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"Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not."

Leadville day 7 – Camp day 3: Turquoise Lake night run

After our big runs on Saturday and Sunday, I was fairly tired on Monday. I tried to sleep in a bit, but you know how that goes…

I got up early and met up with Dan for breakfast. We had us a pretty tasty meal at the Golden Burro or something like that. I would later find out that the restaurant owner is “anti-leadville race series” and so, a bit of a dick. So I guess we’re not supposed to eat there anymore. Strictly speaking he’s anti-biking… and aren’t we all? But still, fuck him.

Regardless, I had a regular breakfast plus a plate of french toast, loads of syrup, etc. Gimme those carbs, ma’am. Stat.

(Edit: What does “stat” even mean?!)

(Answer: STAT: A common medical abbreviation for urgent or rush. From the Latin word statum, meaning ‘immediately.’)

(Edit: So… not a cowboy term. Lame.)

So after breakfast, we went to the coffee shop for killin’ time. There we met up with several other training camp people, including a girl who I shall name “Delaware”, who ended up hanging out with us for much of the day. It was a very, very lazy day. We blogged, we walked the dog. That’s about the gist of it.

Around 2 PM we attended the “Crew Seminar” at the Leadville race series offices. To give you an idea of how tired we all are, Delaware fell asleep for the entire day and completely missed it, haha.

It was really helpful. For one thing, there was a fair bit of confusion around what aid stations are accessible by crews, which are not, how to get from station to station, etc. So all that stuff was discussed a fair bit. We got lots of good advice from an experienced pacer and crew, and it was a good time. Useful, certainly. There is just a lot of things to think about, and it’s nice to get the tips from people who’ve done it dozens of times.

After the seminar, Dan and I grabbed a steak at Quincy’s. Delicious, but my idiotic self ordered the 12 oz. Did I really need a 12 oz steak 3 hours before a 15 mile night run? A) No. I did not. Fuck it though, it was delicious!

We went home after and did some packing in preparation for the night’s adventure. I played with the dog (last day of neglect, dog, I promise) and then headed up to HQ to meet the other runners.

Dan and Ultra-Stoke dude

The most colourful three runners of the weekend.

A couple other guys whose names I neglected to record in my brain.

Well, we got there at 7:30, but ended up waiting at least until 8 or later for everyone to show up, and the bus to take off. Then we got to the trail, but had to wait more for the sun to go down! So … it wasn’t that well timed, from a solar system / astronomical point of view.

The Run

There were two run options: starting directly from May Queen Campground (which roughly the 13 mile mark in the course) or starting a bit further along (at Hagerman Road) which meant running down about 2 extra miles or more technical trail, before hitting May Queen.

Dan and I chose the longer route, but I don’t know what the “split” was for the group. Probably nearly 50-50. Maybe a few more for the longer route. Maybe people had something to prove 😉 I just wanted to get more time using my new headlamp on rougher terrain.

Ready to rock and roll. Only 15 miles tonight, on mostly flat ground. Easy!

Waiting for the sun to go down. It’s already an hour past my bedtime!

So finally 9 PM came and we were off. The course was actually very easy, hardly “technical”. I guess it’ll be a lot more technical after 130 km of running! We ran quite fast. Dan and I were right up front with the lead guy. I guess I was in “4th place”. The two guys ahead of me stopped, I think to pee, so then I was behind the leader, and Dan behind me.

Well it turns out this lead guy was running like his life depended on it, and we were moving super fast. I mean, we ran into May Queen doing like 4:45 min/km (7:36 min/mi) which felt pretty damned hard, after an 11 hour weekend and carrying a huge pack (and the altitude, never forget the altitude!) … but whatever, I only had to run roughly a half-marathon, so why not run hard? I could certainly always slow down later.

After the campground the terrain got quite a bit more up-and-down than I expected, and I lost the lead guy (whose name was Danny, incidentally, and who had a 25:05 finish or something awesome like that, last year.) Dan had dropped off a bit behind me, but caught up when I stopped to take a photo. I ran quite hard again, and he dropped off again, and I would run the rest of the lake section alone.

Glow Sticks light the way! Awesome idea. Pretty scary when you don’t see one for like 15 minutes though.

In the dark, it just dragged on for ever. And I mean forever. It’s a good thing I had not just ran 130 km (140 km, actually) or I’d have been crying. My pace was still very strong, but it was getting tiresome.

I heard some crazy crashing through the woods, at one point, which scared the bejezus out of me. I could see no one ahead of me, and no one behind me, and the course markers (glow stick hanging off trees!) were widely separated. The course seemed easy to follow, but that doesn’t mean anything if you’re already lost! One moment of inattention and next thing you know you’re running to Nebraska or some shit. (I honestly don’t even know where Nebraska is. I’m sorry, uninteresting states, I have never visited you.)

Finally I hit the Tabor boat ramp (seriously, all that writing and I hadn’t even reached the halfway mark around the lake!) and was on trail that I’d hiked with the dog. What a difference it makes to know the course. I felt better immediately, plus the trail is flatter.

I started passing several people from the lead group (the shorter distance May Queen group) who were very encouraging. Many people were walking already (despite it being a perfectly flat course) so I guess they were exhausted from yesterday. I think people were also taking it very easy, tonight.

So on and on I ran. Never ending. I recognized the vast majority of the trail, but it still dragged on. Finally I popped out at the Dam, where they had a little aid station set up. I chatted a bit but left quickly as I needed nothing.

The next section is a steep downhill on a powerline cutout. I was moving really fast, because it was gravelly enough that you could basically ski down it. Rather than avoid those rocks, just ride the landslide!

At the bottom, I caught up with Delaware, who was hurting from some achilles pain. I relaxed my ridiculous race pace and ran with her the rest of the way. She was still very fast (faster when distracted from the pain, it would seem) so we still passed several people. Having someone to chat with in the endless, ultra boring road section was helpful, as well. I was really struggling to breathe. I think it was a combination of exhaustion, deceptively slight uphill, and talking too much, but it got pretty tough.

For the very last section, right up 6th St., we agreed to run the whole thing. I sprinted (well… slight accelerated) the last block, and voila: we reached Harrison (the finish line) at the 2:30 mark. Not bad at all, I think?

After the run we met up for the post-run hangout at HQ. They had burritos and Coke (so good after a run!) and it was fun to chat with some people. I was freezing my nuts off so we said our goodbyes, and headed home. Got home around midnight, walked the dog, and went to bed.

All in all it was a great run. My new headlamp was super bright, so much better than my little Petzl piece of shit. It was like… daylight. Batteries are very easy to replace, also, and the battery pack has an extendable cord. I’ll have to write a review of it, later.

I still felt, however, that a waist light and a smaller headlight is the way to go, to keep from getting halo/tunnel vision. I saw another guy with that setup (a powerful light at the waist, and a smaller headlamp) and I’m going to try that next. Might be a bit “shadowy” having the light too low though. But anyway, initial impressions were very favourable. Not sure how long the batteries will last, but the light is well worth the few seconds of swapping batteries at an aid station, once or twice.

Anyway, today (as I write this) is a blessed rest day. Brought the truck to the shop, slept in, maybe wash some of my incredibly dirty, gross laundry, and start to review my pacing / fuelling plan in light of my newfound knowledge of the course.

I’m also looking forward to getting back up on Mt. Elbert and trying to beat my time, as Anton Krupicka’s time was like 2 hours less than mine! I realized this week though that powerhiking is going to be a valuable skill… and I need more quad / hamstring strength if I want to break 25 hours.

For now, rest is best. I shall write a summary of the weekend, and a giant appendix of “lessons learned” … although for the most part it’s “psychological tricks learned”.

T-minus (3 + 31 + 18) = 52 days until Leadville!

Mitch out.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Mitch, I just stumbled on your blog this morning – nice job, it’s a fun read! I am still recovering from the camp myself, that was a lot of miles in 3 days for me. If you are looking for someone to run with while you are in Leadville this summer, please look me up – just stop into Melanzana at 8th and Harrison and ask for me. cheers – Fritz

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