This is definitely a
few days 2 weeks late. Oops. I’ve been too busy to write and sadly hadn’t been that interested in this recap for whatever reason but I’m ready now. I think I was too engaged in Leadville prospects and training.
July 17th was the Silver Rush 50 mile run in Leadville, CO. Being a Sunday race, Courtney and I figured we’d head out early Saturday to enjoy the mountains a bit. We also got her into the 10k at Keystone Saturday morning so that was a great kick off to the race. We had a blast, she ran super fast and my parents came up as well as Amy.
From there we stopped at Qdoba, no surprise there, and continued to Leadville for packet pick up which was at the same place the race would start the next day, and the same location the mountain bikers were. In the 5 minutes we were there, we actually saw the winner come through, he was flying! We continued to Halfmoon Road to find a place to camp, got all set up and hung around for a while and played in the river with the dogs. After picking up my friend, Ryan H. (also my first pacer at Leadville next month), from town, we grilled up some food and called it an early night. Looking back on this, I feel really dumb. I had 2 cheddar brats for dinner. The night before a tough 50 mile race. What was I thinking? ha
Got up at 4:30 AM Sunday, ate a Honey Stinger waffle on the drive to the start and started to get prepped for the race. I felt a little rushed before the race, digging out clothes from the trunk, finding gels and all the stuff that needs to happen before any race. By the time I get everything on and ready to go, I had about 5 minutes to go before the race! I run down to the start area, grab my timing chip and head back for goodbyes from Court and the fam. I sprint up to the line with maybe 30 seconds to go and fall in next to PG and do a quick introduction to Brandon.
The thing about this race is that it starts straight up an old ski slope, about a 50 meter climb I guess. Nothing too crazy, just steep and somewhat loose footing. The catch is that the first person to the top gets a silver coin. I had contemplated going for it but 2 goons in Hawai’ian shirts are scrambling hard up that hill. Funny thing is though that even though we weren’t exactly sprinting uphill, we were only a few strides back. Should have just pushed to get it! Oh well, next year.
We settle into a decent pace on the decently flat first few miles before we start getting into the long climb up the jeep road. I settle into eighth to tenth place and just stay relaxed on the climb. Maybe 4 miles in while blanking out (my way of running long) I hit the ground pretty hard. Luckily my body still reacts even if my mind is off. Caught most of my weight on my handhelds. I turn around and there is NOTHING where I tripped. Way to go Luke, you’re dumb. The guy in front of me, Ely, turns and says it’s a good thing I got that out of the way early on. Maybe 5 minutes later, he nearly does the same thing. Ended up running a lot of the race with him. His first ultra, generally a road marathoner, he had a great race though.
I blew through the first aid station, continued the climb to 12,000′+ and started down the road toward the second aid station, Painter Boy. This stretch of road was great, long and gradual decent, could open up the stride and relax for a change. We had seen a lady in front of us and were curious who it was, she was absolutely flying. Ended up being Helen Cospolich so it all made sense! Cruising into aid, I fill my bottles again, say hi to Court and the fam and push out down the the hill with PG and Ely. We make good time through the next 6ish miles to the next aid station in the middle of nowhere, don’t take much time there filling up again and head around Ball Mt. to the big climb. It wasn’t so bad on the way out but a few people had definitely caught up to us at this point. I reach the crux and on the super steep decent, I lose PG’s heel and Ely loses mine. Fun part of the course though, even thought it was a bit of a blur!
*note about this section: I started with my Ricofit calf sleeves on but by mile 3 my feet were numb. I eventually pulled them down to my shoes by mile 10 and all the pain went away. Very odd. Was nervous I’d be running on numb feet all day. Maybe my calves are bigger than they were?? Who knows. Def not wearing them at lt100.
I came into the Stumptown aid, which was the turnaround, in just under 4 hours. This was great and I was glad to be on the low end of my goal times but I knew I was starting to feel it. I took maybe 5 minutes in this aid station to eat, sit for a minute in the shade and talk with my peeps. Court was great, loved the few minutes I had there. The dogs seemed happy to see me too, I think they were confused as to where I was going. I told them all that I thought my ‘race’ was over and it was just an effort to finish at this point though. I knew my legs were hurting and I didn’t want to risk getting hurt or overly fatigued before the 100 a month later. As I was heading back out, Ely came in so I knew I had a few minute lead at least on him.
I start the long slog back up and around Ball Mountain. It was BRUTAL, well the top of it was. I think the last mile or so hurt the worst, I definitely stopped in the shade for a few seconds at one point. I’d also stop and turn around and enjoy the view, figured it was worth it since I was already up there! I got caught at the top of the climb by a guy that was a few people back at the turn around, climbing must have been his thing because he was flying. There was a small snow patch at the top that I decided to lay in too. Felt awesome as there were no clouds and it was hotter than I expected.
Ely caught up to me again as we neared the next aid and he kept making me run up the hills. This was the boost I’d needed. Since telling my fam the I was just running and not racing anymore, I hadn’t really pushed too hard. But this got me going. He pulled away but I was able to catch the first guy that passed me on the hill again and ran with him and one other guy back to Painter Boy. I was feeling great again. Running up the hills was no problem, the downs hurt a little but nothing too bad. I came into this aid in 12th, took a minute to reload my gear, ask Courtney if she ran yet (she looked at me like I was crazy :P) and went out in 13th. I could see the guy in front of me, about 200 meters up, for the next 3 miles up the long, shadeless dirt road. I couldn’t catch him, we were on the same run/walk pattern. This was a rough section. No clouds. Super hot. I was feeling drained. My stomach wasn’t too happy with me so I didn’t eat like I should have. All I could think about was getting past the climb to the cold mountain streams on the way back down.
I finally made it and within 200 meters of the summit, I dunked my hat in the stream, splashed myself as much as I could and continued. This was my pattern for the next few miles, run, dunk, splash. Luckily I had my Drymax socks on, they rock! Get into the last aid station, fill with water, eat a few chips then roll. I was told I was only a few minutes back and could catch two guys. I bust out the trail and move well for the next 3 miles. THEN, all hell broke loose. I got a little nauseous and could hardly handle the heat. It was blazing hot out there. I start walking DOWN hilss. That was sad. I love downhills. I eventually get caught by one guy and that opened the floodgates. I was in a very bad spot. I only had a few chips in my system, I think I could have been much better had I eaten a gel 7 miles earlier. UGH. Eventually get passed by 6 more people. I came rolling around the finish and was so relieved to be there. I crossed the line, threw my bottles on the ground and hunched over. Felt nasty!
A lady came up and gave me my medal and finisher bracelet and had me pose for post race pictures. She said, “We’ll get a couple of you then we’ll have your wife join you!” Should have seen Courtney’s smile when she said that! PG grabbed my bottles and offered to get me a cold water. Really appreciated that. I moved over to the shade, sat down and was miserable for about 10 minutes, thinking I was going to hurl. Eventually was persuaded to lay down at the medical tent and having my feet up helped a ton. I look over and realize it’s our friend, Leila, in the cot next to me. She was hurting but I talked to her husband Mike for a few before leaving.
My final time was 8 hours 38 minutes for 19th place overall. Rough day but in the end, it was great training for the 100! Results! I would also like to point out that I beat a honey badger, 9th place in the male 20-29 division!
We got up, headed to the car to head back and saw a sign or hot showers at the Leadville Hostel for $3. There was no way I was passing that up. Best hot shower of my life! Felt way better after that!
I’d like to thank my parents for crewing me again, Patrick and Ely for the pace setting and help after when I was going to croak, my sis and her husband for coming up to support and of course, Courtney. I couldn’t have done it without her, she keeps me motivated and moving. I’m a lucky man for sure. Love you!
I’ll be back in the next few years I’m sure, I know I can cut an hour off my time pretty easily!
A surprising number of people knew my name on the course, and whether I actually knew them or not, may have just been delirious, it was fun talking with people. The ultra community is the best around!
A few random pictures: