. He was directing a photo crew. This is a big investment for Lifetime so I guess I like that the CEO is here in the mix and running. Makes the ownership change feel like it could be a good thing for years to come.

We counted down from 10 and I closed my eyes and willed myself to have a good day. Bang! We were off. The line didn’t go out that fast and I suddenly was nearly leading the pack. I wasn’t running too hard but I was behind the cop car parading up 6th. I quickly started letting off a bit on the first roller and let a pack go by. Chill, dude. Chill.

Runners go out for the first mile together then the marathon and half-marathon splits. So I wasn’t sure who was racing me until that point. The marathon had a group of hard chargers. Glad I didn’t have to chase that today. We had 5-6 heading up the road in front of me. Perfect.

I climbed well to the first aid station. Steady running. HR was right at 160. I wanted no more on the dial than that. Just held that. Got passed a few times. Passed a few. Nothing great. Lots of folks wanted to talk during that exchange and I made it clear I don’t really like to talk by grunting my answers back to them.

I came into Aid Station 1 (AS1) with another guy. We looked at the table and there was nothing on it. WATER? WATER? I yelled. I didn’t bring a bottle on purpose. I knew there were 3 aids to the top so screw it. But AS1 was not setup yet when we arrived. We didn’t break stride and cruised through. Short downhill section. Felt good to ease off the HR a bit to gather myself.

Another 1.x miles to AS2. I arrived there in no time and grabbed 3 cups of water and slammed them all and left. BURP. BURP. Dang it. Took a few minutes to get into a rhythm. Used to bottles. Maybe I should have just brought it. Oh well. Next was the climb to Mosquito Pass and the turnaround. Normally, this is heavily walked by most of the racers. But today I was up front in the half and we were running it. It really just cruised by. Somewhere during mile 7 I went to the hike because it was steep and the run was slower than a power hike. Good practice anyway. A bit later, the leader came by me. I had traded a few more positions on the climb so I didn’t know where I sat but now all I had to do was count. 1! 2! Then a gap. 3-4-5. Gap. Anyway, I ended up coming into the turn as 11 and 12 were leaving. 13. Lucky 13. I have work to do now. 1:35 in.

Once you reach the top of Mosquito Pass at over 13,000 feet, its quite a view. I took in none of it today. I slammed a GU, said hi to Ken, and turned on my afterburners. Go time. I wore the La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0s for this downhill. I started moving downhill as fast as I could without falling. People are coming up at you so its a little dicey but there is plenty of room. Before the first switchback, I had caught 2 folks. I was hovering over the rocks, or so it felt. I am no downhill god. My friends like JV often kick my butt easily. But no one was coming from behind and I was eating up people in front of me. It was quite fun. But the icing on the cake was the 7 or 8 people that I passed going the other way that said, “Go Brandon!”. I don’t know who they all were but they knew me (blog) and I appreciated the confidence booster.

Made it down to the flatter ground and the lead marathoners were going the opposite way. Didn’t really pay too much attention. Saw Wyatt Hornsby and gave him a shout out. A bit of water running across the trail here. On the climb, I stayed away from it. On the way, down…splash city. I was spraying anyone nearby. On a mission to get to 10th. That seemed awesome. But finally there was no one I could see in front of me. A gap. Damn. I just kept running. I hit the AS2 again and slammed 1 water and moved on. Somewhere on the next descent I saw #10. Bingo.

I kept moving and was getting closer. There is a poorly timed uphill section on the way home. I put myself into climbing gear and I was all on. He wasn’t. He went to the hike and suddenly I was in 10th now. Now the hunter felt like the hunted. I need to hold this. I started looking over my shoulder for the first time in the race. However, that quickly changed as I saw #9 up in front. We turned a corner and AS1 was there. There was a port-o-pot and #9 was gone. I only assume he went inside. #9 now…I think. I wasn’t sure because it wasn’t a visible pass.

From there, its a painful yet glorious 3 mile descent back to town. Just wide open fire road. I was moving strong. Low 6s on the pace. Legs felt beautiful. Gut was starting to ache from the pounding. I started to question my ability to hold it. Looking over the shoulder again. Nobody. That’s good. Suddenly, I saw #8 up in front. He was a younger kid that I exchanged glances with on the start line. He lead us out with me then took the lead pack. I figured he would have won but now I was gaining on him. Ended up coming up next to him and we traded the lead for the next 2 miles. He would get ahead then fade, then my turn. I tried to gas it a few times when he faded to break him but he would come back. Oh well. Decide it at the line.

We made the turn onto 6th Street and I could see the finish line in the distance. I made another look back and saw this kid from the summit on our tails. Damn. I didn’t want to lose a spot. The kid was like 14 too. Really. No way. I turned on the gas and started to drop my buddy too. 5s on the pace. Some guy rode by me on a bike and said “Great job”. I started counting as soon as he went by….1-one thousand…2-one thousand…I wanted to see when I heard him talk to the kid in pursuit. I think I heard something around 12 or so. Not sure. I was safe but I kept on it. Saw my family on the side. I had told them 2:30 on the clock and I was a few minutes late. Not too bad. Ran through the finish line and kept on going down 6th for a bit. Done. Finished. Ouch?

Leadville Heavy Half Marathon 2011

Leadville Heavy Half Marathon 2011

Leadville Heavy Half Marathon 2011

My return to the 1/2 in Leadville after a 4 year absence. An hour chopped off. Not too shabby. 8th place overall, 3rd in age group. I felt pretty good when I crossed that line. I gave it a strong effort. The ascent could have been better. I haven’t worked the climbing. I felt really tight in the lungs. I should have come up earlier. Oh well. The descent seemed pretty flawless given the result. Pretty excited about it. Not sure if its a big confidence booster for the next two races yet but it felt right. I felt satisfied with that outing. That means the most to me. Seems evident by the data too.

Went to the awards dinner and got to pick up my 3rd place in division trophy. I sort of feel pretty proud of this thing. 4 years ago I watched others get awards and thought that will never be me. Now today, I was up there getting my own Leadville mining pan trophy. Its not like some little local 5K trophy. Its from Leadville. A place where I have been investing a lot of myself. People recognize that name. It means something. Hopefully, the first of many to come.

Leadville Heavy Half Marathon 2011

Also a shout out to all the people I met today pre-race, post-race, and at the grocery. Having people do the “Are you Brandon Fuller?” doesn’t get old. “I read your blog” is the next sentence out of their mouths. It doesn’t hurt that my race reports show up like #2 behind the race itself in search results. One lady told me that she was here because of my race report. Not sure if she meant that truly but it was cool to hear. Blows my mind that people come from flatland places to run here. Somedays I question my own ability and I have all the access I can get. Kudos to those of you that came and conquered. I hope you will return. There are more challenges to be had in Leadville, Colorado!

I went 15.57 miles with an elevation gain of 3,386 feet in 02:36:11, which is an average pace of 10:01. Heart rate average was 152. View my GPS data on Garmin Connect.