|running in to Fish Hatchery Saturday morning with Maddie|
|heading out of Twin Lakes - Hope Pass looms ahead|
|Celeste helps Kyle prepare for pacing duties|
We started moving up the trail and I felt a bit better with dry socks and shoes and some food in me, but the thought of 40 more miles that were surely going to take me through the night and well into the next day was pretty daunting. I again tried not to worry about it too much and just keep moving. Kyle did a great job helping to set small goals and keep me going. We ran the downs, shuffled the flats, and hiked with purpose on the ups. We tried to maintain a better than 20 minute per mile pace to make up some time on the cut off. It was a beautiful night and I didn't feel too bad. My legs were just spent and I was tired and discouraged about how things were going. We made it through the Half Pine Aid Station (mile 70.9) and I was still under the cut off and staying positive. Kyle filled my water bottles and I kept going.
Not too long after this point, as we headed past the Treeline crew access point and down towards the road to Fish Hatchery, my legs got to a place where I really just couldn't move faster than a slow walk. 20 minute mile pace was a lot of work and I could barely hold on to it even on the wide dirt road with a gradual down hill. Earlier, as I struggled over hills and rocky trail, I was confident that when I got to this section of the course that consisted of a few miles of smooth flat road, I would be able to run and make up a lot of time. Now I was struggling even to walk briskly and even though my Garmin had died hours earlier, I knew time was running out and I wasn't going nearly fast enough. Kyle must of been reading my mind because he looked over at me and asked if I was having "dark thoughts". I was and as Kyle and I talked it became clear that after 22 hours and about 73 miles, my race was over. I knew I could probably just make it to Fish Hatchery at mile 76.5 by the 3:00 am cut-off, but from there I would have 23+ miles with some significant hills ahead of me only 7 hours to do it. At the 20 min/mile pace I was averaging on this easier section, I still wouldn't make it. Kyle and I talked through it a bit more, and the decision was made to stop at Fish Hatchery. Those last three miles that we still had to cover to get to the crew, the car, and warm clothes were painful. I lost all my fight and was just crushed. The night had turned very cold and now that I wasn't producing much heat, my teeth started to chatter. I hoped that somehow, Ean would sense my suffering and drive out to pick us up, but really I knew I had to finish this walk of shame. Many runners passed us making triumphant efforts to meet the cut-off.
After an eternity of walking along the road not seeming to get any closer to the aid station, we got there and were greeted by my family and crew who had been waiting for us for unending hours in the cold. It was 3:00 am and I told them I was done. It was quiet as they walked with me to the camp they had set up and we all soaked in the disappointment and defeat of the day. Cat went to the checkpoint to tell them I was dropping and came back with scissors to cut off my bracelet. Mindy wrapped me in her sleeping bag to ward of my shivering. I think I ate and drank a little. I was relieved that it was over, but crushed that I had failed. I think I really gave it all I had on that day, so I don't feel like I gave up, but that doesn't help deal with the fact that all I had wasn't enough. It took me and Kyle 10 hours to cover the 26.5 miles from Winfield to Fish Hatchery. Definitely the slowest, most painful marathon of my life.
Many people have asked me the same question that I kept asking from mile 15 on, "What happened?" and I still don't really know for sure. My best guess is that I was over trained going in. My legs were beat up and had not recovered from the many long, difficult runs that I had done in the weeks leading up to the race and the two easy, low mileage weeks just before the race weren't enough to get back to fighting shape. My legs ached for much of the to weeks of taper, sometimes they throbbed so much as I lay in bed at night that I couldn't sleep. Some said that this was a normal part of tapering and I hoped that was true, but I think now that it was more. Lessons were learned for sure and I will definitely take rest and recovery more seriously in the future.
Will I attempt Leadville again? . . . .
Yes. I am almost feeling ready to commit to giving it another go, probably next summer. I will take the lessons learned this year and go back to conquer the beast that is Leadville.
August 2012 is a long way off and for now I will have to just keep running.