Category Archives: Adventure Racing

Lucho on HR training/racing

  • Uses terms interchangeably –Base, MAF, zone 2 – all kind of the same thing

  • Depends on the type of athlete and if his athlete is using threshold or not

  • Lots of his athletes are just MAF based
  • But Triathletes use zones, ftp, threshold tests


  • Base = zone 1 / zone 2 / threshold -20 (+/- a few BPM)

    • Wide range

    • MAF is well below 50/50 fat/carb burn

    • Very moderate

    • Without an RQ / metabolic efficiency test, it’s a bit of a guess, but you have to assume the MAF formula is good (if doing MAF)

    • (really fit athlete could have MAF = zone 3)


  • Tempo = roughly MAF + 10 or threshold -10; zone 3

    • But this is different based on the type of athlete

    • Ultra-runner vs. Olympic distance triathlete

      • Triathlete should have a wider zone 3

      • Triathlete may have a 15 beats below threshold

      • Ultra may be 5 beats below threshold (b/c threshold is low)

    • If an athlete only does MAF, nothing else at all, then threshold will drop, closer to MAF

      • You’ve closed the zone 3, 4 window – and zone 4 may be eliminated

      • E.g. MAF was 5:50; dropped to 5:40 in marathon and went above threshold, so MAF + 10 was “blow up”

      • Big negative for marathoner and most other athletes like sprint and Olympic distance triathletes, but not so bad for 100 miler…

      • Trying to keep a theoretical space between what you can hold for 1 hour vs. 3 hours

      • Example of elite marathoners dropping 20-30s/mile for a short burst (mile) and being fine, but if you don’t have that window, you can’t do it…

      • Having a high end is important

      • Doesn’t take 6 months of speed work

      • Short periods of vo2max, speed, threshold work will bring it back up

      • E.g. 7 weeks, 1 speed session per week, is adequate

  • Tempo vs. threshold

    • Threshold = 98-103% of LT

    • Tempo = can hold for over an hour, or up to 2

    • A “feel”

    • HR will drift over the hour+

    • (so ignore HR)

  • Lactate threshold/FTP – zone 4, a bit into zone 5

  • Zone 5 – VO2Max

    • Close to mile repeat efforts, but no HRM on mile repeats

    • But if you max mile is 8 minutes – that’s too long

    • VO2Max cut off is 5 – 5:30 minutes


  • Mile

    • Close to vo2max, or just under, depending on actual duration

    • VO2max is 5-5:30 minutes

  • 5k

    • Start at threshold, or just under, or you start to fast

  • Half Marathon – threshold

    • But again depends on speed

    • 2 hours = zone 3/aerobic threshold

    • 1:15 – 1:20 zone 4

  • Marathon speed is zone 3

    • May start at MAF, drifts to z3 by mile 6 or 7, drifts to z4 at 15-20 => no single marathon HR as it changes during the race

    • Marathon pace is “aerobic threshold” (Canova) – 50/50 fat/carb burn

  • 50 miler

    • mostly MAF or lower for most runners

    • but those going really fast (6 hours)  - moderate tempo


  • 100 miles

    • MAF, but with fatigue and cardiac drift, HR isn’t that useful

    • Use for 5-6 hours then don’t bother

  • Notes on terminology

    • If using “zone” based training, it’s not MAF

    • Zones are based off of threshold, MAF is not

    • Can make educated guess

    • E.g. MAF+20 = threshold – just a guide



  • Just need to be close – it’s hand grenades – these are big ranges

  • Take the calculators with a grain of salt – it’s the type of training you do that indicates what you are capable of…

  • Definitely likes athletes to at least use an HRM for a while – coach and athlete need to get on the same page w.r.t. terminology…  Also need to agree on perceived exertion…


Lucho on the marathon

Lucho’s last words to me before the marathon last week:

I guarantee that there is going to come a moment where you do not like the race and you’ll want to slow. This moment will be a moment of choice. You’ll need to choose between slowing down and not running your best or suffering through to your best race. After you cross the finish line you want to be able to look back at the race and be happy with your decision.

So true!  Not that I felt like I had much of a decision at the time when I did slow, but how much of that really was mental, and how much was physical?   How do you work on mental toughness for intensity?  (Not for endurance/duration, which I think I’ve got down… I can always put one foot in front of the other, it’s just a question of pace!)

Tobacco Road Marathon

When I 1st started training for the ATT marathon, I had a goal of 3:15.  (ATT = American Tobacco Trail, which is what I tend to call the marathon, even though that’s not its name!)

I knew 3:15 would be a big stretch for me, but I thought with Lucho coaching me, I might have a chance.  However, throughout training, it seemed like 3:20 was going to be more realistic.  But I never fully gave up on the 1st goal.  Even when, about two weeks out, my legs felt a bit achy and tired on every run, especially when I bumped the speed to under 8:00/mile pace.  And even when, a week out, my lungs started feeling congested and wheezy.  Two days out, and one day out, I was definitely on the upswing.  So what was in store?

I’ve not got a lot of pictures — only the ones Kelly and the kids took of me at mile 19 or so, and at the finish.  But here I am at 19, still looking happy!

mile 19

I came up on Tom, who has an amazing story as a brain cancer survivor.  I was really surprised to see him, as I figured he’d be under 3:15, but there he was.  We didn’t run together long as he was struggling a bit with too fast of a start, but still finished in a BQ time of 3:22.


So, what happened to me?  The splits tell the story…  I put the mile splits from my GPS next to the perfectly even splits of a 3:15, and show the time difference…

Now this isn’t quite fair — the mile splits are from my GPS, which was slightly off.  It showed a total of 26.44 at the end, not 26.2.  But this shows I had a conservative start (negative difference for the 1st few miles).  In fact, I jumped in behind the 1:40 half marathon pace group for the 1st couple of miles — until they split off south on the ATT and the marathoners headed north.    And then the differences pick up, where I’m fairly far ahead of a 3:15 as much as 2.5 minutes!

At the point the half marathoners turn south and the marathoners turn north, it’s a slight downhill — if you can call any rise or fall on the ATT a hill!  As an old railroad bed, it’s never more than 1 or 2% grade max.  But I let gravity pull me along, and even tried to hold back a bit.  I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor, but just ran by feel.  And the pace felt solid, but good.  I know come mile 18 or 19 or 20, that pace would no longer feel so good, but it’s at that point when you have to rise and hold it..

I did have the GPS on so I could use that as a pacer, and I steadily saw my average pace go down, down, down.  All the way until about mile 21, when it was 7:18/mile.  And I thought “I’ve got 3:15!  Unless I have an epic collapse!”

I even thought briefly at that time that 3:10 was within reach, but I wisely decided not to push it at all.  In fact, I thought I’d back off a touch, to preserve the 3:15.  But little did I know that the “climb” at mile 22 – 25 would do me in…  It got really hard to hold the pace, but I was doing it!

And then we left the ATT and hit the roads.  And there was this little hill, but this killer head wind. And I had to walk.  Twice!  You can see it in the elevation profile and pace graph below the splits.  And you can see in my splits… I began to really suffer, and the buffer I had built faded oh so quickly…

Mile Split Cumulative 3:15 Marathon Splits Difference
1 0:07:45 0:07:45 0:07:26 -0:00:19
2 0:07:27 0:15:12 0:14:52 -0:00:20
3 0:07:17 0:22:29 0:22:18 -0:00:11
4 0:07:15 0:29:44 0:29:44 0:00:00
5 0:07:04 0:36:48 0:37:11 0:00:23
6 0:07:23 0:44:11 0:44:37 0:00:26
7 0:07:05 0:51:16 0:52:03 0:00:47
8 0:07:16 0:58:32 0:59:29 0:00:57
9 0:07:01 1:05:33 1:06:56 0:01:23
10 0:07:09 1:12:42 1:14:22 0:01:40
11 0:07:12 1:19:54 1:21:48 0:01:54
12 0:07:16 1:27:10 1:29:14 0:02:04
13 0:07:29 1:34:39 1:36:41 0:02:02
14 0:07:28 1:42:07 1:44:07 0:02:00
15 0:07:18 1:49:25 1:51:33 0:02:08
16 0:07:03 1:56:28 1:58:59 0:02:31
17 0:07:20 2:03:48 2:06:26 0:02:38
18 0:07:31 2:11:19 2:13:52 0:02:33
19 0:07:06 2:18:25 2:21:18 0:02:53
20 0:07:42 2:26:07 2:28:44 0:02:37
21 0:07:19 2:33:26 2:36:11 0:02:45
22 0:07:37 2:41:03 2:43:37 0:02:34
23 0:08:04 2:49:07 2:51:03 0:01:56
24 0:08:08 2:57:15 2:58:29 0:01:14
25 0:07:52 3:05:07 3:05:56 0:00:49
26 0:08:31 3:13:38 3:13:22 -0:00:16
27 0:03:07 3:16:45 3:15:03 -0:01:42 26.44 vs 26.2

That last line shows the unfairness of using the Garmin mile splits, which were steadily increasing past exact mileage.  Otherwise it would imply I lost 90s on the last 0.2 miles!

See those two jumps on the blue line?  Just a few seconds of walking…  You can see after I stopped kicking myself for walking I did pick up the pace back to sub 7:30, at least on the downhill, but it was too late…


Ah, it was so good to be done.  The last 2-3 miles, I was hurting.  Not a bonk — nutrition was solid, but I was so tired.


So, was I mentally weak?  Or was the body really done?  I feel I’m strong mentally — when it’s just about keeping going.  Paddle for 38 hours straight?  Sure.  Run 24 hours around a 5k loop? Sure.  But hitting that last 800 on an 10×800 interval session?  That is hard!   Or fighting through the pain and fatigue on mile 25 of a marathon at sub 7:30?  Ugh.  So I will be working on that aspect of my running!

Here are the official numbers.  I’m quite happy with all the placings!official results 2

And official splits:official splits 2

Now I am in no way disappointed with a 3:17.  3:15 was always a big stretch for me.  And yeah, to almost get it, only to fade so quickly — bummer.  But I am happy with 3:17!  An 11 minute PR!  And such a great run for the 1st 2:50 or so.  :-)

(I really did want the cool BQ shirt, though!)

kelly kids

My feet are (apparently) broken…



Went to the VivoBarefoot in London, like I normally do when I am there.  They were a bit slow, so I jumped on the pressure pad, and what did we see?  No toes!IMG_2921


Next is a one legged balance – there are some of my toes!



Vivo says this means my feet are broken.  :-)  I don’t disagree — my feet still get sore and tired after 40 or 50 miles of tough trail, even in shoes, while other folks I know do not have that problem.  They gave me some exercises to do, so I’ll give them a whirl.

They also had me run on the treadmill, and said I run from the hip flexors, and barely use my hamstrings to lift…  It looks a bit like a pendulum.   I hope to get a copy of that video and if so I’ll update this post…  They slapped the bottom of my feet while I was running, and it really makes you lift the foot off quickly.  The before and after videos were quite distinct!



Year in review from DailyMile

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.13.11 AM

There was a bit of biking and hiking in there — about 70 miles on a quick scan.  So that is 1600+ miles of running, by far my biggest year for running.  (But I may have put more time in in prior years when I was bigger into Adventure Racing…)

Highlights were:

February:  Uhwarrie 40 miler (for the 4th straight year, did not get in in 2014)

March:  Umstead Marathon

May:  North Face 50 miler in NY

June:  Black Mountain Monster 24 hour

July:  Leadville 100

For 2014 it’s looking like:

March:   American Tobacco Trail Marathon

May:  Black Mountain Monster 24 hour (hopefully!)

August:  World Rogaine Championships

September:  Hinson Lake 24 hour

And maybe a 100k or 100m for a WS100 qualifier — but there aren’t many to choose from!




Leadville – My Thoughts

Ok, I better write something before too much time passes… But with Kelly having written the race from her perspective, there’s not much for me to say about the race itself.  Her account was much more interesting, as I just ate and ran.  :-)


First, I have to give huge thanks out to Kelly, Riley, Reece, Dad, and Gordo, for spending 30+ hours allowing me to achieve my goal of running (finishing!) Leadville.  Without them, it would not have been nearly as fun and perhaps not possible.  (I would have had to run unsupported using drop bags with no pacers…)   And not just 30 hours, but the time surrounding the time in Leadville too.

And beyond race day, Kelly, Riley, and Reece put up with a lot of training for me over the past 6 months.  While I did my best to keep up with all family commitments, and scheduled my long runs to be as least impactful as possible, I was still off running an awful lot.  (BTW, this account of “why do you run so much” is a fantastic read.)

Pb in the future – breaking 25 hours?

Next, I’d have to say that right now Pb is not high on my list to run again (but that’s not to say it won’t creep back up there!).   It’s a beautiful course, a great atmosphere, has great history and tradition, and is tremendously challenging.  But I think the race has gotten too big/crowded, and the resulting issues need to be addressed before I’d consider going back.  (I won’t address those issues here, they have been addressed in many other places.)

What would draw me back?  Well, assuming the issues are resolved, the lure of a sub 25:00:00 Pb would definitely do it!  It’s sort of like a sub 20:00 5k, a sub 40:00 10k, a sub 3 hour marathon (or just a BQ).  It’s some arbitrary line in the sand between the “good” and the rest of the field.  And yeah, that challenge is of interest to me.  :-)

BUT, look at the splits below:

(Note MQ2 is not correct…)   I was nearly on a “Peterson pace” for 25 hours up to TL2, which is not quite even splits, but much closer splits than most people are able to manage.  I ran to TL1 in under 8 hours, and had just over 9 hours to run from TL2 to the the finish, to break 25 hours.  What’s an extra hour on the last 40?  :-)  Even if I’d been able to run more than the 3-5 miles I was capable of that last 40, I could have easily taken off an hour to get to 27:00.  Two hours is still a long ways from 25, so what would it take?  (And yeah, you read that right — I power hiked most of the last 40. And the last 3-5 were more of a slog than a power hike!)

Training – not sure I could find more time to run, or if I’d want to.  But all I did the last 6 months was run.  I had a few 60 mile weeks, which is not a lot for ultra runners, but is a lot for me!  No weight lifting, no biking, etc.   Lots more work on the legs — lunges, squats, etc., would have helped.  More downhill running would help (my legs were shaking coming into TL1 at 40 miles, and the 2nd climb up Hope on the return took a lot out of me…)  Here are my weekly running miles the weeks leading into Pb…  The 65 in week 18 was the week of the NF50 in NY and the 96 on week 22 was the week of the 24 hour where I ran 87 (and stopped just over 19 hours in, in order to be able to continue Pb training…).

Acclimating — more time at elevation would also help, but again, not sure I could find the time.  I spent 7 days in June in the NC mountains at 4500 feet, another 10 days in late July at the same place, and arrived in Highlands Ranch (6100′) on 8/5.  We then went to Twin Lakes (9200′) on 8/13.  Training was a bit limited those last 12 days as I needed to taper, and it takes a lot longer to recover at altitude.  I did get a couple of 60-90 minute hike/runs in at 7500-8500 the 1st week, as well as two 14′ers.  But I think that was about all my body could handle.

Some random photo I found on another blog — with me in it!  :-)

What worked:

Shoes – Suacony Virrata (road shoe) the 1st 40, Alta superior the next 20, Hoka Stinson the last 40.  This was all fine.  My feet were about done in the road shoe around mile 38-39, and I was ready for the Stinson at mile 50 but my crew was not able to get into Winfield (assuming Gordo would have carried another shoe across Hope for the river crossing).  But this was all fine.  The only thing I might consider in the future is to *start* in the Hoka, but I’d still change shoes at TL1 and TL2 to ensure dry shoes the rest of the race.

Nutrition – base of vfuel and diluted grape juice (1/3 juice, 2/3 water).  Mixed in some perpetuem.  The hard boiled eggs and nut butters, while they worked in training, were not great in Pb.  I think it was the fact that the 1st hard boiled egg I almost choked on, and the 1st nut butter I had was plain almond butter and was very dry.  The almond butter + honey, or the hazelnut + chocolate, worked better.  I also used the broths and noodles at the aid stations, ate some ptotatoe chips here and there, a couple of small boiled potatoes, half a hamburger at inbound/hatchery, etc.   Nutrition was pretty good throughout the race — there were times I just didn’t want to eat, mostly on the climbs up Hope and Powerline, but I was always able to force a vfuel down and those seem to sit very well in my stomach.

Gear:  Love the new Ultimate Direction AK pack!  Used under armor compression shorts under go lite shorts the entire race, and a 200 weight short sleeve ice breaker body fit T.   Had arm warmers and a hat.  I did get chilly after midnight, even with a 320 weight icebreaker “sweater” on, and had to borrow Gordo’s down jacket a bit.  Started in injinj toe socks for the 1st 60, then switched to a dry pair of thin smart wools.  Lights – might consider a new set up in the future — mine are now a few years old and it shows — lights have come a long long ways!  Used bodyglide and runners guard for chaffing, which was fairly minimal.  (A lot less sweat in CO than I’m used to on the East Coast!)

What didn’t work:

Nothing really jumps out as not working.  Even the wood sticks I picked up to help me over Hope Pass were mostly ok, though I’d consider trekking poles in the future, at least for the big climbs.

Leadville — One post to glue them all…

Ok, with so many posts, I figured one post with all the links would be useful in the future…

Leadville – Race Start

Leadville – Start to Pipeline

Leadville – Entering Twin Lakes

Leadville – Winfield and Twin Lakes inbound

Leadville – Racing, Pacing, and Crewing

Leadville – Wrap up

Leadville – Gordo’s thoughts

Leadville – My Thoughts

Note the “finish” on my arm…  The other arm said “be patient.”

Leadville – Gordo’s thoughts

Next in the Leadville series are thoughts from Gordo, posted to the Google minimalist group shortly after the run…  Gordo paced me up and over Hope on the return, as well as up and over Powerline, both tough sections.  In the photo above he’s carrying my bottles (muling) and generally telling me to keep moving.  :-)

From Gordo:

I did the first leg, from Winfield to Twin Lakes. With a really miserable warm up. There was the mother of all traffic jams going up the Winfield Road. We thought that we left plenty of margin, but sat on the road just watching it erode. We expected Sean to hit the turnaround at 3:45. At 3:15 we hadn’t even gotten to the Hope Pass trail head, which is still 2.5 miles from the aid station. I couldn’t stand it any more, jumped out of the car, grabbed some food for Sean, and took off running up the road. After maybe a half mile I passed the point where they were doing traffic control, only letting more cars in as cars left. That was at the trail head. I’m looking at my watch and thinking about how screwed we were. Another half mile uphill in the hot sun breathing clouds of dust raised by exiting cars, and I hear cars behind me. They’d let another group of ten or so through! I had my thumb out before they even got around the corner. The first two cars were packed full, but the third car picked me up. We picked up two more pacers on the way, and had three big(I was the smallest by far) sweaty guys jammed into the back of a small compact car. It turns out that the two women that picked us up had completely missed their runner and that their pacer had done what I did and they were just going up to see whether or not their pacer had made it or needed a ride back down. Anyway, when we hit the traffic slowdown in Winfield, where the runners were running a bit of the road down to the new trail, we all jumped out and ran for the aid station, which was maybe a quarter mile farther. I’m watching for Sean all the way. At the entrance to the AS, I asked the woman who was checking runners in if 228 had arrived. She said that she didn’t think so. WTF? (He had and was actually about to leave again.) I sprinted to the tent, sighed a waiver and grabbed my pacer tag. I’m sweating like a pig and thirsty already. Great. Ran to the food tent, looking for Sean, grabbed a cup of water and ran for the check in point again. This time I found a woman with a clipboard that had a list of numbers written on it. I look over her shoulder and see 228 near the bottom. So I say, “228 just got here?” and she says “No. 228 left three runners ago.” Crap. Sprint back down the road through Winfield, dodging cars and runners. I caught Sean just before he cut into the woods onto the new trail that runs over to the base of Hope Pass. We got into Twin Lakes about 7:45.

I jumped back in again at the Outward Bound AS and went through MayQueen and on to the Tabor Boat Ramp with Sean, so I got to do Powerline too. It’s a good thing that I used to like hills. LOL That was the midnight to 5:30 shift. We didn’t do a whole lot of running on that stretch, but it wasn’t particularly easy, either. Sean power walks a 15 minute pace on level ground at 10,000 feet in the middle of the night when he’s tired. My Trail Gloves had gotten wet in Twin Lakes crossing the river and I didn’t want to risk the Vapor Gloves or wear wet shoes, so I wore my Tough Gloves. They took some hits. Trying to make time on rough trails by headlamp is harder than it sounds. I was really happy to have full toe coverage a couple of times. I was wishing for real cleats most of the time(Merrell, are you listening?) but managed to keep the rubber sides down, although it was close a couple of times. But the time we got to Tabor, I was done. Sean is still going like the energizer bunny at this point, locked onto that 15 minute pace. Sean’s wife took over from me at Tabor and took him in the last 7 miles.

I had a blast. Sean has a great family and they were all really nice to me. As to me trying 100? I don’t think so. I might try a 50 someday though. I’ll need to get into a lot better condition ;)


I can think of maybe a half dozen things that someone focused more on winning than having fun could have yelled at me about. Things I would do differently next time, mostly on the crewing side. It’s scary how many times we almost dropped the ball through inexperience only to recover at the last second. A couple of times we did drop it and managed to snag it before it got out the window. I’m glad you were good with flexible, because that’s what you got. ;) That took a lot of pressure off me and let me relax and have fun. Thanks. I learned a ton. You can read about this stuff, but until you do it, you won’t really understand it. I thought Ben’s binder was a little OCD, but when your crew has been awake for 24 hours straight off a bad night’s sleep, I can see where the step by step instruction sheet and detailed map lets them just execute mindlessly. Then they can focus on being flexible because you’re off plan rather than because they are. You were so solid on your plan that it let us get away with a lot of errors. I’m glad that none of them cost you the race. The only significant error(that I noticed) with my pacing was not being pushy enough about the jacket when we got to MQ. But then I’ve got more experience than I’d like with midnight epics. ;)

Leadville – Racing, Pacing, and Crewing

Note:  Continuation of emails and photos from Kelly during and after Leadville…

Several hours have passed since my last race update.  If you followed the race site, then you know that Sean finished the ultra-marathon around 8:00 AM this morning (28:02 official race finish, woo-hoo!).  I would have liked to update you sooner, but we were way out of commission by the time we got back to the house.  Saturday night and the wee hours of Sunday were quite eventful for everyone…   

After the inbound Twin Lakes checkpoint, Gordo shifted from pacing to crewing again.  (Sean did the next 13.5 mile stretch solo.)  Gordo helped the kids and me with carrying the race cooler, medical bin, fuel bin, clothing bin, and our dinner back to the car.  (Paul was resting at the house so he could help crew thru the night and pace some.)  After I got some things restocked for the car and got the kids settled into bed, Paul convinced me to rest before we would take off again.  (I had been up and moving since about 1:30 AM Saturday.)  I closed my eyes for a few minutes on the couch then jolted up when I started doing some time recalculations with what our crew had decided would be our plan for the next checkpoint (Treeline).  We overestimated!  I told Paul that we needed to get going.  Gordo, who was resting outside in his truck, was ready within minutes, too.

As we were transporting the two crew cars, Sean called and said he didn’t see us at Treeline – my gut was right!   It worked out though because we just handed him some warmer clothes along the road.  Paul also jumped in to pace for the 3-4 mile paved road stretch.  By this stage of the race, Sean was only feeling energized enough to power walk.  This gave Gordo and I ample time at the next checkpoint (Fish Hatchery).  Gordo boiled water at the back of his pickup and had oatmeal and hot tea ready and waiting for Sean.  This was one of the chaotic parking areas though, so we decided to save our energy by carrying the bins and food over to the barbed wire fence by the road and then get gear and ourselves under or over it.  This saved a lot of time as Sean and Paul would come straight by us just before the checkpoint/aid station.  By the way, it was around midnight and rapidly dipping into the cold of the night.  Brrrr….

Gordo jumped in again to pace from Fish Hatchery for what would be a 10 mile stretch to the Mayqueen checkpoint at Turquoise Lake.  Paul and I got the truck reloaded then transported the two cars to Mayqueen.  We hit more checkpoint traffic (ugh) so we sat in our running vehicles for awhile until we could get parked.  After I got Gordo’s truck situated in an ideal spot for the next checkpoint, Paul remained and rested there.  Meanwhile, I tried to get myself out of the lake area and return to the house to rest briefly and then awake the kids so they could experience the race finish.  I was not familiar with the lake area (especially in the pitch black and with intensely curvy, heavily wooded mountainous roads), so it seemed like I was never going to get out of the lake area.  I eventually found a familiar road and an escape, but then I still had to resort to my phone’s GPS to really get me out of there and onto the main highway!  This set me back on time, getting back to the house around 2:45 AM.  I laid on the couch from 3:00-3:30 AM then got the kids up and moving (not easy) to be out the door by 4:00 AM.  Paul texted and said they just saw Sean at Mayqueen (4:10 AM) and Gordo would continue with him to Tabor Boat ramp, at which point I would pace with Sean until the finish.

Things were right on time for me until I got turned around again in the lake area.  I was following the signs for Tabor Boat ramp, but then got confused by a sign pointing left for Turquoise Lake Nature Trail.  I took the left that it pointed to (thinking it meant the lake and not a trail – this is what lack of sleep can do!).  Anyways, I went up a hill and after about 1 mile onto this road, realized I had entered a campsite with tents.  I decided to make a quick turnaround, which became a turn for the worse.  The left back tire of the Ford Explorer slipped off the asphalt and next thing I know the entire SUV was shifting backwards out of my control.  I didn’t know that I was sliding into a ditch until I got out of the car and saw that my front right tire was off the road!  I panicked – lost with the kids in the woods and risking my pacing with Sean or even seeing the finish!  I called Paul right away and tried to explain where I thought that I was.  He attempted to get out of the Tabor boat ramp only to experience a delay with a 4WD setting preventing from him getting the truck going.  He got that fixed and then started taking every possible right hand road to find me.  Meanwhile, I walked a ways out to see if I could flag him (too far – so I turned around) then I attempted to see if I could roll the car further into the ditch to get it parallel to the road and then use its 4WD to get back on the road.  The chances of that greatly diminished when the right tire met a miniature pine tree that got caught up under the car.  Thankfully Paul found us, gave one try to see if he could get the car out of the ditch too, and then we all resorted to rushing to move gear (mainly pillows and food for the kids plus my running outer wear) from my car to the truck.  We left the car in the ditch and hoped for the best later!

We arrived at Tabor… I rushed to get layered up – hat, gloves, fleece, etc.  Forgot my GPS Garmin watch though.  We walked down to the ramp and no joke, Sean and Gordo arrived within 30 seconds!  Talk about perfect timing!  Gordo gave me his head lamp, but I forgot to ask to transfer the “pacer” tag (no biggie).  Sean and I continued on the rolling lakeside trail.  By this point, he was really exhausted.  I, on the other hand, was operating solely on adrenaline.  And boy did I have some stories to distract his mind during our mileage – car in the ditch, checkpoint chaos, etc.  He could walk briskly, but had no desire to run anymore.  His body was really hurting – quads in particular.  He did snack and drink some.  It was quite cold (in the 30s), but it started to warm up more as we were moving and the sun was rising.  Gordo loaned him a down jacket so he had that on and off (mainly on).  The final journey felt really long to Sean, but he hung in there.  We think the total distance from the ramp was around 7 miles.  There were some nasty downhills and uphills (loose large rocks and powdery dirt).  Plus, the final stretch to downtown Leadville would be all up.  As we were walking, I received several texts and even a phone call from my Mom.  I tried to encourage Sean with all of your texts and emails. Thank you!  They helped a lot!  Paul also showed up near the beginning of the paved section to help encourage him up to the finish.  Then Gordo and the kids joined in about 1/2 mile from the finish.  Sean, to my amazement, wanted to shuffle/jog across the red carpet finish.  I was so proud and excited for him!  What an incredible accomplishment!

His first stop was the medical tent – required – followed by the food tent.  Ben finished 1 hour 10 minutes before Sean, but so kindly hung around the finish for us.  It was great to see him and congratulate him as well.  He and Sean have been close friends and racing buddies for a long time now.  They are pictured below both wearing their finisher medals and Hokas (big shoes, which make me laugh, but very popular for brutal distances by saving distance runners’ legs and feet.)  I have included a couple other race shots.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finishing stretch shots of all of us via Gordo, the Reeves, and the official race photographers.  We were still clad with some gear on or in hand (head lamps, hats, jackets, cell phone), compared to the posed team photos below.

Given the SUV situation, we had to make some adjustments to get back to the house now that we were down a truck and 6 people.  Gordo, again, was our hero.  We packed everything and everyone into his truck so he could get us back to Twin Lakes (about 25 mintues away) before he would continue home to Colorado Springs.  (Let me add that he is also a saint when I learned that he also contended with both of my kids getting car sick -thankfully timed out the door – as he and Paul were getting out of the lake area to park near the finish while Sean and I were on the course!)  So we got to the house, where everyone was eager to get inside and settled, but…  “Where’s the house key?”   Yep, that’s right… in the console of the car in the ditch!!  Oh my!  In all the hustle and bustle to get to the Tabor Boat Ramp, no one (especially me) even thought about the house key.  So… again in perfect timing, I got in touch with the house rental folks and they had a key ready and waiting on a Sunday morning!  Gordo was able to help us get the key.  Then we unpacked his truck and he headed south for home.  Sean got cleaned up, the kids and I fixed him breakfast, and then he was in bed by 10:00 AMish.  Meanwhile, I had the car-in-the-ditch matter on my mind.  Paul would be leaving with his rental car the next morning.  So I called AAA and waited for their tow truck service to call me on a Sunday afternoon.  I managed to get showered and rested on the couch for about an hour before it they called.  Paul and I hopped into his rental car and then met the tow man who followed us into the campground.

So the final pictures are of the SUV situation and its rescue.  The tow man was awesome – so confident that he’d get it out without a problem.  And he did!  On the way out of town, Paul and I stopped to pick up Sean’s belt buckle award and Leadville 100 finisher jacket (already stamped with his name and finishing time on the sleeve!).  We drove the cars back to the house and I slept for 2 hours, uninterrupted!  And now, I’m calling it a night and an official closing to the Leadville 100.  Thanks for sharing in this journey with us the past couple of days.

Leadville – Winfield and Twin Lakes inbound

Note:  The continuation of the Leadville series from Kelly…   Two emails were sent on this section.

Email #1 – no pics

I am writing quickly to let you know that Sean made it to the 50-mile mark around 3:40 PM.  Sadly, his crew was not there.  I was quite disappointed.  :-(  We spent 2+ hours in the car trying to get up the 15-mile dirt road to the checkpoint.  We gave ourselves nearly 2 hours to get there, but that ended up not being enough with the amount of extra cars (no yellow “crew” tags displayed) and very little parking available.  Apparently this is the place for volunteer pacers to show up.  It was a line of traffic each direction and a thick dust bowl.

Anyways, Gordo left the car around 3:15 PM to start trekking an unknown distance to the checkpoint in hopes of still meeting Sean.  Meanwhile, Reece and I started walking in hopes of seeing Sean off – but had no idea what kind of distance we had before us.  Soon, we saw Allison driving down the mountain and she informed us that she saw Sean at 3:40 PM, but not Gordo… So we began hoping that Gordo cranked up the mountain to Hope Pass and caught up to Sean.  Reece and I hopped into her car and then stopped where Paul and Riley were, only to suddenly be stuck with no car within seconds.  Just as we were getting out the traffic guards released the hounds – Paul and Riley were in the line of cars permitted to go further up the road.  We ran as hard as we could to try to tap the back of the car, but to no avail.  I got desperate and hitchhiked (figured it was safe).  :-0  Reece and I got squeezed into a van with a bunch of people, including volunteer pacers.  They got us up to the parking area and we spotted the NY plates on our rental… i.e. back to where Paul and Riley were.  We had to circle the entire crazy checkpoint.

Fast forward a few hours… The kids and I nervously waited for what we hoped to be 2 guys at the Twin Lakes checkpoint – Sean and Gordo.  Yeah, they arrived around 7:40 PM and Sean was off at 7:50 PM.  He is definitely wearing down, but he is going to finish.

Now, 9:22 PM, we are preparing to leave in a bit to meet Sean at Treeline again.  This will be after he runs a solo 13 miles.  Then Paul will take 4 miles or so, Gordo will take 10-16 with him, and then I’ll take the last 6-7.  He won’t be alone the rest of the way!

Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement.  You probably won’t hear from me until we’re done.  Anyone is welcome to text me though.  I’ll send more pictures soon, too.


Email #2

A few pictures to complement the email that I sent earlier.  (Tried to sleep a little – too nervous as we are in the hardest stretch.)

The line of traffic into Winfield (FYI – that’s the race director walking down the middle!) and then a photo of some of the madhouse in the parking area… where the runners are crossing in and out of the checkpoint plus picking up volunteer pacers.

The other photos are of the kids (and me) waiting at Twin Lakes and then big cheers for seeing our two guys coming in together!  Gordo was my hero for pushing it to find Sean and keep him encouraged.  Way to go guys!