Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The LT100 - The Final Chapter

I have been debating on how to write this race report. How does one write about a 100 mile race? I guess about the same way they run it... one section at a time.

It was good to be in Leadville early last week before the race. It gave me some extra time to acclimate but to also just become more comfortable and relax there. Melissa and I had a great visit at HMI (High Mountain Institute) where I was left wishing I was a teenager with loaded parents to go there. It is an interesting outfit so I highly recommend checking them out.

We made it to the medical check in early on Friday morning then went back to the house to hang out for a bit. We were to meet JT and Brandon for breakfast the the Golden Burro at nine or so. JT I had met in person just the week before on a run in Red Rock Canyon but I had not met Brandon yet so he was still a "virtual" friend. Turns out there were a lot of us there for breakfast as Brooks was there too. I really wasn't sure what to eat, I wanted something but not a huge breakfast so Melissa and I split a huge order of biscuits and gravy with hash browns. It was perfect.

After breakfast we all meandered over the gym for the mandatory briefing. We went upstairs to get good seats to see it all. Since this is sort of an "old time revival" sort of deal with a lot of whooping and hollering, I told Melissa this might be the closest she ever gets to being Baptist... Ken Chlouber can be down right evangelical getting everyone fired up for the run, inciting everyone to chant in unison, "I commit! I will not quit." As a side not, that line is not bullshit as I bet I said it thousands of times during my hours on the course.

I did sit there in the stands amazed, completely amazed that another year had passed and that I was there in the same gym, AGAIN, attempting the run, AGAIN, and hoping to not get my ass kicked as badly as last year... AGAIN. I couldn't sit anymore so I left and went outside hoping to find my coach, Scott Weber, whom I had yet to meet in person.

Ran into my Coach and we talked... Turned out he had five of us up there. I met another one of his runners who came from Japan where he was stationed to do this race. Scott and I chatted until Melissa came out from the briefing and we went back to the house to get lunch and relax. I got to take a wonderful nap that afternoon and that was the last that I really slept I bet until Sunday afternoon.

Friday night the crew arrives... JJ, and my daughter Annie. My pacer Carolyn shows up later Friday as well. Only one crew member missing but he is running the Ascent on Saturday so he won't be there until Saturday night. Gear is ready, I'm hydrated, hydrating... eating... trying to relax... try to get some sleep. Yeah right...

Up at 2:40 to start getting ready to go to the start. Get dressed, grab my gear and go to the start with my friend Ray who is running as well. We get there, get checked in then wait. I follow my coaches advice and get close to the front and on the left side. I wait... I can't believe it is really here... I marvel that my watch and the race clock are 100% in sync. What are the odds? Melissa, Annie and JJ are not at the start as they have already headed off for Mayqueen to beat the crowd. I knew I'd be seeing them soon.

3, 2, 1, BOOM!

We are off. I am running. God it feels good. The taper made me miserable. Brandon said something at breakfast the day before about how his taper made him out sync so what was supposed to happen in the morning was happening in the evening... well I had the same exact problem. That being said I felt rather bloated at the start. Nevertheless it was good to be running again and moving. Time to get this job done.

I cover the first three miles or so down to the railroad tracks in 28 minutes... a little fast, I need to reel it in. I feel controlled and in the right part of the pack and I look down at my Garmin and I am seeing that I am in the 10 minute per mile range, exactly where I wanted to be. I keep running. I am happy because nobody around me is talking. Up the power line cut I went, across the road then onto the single track of the trail around Turquoise Lake. I'm about an hour in or so and feeling good. A bit further I can look back across the lake and see all of the other headlamps behind me. It is comforting to know that I am not back there. My splits or whatnot seem off. I keep checking my Garmin and it indicates I am at the right speed but I can that from the time compared to where I was on the course I had been going too fast. I came in to Mayqueen dangerously ahead of schedule at 2:11 or so. Oh, and this is with 4 pit stops along the way.

Found my crew and I didn't waste anytime getting out of there. A small glitch with the sunglasses and I was out of there. Almost went medieval on a guy who blindly chucked a half eaten container over his shoulder causing me duck while we were running out of the campground. I just yelled "WTF buddy?" He jumped but I passed him. He did finish I know but behind me. At least I got to see that.

Ray passed me in the trees. Ray is fast. I'm not going to get sucked in. I hope he has a good race and let him go. I've had concerns about this section, up and over Sugarloaf and down the powerlines all year. I suspect this section did some damage on my ass last year and I didn't want it to happen again. I was wanting to keep up the pace but not over do it either. Whatever I did, I feel it worked until I got to the top...

Remember that bloated feeling folks? Well, I pulled off the trail behind a tree and proceeded to leave spoor of grizzly bear proportions. Large enough that it concerned me that it may play havoc with my weight when I would have to weigh in later. It was bad. I'll leave it at that but I did start running again and I did feel a hell of a lot better.

Down the power lines... dear got that took forever. I looked at my Garmin and I was comfortable with my pace. Still that damned downhill ate me up some. I was extremely happy to be off of it at the bottom and run to the Fish Hatchery.

Some crucial things happened at the Fish Hatchery for me... one, it was getting warm and I anticipated that so I switched from Perpetuem to Heed. Secondly my coach was there and he kept me moving so my crew in fact had to run to give me my stuff and get me out of there. Thirdly I was now running on road, in the middle of nowhere practically and well, it is sort of boring there.

I didn't like this section too much last year and didn't think that I would like it much more a year later. But we had a plan an that was I would see my crew at treeline 4.1 miles away where they would give me two more fresh bottles of Heed. This allowed me to run and drink as I wanted or felt I needed to instead of rationing so much.

At treeline my crew was waiting. I was so happy that they were my crew and they were doing awesome. A bump here and there but overall I was just so thankful for them. They got me out of there and off to Halfmoon II/Box Canyon Aid station.

By this time I have run over a marathon distance wise. It is getting hot and I have a LONG stretch to go before Twin lakes at mile 39. It was in this section last year that my race was lost and everything seemed to unravel. This I did not want a repeat of. Regardless, it seems that after 20 miles my feet just always hurt, and today was no exception and they were starting to hurt now... I get through the aid station after refilling my bottles and keep moving. I get on the Colorado Trail and know that I have just about six miles to go. Starting to hurt a little more. At this time I decide to get real with myself and tell myself, "It's gonna fucking hurt so get used to it asshole." While at the same time giving myself props for really doing a great job, which I was. I consciously tried to smile and to laugh and fuck it... just have fun damn it. Why not right?

I make it into Twin lakes right on the money split wise 8:23... The sitrep isn't quite as rosy as it was earlier... my right knee is not liking the steep downhills. I decide before even getting to TL that I will start popping Ibuprofen and I will put on my knee brace. It might not make things "better" but it will hopefully keep things from getting worse, allowing me to move on. Crew get's me out of there quickly after swapping my waist pack for my Nathan Vest and applying a decent coat of sunscreen and sports shield.

The River crossings... another not so favorite part. Really crossing the water, the river, etc, isn't that bad. It's the damned flat boring ass swampy area that I can't stand. I get to the river. It does look a touch higher than last year and I plunge in. Oh my god... it felt so good... nice and cool... I just wanted to stay there all day. I think that eyes are playing tricks on me (already)as there appears to be a huge bald dude in a pink leotard and tutu sitting on the river bank taking off his shoes. Nope I wasn't seeing things... this guy and I were passing each other until the end. He finished too.

I haven't seen Anton yet. I wonder where he is. My money was on him to win. Last year he passed me at TL when he was inbound and I was outbound. Curious enough we past each other at the same time as last year, 9:06 about 1/2 of the way up Hope Pass. He was flying and it was neat to see him run. I didn't see another runner till 45 minutes later.

I summit Hope Pass and I see the bottom way below. This three miles or so is just some of the most rugged nasty downhill trail I have ever seen. It kicked the shit out of me last year and it did a number on me this year. My knee hurts... going downhill isn't so smooth but I do my best to keep going. JT and I pass not to far from the bottom. He's doing great and it was comforting because last year we passed on top of Hope Pass. Not long after seeing JT I see Brandon. He's looking a little worn but hard to gauge.

About a mile before getting to the road I start to lose it... I'm tired of going downhill. I am wanting to be on smooth surface so much. Finally I hit the road and I am laughing, ecstatic! This is where they cut my wristband last year. I'd be damned if that was happening again this year and I knew it wasn't happening there at the road. I taunted the volunteer about it jokingly... he laughed and told me to get the hell out of there... Up the road I go to Winfield.

Wow... it looked like the carnival was in town when I got there... people, tents, just like a huge party atmosphere. Ray had passed me about a mile out from Winfield. He was having a good day. He might just pull that sub 25 finish. I still wondered if I might not see him a bit later.

I run into Winfield and to the medical tent to weigh in. Carolyn my pacer catches me and asks me what I need/want, I tell her and she takes off. I go to step on the scale and I am already pleading my case with the race volunteer explaining that I probably left five pounds up on Sugarloaf that morning. He laughed at me but I told him I was serious. Well I was only two pounds off from the day before so evidently my hydration was on, so they let me go.

Time for a pit stop. My crew sits me down, first time on my ass in 50 miles. My quads are iced, legs massaged, shoes and socks changed, Carolyn is loaded up and we take off. Scott ran with me a bit telling me that I was doing good and to keep it up. Carolyn catches up with me and I give her the lowdown.

1. My knee is jacked up. I can NOT run downhill. Most downhill's hurt.
2. My running muscles are not firing. I just can not get a rhythm going.
3. Other than that I am feeling pretty good, happy, and I think my spirits are high so that is good.
4. I can still climb and go uphill like a mofo... (another great asset)

Carolyn starts working me early... we'd run tree to tree or ribbon to ribbon or what not... just trying to get it going. I am glad when we start up the pass cause I know I can get in some good work here. The excitement, the gels, the Heed, but I really suspect the Mountain Dew that I slammed at Winfield decided about 20 minutes into our ascent to make a second appearance. I tell Carolyn that I am not feeling well and she says to just get it out. I lean against and aspen tree and whoooooorph... out it came. Ahh... better... back to work.

We are above treeline now and see a guy laying down with others trying to tell him to drop. I'm glad I am not that messed up. We keep going and summit the pass in what I consider an amazing time. I joke that we went up probably as fast if not faster than when I came down it.

This next part I figured would be the make it or break it section for me. Five miles to Twin Lakes, most of it downhill. To summarize the descent, I ran as much as I could. It hurt, a lot. We lost time. It got dark on us with only one flashlight. Huge blister popped on the bottom of my left foot right before the river crossing. The river water hurt like hell on said blister. Rolled into Twin lakes 45 minutes or more off schedule. Now the fight begins... I still feel strong on uphills and I am still in good spirits.'

My crew sits me down, I get warm clothes and hot cup of chowder. My feet are pretty messed up now with blisters and need attention. Blister bandages and duct tape and we have to get out of there. Scott tells me I am about five minutes from a DNF if we don't hurry. Melissa tells me we need to make up 15 minutes in the next section... Scott walks me to the hill and tells me that I can stil do this but I have to be willing to hurt myself to get it done. I accept this as truth and I know it is going to get worse before it get's a lot better.

The climb out of Twin Lakes is great. Carolyn and I pass so many people. I sort yak again, but nothing to brag about. It starts getting cooler but not bad. Prefect weather I think. The moon was beautiful. I start to think of other things like going Elk hunting in just weeks time and being in the high country with my bow for about ten days. If I can walk...

Coming into the Box Canyon aid station Carolyn and I get smart... I wanted a soda at Twin Lakes but didn't get it. I want something to wash the gel/Perpetuem taste out of my mouth. We really don't have time to stop, well I don't. Carolyn goes ahead and mixes my two new bottles of Perpetuem, I grab a cup of coke, sip half and take off knowing she will catch up in a bit. I get a bit out of there and I hear Carolyn coming down the road. It is funny hearing someone really run and pound it out...

We do okay coming into Treeline but my crew and coach seem a little frantic. Scott grabs me and tell me the only way I can pull this off is to do at least a 40-20 to get to the Fish Hatchery. Run for 40 exhales, then walk for 20, repeat. It works.... but you have to be awake and able to count. I was a past that but I got his point. I have to run as much as I can, really probably more than that to get to Fish Hatchery before the cut off.

Carolyn and I run the road. It hurts, I am tired. The air in the valley is cold and the breeze makes it even cooler. We run telephone pole to telephone pole walk a bit then run some more. I try to run as much as possible to increase our buffer. We get into the aid station with plenty of time, we made up time things are good again. Same deal I leave and Carolyn catches up later down the road.

The next section, climbing the power lines up Sugarloaf which I knew would be a bear but I figured in my condition what I really needed to worry about was the other side... the down. I've read and heard just plan on 90 minutes to make it up so that is what I did. I ignored the three false summits and just kept going. Again we passed a lot of people going up. Coming down... well this was when it got bad.

Coming down the road there were more rocks, loose rocks and it was harder on the feet than I can describe. I'm tired. I am cranky. I know that we are losing time. I don't want another fucking gel, thank you very much and I fucking quit! Seriously I told Carolyn that was it, I am done. We gave it a good run, time to call it. She didn't buy it and just said lets keep going and see what happens. Of course I complied. :)

We hit the Colorado Trail section to Mayqueen. I know there is downhill in there but I also know there is some rolling and some up even. I also know that we are dangerously close to not making the cut off at Mayqueen. A couple hours earlier I thought that we would clear Mayqeen at about 6:00 am, but now it looked more like 6:30+ which was past the cuttoff. Something needed to happen and it needed to happen right then and there.

I found it. I don't know where but it was there. When I came out at the trailhead I was in a dead run and not stopping. I had minutes, less than ten minutes to make it through Mayqueen before being DNF'd. I had to at least make that. I knew that if I did make it would still be tough getting around the lake. That worried me some but I did have the consolation of knowing that I had run that trail so many times this summer. It wasn't foreign to me, I could make it work.

I left Carolyn behind and went to the aid station, checked in and left. By 6:30 the cut off time I was well on my way on the trail around Turquoise Lake and I was moving. I was going so fast that I almost became concerned that Carolyn might not be able to catch me. I started doing some math and it started to really seem possible that I could do it.

Carolyn found me. She had fresh bottles and my sunglasses. We kept going. She kept pushing me. She still made me drink and have my gel on schedule. We got around the lake and my friends Lee and Sharon Burton were there by the road to greet us. Lee has been an awesome inspiration for me over the years and they had come up that morning just to see me finish. I did not want to let them down so I kept going.

Down the powerline cut we went, it hurt, we got on the dirt road, I could run we are passing more people and it is getting warmer out and it is also getting later. We make it to the railroad tracks and I told Carolyn we could run all the way to the big turn and we did, passing still more people.

We make the big turn leaving only three miles to go until the finish, we have one hour and ten minutes left until the race if officially over. Under normal circumstances no problem... but I've been up for over 30 hours straight, covered over 90 miles, everything hurts... it has to be done.

We come up over the first rise and Carolyn says let's start running again and we do. Off and on until we are to the soccer field. Just a mile to go. There is Scott cheering us on. He asks me how it feels to go 99 miles... I laugh. I tell him there is no way I could have made it there without his help. We push on and Carolyn is telling me that my crew will be there to run in with me. This was something that was never discussed. We run down the last downhill before the finish and Melissa and Annie are right there taking pictures. They start to run with me the last little bit as I approach the finish. I can't believe it. I am going to make it. I've dreamed about this for so long, finishing Leadville and it is going to finally happen.

I cross the finish line and bend over to breathe. I get my medal and Merilee hugs me and says "welcome home." I hug her back and just say thank you. My buddy Erich grabs me and about all but carries me to the aid tent for my final medical check. My weight is good. I feel okay, they ask me to sit just for a few and I do. I get a coke and yell over to JT who is on the other side of the tent... I did it. Now we get to have cigars at some time yet TBD.

Back to the house, cleaned up go to the award ceremony... get my buckle... It is all a dream almost.

How did I do it? I will tell you... I picked up pieces of knowledge, sayings, mantras, thoughts, whatever that I used to get me trough it. From Ken, from my coach, from me, from friends... The following lists all the thoughts that I kept running through my head that kept me going.

I commit, I will not quit. From Ken C. (sorta hokey but it worked)

I dont' want to do this again... Get this done and get it over with.

I wanted to make it worth everyone's time and effort who were there to help me. They came to see me finish and by god that is what I am going to do.

I focused on the things that were working, my attitude and my ability to still climb hills. Depended on those things to finish.

Focused on getting to just the next aid station, not the entire course or whatnot. One piece at a time.

I wanted Annie to see me finish so she could wear her crew t-shirt to school and have it be legit since I did the 100 miles. I wanted Annie to see her dad do something cool and have her be a part of it.

You can do this... just keep going. Do not stop. (More self affirmation.)

The only way they are cutting "this" wristband off is if they fight me and hold me down to do it.

Constant Forward Motion!
Relentless Forward Motion!

GMFG (go motherf*cker go!) My personal favorite of mine that I dreamed up for lake city and had written on my hand to get me through the day.

What Anton said to Brandon and Brandon wrote in his blog... "Nothing is going to stop me from finishing this race."

“On a good day, running 100 miles is fucking hard. Period. On a bad day, it’s borderline impossible.” I probed on this statement and asked how do you or I overcome that. He told me simply that you go into the race with your mind set on this statement:

Nothing is going to stop me from finishing this race.

JT's story about having to nearly be pushed out of MQ on his first finish due to being so close to the cut off. (It told me that I had a chance even if I was that close too.)

What Scott told me, that I am going to have to really hurt myself to get this done.

And that is how it happened.


  1. Awesome! So glad you got it done! I've been in the same situation at Mayqueen and frankly, it's not something I ever want to experience again.

  2. Excellent work and recap! I didn't know all that drama was going on just behind me. It was a pleasure meeting you to and look forward to crossing paths again.

  3. :)
    Always love to read your race blogs, but this one takes the cake! One bite at a time! Congrats! SOOO happy for you!

  4. What a journey! You completed your goal, quite amazing. I just now finished reading the story of your determination, absolutely magnificent. Your attitude was impeccable.
    Once again you have affirmed that you can accomplish anything that you want to. What a gift you have given to yourself. Take it in. I am so proud of you. Sending you love and light, David

  5. PS Greeeeeat picture. Good looking dude.

  6. (From Paulette on David's computer/gmail ac)

    I'm so proud of you!! You have always accomplished what you set your mind to do.

    I loved reading this detail of the run. I'll forward it on to David and print a copy for my records.

    Love you,

  7. Hi, Andy.

    Dave gave me a printout of your blog report. What an incredible feat. I'm also amazed at your memory for details and the talent you have for telling your story.

    Annie must be very proud of her dad. Great job.