HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!!!!!
Sorry for not getting this recap up sooner; my mom was here and my priority was having fun with her 🙂 But, let’s get to what I am definitely calling “The best race I have ever done”.
After scooping up my mom at the airport, then later Marc, we loaded up the jeep and headed to the mountains. Leadville is a little mining town about 2 hours outside of Denver.
I had a hard time sleeping (nerves) but managed to get in about 5 hours (I think). My mom and I got up and ready and then met Joe and Marc in the lobby for breakfast. I brought my own bagel with PB and chia seeds, but had a small cup of coffee as well.
After getting our packets and, stripping some layers and applying sunscreen, my mom headed to the volunteer area while Joe, Marc, and I headed to the bathrooms by the start/finish line. Then, we took our places in line and waited for the gun to go off.
It was a beautiful day- the sun was shining and it was about 55 degrees at the start. Music was playing and everyone was so full of energy and excitement. Finally the gun went off and away we went!!!!!!!! Miles 1-3: The race started at an immediate uphill, and on pavement (first .5 mile). The full marathon runners (our friend Marc) split off to the right around mile 1.5 and the halfer’s continued climbing straight. Joe and I kept a really good pace, the entire first three miles were uphill with no breaks. We occasionally walked when it got super steep. We had a great system of reminding each other to drink from our camelbacks every 5-7 minutes. We both had water + nuun tablets for electrolytes.
Miles 3-4.4: The 3rd mile was completely downhill which was a nice break on the legs and allowed us to pick up the pace a little bit. I ate 1/2 a cliff bar while running this mile. The course started to get narrower at this point and the runners started spacing themselves out a bit more. When we hit mile 4 we started to climb again, but only had .4 to go before the next aid station, so pushed on at a slow uphill run.
Miles 4.4-8: We managed to run (all uphill still) to about mile 6, when it got so steep that it was impossible to run. It was a hike from here up to the turn around at Misquito Pass. This was a long slow slog over big loose rocks and really tricky terrain. I ate a packet of sport beans while walking mile 6-7. The weather was perfect and the views were absolutely stunning. I had to jump off the trail and find a
bathroom bush around mile 6.5.
It was really cool to see the front runners starting to come down and run past us. Everyone was supportive and cheered for each other. It was such a great energy and vibe. Finally finally finally we reached the top about 2.5 hours after we started.
Miles 8-11.6: Heading back down from Misquito Pass was trecherous. It was REALLY steep and the lig loose rocks made it really easy to roll an ankle. Plus, you had to share the trail with all the runners still coming up. We got moving at a pretty serious speed, but there were super steep turns we had to slow it down a bit for. These miles felt AMAZING after the uphill we had just come off. I felt like I was flying! And, we passed Marc on his way up!! My legs felt a little tired but good overall. And I was doing a really good job with fueling and hydrating.
Miles 11.6-13ish: We may have stayed a little too long at the aid station before, because my legs felt a little dead for these miles. The first half was downhill and the second uphill. Before we knew it though we were at the final aid station!!
Aid Station #5: This was a quick one. I grabbed a couple M&M’s and we kept moving. It was time for the final (all downhill!!!!) push to the finish.
Miles 13-16: The downhill felt good at first, and we got a pretty decent pace going (around 8:30), but our legs were definitely starting to feel it after all the up and downs. We could tell by our pace that we had a chance at coming in just under 4 hours and got pretty excited, but as we got closer, it was just a little too rough to push that hard on the legs, so we slowed up a tiny bit. When we hit the pavement again, the finish line was in sight and I could not have been happier. Joe and I grabbed hands to run across the finish at 4:02 and my mom was there to greet us with hugs!!
For some reason this year they decided (for the first time in 40 years!) not to give medals. So, instead we got mugs when we crossed the finish line…kinda disappointing, but, what can ya do?…the mug is actually pretty cool 🙂
After finishing, we hung around a bit. My mom still had to work the finish line, and Marc was still out on the course. Joe and I watched the runners come in and walked around town a bit. Then at 8:34, Marc crossed the finish line!!!
The volunteers for this race were absolutely incredibly. The aid stations were so well stocked and everyone could not have been more supportive and helpful! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the volunteers for this race- including my mom who was rocking it out at the finish line greeting runners with their mugs, clipping their timing chips and cutting tons and tons of fruit all day!!
When we got back to Denver, Joe, Marc and I all managed to shower and go out for another celebratory beer. This is by far the hardest, but most incredible race experience I have ever had. Joe and I have already committed to running the full next year…and of course we are looking for more trail halfs to do over the summer now 🙂