Ok, I don’t want to die but Andrew bought me a t-shirt for my efforts as he was super proud of me and that’s what it says. I think ultra runners are crazy because this stuff hurts, some points we suffer other times we enjoy the beauty around us but then we always want to do it again. Even if we don’t finish, we come back again and again. At Leadville only 43% finished, but with odds like that we still come and try. Failure is not a word we use, as this makes us stronger and more determined and motivated to come back again. Andrew and I went to the finish to see the last few people cross the line and what an inspiration that was. Total and absolute respect for everyone that finished today.
Ken Chlouber words stuck in my head at the pre race meeting. In so many words he said it will hurt but don’t let your crew, the volunteers and yourself down. So my goal was simple, don’t quit no matter what unless someone tells you to. Early on in the race I realized statistically that I was too slow to finish. From the crew meeting, a lovely lady told us that racers should come in around 1:30pm at Twin lakes in hopes to make the Hope pass cut off (45miles). She also mentioned that statistically anyone just making the 6pm cut off at Winfield (50 miles) would not finish the race and she had been studying the stats for years and years. I figured I needed to be close to an hour faster then the cut off times.
There was a buzz in the air at the start of the race, 800 racers and there families/crew ready to attempt a 100 miles. In the end 347 finished 100 miles in the 30 hours allotted time in which 54 were women.
The first 7.5 miles before I hit my crew ( Andrew) at Tabor boat ramp was fairly flat and wide at the beginning consisting of mainly pavement and dirt road. The sky was clear and the stars where out as we entered a trail around Turquoise lake. Headlamps lit up the outskirts of the lake in the distance. It was a nice gentle warm up before hitting a small 200 foot climb before the crew access point. This is when I knew the altitude was here to play a toll on all of us. Andrew greeted me with some food and water, which I filled up on and then headed out toward May Queen aid station. We continued around the lake, towards a campground before meeting cheering crew and volunteers. At this point my previous back injury started up and I began to get sharp pain down the side and front of my leg. I had worked so hard in the last 8 weeks to remedy this and to have this come on so early was annoying at the least. Regardless, I wasn’t going to let this stop me. So I got Andrew to give me a massage and then I was off.
After May Queen we headed up our first big climb toward Fish Hatchery. I ran and hiked many similar climbs to this one on logging roads and trails back home with a consistent pace, but climbing up toward 11000 feet had me stopping every few hundred feet and feeling slightly drunk. Onward and upward I went taking in some of the views before meeting Andrew at the Fish hatchery with 20 minutes to spare going into the next leg.
At treeline aid station wearing Moveo gear just after Fish hatchery
I passed through Tree line and headed toward the half pipe aid station and cut off. I made Pipe line with about 6/7 minutes to spare. Time was getting shorter but I still had lots of energy because I kept eating around 200kcal every hour even when I didn’t feel like it. The only problem was I bloated up with a hard sore stomach and puffy fingers. At the pre-race meeting the sports med doctor said that too much salt will bloat you up. I guess I was nervous about cramping and ingested too much sodium. It was too early to inhibit my race but I am sure if I made it past 60 miles things may have gone sideways. I just need to work on my nutritional plan for next time.
The moment of truth
We had some more up and downs to go and with 3.5 miles left I was feeling the pressure to make the Twin lakes cut off. A nice volunteer at the 3.5 mile mark said I could make it and I said “I will” and he said “do it for us” I didn’t have much time left even though it was downhill. I had sharp shooting pain going down my leg so the downhill was murder on my body but I kept pushing on. At one point I passed two racers and I asked then how much further. They thought we had about 2 miles left in which they said there is no way they could make it with just over 15 minutes left. I told them I was going to give it a shot and the lady said “you go girl” and so I did. If it was two miles I knew I wouldn’t make it but I was going to give it all I had to make the cut off. A few minutes later I passed a volunteer that said I had less then a mile left. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the previous racers as I knew I still had a chance. I converted that into meters and I was off. This was a race against the clock. I passed several other volunteers that encouraged me on and pushed me too run faster. I sprinted that last mile and came toward the aid station with an applause of cheering crew members, and spectators and Andrew who gave me a big hug. A camera crew captured the moment and interviewed me as I hugged Andrew and then I proceeded to cheer on the last few guys to come through. Several racers I had passed along the way including the New yorker made it with seconds to spare. I gave it my all through some pain knowing that my chances of making the next cut off where slim.
Andrew was instrumental in filling up my water, having my clothes ready and a selection of food displayed for my choosing. We made a great team. A nice lady from Colorado springs sat me down on her chair and held up an umbrella as Andrew organized my stuff. I headed up toward Hope pass aid station and cut off at 2:15pm. Along the way I ended up spending most of my time with two amazing racers. We stuck together for the most part, stopping every 50 meters or so to catch our breath and to cheer on the racers that had already come and gone from Winfield aid station. We moved at a turtles pace but kept going one step in front of the other. Closing in on the 4:30pm cut off time, we knew we wouldn’t make it. As racers turned around knowing they wouldn’t make either we kept on climbing wanting to be cut off and turned back to Twin lakes. Shortly after 4:40pm we turned around and headed back to Twin lakes. I asked both of them if they would race Leadville 100 again. Without much hesitation they both said yes. Of course we all needed to figure out a better way to beat the altitude next time.
For me, next time may be in several years as I need to be faster and work with the altitude. It was a big goal to take on Leadville but hey why not? There is so much that we may miss about ourselves if we don’t dream, we don’t try, and reach for those bright sparkling stars. I used to fear failure, but it teaches us how to cope with life and what it may throw at us and it makes me at least, hungrier for more. In the end I deserve to wear the t-shirt but next time when I cross that line I’ll deserve to wear that belt buckle too!
I’m keeping my number
Have fun out there!
I had to write a quick note on today’s pre- race pep rally! It was truly uplifting and encouraging to know that everyone is gunning for the 800 racers that will toe the line tomorrow. Ken Chlouber the former race director spoke with high expectations on not to give up, not to quit and that it will hurt. His famous quote that he has said over the years was spoken from the heart and it truly was as it brought tears to my eyes. “You’re better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can!” Then he said just dig deep and finish so when you get home and your friend asks if you finished it’s easy to say YES instead of spending 30 minutes explaining a list of excuses why you didn’t make it. Ha Ha! so true…..
800 people entered and 109 are women so I guess I have to represent! Follow me online starting at 4:00am mountain time
pre race meeting
I had the best week leading up to Leadville 100. First of all I had the week off from work which means time off my feet. I spend about 6 hours a day on my feet treating people with soft tissue injuries. This is key for me. Andrew and I left Sunday from Squamish and traveled 3000km driving through 5 states and staying, hiking and photographing everything from the Bruneau sand dunes and watching lightening in Idaho, the salt flats in Utah, and finishing off with two days in Moab exploring Arches National Park. The best part was getting up at 3:30am on Wednesday (hey Andrew will be doing that for me in two days time) driving into Arches and hiking up to the back side of landscape arch. Andrew set up a time lapse and took photos with the stars and the moon and eventually we watched the sun come up. It was amazing. This is Andrew’s passion and it was nice to share his love and excitement for photography along this trip. Afterward we decided to do another short hike which turned into a 3 hour jaunt through the hot desert. Oops! Oh and Andrew was carrying all his heavy camera gear. But, luckily afterward we had the Colorado river right beside our campsite to cool off in.
Well, the race starts 4:00am on Saturday and I will be carrying the SPOT (a GPS tracking device) so family and friends can see where I am every 20 minutes. Andrew will be tweeting if there is good reception on how I am doing. You can track my progress live online
Below are some photos that Andrew took of our trip leading up to Leadville.
Have fun out there
Tomorrow we leave for our two week road trip through seven states, Colorado being one of them. I am excited for the whole trip and not just running Leadville 100. It’s not just about the race its about sharing this adventure and journey with Andrew. Besides, life will go on after Leadville regardless if I finish or not. Leadville is a part of the the trip, but not the main attraction. It’s simply an excuse to explore another part of the states that I have not seen before with an experience that will challenge my mind as much as my body. Our trip will be filled with thousands of kilometers of highway through rolling hills, hot deserts, salt flats, rocky mountains, grasslands and pine forests.
Now one doesn’t just run a hundred miles without a little help from your friends. If it wasn’t for Nicola Gildersleeve’s running program I would probably be injured or unmotivated to train, but she kept me on track and inspired me to run with the emphasis on fun. The whole team at Moveo Sport and Rehabilitation where I work not only helped keep my body from breaking down but encouraged me along the way when things may not have gone as planned. At one point I succumbed to a L4 nerve root lesion which almost kept me out of the game. I was within weeks of giving up due to the pain shooting down the front of my leg every time I ran but Kelly McNabey(saved my butt) a level 2 manual physiotherapist at Moveo worked with me each week to strengthen the muscle imbalances that my body had created while manually treating the tight ones that kept the vertebrae from compressing on the nerve. Of course I had to comply to the exercises which I will admit I was 75% good at doing. The body fascinates me and how well it will adapt when one muscle or area is not doing its job because of weakness or tightness. Something else will inevitably take over and take up the slack. Unfortunately,over time these adaptations will not be able to sustain the load and will eventually lead to injury especially while training for any ultra distance. Of course I’ve had amazing words of encouragement from my close friends and family too. Jen gave me a wrapped gift that says open when things become dire. Hmmm could that be after climbing hope pass? Andrew has been a great support and I am excited that I am able to share this adventure over the next two weeks. During the race he will be my crewer, videographer, photographer, consoler, cheer leader, organizer and supporter. Wow big job Andrew, big job ahead of you!!!!
Everyday for the last few days my mom has been sending me inspiring quotes. My favorite one so far is:
“Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.” unknown
Have fun out there!
Entrants list to Leadville trail 100
Finally they posted the entrants list for Leadville Trail 100 race on August 20th and 21st. I received my confirmation back in February but there is something about seeing your name on the entrants list. I arrived at work on Saturday and realized they had posted the entrants list. As I scrolled down to page seven my stomach began to knot up. Can I throw up now or shall I wait till some point during the race? I am nervous and scared and excited but I know this isn’t going to be easy this is a challenge after all and I am testing my own personal limits. We all have our own goals and they are just as brilliant as the next person’s goal whether its a lengthy adventure bike trip from the tip of South America to the most northern route in Canada, training for a personal best in a marathon or simply running your your first 5km and doing something that might be slightly knew and out of your own comfort zone. Anything is possible and attainable. For me I am testing my ability to finish a 100 miles at 10000 feet in allotted 30 hours time frame. It’s me against the clock, its my mind against myself and my body against my mind.
Have fun out there
When I enter into sub alpine territory I am in complete awe of the beauty around me and just melt as though I have fallen in love. It might be the fresh air, the green valley’s, alpine flowers, towering peaks, marmot whistles, animal sightings, rushing creeks, blue skies or fantastic company, but one thing is for certain something is ignited inside of me and life seems simple, calm and peaceful. Our trip to Twin lakes on July 31st took us through Barkley valley in the Cayoosh range located northeast of Pemberton. which was amazing even though it rained for a couple hours and the sun only came out at the beginning and the end of the trip. Andrew and I left at 5:30 am with my friend’s dog Nevi as she was away on a guiding trip and couldn’t take her dog on the kayak. Nevi was super excited and she knew right away she was going on an adventure. Of course she probably hiked more then us as she would run ahead turn around and come back for most of the hike. Nevi loves water and I kept telling her there was a lake at the top, but unfortunately it was half covered with snow and ice and there was nowhere safe for her to swim. We also hiked further along Barkley Valley in the which was first inhabited by the first nations people who lived and recreated throughout this region. In winter this an avalanche corridor and the evidence hadn’t yet melted as we passed six slides of snow that had ripped in half some big trees. It looked like a war zone. Again it was great training but most importantly lots of fun! The trail is double tracked most of the way and would be a nice trail run to the top and back. Although ATV’s are welcome we didn’t see anyone during our 11 hours in the valley.
self entertaining with bubbles in water
crossing creek without getting feet wet
twin lakes, 6500 feet
Nevi wanted to play on the snow: This valley is a high area for avalanches in winter, spring as we passed across 6 snow slide areas.
finally some sun
wild strawberries: this little guy packs an explosion of flavour, I guess mother nature knows how to do it best!
Have fun out there!