Monday, July 13, 2009

Leadville Marathon Race Report

It is sad to say that the race is over and we are back in Tulsa. Tulsa is a great community for outdoor activities, but it does not hold a candle to Leadville. The town is great and the people are super. They remind me so much of the folk that I grew up with in my tiny town of 2,700 in Carthage, IL. I don't think we met anyone who wasn't friendly. We even met and talked to George Gipson on top of Breece Hill, where the first aid station was at while out sightseeing. He was heading to Collinsville, OK in a week and talked to us for at least 20 minutes about Leadville. My family was truly impressed and we will be back, hopefully, very soon.
This was going to be our scenery for the race. I like running at Turkey Mountain, but I am sorry, it does not compare. In a race, everything starts to blur, but you cannot help and stop and enjoy what is around you. No matter how bad a race gets around there, you can always stop and take it all in. I am pretty sure this is where God lives.
The peak of Mt. Elbert was always in our background. The highest point in Colorado, it was named after the former Governor of Colorado. I am sorry I did not get a chance to summit it. The round trip on the trail is only 9 miles, but takes people an average of 9 hours to do it, unless you are Tony.
Right next to it is Mt. Massive. Another 14er and just as impressive.
I thought maybe I was the only TATUR there to run the race, but I was wrong. There ended up being a total of 8 running and 12 if you throw in my family or crew. This is right before the race and you can see the mountains in the back ground. The race starts on 6th street and starts heading straight uphill. From the left are Keith ???, he ended up dropping due to cramping so bad at mile 18. Next is Johnny Spriggs, President of the Tulsa Running Club and 4 time finisher of the Marathon. He is followed by Joel Everett, fellow board member who was conned into running this by Johnny. I might read in the news to where Johnny disappeared after the race. I t may have something to do with Joel after he realized what Johnny had talked him into doing. He was next to Aaron Ochoa and Dee Deathrage. I have ran with Aaron before at the 6 hr. Snake Run. Dee, I had never met before. Bob Lovelace and his daughter also made the trip. He did the Heavy Half and his daughter did the full. She had a rough go, but hung in and completed the journey. My hat goes off to anybody who can tough this one out and finish. Of course next to them is a strange looking guy.
Here we are at the start and I can say that I was not really that nervous. I knew it was going to be a tough course and I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to do my best, but finishing would be just as hard. You can see Tony Krupicka in the front without a shirt. He would have a hard day ahead of him and some challenges.
And we are off. This is Tony again, minus the top of his head. Camera lessons are on the way for the whole family. We head up 6th street, cross over to 5th, and up we go. I was able to make it about the first mile or so before I took a brief walk break. I continued to do that until the first major climb on the trail. At this point, everyone in my group was walking the hill. After this portion we make it to the first time to aid station on Breece Hill and I grab some Powerade and take off. My stomach feels like it has lead weight on it, no pun intended, and I think it would be better if I could just puke. I noticed when I ran up there this week I had the same feeling. Must have something to do with the altitude. Made it in 49 minutes.

From there we head out around Ball Mt. and back to the same aid station. I had summitted Ball Mt. on Thursday and was familiar with it. It is at about 12,000 feet. Somewhere on this portion I started to feel cramping back around my kidneys. One of the things at altitude is that there is less moisture in the air and even though you may be sweating less, you still have to take in plenty of fluids and electrolytes. Back at the aid station to re-fuel, so I pop some electrolyte tablets and take off. In at this aid station in 1:27.

To the next aid station is pretty well all downhill, except for a brief couple of small hills. My cramping went away and ran almost of all of this portion. I made to this aid station at 1:52. I had planned to go under 5 hours and thought I had a chance, but that was to be changed.

I started the summit up Mosquito Pass and felt OK, but the legs were starting to go south. I grabbed a GU and kept going up. One step at a time. This was about all I could do. I had to stop several times briefly on the hill and try to catch my breath and keep going. I did not think I was ever going to summit. The trail kept going and going. I met Bob on his way down from the Heavy Half and he said that it was not too much further. I wanted to ask that several times to people on the way down, but did not want to feel like a dork. I finally made it to the top at 3:03. It took me 1:10 to go 3.3 miles. Once on top I felt kind of woozy and I knew I need to get off. After all, Mosquito Pass is only at 13,100 feet. Not bad after coming from elevation 400 ft. in Tulsa. I grabbed some brief drinks and headed back down. The wind was so strong, it was incredible. It felt like an OK storm was sweeping across the prairie.

I did not drink much water on the way up and I knew I needed to drink more on the way down, so I could maintain my bearings. The way down can best be described as pick your spot. People are going both ways, it is full of rocks, and there really is not a path. I forced myself to start running to just get lower, to say like 10,000 feet. Geez! Once I got going I was able to maintain it for awhile. I passed Keith first, then Joel, Aaron, and then Johnny. It looked like Keith was not too far behind me, so I thought maybe I was going to be challenged. I made almost to the bottom and had to start walking again as it was heating up and my back was cramping again. I took another electrolyte tablet and mixed in running and walking. I made it the next aid station and took some time drinking and eating to try and recover. I knew my 5 hours was over, but I still wanted to make it under 6. I think it took me 45 minutes to get down off the pass.

From here, we have a lot of uphill. Remember me saying that it was downhill to the aid station. What goes down, must come up. I spent a lot of time walking this section and it seemed to help my stomach and back. I passed a few people on this stretch, but I did not really care at this point. I made it out of the bottom and this is what I saw in the distance.
Nothing like being stuck out in the open, surrounded by trees, and have a storm blow in off the mountains. I started to hear thunder and I knew we were in for something. The only good thing about these storms is that they blow out just as quickly as they come in, not like the ones in the prairies. Plus, it was not like I could speed up and get done, it was still uphill. I finally made it to the next aid station before it started raining. I re-fueled and took off. Still walking.

I started around Ball Mt. when a huge lightning bolt came down in the near distance. Where I grew up, they say you are supposed to count from when the lightning strikes and when you hear thunder to judge how close it was. It was around 1 to 2 seconds. Oops! Not like I could go any faster. It started to rain and I think sleet briefly, which felt good as it was starting to heat up. I finally made it to a downhill on the back side of the mountain and was able to run. I pretty much had to walk the hills and run the downhills. I was able to make up a lot of time in this portion. Made it to the last aid station at 5:12 and knew I could make it back before 6 hours. I thought it was all downhill from there, but I forgot about a last uphill. Nothing smacks you in the face more than when you think you are almost done and you have to climb another hill.

After the hill, I felt good and ran it all the way in. I turned the corner to 6th street at 5:45 and headed for home. A finish line always looks good, but it felt great that day. I had achieved the goal and conquered the pass. I finished in 5:51, well under 6 hours. I was 102nd out of 266. Not bad for a flatlander.
Here is Tony Krupicka finishing up. He ran a 3:40 on this course and got second. That is insane! He had a hard day with fighting cramps also and you can read about it on his blog.
Here I am coming down the home stretch. I heard the announcer say, "is it going to be a sprint"? I looked back and saw this guy coming and thought, Oh hell no, and took off. I beat him by 3 seconds. When I was done, my family came up to me and said that Wyatt had brought Tony's DVD down to the race and I needed to check it as it may be cracked. Huh? I opened it up and they had Tony autograph it earlier after he had finished. What a great surprise after finishing a tough race.
Here is how they post your results. On a board with your bib tag and your finishing time wrote down on it. You can say a lot for technology, but I like it. Maybe I am old school, but I thought it was great.

The Marathon was worth the trip and Leadville cannot be beat. I did not do enough hill training, but I am still happy with how I did. It challenged me more mentally than physically, as I was not redlining on my heart rate, but I just could not breathe at times. If you are looking for your next challenge, this is one you need to put on your list. Thanks for the memories Leadville you are the bomb!
This is what is all about, mission accomplished! Results can be found here.


Brandon Fuller said...

Saw your comment over on my site so I had to come check out your story. Nice finish. Glad you had a great time in Leadville. It is my favorite running town.

Rob Chance said...

Nice work Tom. Especially, not letting that guy pass you in the end;-) You know you have been in the sport a while when you aren't surprised by the bib tags posted at the finish. Those were the days.

Bobby said...

Way to go Tatur's. Looks and sounds like a great place to run.