Tuesday, August 21, 2012

VT To Leadville~Great Living @ 10,200 Feet

Colorado, a beautiful place, but not home. My trip started with connecting with a long time childhood friend and ice hockey teammate Anna in Aurora, Colorado. She and her family were kind enough to share their home and gluten free/vegan stash. Even though I wasn't at home they sure did make this Vermonter feel as if she was. My running was supplemented with the kids planning activities for me such as floor hockey, swimming, x-box connect, soccer, Olympic updates and arts & crafts. To be honest it was comical, yet special, to have a second grader read me a bed time story as a kindergartner peered at my sleepy eyes and made sure I was tucked in tight.  

After a hard goodbye, which lead way to a promise to return soon I left the Denver area and head for the mountains to do some training on course. A friend of a friend had graciously agreed to let me stay with him for a week. Shortly upon arrival in Leadville Chris and I went out for a short run so I could stretch my legs out. We decided on running an out and back on a early dirt section of the course. As anticipated I felt like I had been dragged by the airplane to Colorado.  All and all I felt sluggish, heavy and just couldn't find my stride. I chalked it up to travel, inconsistent meals and the reality of coming from sea level to altitude. That evening Chris and I walked downtown to see what was happening for the Boom Days festivities in town. Before I knew what was going on a gun fight broke out. Okay it was a staged gun fight, but in the moment I had no idea. Very nice to meet you Chris, now let me dive behind you to use you as a shield.  I never really did understand the craziness of the Boom Days, but I think that this made them highly intriguing.

The next day brought an opportunity to run Hope Pass. Chris and I started on the Twin Lakes side and headed down the Winfield side. Rumor was that the new trail section at the bottom would not be used during the race because the permits were not granted, but we ran it anyways. The new trail was well built and added a little more climbing. I really enjoyed the sections of aspen trees and the views. After arriving at the camp ground near Winfield we turned around and headed back up the pass. It didn't take long to realize that this side is much steeper than the other, although the trade off is constant views.  On the return trip up I ran out of water and after two plus years of playing it safe after getting giardia I filled my pack with stream water.  Very cold, refreshing and hopefully plague free.  

Once Chris and I got back to the car I had 5 missed calls. My husbands mountain bike training partner Marc wanted to let me know that George was on schedule to finish the Colorado Trail Race (502 miles self supported) that evening. After getting back to the apartment I threw a few things in my backpack, made an almond butter sandwich and Durango became my next stop. 

On my drive there I was receiving tracking updates from Marc and my mom. About two hours into the drive I was told that Geo had stopped moving, an hour passed and he still wasn't moving. My first thought was that it was a break to eat or a mechanical issue. Then another hour passed without movement and I started to fear that he or the guy he had been riding with had sustained a serious injury. Finally after no moment for about 2.5 hours my mom phoned to tell me he was back to life. A little over 5 hours later I arrived at a trail head in Durango and asked others in the parking lot if I was in the right stop. Alyssa Wildeboer was quick to introduce herself and put the pieces together that our husbands we riding together. I also realized she too was running the Leadville 100. We chatted, paced back and forth and called others for updates. We finally received news that Travis and George had decided to seek shelter under a small pine tree because an electrical storm had moved in. They both napped rather than dodging lightening and that explained their lack of movement for hours.  

CTR-5 Days-502 Miles
Eventually I got impatient and started heading up the trail. It was getting dark and of course I hadn't thrown a headlamp in my pack. I had this hunch that just a little further and then a little further beyond that I would see them. Shortly after that I saw two lights headed towards me and I skittishly said "George? Travis?" before I knew it Geo was off his bike with his arms wrapped around me. I shook Travis's hand and told the boys to get it done. What an inspiring endeavor and very motivational for helping me prepare for my race.  Some photos, food and conversation at the finish and then we were off to find a hotel.  The next morning after Geo impressed me with his breakfast (2 full size waffles with peanut butter and honey, fruit, yogurt, chips, cinnamon bun, etc.) Now with a halfway hungry biker who was also barefoot we headed to Leadville. A stop for shoes, clothes, more food before hundreds of miles of driving. 

Hope Pass 12,600 Feet
The next day Chris and I headed out for an out and back from the east end of Turquoise Lake to the top of Sugarloaf. On this run it dawned on me that is course scared me because of its ruannability. Miles and miles of terrain that could be run. 

The following day brought a trip to Denver to drop Geo at the airport and another opportunity to spend some time with Anna and her family. After a good night sleep she sent me off back to Leadville with homemade gluten free brownies, cookies and cinnamon raisin bread. In the midst of driving I was able to arrange company for a Hope Pass out and back with Salomon teammate Jen Segger. It was a pleasure to get to know her and the next day we met up with Ashley Nordell to tackle the power lines section. I don't often get to train with females so I really enjoyed our time together.  

2,000 Bikers Streaming Past

Oh yes power lines, mountain bikers, the Leadville 100 mtn bike. The roads, trails and town were becoming overrun with lycra, shaved legs and expensive bikes. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to watch the start as approximately 2,000 bikers rolled to the line.  From what I saw of their course it appeared to be more of a road race on mountain bikes, but what do I know. The gun went off as I cheered for a new found friend Garret and then I ventured to Turquoise Lake for a run.  A nice run, a dip in the lake and I was now headed back to Denver to meet my parents who would be crewing for me. I was becoming overly familiar with the drive between Leadville and Denver. Alas this was the last time I would have to make the trek before the race.  

With just under a week until I toed the line I partook in a few short runs with Paul and Meredith Terranova and a hike up Hope Pass with my father as I tried to keep myself in check yet happy. Slowly throughout the week the town had emptied of bikers and filled with runners. 
My Dad Taking in the Views Headed Up Hope

I had the opportunity to connect with more Salomon teammates and watch the start of day two of the Transrockies. Also great to see and cheer for fellow New England runners Amy Lane, Brian R, and Dave James.  When I ran TRR two years ago I enjoyed the opportunity, but was happy that I didn't have to race 6 days in a row this year.  

As much fun as I was having socializing in the coffee shop, training with new and familiar faces and taking into the sights it was time for final preparations. Medical check in, drop bags, racer meeting, pacer coordinating, crew details, so many details to finalize as the race quickly approached.  

1 comment:

  1. It is nice when you travel to a place and your friend make you feel that you are at home and you remember the nice time in their home.