Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Adventures76 Comments

Distance 50 miles
Time 9:09:46 (PR)
Overall 31st of 311
Division 11th in M30-39
GPS Analysis Garmin Connect


Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Another 50 miler in the books. Going to be a little whiny in this post. Not trying to take away from what I did or what others around me did. I just failed to meet some of my expectations for the day yet showed massive improvement. Never being satisfied seems to be a trend in my running. Sort of keeps me going.

I signed up for this race as a way to do a supported 50 mile training run before the Leadville 100. Its 5 weeks out so plenty of time to recover. This 50 mile race was my first real ultra and it kicked my ass back in 2008 in its inaugural year. But it was a huge eye opener. Since then I hadn’t been back but did have some desire to avenge my performance of that year in which I finished in 12 1/2 hours. That was a long time to run back then and still is!

Of course, when race day came around, it didn’t feel like a training run anymore! It felt like I had to race 50 miles and I was fairly excited about the possibilities. I had been training for a pretty decent 100 mile performance so 50 ought to be a piece of cake. But frankly, that is like the difference between a half marathon and a marathon. You train differently for those in my opinion and same goes here. But my increased speed and proficiency on trails has got to count for something. A PR seemed in the bag.

Brooks came up and stayed with us for the weekend. He was talking all kinds of smack and encouragement and I started getting more excited about this race and the 100 in August in which we both will line up together. Anyway, Brooks got up with me at 5 AM and we ate some stuff then he drove me the 1.75 miles to the start. I did have some brilliant idea of running over there but the cold darkness at 5:30 AM sort of threw that out. Arrived at the start and saw a bunch of people that I knew and some I didn’t but they knew me. Blog stuff. One person said something to the effect of “If you run in Colorado, its the law — you must blog it.” Kind of true. We like to make everyone else jealous because we live in the trail running mecca as far as I am concerned.


Credit: Amy Schneider

There is me up front marked by the red arrow. Race went out at 6 AM. There is a shotgun start then a race up the hill to claim some silver prize. Thought about it for 2 seconds but then a couple dudes just went. Like hands and feet screaming up the hill for the prize. It was all out and funny to watch from behind. We settled onto the trail above and it was time to get into rhythm. Saw Pat Garcia up leading and hoped that he would have a great day as he was off to a leadership position from the start.

I ran pretty good mile splits that I was happy with at this point but something was wrong. I had this gut pain that was relentless. No clue what it was but it was a knot. Not good. Didn’t really do anything special or different. Just instantly popped up on the first hill. Ultras are long and I assumed this would go away with time, eating, or crapping.

Just before the first aid station, it was time to take a dump. This is a notable development because I figured it would cure me. I had to wait 4 minutes to use the pot while someone was inside doing god knows what. Finally got inside and it was worth the wait. Didn’t want to do that in the woods. It was all water. Figured things would be better now. I was probably in there a couple minutes myself but I was pleasantly excited to wait and then come out and see no huge herd of runners passing by. 1 or 2. Nice. I must be out way in front of the herd. This is the best part of being faster. Less contention for resources.

Unfortunately, this pitstop fixed nothing. Still running decent but I am just not comfortable. Very distracting. Made the best of it. The climb out to Iowa Amphitheater is long. Its 10 miles from the start. Muddy and wet. Shoes were wet but the MT101s I had on quickly get the water out. Felt pretty good about the run all the way out there. I recall that being a total grind in my first run here and now the miles just ticked away. That was sweet. Made the turn and ran the road the long 3 miles downhill to aid station 2. I wasn’t really running that downhill fast. I mentally think the minimal shoes kept me from bombing down the rocky road to preserve my feet. Got passed here and there but that was cool. I wasn’t too concerned with position at this point.

Aid stations went flawlessly all day. Volunteers where always there and (overly) eager to help. I usually tossed my bottle to them before ever stopping as someone would usually come down the road 50-100 feet to service you inbound. They would take my bottle, fill it, and get it back to me. I went right in every aid station and slammed 1 or 2 cups of Coke and grabbed a handful of pretzels. That’s the only thing I took from the buffet all day. Then I was gone. Felt really positive about my aid stations, minus the poop time. I took a safety follow-up crap at aid station 2 as well. That was the final bathroom break of the day. Gut still an issue.

Its downhill for a mile after aid station 2 and I enjoyed that. The next grind was up to Ball Mountain. This was the first time that I started doing run/walk transitions. It wasn’t that bad of a grade but I was just bouncing depending on pace and feel. Thought I should keep on the run to stay up front, but also wanted to bank a little recovery on some ups. The problem was when I ran, I would pass people but when I hiked, I was passed. I am consistently passed on the hikes. I am not fast. I have a total disadvantage still on this. I need to work on this before the LT100. I already knew this but today re-affirmed it.

Pretty dull from that point. Got to aid station 3, then went around Ball Mountain. I remember that sucking but it went really quick. There was a single and not even notable snow field crossing on the backside. Hit the top and then descended. That part is steep down and I was reserved once again. A total contrast to my bomb down behavior in my Crosslites. Hmmm. But these lighter shoes should pay off over the long haul. From there you zig zag down and the leaders started coming from the opposite direction. Always a nice diversion to count them and see who is doing what. The leader was unknown to me and went on to win. He had a good chunk of time on #2. Saw Pat at #4. Finally, pulled into the turnaround aid station and had counted around 25 folks give or take.

Went over and called for my drop bag. Grabbed a refill on GUs and put my hat on with iPod attached. Given the stomach issue, I felt like I needed some sort of distraction. I had it in there in case and was going to be happy without I thought. Felt good heading out to some tunes. Made things feel more normal. Saw a bunch of friends like Leila DeGrave and David Clark heading inbound as I left. I knew they would be on my tail in no time.

Knew the hike back up to the pass on Ball Mountain would be a bitch. Luckily, some caffeine boost got me running all of the lower section pretty nicely. The top is tough though. I took my bottle and stuffed in my shorts in back and used hand on leg power to get to the top. Long grind but once again it wasn’t “I want to die” bad. Felt like it came just in time. Leila caught me at the summit and started down but then turned to tell me to lead down because she thought I would be faster. I appreciated it but I waved her forward. I had a bad feeling. Saw Lisa Hayen right there at the top too but neither of us had time for introductions.

The downhill from there sucked. My abs were shot. I can’t explain it but it seemed like all the gut stress and freaked them out. That’s a technical term. I felt like my abs were shredded and barely able to hold by intestines from spilling on the course. There is a lot of tightening in the abs on downhill and maybe I was just blown out. This hampered my speed and Leila pulled away.

Continued to make my way back along the way we came. Its an out and back course so you know what’s coming. I got back to aid station 3 and barely stopped moving. Wanted to get time where I could. Somehow I found a decent rhythm to descend from there but it wasn’t normal pacing at all. Glad when it was over though as we started to climb up to aid station 2. Uphill relieved the pressure. Its just that I was slower than others and lost a few places on each climb. Came into the aid station and made quick work and left. Didn’t see my family. However, they were just down the road and I was able to share about 2 minutes with them roadside before getting back to work.

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Kim has a knack for catching the “Most Confused Looking Runner Moment”.

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Kayla was so confused as to why Daddy showed up but then ran away. She started chasing me down the road with the dog crying and yelling for me. Amusing, not heart breaking today.

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

The next part of the course is like the worst of the day. You have to run 3 miles back up to Iowa. Its not the worst grade but it climbs to 12,000 feet and seems to never end. This is the crux of the good or bad time. So I tried to walk then run. Repeat. Figured some is better than none. I spent myself in 2008 just walking up this section and probably did some damage there today too. I could still see Leila in the distance so I figured I was at least being consistent with my pace in my condition. I started day dreaming about a system where the race director would give you a ticket you could cash in for a free mile on the course. Like they would pick you up and bus you forward a mile. But you had to strategize where to use that. That was my only real mind fart of the day. Finally made the turn and headed back downhill for the final 10 miles back to the start.

Ouch! Gut was worse. I actually had to pull up to the walk a few times just to loosen it up. Had lots of time to hydrate here and got every drop out of the bottle. Dry. Oops. I was good all day on water it seemed but now I was 2 miles out in the best heat of the day and dry. Took a bit of a toll on me but just kept moving and finally pulled into aid station 1 for a huge reload. Drank cups and filled the bottle. And my cheerleader was there! Brooks had run out from the start to this aid station. He had been run spectating along the way. We walked out of the aid station together sharing details on what he had seen and how I was doing. Conveyed my difficulty but he was Mr. Positive. From there he would take off down trail for a while and I would come back on him later as he was in full photo and video mode.

I was having a few moments of recovery and speed but it wasn’t lasting. The ultra was taking its toll. Didn’t really feel bad anywhere but in the gut and in the head. Ready to be done but the job isn’t over yet. I had expected to see more carnage. Used to that when I run mid-pack. But more towards the front it doesn’t happen as much. Picked off a couple guys that had decided to walk it in. Found some speed once I made my way towards the final mile marker. This Eminem song comes on about his comeback and I instantly teared up. It was all sub-conscious but I went back to the moment from 2008 where I was in the fight of my life on this last mile. Here I was now having a fairly lackluster day (instead of what I planned) and I was running decent. Some sort of comeback. Or payback. Or whatever. I returned to this race and I felt like I kicked its ass in some respects — even though it wasn’t my best day.

Brooks stood right at the base of the final climb and told me to go after this small pack of guys just ahead. I ran hard instantly but then petered out at the top. Luckily, I brought it back and got 2 of the guys. 1 still ahead. Finally, came down the last singletrack shoot and saw Kim standing there shooting pictures. Great position!

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

Turned on to the Mineral Belt path for the finish line and sprinted ahead of the final guy to finish in 9:09. I was glad to be done running. This course always measures short by the GPS but its not a trivial run by any stretch. Got my medal and silver bracelet and went and sat in the shade to cool down. Tried to visualize if this was Winfield, what’s next? But I was more excited to be going home to a cool shower and a comfy couch this time.

I had hoped for a 8:XX finish but it didn’t happen. Brooks was yelling at me to make it happen but I just didn’t have any desire. Nothing was on the line except a number. Maybe some other time. Felt close though. Less gut issues. Maybe subtract a potty break. Oh well. That’s how it goes. Thanks Brooks for all your help this weekend. I hope that burrito I made you was payback.

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run 2011

In closing, this race was really about the build to the LT100 this year so here are some initial impressions:

+ I wore my MT101s and they held up for this distance but I wouldn’t have wanted to run 100 in them. My feet were getting tired and beaten a bit. Those shoes are great but the heal was digging on me after 50 miles. It doesn’t happen on regular runs. I did like the drainage in the creeks though. It was great. Thinking I might run these shoes over Hope Pass to get the water our.

+ The gut thing needs to be explored. Was it just some bug I got? Later learned that my wife had stomach issues that day too. Cross infection? So maybe just a fluke. But I gotta believe some core work would help too.

+ Hiking. I am slow. Damn. If I did nothing more than hike Hope Pass every weekend until the race, I think it could be my biggest time savings. I don’t know. I like to run. Hiking just isn’t me. Neither is hard core MTB-ing by the way. That race did not look fun.

+ Felt like I was just able to run a lot more this race than any past ultra. That is what I concentrated on. But others passed by me that run less mileage but had more speed. Maybe the gut came into play. I probably need to get back to speed next now that I have a base after this season.

+ I finished today within range of others that have or are planning to get big buckles in August. That bodes well. That probably the biggest confidence boost I could have gotten.

+ BTW, Brooks got confirmation that the buckles will have the NEW logo on them. Not sure how we all will feel about that!

In the end, I still haven’t had a single ultra that went “my way”. I have executed some great races in the past but I still feel due at a distance like this. Surely, its more difficult because of the distance and time involved. Hopefully, that will happen in August. I can live with that.

I went 46.58 miles with an elevation gain of 7,740 feet in 09:09:44, which is an average pace of 11:48. View my GPS data on Garmin Connect.