Leadwoman events started out perfect with the Leadville Marathon. It's the first event of the series and it went off without a hitch. I'd given this race absolutely no attention. I didn't even
look at the information until Thursday. One glance at the profile and time cutoff I felt nervous. Please! How can a marathon put me in that frame of mind, nervous and self doubting. Seems fairly ridiculous now but I suppose my demeanor was as result of feeling anxious because it's all starting. The hard work is basically done and now I need to execute. I am finding this to be a weakness. I love the prep. The dreamy part of planning an outcome. Preparing your body for the event is always my favorite part. Watching and feeling the changes all the hard work brings. The transition from preparation to execution is something that does not come easy. It feels like a lost space. A space I am not sure how to manage with confidence. Once it all gets going I seem to find my mojo. That is a good feeling. I wonder if my pre-event start mood is a conservative, you never know what's going to happen default. Never be too confident. I am not sure this is a good quality.
We arrived in Leadville mid day on Friday the day before the marathon. On the drive I tried endlessly to convince Bill to drop down to the half. I was really worried about how the altitude would treat him. Coming right from Europe and an extremely stressful work trip had me concerned for him. He pretty much ignored me. When we got to Leadville and he saw the finishers medal his eyes lit up and there's was no negotiation. He was doing the marathon. It's a cool trinket.
The day was beautiful, the terrain rugged and the scenery amazing. I took it really easy and any time I felt my lungs stress or a mild dizziness I pulled back. Once I made it to the turn which was the high point at 13,300 feet I felt great. I picked up the pace a bit. I finished in 6:02 which thrilled me. I was 3rd 40+ year old and 3rd Leadwoman. Not bad given the effort. This finish left me gitty and more excited for the other events. The altitude was there but not debilitating. My body was fine and I had no aftermath. Not even sore quads! Bill was impressive. When I saw him heading up to Mosquito Pass he looked really good and was feeling awesome. I am always impressed with my amazing husband. He can do pretty much anything and does it with the up most strength. This crosses all parts of his life. He felt really good too and with his non-existent training I was blown away. One event down!
LMTB Training Camp: Bill forwarded me an email he received from the Leadville Series Website. It was about a training camp for the Leadville 100M MTB Race. He asked why I wasn't doing this? I didn't even know about it. While we were hanging out after the Marathon we drove
both the 50M and 100M MTB courses. I got increasingly freaked out. The climbs were grueling and even my Rover didn't like inching up the rocky hillsides climbing St. Kevins and the top of Columbine! That night had some sort of nightmare about the MTB ride. Bill woke me up. I was sweating and ranting about altitude. That pretty much cemented my need to go to the training camp. Bill insisted. I am not sure if he was trying to get rid of me J. After a couple of days in Leadville we all headed to Beavercreek where Bill had a huge work event. The camp was to take place Friday and Saturday. Co-workers of Bill's whose family was also in Beavercreek offered to take Alex zip lining and MTBing while I was at the camp. With him taken care of I called the camp director and asked if I could get a last minute spot. I headed back to Leadville for what would be the most incredible MTBing experience ever.
The camp was full of LMTB 100 veterans willing to share their wealth of information. All the guides had over 7 finishes with a few going for number 15! These folks know how to finish this race. We were broken into groups based on our predicted finish time. The cutoff is 12 hours. I chose the 11-11:30 group. I actually think I will be very close to 12 but wanted to give myself some room and be pushed.
Day 1: We rode 60 miles, the first and final 30 of the race. This takes us up and over St. Kevins and up and over Sugarloaf and down into the Pipeline aid station. We then retraced our steps. That meant we needed to ascend the legendary Sugarloaf climb. This did not disappoint and neither did its descent. I followed our guide down Sugarloaf and asked him to give me all the advice he felt I needed. This was awesome and removed almost all my anxiety. I heard this quote many times on day 1. "You will not finish your race because your descended Sugarloaf fast but you could very well lose your race on that descent". After I did it I could completely see the point. This is a rugged, rutted, steep, slick descent with almost only 1 line down. If you taco a tire or take a bad fall if could be over. The climb back up Sugarloaf was hard and it will be even harder after 80 miles on your legs. Some of it is ridable but there is a good section of hike-a-bike. Hiking your bike up a steep rocky climb is really hard! It hurts my calves and pushing the bike leaves very little use of the upper body to help propel you up.
I crushed this day leaving my group and catching the faster groups. Mostly because the Mosquito's were so bad I didn't stop for long. Finishing day 1 was incredible. The level of athletes I was surrounded by were inspiring in all their stories and advice. Once finished I headed straight to the store for a 20 lb bag of ice to prepare myself for the next day. Bring on the ice bath. After a wonderful dinner provided by the camp and the amazing speakers I was pumped to see how my body would respond to day 2.
Day 2: We left with another police escort from the headquarters making our way back to Pipeline where we would pick up the course again. Today we do the final portion from Pipeline to Columbine and back. Columbine is the biggest longest climb on the course taking you to the highpoint at 12,200. This climb is about 5 miles and 4,000 feet. Not many breaks and the top is very rocky and steep. This will be a hike-a-bike section for me. I was anxious to see how much of it I could do before dismounting. We started fast (this seems to be a theme) and I am seeing speeds on my bike I have never rode. Upwards of 35 MPH on my MTB is not a comfortable pace for me but I don't have choice or I will get crushed. I hung in the middle of the pack and forced myself to focus with relaxation letting the bike carry me, not fight it. This is mental ache for me. A constant brain/body conflict! I was feeling good physically and actually excited to see how I preformed compared to the group. I rocked! First girl to summit columbine and was strong. Emotions bubbled up big time as I saw the summit and was still on my bike with some reserves. The leaders came rushing by and I got a ton of atta girls which meant a ton coming from those athletes. Tears began to fall and my grin was no doubt wide. I got to the top and exchanged some high fives with a couple of guys. We began the descent! The top portion was so steep and rocky I thought about dismounting. I held on to it and trusted my bike who never lets me down. My hands ached really bad and we just started coming down this 5 mile beast. I hung tough trying to reposition my hands to relieve the ache but still have control and a good grip on the brakes. This bike has become a very trusted partner and seems to always take care of me. That sentiment was shared by many MTBers when talking about their bike. It's such a huge factor. You must love your bike! I made the decent without incident. In fact, I completed the entire camp without incident. At the base I shook our my numb hands and aching arms. Heading back to pipeline is no cake walk. It's a mild up with sometimes steep but short climbs. 65 miles and another 6,500 feet of climb was done! I loaded my bike and headed back to the family with a whole new confidence I can make the cutoff. Not that it's going to be easy but it's possible! This opportunity was incredible and I am so thankful Bill pushed me to do it. It literally was life changing. Another adventure and a hugely incredible experience!
Now we are all back in Leadville I feel really good. Darin, Micheal, Drake and his dad arrive this week to do the Silver Rush events. Micheal and Drake are doing both the 50M MTB and the 50M Run. Bill is riding the 50M MTB and Darin and I will run. It’s going to be an action packed weekend and event #2 towards becoming a Leadwoman.