The week before any race I normally feel nervous. I feel my throat down in my gut and my extremities tingle. Leadville didn’t fall into this rule. I moved into my apartment in Boulder, CO in late May with the sole objective to run. I went out for 3-hour jaunts in the mountains a few times a week and had the best training block I’ve ever had. Three weeks before Leadville I went out for my final long run planning to do the Boulder Skyline that traverses Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Mt. Sanitas, and Flagstaff if I recall. During this run I ran out of water very early and it took me several days to feel recovered, but I still felt tired on most of my runs for another week. I finally came around about 10 days before Leadville since I’d been tapering and I started feeling all my strength come back.
So when I toed the line at 4am last Saturday, I wasn’t nervous. I felt ready. I started near the front because I don’t like doing the shuffle across the start line of large races that is standard for the middle of the pack onward. Once everything opened up a few hundred yards later I settled into what felt to be a nice slow cruise along the first road miles. I know well that I have a problem with starting races too fast, so I made sure I stayed within myself. I kept pulling back to keep myself bored (I kept myself in my head to know I wouldn’t pull away). I hit the tabor boat ramp at mile 6 in what felt pretty slow and I maintained that pace through May Queen. I felt heavy this entire section and I figured it was just nature calling.
At May Queen my dad informed me that I came through at 2:05—10 minutes faster than what I’d planned. Two Gu chomps packs and a refill on my Nathan bladder and I was off to Fish Hatchery. I hiked a good portion of the climb up Sugarloaf just to slow down some and then held myself back down powerline. Through this point in the day I’d felt pretty bad and had a growing ball in my bowels that I was hoping could be taken care of soon and I would feel better. That never happened. I felt decent on the road to fish hatchery except for that and some growing blisters form my Hoka OneOnes. I came through Fish Hatchery at 4:10, 20 minutes faster than I’d planned but I still felt like I was holding back just fine. I switched into my Saucony Peregrines, put on some sunscreen and swapped my Nathan pack for a handheld for the upcoming 3-4 mile stretch to Timberline. On this road my right quad started hurting. Not cramping, not a sore feeling, but just hurting. I felt it on every step until I had to resort to walking until we got onto a dirt road and even then my stride was more of a lope dragging my right leg behind. I took a few minutes at Timberline to try to massage it out and then I headed on to Twin lakes. The stretch to Halfmoon II or whatever they call it now was uneventful. I felt bad but I ran it. At that aid station I sat and massaged my quad while eating some watermelon and ramen. I was feeling great again except for my quad and when I headed out. I walked almost all of the next 10 miles to Twin Lakes. I ended up getting into Twin Lakes pretty close to cut-off and made the decision to quit. It might have been possible that I’d have turned things around, but most likely not and at my current rate I wouldn’t have even made it to Winfield by cut-off. Even if I did manage to pick things back up, I didn’t go to Leadville to stagger in at 29:50 and so I made the decision drop.
The next day I couldn’t bend my right knee and that reassured me that I’d made the appropriate decision. I went for a 30-minute jog today and felt okay, except my right quad still felt raw. In another week I should be back to some decent semblance of training.