2017 Leadville Trail Marathon

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The first race of this year’s Leadman series is now behind me. It was a fun one, with mostly good weather and better course conditions than could’ve been expected. I kept going back and forth on staying in town the night before or driving up the morning of, and ended up with a 3:30am alarm on Saturday, in large part due to Owen’s most recent sleep regression. Since I was treating this race as a training run, being a little tired was no big deal. As long as I could finish feeling good and drive myself home at the end of the day, I’d be happy.

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By the time the race started, I had a big bowl of yogurt and granola, a couple mcmuffins, a pro-bar, and probably a quart and a half of coffee. The usual pre-race routine played out, and a few minutes after 8am we were off. Plenty of people went out entirely too fast, with sub-8 miles up a few mile hill at 10,200′. I had made up a pacing cheat-sheet in advance, which I stuck to for the first few miles. Unbeknownst to me, the course was only the same up to 2.5 miles in, so that all went out the window. I switched over to my default pacing plan of “jog the flats, downs, and gentle uphills, and walk the steeper climbs” and stuck with it the rest of the way.

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The course was mostly dry and dusty down low, but things got wetter as the course headed up towards Mosquito Pass. Race organizers spent a couple weeks shoveling snow off the course, thanks to our unusually snowy spring season. They did a great job, but the sheer amount of snow meant a pretty wet approach, and a couple miles of pretty narrow track to the top. Traffic was rarely an issue though, and I just power-hiked in to the winds. I heard reports of 50-60mph sustained, which I believe. I had to carry my hat and hold my bib against my chest to keep it from tearing away. I hit the half-way mark at 2:34, wondering where I lost nearly 15 minutes over last time – it turns out the course change had the top a half mile further in to the race, with more climbing to get there.

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There wasn’t much left to do but jog back down to town, with a few sections of hiking steep rocky hills mixed in. Last time running this race, I completely melted down over the last five miles or so. This time I paced myself a little easier, and felt OK at the end, despite being surprised at finishing a few minutes slower.

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Looking back at my numbers from the two years, I found the extra 500′ over the 2013 course and suddenly felt quite a bit better. Only three extra minutes despite 10% extra climbing, and feeling fine at the end instead of thinking I was going to die? I’ll take it.

I finished 41st overall, 40th male runner, in 4:45:44. That’s good enough for 11/80 Leadman finishers. I’m looking forward to seeing where I stand after the Silver Rush 50 bike race – which I am treating as a race. And then following up the next day with the 50 run, just as another long training day. Three weeks until that weekend, and only 9 short weeks until the grand finale.

Lauren, Owen, and I wrapped up the Father’s Day weekend with a short hike with friends, and Owen did what he tends to do on hikes.

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I really need to get more sleep.

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