Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 Leadville 100 Mile Endurance Run. How a dude from the beach entered the race at the last second and finished in under 23 hour in sandals without training.

Ultra-running is dumb!
 I suck at running at elevation, I have no passion for climbing mountains and feel confined by a single track trail.  I live at the beach and run barefoot in the sand nearly everyday. God's gift to running 100 mile races I am not.
That being said I love proving myself wrong and I'm always for a new adventure.

On with the show:
If you read my last few blog posts you'd know that Leadville 100  was less than 36 hours away.  I had spent the last 3 weeks in the mountains and over that span I had ran 7 races winning four of them and finishing 2nd  in another. I had snuck in the SOLD OUT Leadville 100  about 10 days prior to the event thanks to a friend at New Balance  (one of the title sponsors of the event.)  No time to train but also not time to stress out.

I had been intrigued with running in Leadville 100 since I paced my Buddy Bookis  ( Ceo of Luna Sandals) in 2011.  It's not a very technical course and had a lot flat open areas to run which should bode pretty well for me considering I run in sandals.
The biggest factors for me would be the elevation and the weather.  I was still getting winded walking up the stairs at the house I was staying at but I felt a lot more comfortable at altitude than I had ever been in my life (which isn't saying much)
As for the Weather?
The forecast for the first time all summer predicted Zero percent chance of thunderstorms on race day!
"Can I get a Hell Yeah!"
By Shel Siverstein
Scientists say Beards are better at altitude
I would be running the race with very little gear and no crew.  Rather than training I focused my energy on growing a good beard for the race. Plus I had pair of Luna Oso Sandals.  The course record at Leadville was once set in sandals. Less crap meant less to worry about.
A few minutes after my Beer mile win Thursday night  and less than 1 mile away I found myself at the pre-race dinner and ran into 2 ultra running studs Ed Ettinghausen and his little buddy Cody who ran his first 100 last year at the age of 12.
(both of which I gain inspiration from.)
 Maybe I should check out the the rules of the race?
While looking over the rules for the event that night, I noticed that there would be mandatory weigh ins.
It stipulated that if a runner lost 3-5% of their body weight they could be held at an aid station and if they lost 7% they would be "Kicked out of the Race!"
I had just gorged myself on pasta and beer and feeling a tad bit tubby. Normally my weight fluctuates between 140 and 155 lbs depending on what kind of shape in. Well the shape I felt at that particular moment was rather  round and I was guessing my weight to be about 154 lbs.
Time to beat the system and instigate a totally unhealthy game plan that I don't recommend.  While others were making sure they were hydrated at about 7 p.m. after one last Stone Ale :) I stopped drinking and eating.

(Day before the race)
I did not eat breakfast or drink any fluids instead I went and ran around the frisbee golf course for a few hours to sweat out some weight. I was thirsty but quenching it would have to wait. Around noon it was time for weigh in.
Dun Dun Dun!
I told the Dr. what I had done and she responded with a dumbfounded  head nod to the side like my an elementary school teacher who had just caught me cheating.
I never cheated in elementary school that's why I have perfect grammar and punctuation?
With about a three to one ratio of beer to water and whole lot of food I would be easily over 150 lbs by the time the race started just 16 hours away.
"Drinking my beer in the hot sun, I fought the law and I won."
(sorry I got sidetracked)
South Bay Representing
Just before the pre-race meeting I ran into my buddy Thomas who crewed with me at Badwater the dude lives about a mile from me and will be my pacer in a few weeks at the  Endurance Challenge 100
Not my video.
(This looks like a front row seat compared to wear Iwas sitting)
Cole Chlouber,
 Friend and wearer of Luna Sandals gave a riveting speech.
Drop Bags?
Since I had no crew it was better to safe than sorry I made 4 drop bags although I knew I probably wouldn't use them.  I have ran around forty Ultras and have probably made 10-20 drop bags. I think I actually used one once.
Time to get some rest.

At the Labbe Estate (the home that I had been staying at for the last two week) less than  a 5 min walk from the starting line 
I went to bed without a bit a nervousness, anxiety or apprehension.  This either means i'm getting more mature or more delusional.
(hopefully it's the second of the 2)
Is said good night to Tyler and his sister in the next room over and was visiting the sandman by 9 p.m.

Vegas odds on my performance:
10% Sub 20 hours
30% Sub 25 hours
30% 25-30 hour
30% DNF

Race Day 
(Crack of Dawn)
I felt surprisingly well rested for waking up before my alarm around 3 a.m. 
Ian, myself and Tyler
Ian would go to finish first in the shod division.  I hope his feet are okay?
I heard that Ian also won some sort of Grand Slam whatever that is?

That doesn't look very vegan to me.
For breakfast I had three of my Favorite Vegan energy bars made by the Bearded Brothers of Austin Texas 

We were supposed to be down at the starting coral by 3:45 but it was chilly outside. Tyler took off while I stayed with Ian and Sean Messiner (travel buddy from Nicaragua and also Ian's pacer) till about 3:50 before heading out the door.
On the way to the starting line I ran into my buddy  from Hawaii. Who would also be running in Lunas? Or did he run in Air Jordan's from "Back to the Future"  I'm not sure because my photographer Sean cropped our feet out of the pic.

Why am I wearing a shirt?  At the last second I decided to tie it around my waist instead.
(I would end up running the whole race shirtless)

Random tidbit of to much info:
My P.R. at the 50k came shirtless with weather in the 20's at the start of the race.
Off and running,
A few days before the event Cole Clubber Recommended me that I shouldn't talk to anyone till I got to the first aid station, 12 miles away in an effort to save my energy?
Sure why not.

I ran down the hill out of town at a good pace.  Although the weather was brisk within the first mile I was happy I chose not wear a shirt but thankful for my Moeben sleeves.

Around mile 6 I was stuck in group of slow single track runners I was probably running in 20 to 30th place at the time.  There was no need to go faster but it was frustrating.  I was keeping to myself with my head down staring at the heels of the dude in front of me.
 Maybe I should have been paying more attention because all of sudden  about 6 people in front of me turned around and started running toward me.

"How the heck did we get lost, I still don't?"
A little over a mile later those 6 plus about 15 people behind me had backtracked onto the course.
"Oh well"
I got to the first aid station feeling good. I wanted to ditch my headlamp but it was still dark and taking 30 seconds to find my drop bag was out of the question. Anxious to make up for my incompetence in getting lost.  I pushed hard up the first climb where I passed about 20 people.  Everything was feeling good  except my left knee felt weak if I landed unevenly with my foot.

In the weeks leading up to the race I had been playing a few rounds of frisbee golf nearly everyday.  When my running was at it's best I was an avid disc golfer but for the last year or so I was lucky if I played twice a month.  My body wasn't use to all the torque on the knee and earlier in the week somthing had gone awry. 
(the Fish Hatchery)
Coming in at mile 20ish I was still feeling good but things were about to change in a hurry.
To my surprise at the aid station I had a lot of people cheering for me,
I knew I'd see Tyler's merry crew of Mas Loco's
 but another 20 or so people called out my name.  It really meant a lot to me and thank you to you if you were one of those people!
Shortly after leaving the aid station while running on a paved highway my knee began to hurt with every step.  This was supposed to be the part of the course that I planned on running hard.  Time to throw that plan out the window.  I now found myself walking extended sections of flat terrain
I haven't even covered a marathon.
"This was either gonna be a very long day or a very short one?"

I Started to feel guilty that I was walking. If my pace continued at this speed,or got worse  I wondered If I could I finish under the allotted 30 hours? A sub 25 hour big buckle finish seemed out the question. Did I think things were gonna get better?
but I sure hoed they would and a little hope is powerful thing!
Faking a smile for the camera
It seemed like 100 people passed me over the next 10 miles.  I wanted so bad to run but the body wouldn't let me.  I'd go a few minutes of running and then I would walk.  If I could make it to mile 40 (Twin Lakes) then maybe I can make to mile 50 and so forth.
Twin Lakes
I made it there with out feeling completely broken albeit a little slower than I had hoped.  No sense in throwing in the towel yet.
Tyler's actual crew
At the Aid station I once again got a lot love from friends this lifted my spirits.

The weather was gorgeous and I only had 60 more miles to run.
 Time to go climb Hope Pass
As I left the Twin lakes aid station I saw my friend from New Balance and had a surprise to show her on the side of my foot.
Crossing a few ponds during the heat the day.  I was loving the sunshine.  I decided to take off my sandals through the final pond to rejuvenate my feet. It is a huge advantage that running in sandals had accorded me and it felt oh so good.
It was a long hike up to the top. Along the way I learned somthing about myself?
I suck at hiking!
At least another 20 or 30 people marched past me as I hiked.  The only person I passed along the way was my buddy Thomas who was hunched over on rock dealing with altitude sickness.
I got him to walk a little bit with me but he was in bad shape and doubtful to finish the race.

Just before reaching the pass I saw Ian screaming down the hill in second place.  He was who I wanted to win unlike many of my friends who were rooting for  Scott Jurek.

Down the backside of Hope pass I stoked not to be climbing anymore, each step downwards meant more oxygen and I ran pretty good for a few miles until the pounding became too much.  At this point I felt like I was walking a pretty fineline between pain and injury.

Time to head back home.

When I got to the 50 mile mark I weighed in at
142.4 lb's
exactly what I had checked in at the day before.  I'm not one to linger at aid stations, I grabbed a cup of non Vegan ramen soup along with a cup of coke and I was out of there within a minute.

On my way back to climb Hope Pass I saw a few of my buddies Including Mike Miller and Tyler they were about 30-45 minutes behind me, they both looked strong and I was happy for them.
By far the hardest thing for me to do the whole race was find gasps of air to cheer on the runners coming down as I hiked back up Hope Pass.  I think succeeded about 80% of the time but sometimes I would try for words but nothing came out.

When I paced Bookis up this section a few years ago he was flying.
I also moved like a bird?  Yep I was waddling up the hill like the worlds stupidest penguin trying to avoid being jousted by runners screaming down the hill running recklessly with their trekking poles.

On the way up one after another I saw runners in Hoka's fall down.  I saw no less than 6 of them.  I did fall down once too as I tried to let some chick (also wearing Hoka's) pass going the other direction.  She butt bonked me off the side of trail.
This pic looks like the worlds worst selling action figure.

Coming down Hope Pass back towards Twin Lakes I should have been running but I was exhausted mentally.  Tons of people were still passing me.  At about Mile 57 my buddy Terry passed me and I decided to join him.
.That's when everything Changed!
I don't know what happened or why I said it. But all of a sudden I uttered out a whimsical
took off running. Everything clicked into gear and I felt great for the first time all day.
I was running with a smile and a purpose.
 I didn't want to stop as I sprinted to the aid station at Twin Lakes.  Once again I refilled on Coke and Ramen, which I would continue to do for the rest of the race at each aid station.  At Twin Lakes my friend Flint told me that my buddy Peter was there and he wanted to pace someone?
I hadn't planned on a pacer, I don't usually run with one but at Leadville pacer's are allowed to "Mule" for you, meaning they can carry your gear.
Not having to carry my water would make things a lot easier plus Peter is pretty cool dude. I told  Flint that would love Peter's services and that if he wanted to pace me from mile 80 to the finish line that would be amazing.
Out of Twin lakes there was about 3 mile climb I wanted to run but thought better of it.  Once I was done climbing I started moving like a runaway tire down a hill. I was passing people left and right and at one point ran about 42 minute 10km.
 (not bad for already having 100km under my belt)

At mile 72 I saw Flint, he told me Peter would be waiting for me at mile 80.
Earlier in the day I thought I may not be able to finish but by my current calculations I could finish this race in under 25 hours and score a big buckle!

Fish Hatchery mile 80ish
At the aid station the medical team was giving me the stink eye for not wearing a shirt.
"The forecast says it's gonna be in the low 30's at the top of the mountain."
(more reason to run faster I thought)

I think I got there around 10 p.m. My plan was to walk about 80% of the climb up power line with a little running sprinkled in.
It was nice to now have Peter with me, who couldn't have been a better pacer. (he was collegiate runner and also and a fellow Ultra marathoner). I was still having trouble breathing during climbs so I let him do most of the talking.  

With about 15 miles to go we started back down hill and moving at about a 6 min pace.  Sure I was tired but because I had done so much walking during the day I had plenty legs left.

Mile 90 
At the final aid station I had one last cup of coke and another cup of Ramen.  It was a beautiful night and I was actually enjoying myself  If only Peter were an attractive woman it would have been perfect!
(no offense to Peter)

With a about 6 miles to go I realized I was gonna break 24 hours.  It then dawned on me if I ran sub 10 minute miles I could break 23 hours. I felt like I had the energy  and there was no point in saving anything for tomorrow, hell it was already tomorrow.  Peter was running stride for stride but not for long.
During the the next mile or so I left him in the dust.

I slowed up a bit before the final 4 mile climb back into town.  I asked Peter if he was okay I ditched him.
(he was more than happy to let me go.)
I took off running uphill at around an 8 minute. pace.  During this stretch I passed about 15 people.  I would guess the average pace of these runners to be about a 20 min mile.  I felt like the last survivor of the zombie apocalypse and with person I passed I pressed on running faster and faster.
If you watch this video for 6 hours 40 minutes and 35 seconds you can watch me finish
22:41 40th place
1st place in the Sandal Division and the shirtless division for that matter.

I crossed the line feeling good.  If there were another 20 miles to run I would have been fine  but I was happy to be done.  The second half of the race was so much easier than the first half.  I was proud of myself for not giving a 110%  and for not pushing past my limits.  
After taking a quick shower at the Labbe house and borrowing some clothes from Peter (all my warm gear was in my drop bags) I stumbled my way back to the finish line less than hour after I had crossed it too watch my friends finish.
Well done Tyler 2nd place Sandal division
Tired Dudes
Special thanks to Greg Labbe for the amazing hospitality.  Your generosity will not soon be forgotten.
thank you to my Pacer Peter.
"Who needs a beautiful woman when you got a pal like him?"

What did I learn? 
Well I learned that coke and ramen make pretty good fuel 
(I'm not sure I wanted to learn that.)
I learned that it's okay to hold back,  the old me would have pushed too hard early and broken down.  I took a very conservative approach when things went bad and I couldn't of asked for a better outcome. 

Thank you to all the volunteers and the other runners  for being nice to me. Congratulations to all the finishers.  Thank you to all my fellow Mas Loco's for the support.  Thank you to the Bearded Brothers for helping fuel me before during and after the race.  Thank you to New Balance for getting me in.  Lastly Thank you to 
for making the best running shoes I have ever owned!

I had a great time in Colorado 
It's good to be back home at the beach where I can be
Whatever that may be