Colorado trip and Leadville 100 mile Trail Run
Last Monday (Aug 17th) we flew into Denver and drove over to Grand Junction to spend a few days with my family. The drive on I-70 was pleasant and the views were spectacular. Colorado is a beautiful state. I loved the transition from the pines and aspens in the mountains outside of Denver to the sandstone canyons on the Grand Mesa. Grand Junction was a really cool town, full of interesting sculptures down the main street in town. For a small town it has quite a bit to offer. The elevation there is 4,597 ft above sea level, just a *bit* of a change from the 460 ft above sea level that we live at in Timonium. Alberto did fine with the elevation changes, but I was not quite so lucky, having to deal with an almost constant headache for the entire trip. Thankfully some Sudafed and Motrin really helped with that.
My dad took us on a tour of the town and also took us up the Little Bookcliffs as well. The view from the Little Bookcliffs was amazing. From that vantage point we were able to look down over the valley, seeing Grand Junction and Fruita, and out to the Grand Mesa. It is hard to describe exactly how breathtaking the views were. Even though I have seen many photos of the area before, they don’t give you the sense of awe and wonder that you have by looking up at the mountains from the valley, or out from the mountains and down into the valley.
Early Friday morning we left Grand Junction to head out to Leadville. It was hard getting up at 4 AM, but we had to be at race check-in between 8 AM and 10 AM for the medical check and race briefing. There was a bit of a change to the course, because a Black Hawk helicopter crashed a couple of days before near the course line and the military was still in the process of cleaning the crash site. During the briefing, as they were talking about the changeable weather, lightning was mentioned. The person giving the briefing told everyone that if they felt their hair stand on end that they should get down low… then he said “if you see my hair stand on end, then you’d better grab your bible and cram for finals.” (he was bald.)
While Alberto was going through the medical check I picked up a crew shirt. On the front, it said Leadville 100 crew and on the back it said “I’m not here for a good time I’m here for a LONG time”. Completely irresistible! After the check-in we wandered the town while waiting for the briefing. It’s a quaint town, and had some really cool shops. We grabbed a bite to eat at Proving Ground Coffee – a fantastic bakery and coffee shop. We also picked up a few little souvenirs to take home with us. Once we were done with the briefing we headed to our hotel in Dillon, CO (the Super 8 there). The staff there was fantastic, and very helpful in extending our checkout time, and recommending a good place to eat. It was hard to get to sleep that night, partially because we had to go to bed early (we still weren’t on Colorado time), and partially from the excitement. We got up at 1:45 AM so we would arrive on time for the race-day check-in. The race started at 4 AM, and as soon as the runners were off, I headed out to the second aid station ( we had decided that I would meet him at the major aid stations and skip the minor ones).
Alberto wanted me to nap as much as possible once I was at the aid stations so I would be more rested, both for the duration of the event and for the drive back to the airport. I was too *awake* from the coffee (thank you Proving Grounds for a delicious 2nd cup!) and excitement. Also, there wasn’t a lot of time from when I arrived at the parking areas, grabbed his gear, walked to the aid station and when he came through… at least not for the first 40 or so miles.
Whenever I crew, I always try to bring books or puzzles to keep me alert, but sometimes my brain just won’t focus on things like that. This time I brought some supplies to make necklaces, and I’m glad I did. It was the perfect thing to keep me busy without taxing my brain or keeping me from talking to other people or watching for Alberto. I even got to share some supplies with a very bored girl, which was nice for her mom too *grins*.
Alberto was making very good time (though he believed that he was not pacing himself well and was going too fast at first). His predictions of when he would arrive at the next aid station were right on the money, up until the Twin Lakes aid station. When he didn’t arrive on time, I knew there might be a problem. A few miles before the aid station he got hit with a massive cramp in his right calf. Thankfully a couple of runners were nice enough to stop and massage the heck out of it for him. (He said it hurt like….. and he really screamed, but that it was good they did it.) Cramps have been a bit of a problem for him this year, but we think we’ve figured out the cause (low electrolytes – especially calcium). After having a massive cramp like that his speed slowed considerably. He made the Winfield aid station about 45 minutes later than he expected.
He told me that he didn’t think he’d make the cutoff time for the Twin Lakes aid station, but I told him I thought that he could – and to just do his best. Once I arrived at Twin Lakes I took a bit of a nap, first lying down using the backpack as a pillow, then sitting cross-legged and leaning forward over the backpack. When you are tired you can sleep anywhere! He made it in just before the cutoff (9:30), looking very tired, and was out of there just in time. He had found a stick big enough to use as a walking stick on the way and said it saved him. Again, he said he didn’t think he would make the cutoff time for the next aid station. I told him that I knew he could, to do his best and I would see him there. When he arrived at Fish Hatchery he was hobbling, and looked like an odd cross between exhausted and energized.
I will continue this post later, as time permits.