Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Leadville 100M

Time: 24:16:26
Overall: 43 of 210 finishers
6th female, 3rd masters
Look at the loot they give you for finishing Leadville! I received a silver pan for 3rd masters, a pendant because I am a girl, a sweatshirt with my name and time printed on the sleeve and the gold and silver 25 hr buckle and a finishers medal (not shown). Since this was the 25th anniversary of the race they allowed 600 runners to register but only 498 started. With numbers like that and an out and back course that meant the aid stations and trails were going to be busy. With that in mind and my eye on the 25 hour prize we came up with a plan to minimize time in the main aid stations and use the other crew access points. If I was going to get under 25 hours at Leadville with only 70% acclimation I was going to have to run a really good race and hope that I would be free of any big issues, I simply didn't have enough time for anything but running.

With a week of bad weather prior to the race I was prepared to be wet all day long. Not a big deal for an Oregonian but with temperatures getting as low as 34 degrees being wet and cold would spell disaster, the goal would be to stay as dry as possible. My crew showed up on Thursday afternoon with piles of clothes and gear ready for anything that came up. We immediately got busy planning as the afternoon rain created small swimming pools around camp and Bill was busy securing the tent and awnings because with the rain came big winds. Yikes!, was the only word that came to my mind but Stacey, Micheal and Jim just laughed it off as we counted the number of gloves, shirts and jackets I had.

The morning came quickly with the 4:00 a.m. start. It was cold but when I looked outside and saw the abundant amount of stars I was relieved, the rain was gone for now. I ate a bagel with cream cheese, a yogurt, had a small amount of coffee and 20 oz of G2O. The start line was buzzing with hundreds of people, it made WS100M look tame as the music howled through the tiny city. Residents were out in their yards waiting for runners to come by so they could cheer them on before their last night cap :). The one thing the Grand Slam has cured me of is pre-race jitters, doing one right after another doesn't leave much time for jitters. I lined up in the top 3rd of the crowd knowing that we had 3M of road to get somewhat settled and I wouldn't be anybodys way. By the time we hit the lake trail we should all be in the train we are comfortable with and if not, passing would be a big effort. The race director gave us one more motivational line before the gun went off, "Remember, you are better than you think you are and can do more than you think you can"........very nice words and good ones to remember in the wee hours of the night.

Off we went and all downhill like bullets for 4 miles, hundreds of lights in front and behind me. I settled into a nice pace and reached the 4 mile mark in 9:30's and just kept up the pace because I knew we would be slowed by the the technical powerline road that climbs to the lake trail. I was carrying one handheld with 2 gels stuffed in the pouch because my crew would be at the Tabor Boat ramp at mile 7.0. There they would send me off with another full handheld and more gels for another 6.5 miles around the lake. The G2O seemed so sweet as I sipped it slowly, I was full from breakfast and probably still a bit asleep. When I reached Tabor I was in a good train of people and was shocked at the number of cars and crew there. I just dropped my used bottle on the ground and grabbed the new one on my way by. Hmmmm....this would be scene pretty much all day.....thanks guys.......bye guys. I could hear Stacey giggling as I left the boat ramp. Continuing on the lake trail I was in a good spot with only about 5 people and nobody close behind or in front, strange with all the entrants. I arrived at Mayqueen (13.5M) about 20 minutes ahead of schedule and feeling very comfortable. At Mayqueen I see Alex and my in laws who were there to give me a new bottle and a bar. I gave them my flashlight and was off to do the first big climb of the day. After Mayqueen we head uphill on a paved road then take a turn onto the Colorado Trail leading to Haggerman Pass Road. This 1.5 mile section of the Colorado Trail is very rocky and reminds me of stream bed without the water. At the top of the Colorado I see Beast and Amy who are waiting for me with my small Nathan pack and two handhelds for the climb up and over Sugarloaf Mtn. and down Powerline road. My plan is to start working here and I run the entire road up to the turn for the bigger climb and run all of that as well. I am being chased by a couple of girls and that is a little fun so we chat, run, pass back and forth for 8 miles down to Powerline Road where Beast and Amy again are waiting to take all my stuff so I can run with nothing for 1.2 miles into Fish Hatchery where I see Bill, Stacey, Micheal and Jim. I go right through the aid station and back onto the paved road that I will run for 4.5 miles to Treeline. The runners share this road with the crew cars so it's really motivating and fun to see all the crews and hear all the honking. I run this section hard and lose my two girls. I am feeling pretty good at this point which is about 25 miles into the race. The only thing that seems new is all my foods taste weird. Salty stuff tastes super salty, sweet stuff tastes overly sweet and G2O tastes terrible, I can't drink it anymore. I love G2O and I use it not only for the calories but the salt so if I am not going to drink it I will need to substitute.

At Treeline (27.5M) I am about 40 minutes ahead of my 24:59:26 pace chart but I am not over confident because the hardest parts are yet to come. No more going light, I have to put on my bladder pack for this next section over to Halfmoon then Twin Lakes (mile 39.5). I will need at least 50 oz of water to get from Halfmoon to Twin Lakes. If I go with less water and maintain my calorie requirements I will be at more than a 10% concentration level of carbs to water and risk nausea. I could cut back on my calories but would rather carry the weight. Since Leadville 100M allows muling I will be carrying nothing on the way back so off I go with heavy pack. The runners travel on a gravel road for 2.5 miles before we pop into Halfmoon then back out on the road for another 2.5 miles to the trail junction. There is a ton of road at Leadville and if you want 25 hours you have to run the roads well and focused so I tried to keep that in my mind the whole time.

In this section to Twin Lakes it was surprisingly lonely. Again I was shocked at how few people were on the trail as I counted only 5 guys the entire 9 miles to twin lakes......where is everyone? This is a nice section of single track but long and the high point is 10,200. When you reach the high point you start a gradual descent into Twin Lakes. I got into a nice groove and was happy I was able to maintain my lead as I headed out for the first trip over Hope Pass. At Twin Lakes I chose to keep the bladder pack so I could have enough room to carry my coat and my hat. The looming clouds over Hope Mountain had me concerned. After we leave Twin Lakes the runners travel through a marshy area for about 1 mile before crossing the river. I did not do this in training so Beast was just sure I was going be soaked to bone and fall in the river so off he runs ahead of me with his camera just waiting for moment I was upside down in the marsh. With the weeks of rain the marshy area had become more like a series of small ponds that we needed to wade through and all of them came up to my knee. If you don't like wet feet your in trouble. The river crossing was about mid thigh on me and they had a rope and volunteers to aid us across. I told Beast I was just too stubborn to fall in! He ran all this way and got himself soaked for nothing.....I wasn't going to fall no matter what! After the river the climb to Hope Pass begins and so does the thunder, rain and hail. I pull out my coat and hat and settle in for the long climb. I feel really slow and can't seem to get the umfffff I wanted to power this climb. The rain and hail didn't help but it was not big deal as it would stop and start the whole way up. I consume all the gels I could find in my pack and wonder if my crew forgot some. Fortunately I had a hummus burrito and an Organic Food Bar so I nibbled on those but without the quick energy gels I wasn't feeling on fire. I lost about 20 minutes on my lead on the climb alone and was a bit down in dumps. I didn't allow for enough time for the swamp and I couldn't make anything up on the climb so I tried to get my legs going on the steep descent into Winfield. This section is very rocky and too steep for me to let it rip and I found myself putzing down it. At the bottom we are again on a dirt road that is shared with crews heading into Winfield. The road rolls up mostly and is about 2.3 miles long. I am out of fuel but continue to drink my water and take salt tabs. I reach Winfield in 11:13 and my plan was 11:39 so still ahead of schedule but I lost some time and I knew the climb back up Hope was not going to be swift.

At Winfield I pick up Jim and he is loaded down with all my stuff. This becomes the big joke of the my race.....all my pacers are loaded down with water, gels, food, clothes and my "magic hat". The hat gets the funny name because I have to wear my glasses to run any bit of rain on them makes it hard to see so every drop of rain that comes down I ask for the hat then in about 30 seconds I hand it back. Every time I switch pacers I say, "do you guys have my hat"?, "yes......we have the magic hat". Back to the race, Jim and I take off and I put on my music and bust down the road back to the Hope Pass Trail Head. I feel really good as we work our way up the mountain seeing all the people behind me make their way down. It was fun to see everyone I knew and cheer them on as they raced to beat cutoffs. I see some slam mates and they say their done but we encourage them to continue and many stuck it out as long as they could. It was hard to see folks struggling and I felt for them because it's not easy knowing you have to come back up to 12,700! I feel the altitude and don't waste any breath talking when Jim and I get above 11,500, I just needed to focus on strong breaths. Jim was awesome feeding me gels every 30 minutes and water every 10 minutes on the dot! The pass was beautiful and clear with no rain, just blue sky and great views. We crest the top and start the descent. We can see the Hopeless aid station, their tents and lamas from the summit. I tell Jim we are within 5 minutes of Hopeless and since I feel super strong I tear off down the hill. When we reached Hopeless aid station I run past it without stopping, the plan was for me to run through all the aid stations unless I needed something so we began implementing. I blew by yelled my number and Jim re-supplied. I took the downhills as hard as could without falling and we made it down the river in 29:54! Across the river we go and through the swamp.

Arriving at the Twin Lakes (60.5M) 40 minutes ahead of my pace chart, making up the time I had lost on first trip up Hope Pass the mood was good all around. Though I have time in the bank I feel like I am running against the clock and I am so I waste no time. I leave Twin Lakes without stopping forcing Micheal to catch up with me after he got my magic hat from Jim. I know we have to climb for about an hour, at least that's what I estimate it will take to reach the high point before we start our descent into Halfmoon. We hammer out the climb and make the top in 42 minutes but the trail is more rolling than I expected lacking the big downhill I dreamt up but we stay focused arriving at Halfmoon on time. With a quick in and out of the aid station we hear that Anton has won in 16:14, over an hour faster than last year but still short of the course record. We have 2.5 miles on a gravel road to reach Treeline, all downhill and fast. Into Treeline with still 35 minutes ahead of schedule I feel good living off of gels, water and some salt tabs but using 4X sodium gels for most of my electrolytes. I ate minimal solids after my first climb up Hope Pass, I am just not hungry but not full or nauseous. I gave up G2O early as it just didn't taste good but I am stuffing gels in every 20-30 minutes and drinking a ton of water. My weight is good along with my energy and stomach so this diet must be fine. Normally I eat more solids but I don't know if it's the altitude or what but nothing tastes very good.

At Treeline I pick up Stacey for 4.5 miles to Fish Hatchery and then the 1.2 miles to Powerline where we will see crew. This section is the flat paved road and I need to do it in less than a 13 minute pace on this slightly uphill road and that includes checking in and out of the Fish Hatchery. It seems so doable on paper but at mile 73 my legs are lacking the turnover. Stacey runs in front of me and I chase her as hard as I can so we can make the splits and have some room to spare. At Powerline (78M) I pick up Micheal and we head up what some describe as the worst climb of the course. Not because It's harder than Hope Pass but because it's steep, on a washed out powerline road and comes around mile 80 in the run. I counted 5 false summits during training so I knew what to expect which made it less annoying but not easier. The only part that made it great was around mile 85 when we reached the summit and the numerous amount of stars that shined in the sky and feeling of excitement I had to have such a great experience and feel so strong and supported, pretty much all the feelings of fatigue seemed to leave my body as Micheal and I tore down Poweline into Mayqueen.....I knew under 25 was in the bag......thank you mile 85!

Leaving Mayqueen with Jim we worked the lake trail well and we seemed to come into Tabor Boat Ramp fast. A lot of crews were waiting at Tabor and the crowd was pumped up which made my mood even better. From Tabor to the finish Micheal and I ran as hard as my legs would run. It's a long 7 miles of uphill dirt and paved road to finish. We played leap frog with two other runners the whole way and the three of us finished within seconds of each other.

At the finish I was surprised to see my hubby who was supposed to be pacing Tom and Beast who was supposed to be pacing Steve. Both timed out and were bummed but ready to come back. My in laws had gotten up and brought Alex, Tom got up and came down along with my crew so the greeting at the end was indescribable. The love and friendships I have had through this summer makes me so thankful, I truly would not want to do these without them. My crew was unbelievable, so focused and full of energy and never lost their sense of humor and at mile 90 we were laughing.

This race is a must do, with beautiful country and great race support from everyone in the community. The town of Leadville is charming and fun to hang around and learn the history of the area and it's residents. Stacey, Micheal and Jim all want to do the race so I will be working hard in the weight room because I am sure they will load me down with lots of gear as payback. Bill awarded Jim the "golden burro" cup for being the biggest pack mule in the crowd.

Physically I felt strong all day and was surprised at how much leg power I had for number 3. My feet did well with no blisters or lost toenails even with two trips through the swamp. When I took my socks off my feet looked like hamburger from all the silt but when they got cleaned up they were fine. I was never nauseous which surprised me because so many people talked about stomach issues with this race and it's altitude. This next turn around will only be 3 weeks but I feel good already. As my family and I make our way back to Portland we are in the Canyonlands and Arches hiking and seeing all the sights. Bill drug me on a 3 mile hike in 100 degree weather on Tuesday and I ran into someone from Leadville on the trail to the Delicate Arch.....small world, be sure you are nice :).


Andy said...

Congratulations Ronda! You're just having an awesome series. I can't wait to see you at the finish of Wasatch, and am looking forward to seeing the rest of the Rooster Crew there as well.

olga said...

Ronda, this REALLY rocks!!! This is what mean a plan, a patience in exsecuting and lots of friends bringing in the fun! It seems like THE PERFECT rcae for you as far as I remember your stories. Truly great. Hey, and I bet on your time the closest at Waldo!:) On to the next and last this year, ready to be The Spirit of Wasatch??

Greg Pressler said...

HUGE congrats! 3 down. 1 to go. 3 weeks of rest. 1 more finish line. A lifetime of memories.

By the looks of the photos, you're obviously having fun every step of the way. What more could you ask for?

Your plainspoken, understated race report is fitting, since you could look at Leadville in the light of "business that you have to take care of" before you taste the sweet success of the Grande Slamme (author's license on the spelling).

REST. I think that's the key as you move toward Wasatch.

I'm stunned by your incredible performance at Leadville, but certainly not surprised. You've worked so hard--physically and mentally. Carry this hard-working attitude into Wasatch...and victory is surely yours.

Way to go!

saschasdad said...

You're such a stud! I am so proud of you. Way to go! On, on, on to the mighty Wasatch!


Jon said...

Wow. Just...WOW!

Just one more to go!

Laura H said...

Congratulations Ronda! I've been following your progress and I am super impressed by the meticulousness of your training and prep! You are a true inspiration! Great race report!

skokesh said...


Bret said...

Nice job Ronda! This is pretty amazing to follow. 3 down one to go.I am so impressed with your performance. Btw, Im the broken ankle guy from the Hagg Lake 50K, plus I have a magic hat too...its the Montrail hat you gave me at the finish. Won't run without it! Now go get Wasatch!

kelly said...

Great race report and congratulations on a great race. Way to go!! Rest up and I will see you at Wasatch!

Kristine said...

Wahooo!!!! I loved your race report and LOVED the rooster T-shirts and hats a must have in every Ultra runner's closet. :] I was really impressed with your happy resolve and clean crossing of the swamp. But ...no push-ups? Maybe at Wasatch. Keep it up! Kris