Sunday, July 6, 2008

Leadville Trail Marathon - 5 Jul 2008

Prior to Start

This is it. My D-Day H-Hour has finally arrived. I woke up at 4.30am to have my early breakfast before going back for a nap. Then I woke up again at around 6.30am to change into my running gear. Weather was great. I put on my newly bought Patagonia long-sleeved running tee over my red color Adidas short-sleeved running tee with my trusted CW-X long tights. Kissed Spunky and Biskit goodbye before I drove to the carpark just next to Harrison Avenue. There, I met other runners getting out of their cars or doing warm-up. I took my Canon IXUS 850 and my water bottle, locked the car and walked towards the start. There were many runners gathering there. I decided to take shelter inside the hall so that I would not lose heat. At around 20 minutes before start, I tied the car keys to my trail running shoes and went out to soak in the atmosphere. Frankly speaking, I was extremely nervous instead of feeling excited. Well, I was sure I was not alone. The Leadville Trail Marathon started at an elevation of 10,152 ft and I was suffering from mild headache ever since I reached Denver 2 days ago and it just got worse when I reached Leadville! Nevertheless, I tried to feel happy than worried. Took some pictures of fellow runners and I thought I saw a familiar face among the crowd which I couldn't quite remember where I saw him.

1st Half: Towards Mosquito Pass

The organiser flagged off the race at 8am sharp. I started running enthusiastically. But alas! That only lasted for all of 95 metres (or thereabout) and I still had 42.1km to go! I wanted to give up! Seriously! And for those who knew me as someone who's tough mentally, that said a lot about the race. I shaked my head and decided on what I should do next: to walk / hike all the uphills and run slowly for all flats and downhills. I also told myself that I should not stop so often to take photos since that may slowed me down. It worked. At least for a while. I panted and panted, cos it was all uphill right from the start. And I did not allow myself to stop and catch a breadth until I reached a turn or a switchback. But there were not many turns nor switchbacks, especially at the early part of the race. I made a sigh every now and then before continuing to walk / hike up the torturous stretch as fast as possible, and always looking at my watch to check my progress, which was extremely slow.

Soon, I reached the first aid station. On paper, there were a total of 7 aid stations but on the ground, there were actually 3 physical aid stations. The first aid station was also doubling up as the 2nd aid station and also the 6th and 7th aid station when you descent. The aid station before the summit to Mosquito Pass was the 3rd and 5th aid station while the aid station situated right at the top acted as the 4th aid station. Confused right? :p Nevertheless, I was still sane enough to take note of my timing split by taking photos at each of these aid stations. As I started to climb up the last big mountain towards to summit of Mosquito Pass, I got anxious as I looked at my watch. It displayed with a time of 11am! Since I had never run a negative split in any races before (except for my 2.4km IPPT), I was worried that if I take more than 4½ hours for the first half of the race, I might not make it by the cut-off time of 8½ hours. :(

At The Mosquito Pass Summit

I reached the summit at about 12.18pm. My worse ever timing (4hrs 18mins) for a 13.1 miles distance. Took some pictures, refilled my water bottled, ate small pieces of oranges, grabbed some grapes, thanked the volunteers helping out there and off I flew down the mountain! Okie okie. I did not exactly flew but this was the first time I didn't feel awkward running downhill at all. I even had the energy to cheer those runners who were still making their way up Mosquito Pass too - no pun intended though.

2nd Half: Back From Mosquito Pass Summit

In a way, I was sad to turn around at the summit as the scenery was gorgeous. But I felt glad at the same time, to be running away from the half way point on my way down towards the direction of the finishing line! At the foot of Mosquito Pass, I noticed I clocked a faster timing. It shouldn't come as a big surprised since I was running downhill most of the time while going uphill I could only walk, although I was tired by then to rationalise. :p Then came the last serious ascent (about 1,000 ft) from the 5th to 6th aid station. I occupied my mind by counting the number of steps I walked. And for every 1000 steps walked, I would run 100 steps. Soon I reached the 6th aid station which I knew I had another 3.3 miles to run around the smaller peak before I reached back the same aid station for the last stretch towards the end. It was that simple when you broke down the distance.

Unfortunately, my mountain sickness came back halfway leaving the 6th aid station. It was rather bad. I had this headache which was driving me crazy. But what made it worse was that there was this very loud sound, like someone using a big hammer, hitting on my head! That was the scary part. I slowed down my walk, hoping this terrible sound would go away. It did eventually, after about 20 minutes or so. Then I heard a thunder that sang across the sky. Well, it didn't sound like a thunder at all but you know that was a thunder, no doubt about that! But it was so musical, so graceful, not threatening, although I was sure the effect could be just as dangerous and devastating if I was struck by it! Perhaps it was because I was nearer to the sky??? I won't mind having the chance to hear the thunder sang again but I wasn't about to take any chances. I quickened my pace and tried to move away from the higher part of the ground. Unfortunately, hailstones then descended upon me. Luckily they were small although I could still feel the pain when it hit my ears. I reached the 7th aid station at about 3.12pm and I knew I should make it back home within the cut-off. I eased off towards the end and finally crossed the line at 4.08pm, after walking, hiking and running for about 8 hours 8 minutes! The guy whom I found familiar before the race, put the finishing medal around my neck. I sat down at the bench provided at the end and rested for a while. Then I remembered the guy! He was Anton Krupicka! Wow!!! That was so damn cool!!! :p Unfortunately, I left my Canon at the last aid station as I did not want my Canon to get caught in the rain so no photograph with Anton. :(

At The Award Ceremony

I went back to the motel to wash up and change into new clothing before I drove back to the hall where the award ceremony was held. Mexican buffet dinner was served although as usual, my appetite was poor. I took a small portion of food and sat down at one corner, trying to make sense what kind of award they were giving out. I was very surprised yet thrilled when I learnt that they were presenting finisher mugs to all finishers of the half and full marathons! All finishers were called up to receive his/her finisher mug, including those who did not make it within the official cut-off time. In fact, they even honored the last finisher for the marathon with a special award although he completed it in 10 hours 8 minutes! It was a very nice gesture by the event organiser indeed! After the ceremony, I approached the 2nd-placed women's winner (and age group winner for women 30-39 category), Elinor Fish the managing editor of Trail Runner magazine, to get her autograph. She gladly signed and even wrote a personal note in my August's issue of Trail Runner magazine. :p It was the most satisfying day of 2008 yet!

My Leadville Trail Marathon Split & Stats

Start to 1st aid station: 1hr 13mins (3.8 miles) - 9.13am
1st to 2nd aid station: 59mins (3.3 miles) - 10.12am
2nd to 3rd aid station: 41mins (2.7 miles) - 10.53am
3rd to 4th aid station: 1hr 25mins (3.3 miles) - 12.18pm
4th to 5th aid station: 53mins (3.3 miles) - 13.11pm
5th to 6th aid station: 50mins (2.7 miles) - 14.01pm
6th to 7th aid station: 1hr 11mins (3.3 miles) - 15.12pm
7th to End of Race: 56mins (3.8 miles) - 16.08pm

Total time taken for 1st half: 4hrs 18mins
Total time taken for 2nd half: 3hrs 50mins [negative split :p]
Total time taken for marathon: 8hrs 8mins

Ranked 225th out of 244 finishers
Ranked 18th out of 19 ladies in 30-39 category
Ranked 56th out of 65 ladies in all category


roentgen said...

Great account, and beautiful pictures of the area. It must have been so spectacular, running along the mountain trails. Hope I can attempt one of these mountain marathons in the future :)

Ripley said...

Thanks roentgen. You should! I would say I put in about 90% of effort for the run? Really enjoy the gorgeous scenery. So must spend more time to saviour. I'm not going to do this marathon again you know! :p