The Leadville Marathon was brutal.
No doubt about it, I truly bit off more than I could handle, way more than I could handle. I will say in my defense I did not leave the course until the cutoff. With that said, I had a truly great time. Disappointed sure, but I had a great experience. The scenery was spectacular. Running past abandoned mines with their scree fields and down remote trails was amazing. This marathon was more than advertised, it was either straight up or straight down. What really was difficult for me was the trails were covered in baseball and softball sized rock- no pea gravel. Mentally draining, I don't know how many times I had to catch myself. The rocks were so tough that they blew out my jel- cell on my shoes. Sorry New Balance you are not tougher than Leadville.
Mosquito Pass was my breaking point. The highest point on the course 13,200'. By the time I got close to the summit I could not quit coughing to the point I could not take in air. I was struggling. I was hacking as if I had pneumonia. Forward progress was by baby steps. Every time I took a step with my left foot I said Abe and every time I took a step with my right foot I said Mary. Maybe that's what triggered a very kind woman to turn me around and help me to the aid station and a visit to the paramedics. By this time I had a headache as well. Everything checked out okay, except for my pride which we all know comes before the fall. The trail up Mosquito Pass is serious stuff. Marlee Anne and I have found out the hard way that one slip could be fatal on some of the "easy trails" we have hiked in Boulder. People were running up and down Mosquito Pass - crazy stuff. Super athletes. Another indicator of the remoteness of the race course was that I had to hike down 2 1/2 miles to get a ride down off the mountain after my visit to the ambulance. So physically, I could not make it to the finish line and by the time I reached the next aid station I had missed the cutoff time.I am wondering now if I could have finished even if I had all day and not the 8 1/2 hours allowed by the race. Prior to the race I logged 40 to 60 miles a week and it was still not enough training.I am a little disappointed that I didn't finish. I feel old. You know what,I am old.
Anyway here is why I tried the Leadville Marathon. Since the events of last year I have struggled with having a quite time with no distractions to readjust my life without my little man and my sunshine. Work, moving to Colorado, lobbying for HB-1,local politics, work, commuting to Colorado, repainting the entire interior of the house, did I mention work. My life has been a blur.
Maybe that was good, maybe not. Our Pastor in Colorado several months ago had asked us to meditate on God for just ten minutes per day and I faithfully fulfilled that goal, however it never failed that I could not make it ten minutes focusing on God without the world creeping into my thoughts. I am ashamed. I needed some true alone time to remember my children.Enter Leadville- I knew I would be without phone, Internet and out in the wilderness, but more importantly I would be under physical stress and my thoughts would be simple. Left foot- Abe, right foot - Mary, and so it went all 16.1 miles. A lot of tears were left on the trails of Leadville. A lot of great memories recalled and relived. In the end no medal, but I got more than my money's worth- Thank you Leadville.
Would I do it again. Absolutely Not! I would encourage anyone to try it once. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Special thanks to James and Emily Mills for my great race jersey. So many positive compliments.