Art and I ran our first 50 miler on Sunday, July 14th in Leadville, Colorado which is also where we ran our first trail marathon. We lucked out and were able to get a hotel right across the street from the venue. That means we got to sleep in a little bit before the 6am start. Who doesn’t love that? We laid everything out the night before which helped calm my nerves.
The race started out with a shotgun blast and a very steep hill. That is it behind us.
The first ten miles were rollers that took us up to 12,000 feet. The scenery was beautiful and I spent a lot of time looking around. Below is a little of what I saw.
The route then dropped down before climbing back up to 12,000 and then down again to the turn around at the halfway point. I felt good, like I was just cruising along, hiking pretty aggressively up the steep parts, when I reached the aid station at 18 miles. There I got a much welcomed surprise. Art met up with me! He had waited for me at about mile 11, but somehow we had missed each other. So he had stood there for awhile waiting. By the time he texted to ask if I was ok, I was already at mile 15. He didn’t tell me he had waited; instead he put down a handful of 6:30 miles to catch up to me. Trust me, it was so much better running it together. We laughed and sang and chatted with people. I did feel a little bad because my pace is so much slower than his. At one point on a very steep climb back up to 12,000 for the third time, he took my hand and pretty much towed me up it. That’s love. 🙂
Both of us were having a great run, playing around a little as you can see by the photos above, and not having any physical problems. The I hit about mile 32, right after we got hailed on, and I could feel the IT band on my left leg starting to tighten. It didn’t get too bad until I hit the last ten miles. These should have been the easiest miles: rollers that were pretty much all downhill. I had been on target for close to a ten hour finish, but when I hit that downhill I got that terrific knee pain that made bending it hurt like you know what. All you runners know that pain. We kept having to stop so I could stretch it. I could run up the hills better than down and after a while I was walking more than running. About a mile from the finish, the heavy steel gray clouds opened up and a deluge of rain came down along with lots of thunder and lightning. The trail turned into a river, especially the last hill we had to run down in order to get to the finish line.
We finished in 11 hours and 12 minutes and went straight to the food tent where we stuffed our faces while shivering and trying to find a couple square inches of dryness. It wasn’t working well, so we walked back across the street to our hotel where we took a really hot shower. Post treatment included leg massages, lots of ice and ibprofen, and hydration. I now know that I need to spend a lot more time running downhill to prepare my muscles for those descents. Art was in fine form before, during and after. He spent the rest of the week on his bike riding over Independence Pass before racing the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb Challenge just this past Sunday where he did incredible well. He’s amazing.
The only thing that made it better was if Dara had been there. I tried calling her at the halfway point; I really missed her and she was on my mind the entire time. I imagined us running together as I know we will do someday. She inspires me in so many ways. I love you, big little sister.