Monday, July 16, 2007

High Mountain 25K - Leadville CO

This was my third and last race on a weeklong excursion to Colorado. It was an interesting experiment as to whether a week stay at altitude would ever be able to acclimate me to racing in those conditions. After racing in Leadville and Vail the week before at over 10,000 feet, and training most of the week on Pike’s Peak I hoped to be able to race well in this Leadville-based ultra. It would be tough. The race starts at 10,000 feet and climbs to over 12,000 feet several times during the race. Last year I had done the 25K, suffered quite a bit at elevation, but finished in 2:57, and 18th overall, which I was satisfied with at the time. This year I planned on doing the 50K ultra. I would have been happy with anything under 6:30 in the ultra.

Rebecca dropped me off at the race start at 7:30. We ran into Dale Reicheneder, who was there to compete in the 25K and add points to his 2007 Trophy Series total. Amanda the race director sent us off at 8:00am. We ran down a wide trail eventually coming to a wide rocky uphill path amidst some woods. This let out onto a road that ran down to Turquoise Lake. We made a left on the road until we got to the marker for the singletrack trail that ran alongside the lake. I then settled in to 6 miles of little rollers that bordered Turquoise Lake. Eventually those ran out into a path that ran up through a campground away from the lake. After half a mile of asphalt we came to the one and only aid station. I hit it at 1:20 about the same time as last year. I was consciously going slow knowing that some brutal hills were coming up after the aid station. And that I wanted to do 50K this year.

After the aid station, the asphalt road continues and then racers turn off to the left onto a dirt road which hits a trailhead on the Colorado Trail. The trailhead opens on to some semi-technical single track. And then the relentless climbing begins. The race climbs over 2,000 feet above the lake area, continuously rising at sometimes brutal steepness. Finally it lets out back onto fireroad at the apex. From there it runs mostly downhill (with a few steep uphills thrown in) on a wide fireroad under the power lines for several miles. It then lets out onto Route 5A about half a mile from the High Mountain Institute. I hate that asphalf. You turn left off of the road into the field that fronts the institute. I came into the halfway point at 2:59:18.

I got a new bottle of Perpetuem from Rebecca and headed back out on the loop counterclockwise the way we came in. Its nice the way you hit the uphill right away, leaving the flats to the end. I actually like climbing and enjoyed the uphill. But I was reduced to powerhiking as I had started to really feel the altitude. I passed Dale going downhill to finish the 25K on the beginning of the climb. He had run off course by several miles.

Once I hit the top I bombed down the singletrack at speed, feeling good musclewise (no soreness), but starting to to have irregular breathing, something that never happens to me at sea level. I came out of the trailhead and down the asphalt road to the aid station near mile 24 by 5:05. Rebecca was waiting there. She heard from Dale that I had asked for Advil and showed up to provide it. I sat down and drank some coke, ate some pretzels, and took the Advil. Once I got up I was very sore and stiff and could barely run. I really should have just stopped right there. I ran/walked for a couple miles but didn't really have it in me to finish. I called Rebecca to meet me at one of the parking areas along the lake that we had hiked yesterday. We drove to the start/finish area and I told Amanda to just mark me down for the 25K at 2:59.


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