2013 Leadville Marathon – race report
In my May-July build-up for the Leadville 100 I’ve chosen 6 long races – 5 genuine ultras and the ultra-like Leadville Marathon – to test my fitness and mind (and to have some fun). That’s a heavy race schedule for me and there’s no time for resting in between races, as that’s when the “real” training happens. I’ve made peace with the reality that my performance won’t be top notch for any of the races since I’m not really tapering for any of them and often running long (2-5 hours) on the non-race days, too.
Even so, I’m taking each race seriouslyish, trying to get good food in me every day and enough sleep to recover between runs. The goal for each of these races is steady forward movement, running as much as I can with focused hiking when I can’t, while limiting wasted time at aid stations and finishing with a hard effort the last couple of miles. These “training races” have been great for testing out gear (Hokas great for dirt roads, Salomon SpeedCross 3s better for the sloppier, more technical stuff), nutrition (gels as often as I can down them, real food at aid stations), and hydration (single hand bottle sufficient for up to 2-hour segments if it isn’t super hot).
My results have been very average over the 5 completed races. But, they’ve been great tests of mind and body, with long efforts in big fields almost every week. A flat (for CO) 50k (Greenland), a rugged 50mi (Quad Rock), a steep 50k (Dirty 30), a wooded, hot, night-time 60k (Capt’n Karl’s at Pedernales Falls, TX), and now what has to be one of the toughest 26.2 races in the U.S., the Leadville Marathon. The marathon plays out much like an ultra, both in terrain and finishing times. Out of a field of 517 starters with many accomplished runners in the mix, only 3 broke 4 hours. That says a lot. I was pleased to go 5:10, good for 71st overall.
But that’s just part of the story. You see, trail running, even the racing, is just part of the mountain lifestyle. The people involved and the situations we get ourselves into all contribute to the experience, which is often ridiculous. The plan for Leadville this past weekend was to meet running buddy Mike Oliva at the Denver airport, where he was picking up another friend, Maria, who was flying in from Wyoming for the Leadville “Heavy Half” Marathon (a 15.5 mile race that shares some of the marathon course, with the same start, high point, and finish line). We’d take off from the airport mid-afternoon, make the easy drive to Leadville, and have the evening to relax before a solid night of sleep, waking up 10 minutes from the race start. Simple plan. So, it was a bit of hiccup when, 10 miles west of Golden, in the left-lane of highway 70, Mike’s car lost all power.
Nearly two hours of waiting on a tow-truck, hanging out in the grass median, with cars whizzing by at 80MPH 20 feet away, with about 17 trillion angry ants crawling over our flip-flopped feet, unfed, and unclear of what might happen next, we were a bit off schedule. Ultimately, Mike was able to get the car started again and we drove on back to Denver, grabbed some dinner and drinks, then headed back to DIA to rent a car for the trip. That didn’t go too well, as we hit stop and go traffic at 10pm heading to the airport, finally getting a car and back to Mike’s place to crash out around midnight. Maybe 4 hours of broken sleep later, our sorry ass trio dragged ourselves into the rental and made it to Leadville around 7:25am for the 8am start. All part of the fun.
Cool thing is, we all did well in our races and had a good weekend. Maria was 3rd female overall in the Heavy Half, an especially impressive feat considering she had no time to acclimatize to the altitude (we ran up to 13,200′) and was coming off relatively little run training. Mike Oliva was disappointed not to win the marathon, coming in 4th overall (70 MINUTES ahead of me, yikes!). He’s just a stud – to be just 40 seconds off the podium in a big, competitive race was remarkable after the physical and mental rigors of the previous 16 hours.
My race was uninspired but solid, no major suffering, steady effort all morning, finishing with a 6:40ish mile 26. Another good day in the mountains, another step towards being prepared for the 100 on August 17-18.
It has been a huge couple of weeks for my running peeps. A quick rundown of an incomplete list of awesome friends:
NorthFork 50k – John LaCroix 14th overall
Northfork 50mi – Alberto Rossi 3rd overall
Leadville Marathon – Mike Oliva 4th overall
Leadville Heavy Half – David Roche 1st overall (CR), Maria 3rd female
Mohican 50mi – Ryan Lassen 5th overall
TARC 100mi – Greg Salvesen 7th overall
Mt. Evans Ascent 14mi uphill – Matt Wiencek kicked ass, getting “the rock” award for sub-2:40
San Diego 100 – Olga King 4th female