Tuesday, August 19, 2008

LEADVILLE TRAIL 100: MY GREATEST CHALLENGE, THUS FAR

The Good: No blisters, no injury, no Advil necessary, no problem with altitude, strong legs on the climbs, felt good and an incredibly wonderful 10 day vacation with my family

The Bad: I was timed out on the outbound Twin Lakes aid station. I was 17:45 hours into the race and needed to be at Twin Lakes in 16:45. I was finished with the LT 100.

The Ugly: Nothing Baby! I learned so much about the race, about the trail, I know what I need to do to finish. Run faster! It's an awesome incredible wonderful beautiful rugged challenge and oh baby, I will try you again :)

Yeah. The mystique, the ruggedness, the awe that I have always felt and pictured when one told me they were running the Leadville Trail 100. When I began running I never believed I'd run a marathon, I then ran marathons, I never believed I'd run a 100, I ran 100's. Even after running a half dozen 100's, I said I would never try Leadville Trail 100. Why would one try when there was only a 40-50% finish rate? Why would one try when there are such climatic variables, why would one try when one has to climb a 12640 foot mountain two times, why would I try when I am a Midwesterner who has never run in the mountains and didn't know what altitude would do?

Well, those reasons are exactly why I decided to run the Leadville Trail 100. Out of my comfort zone, oh yeah! Somewhere along the line I began to think about Leadville and about training for it, I began to talk to others that have tried Leadville, some have finished, some hadn't. Most keep on trying. Why? I wasn't sure why they kept on going out to Leadville, year after year, try after try. Even as I was running the last part of my race, I was wondering why they keep on trying. Now I know. Because it is Leadville. Because it is stretching your limits, out of your comfort zone, it is intense, it's tough, it's fast. It is beautiful.

I'll write a separate post about our fabulous vacation. This post is all about the race. Maybe nobody is interested in reading a post about a DNF. I always read the DNF race reports because I am able to learn about the race, about the person writing the report. I will write for that reason, for those that may be interested. Also, I'd like an account of the race for myself, for the future.

The pre race briefing was amazing. We were told that we are stronger than we think we are, better than we think we are. We were told that some of us only had a prayer to finish. We were told to dig into the well of strength that each of has, and pull from that well, pull from that well and keep going forward. Keep moving. I had tears in my eyes. This speaker should be a minister, I thought.

The Dr. began to speak. What I remember most is he told the men NOT to take Viagra for the altitude sickness. He said "otherwise I'll have a bunch of men up on Hope Pass with dehydration issues and tents in their shorts. I don't want to deal with that!" It was hilarious. He told the women that if we didn't dress warm and we became hypothermic that he would put us in a sleeping bag with two big hairy men to warm us up and that there would be a line of big hairy men awaiting their turn. Lots of laughs.

The pre race dinner was free and fabulous. Spaghetti, meatballs, cakes, veggies, salad, fruit for family, friends, crew and pacers. Amazing.

The talk was all about the weather. Hail, thunderstorms, snow, rain, high winds, lightening and cold temperatures. It was all forecast and oh yeah, we saw all of that.

300 AM Saturday morning. I'm dressed, my pack is full, my drop bags are at the aid stations. I'm ready. I didn't want Steve to have to drive me to the start so I hung out in the lobby of the hotel the night before and confirmed a ride at 300 with 'Ethel'. At 310 I still hadn't seen Ethel. Oh boy. Luckily, Tanya and Mike Siltman, from IL came by. I have met both Tanya and Mike through McNaughton. Mike ran the 150 this past April. I told them my predicament and they offered me a ride. I accepted and Tanya brought us to the start line. Thank you!!

It was raining, it was cold. I wore long pants with shorts underneath. Shorts that I never uncovered. I had on a short sleeved top, a long sleeved top, a windbreaker. Hat and mittens were in my pack. More long pants and long tops with gloves, mittens and more jackets were in each and every one of the 5 drop bags. I was not going to drop due to being cold! Being from Minnesota, I could not let that happen.

We counted down the last 10 seconds and the gun shot off. Off we went! Tears began to run down my cheeks. I was really doing it. I was toeing the line at the Leadville Trail 100. I couldn't believe it. I would have never imagined I would have been here. Leadville.

Start to May Queen: I wanted to run a 28:30 pace; that was my ultimate finish goal, however, 29:59:59 and I was thrilled as well. We began right in downtown Leadville, on the corner of the main street; 6th and Harrison. I trotted along the street, taking in the conversation around me and thinking about what I was doing. What would happen within the next 30 hours? How was I going to feel, what was the weather, the altitude, the climbing going to do to me? After we ran the pavement for a while we turned off and picked up a dirt road. I heard "Julie, Julie Berg" I was stunned. It was dark, so I couldn't see anyone. I thought I was imagining something. Who would have called out my name? I just kept on running. Pretty soon I heard it again. "Julie, Julie Berg" this time it was closer to me. I turned and said "Yes, I'm Julie Berg". Here it was Paul Hasse! We ran together for a while, talking about our training and the week leading upto the race. Eventually he had to stop to make a few adjustments and I ran into Greg Allen. We talked some and I had to make a potty stop. I never again saw Greg until the 50 mile mark. I did run again with Paul H a few times.

The dirt road turned up to a powerline. It was a steep climb, but not too long, then we were on the Turquoise Lake trail, following around the lake. It reminded me a bit of the Superior Hiking Trail. There were some rocks and roots, it was pretty. I was breathing fine, I wasn't gasping. I was able to run quite well so far.

It began to pour. A real downpour. I pulled my poncho from my pack and put it over my windbreaker. I would begin to get warm and have to remove it, then it would begin to downpour again. Pretty soon it was hailing. Ouch ouch ouch. Big ice chunks falling from the sky.

13.5 miles from the start and I was into the May Queen aid station. Oh my gosh I was soaked to the bone! I found my drop bag and grabbed a dry jacket, why I don't know, it just became drenched again anyway. I put away my handheld as it was now daylight, I mixed up 3 bottles of Heed and grabbed more gels. It took me for flipping ever getting situated. I gave my drop bag off and headed off. I saw Linda Dallman here, crewing for Ed. It was nice to see a friendly familiar face! I was on a 28:30 pace and was absolutely thrilled. I was loving this.

May Queen to Fish Hatchery: Fish Hatchery was mile 23 .5 We continued along Turquoise Lake Road and ran on pavement for a while, eventually following the Colorado Trail. It was a beautiful trail. Heavy woods, rocks, lots of climbing. We went to the top of Sugar Loaf Pass at 11000 feet. What an experience! My legs felt strong, those hill repeats at Hyland were paying off. No pain, no tiredness. I felt so happy and strong. I was surprised I felt happy as the rain was pouring down on me. I love to run in the sun. I was just thrilled to be here, running the Leadville Trail 100. I still couldn't quite believe it. Pretty soon I was climbing a powerline. A super long climb, exposed, in a thunderstorm. The hail was pelting me, the wind was blowing, the thunder booming and the lightening was striking. It began to worry me.

I saw Paul Hasse here again and ran with him for quite some time. He was worried about being so cold. Paul likes Badwater and FANS, enjoys heat and the pavement. He told me that he runs Leadville because it is so far out of his comfort zone. I totally understand that now. Paul is an incredible runner. He has finished Badwater in the low 40's and won FANS before. While we were running he told me he was 1 for 3 on Leadville finishes.

Eventually I ran ahead and caught Al Holtz and John Taylor. Al was all business, getting this run on. He did too. Al finished in 29:39. Al rocks. More to come on that later. I ran along with John for quite some time, we always have great conversations. I didn't like the lightening hitting the powerline near me. John stated that since the powerline was taller than I, I needn't worry. OK.

The downhill here was sweet. Down down down forever and a day. I was able to run hard and fast. It felt great. I was just thrilled, flying through the rain, the hail, smiling at the horrendous weather because I was feeling super. John and I came into Fish Hatchery on a 28:30 pace. As we were coming in I saw Al going out.

One of the many things I enjoyed during this race was that the volunteers had our drop bags ready at most of the aid stations. John and I came into Fish Hatchery and a volunteer looked at our number, handed us our bag. Awesome! I told John that my shirt felt tight. I told him maybe I had shrunk it while I washed it last. I took off my shirt and noticed big gouges in my arm from where it was too tight. I couldn't believe it. I noticed I was swelling quite badly. More than usual, all of the way to my elbows. I wondered if the shirt was too tight or if I was swelling too much. I quickly changed shirts and gave my drop bag back. Grabbed some food and headed on out.

Fish Hatchery to Halfmoon: The rain was beginning to lighten up a bit and the mountains were coming into view. I was shocked when I could finally see the tops of the mountains and they were covered in a new coat of snow! I couldn't believe it. Wow, new snow on those beautiful mountains. I love Colorado! This section was ALL ROAD. I was surprised when Steve, the boys and I drove the course and there was so much road. A large section of this is pavement and a large section is dirt road. I was still feeling great, eating, drinking, peeing, all things were a go. I was just running along, taking in the views, enjoying life. I was so happy to be here. To be running this race. To be in Colorado and all of it's beauty. I was thinking about Steve and the boys, looking forward to seeing them at Halfmoon and Twin Lakes.

I began to run up ahead of John, up through the Halfmoon Campground. I knew this part of the route as we had just driven it the day before. I noticed many people were walking this section, even though it seemed level and I thought it was runnable. I wondered if they were saving their legs for later or why they were walking. It's difficult to gauge when you haven't run a race before as to how to run/walk it. Everyone told me to begin out slow and go slower. Don't go too fast, don't burn out, save it for Hope Pass. How much do you save though? What if you save too much? What if you go to slow? Hmmm..good questions.

I ran most of this section, but I didn't run it very hard. I was breathing fine, the altitude didn't bother me. I could have run this section harder, but didn't know if I should. I KNOW NOW. I SHOULD HAVE RUN THIS SECTION HARDER!

I came into Halfmoon and saw that I had lost some time. Shit. I was on 29 pace now, I lost a half hour. Dang. I should have followed my instinct and ran that road section harder. A wonderful aid station volunteer made me a ham sandwich and I grabbed half of a pear, had my drop bag and grabbed some more gels, mixed up some Heed and was out of there. I couldn't believe I let myself lose 30 minutes.

Halfmoon to Twin Lakes: After leaving Halfmoon Campground I turned onto the Colorado Trail, right near the Mt. Elbert/Mt. Massive trail head. This was a beautiful section. No road. The trail is intersected with many other trails, I was sure to follow the pink and black ribbons. The rain had stopped and I was able to again remove my poncho and jacket. I felt like a pack mule with my pack, a jacket, a shirt and a poncho all tied onto my waist. I would be pulling them all back on shortly! As I was climbing up this tough climb I came across Paul . Paul had run this last year and timed out at 70 miles. He was here to give it a go again. I had to take a breather on this climb, I went to the side and Paul led up the mountain. Man, it was a steep one. My legs felt good, my breathing was labored, but that was to be expected. I was feeling great. My spirits were high, I was really having a blast.

Pretty soon it began to thunder, lightening and pour. Downpour. More hail. I stopped to remove my pack and pull all of my layers back on. I tried to do this while climbing, but it was futile. I had to stop to get everything back on. Eventually the climb turned into a fabulous downhill. I was passing people on this section. I wanted to ask if they had run and finished this race before, if they thought we were making good time, etc. I kept my worries to myself. I really didn't believe that the 50 mile cut off should be 14 hours. It seemed to me that if it took 14 hours to get to Winfield, a person would have a tough time getting to Twin Lakes in 3:45. My inkling was dead on, unfortunately. But you know, I wouldn't have known this had I not run the race first.

I came upon Beth Simpson-Hall. I had been talking to Beth all summer about Leadville. She was having a hard time, her foot was bothering her again and she said this was her slowest in the 3 finishes she has. This worried me. We came upon a big downhill, all the way into Twin Lakes and we ran it. Beth had to make a stop, so I kept on going, as fast as I could, into Twin Lakes. I knew Steve and the boys would be here. As I was running down the mountain the rain stopped. The sun began to shine. I let out a yahoo and began to cheer. SUN and family and a downhill all at the same time. Life was good!!

As I turned the corner I saw Steve, Tyler and Troy. They were smiling and cheering and jumping up and down. They haven't been to one of my 100's yet. This could have been my 10th 100 finish! It was wonderful to see them. They were wet, waiting for me. I had told them I should be at Twin Lakes at 1230 and damnet, it was 120. They came into the pole building with me, collected my drop bag and food. I had Tyler smash another dry jacket into my pack. I knew it would become cold up there. We went out into the sunshine and I told them about my race. I was feeling good, I told them that if it was raining they didn't need to come and wait for me at Twin Lakes again at 900. I had originally wanted to be back here by 8 but I had lost more time! Damn. I was a full hour behind my 2830 hour time.

Twin Lakes to Winfield: Now I was going off to the highest , toughest portion of the race. I would be climbing Hope Pass. 12640 feet elevation. Two times. I began to run across the grassy section, it wasn't as wet as I had read that it would be. Eventually I came across the river. There was a rope to help me get across. The water was mid thigh high, maybe just above. It was cold! The man at the river told me it was 34 degrees. I believed it. It actually felt good as I came out of the water. I didn't have any blisters or foot pain, leg pain, I was feeling great. The cool water soothed any tiredness away. As I came out of the river I recognized a woman from Ultrarunning magazine. I heard someone call her Michelle. I realized it was Michelle Barton, winner of numerous races out West. I asked her how she was doing, if she had run Leadville before. She told me she wasn't having any fun, she didn't like the race and wouldn't be running it again. I felt badly for her, as the toughest part was coming up, she knew this too and she wasn't looking forward to it. As I neared Hope Pass I took deep breaths, I knew what was coming.

The climb began. Up up up. The sun was still out. I removed all of my layers and tied them back onto my waist. The climb and the sun and all of my muscles doing their job was causing a great deal of sweat to roll off of my body. I was soaked with sweat. I was glad I had clothes at Winfield.. I didn't want to cross over again with wet sweaty clothes and become chilled in the evening. This was tough. I had to stop a few times to take a breather. I thought I heard a bit of wheezing in my lungs, then I realized it was a bird. I think it was a bird. My lungs didn't burn, I didn't feel dizzy, I was working though. Moving ahead, one foot at a time. Climbing up Hope Pass is when I saw the front runners coming down. Man, they had already climbed Hope, into Winfield and back over Hope again! Amazing! As I was climbing up, every so slowly, I was telling each guy that came by 'good job' , way to go' etc. when someone said "Julie Berg, from Minnesota!" I was stunned. This was from one of the men in the front pack. I said "Yeah, it's Julie Berg" and resumed my climb. I was anxious to look in the results to see who in the world may know me, who was running in the front pack. Now that I have looked at the results, my guess it that it was Paul Stofko? If so, congratulations on yet another fine finish Paul!

I continued to climb climb climb, even passing quite a few people, when finally I came upon the summit. I could see the llamas! It was a beautiful sight. The sweeping mountains, the blue, yes, now blue sky, the snow, the top. Amen. I quickly filled my bottles and got out of Hopless Aid Station. There was still climbing! I was hoping I was going down now, but oh now, lots more climbing to do. Up up up I went. on a narrow, exposed pathway that was overlooking beauty. I couldn't take my eyes off of the views. Pretty soon traffic was becoming thick as the front runners were coming back. I wanted to be with them! I was wondering how long it was going to take me to get into Winfield. I knew the cut off was 14 hours, but it just didn't seem right. It just didn't seem like if I was at Winfield in 14 that I could make it back to Twin Lakes in 345. I just kept moving on.

Finally I began the downhill. I ran it as fast as I could. It was difficult because the traffic was becoming thick. Many of the front runners would actually step aside and let me run by, I thanked them over and over when they did this. I usually stepped aside for them, so I really appreciated it when they did so for me. Pretty soon I was in an area that I recognized. I had hiked up Hope a few days earlier and was now where I had hiked to. I knew the trail would end soon. I continued down, as fast as I could. My knees felt good, my body was holding together, my mind was in the game, but damn, was I going to have enough time???? I saw Kurt Decker, with Sonja pacing him back, I saw Larry Hall going back, I just kept on running as fast as I could downhill. I was hoping that I would make it to Winfield SOON. I couldn't believe how long it was taking me. Too damn long.

I was worried about my fingers and arms. I was really swollen. I had been drinking Heed, eating, peeing, I didn't know what the cause for the excessive swelling was. Oh lord. Finally, I was down to the road into Winfield. I knew I had a few miles to the turn around. It was already 520 PM, I had to be there by 600 to continue. How did this happen? How did I lose so much time? Hello, because you ran to fricken slow!! So run run run run run. I did. I ran as fast as I could. Of course most of it was uphill. Crap. What if I didn't make it to Winfield and they pulled me and I felt so good.I saved too much. I needed to have moved more quickly.

I saw Al Holtz coming out of Winfield. It was 530. I said GO AL, GO GET THAT BUCKLE! He told me it would be tough. Shit. It it is tough for him and he is already heading back out what it is for me? Impossible. No, don't think like that. I continued on, running up the dirt road, uphill, at 10000 feet elevation. Finally, into the aid station at 545. Only 15 minutes cushion.

It really wasn't a cushion though.How could I possible get back to Twin Lakes in 345? I couldn't. I knew I couldn't. It took me just over 4 to get here, and in the dark, with 50 miles in, how could I go faster? As I came into the aid station I saw Joel and Pete go out. They asked if I was going to continue. I said I was going to check in with medical, and then I would. My swelling was worrying me a bit.

I went into medical and the nurse stated that the swelling was bothersome, but it didn't seem to be pulmonary edema as I was able to breathe and my heart sounded good. She told me I was clear to continue. I couldn't close my hands, but that has happened before. The swelling has just never gone all of the way into my elbows before. OK. I grabbed a cup of Ramen noodles, and there was a boiled potato in the bottom! I ate it up and was going through my drop bag. I had a sad moment. I knew I couldn't make it to Twin Lakes in 345. It finally dawned on my that my race may be over. This was it. I might as well stop here because I was only 15 minutes under the cut off. Why bother? Pretty soon I heard a bunch of commotion. "Hurry up, you only have 3 minutes, what do you need, get some food, get your bag, get out of here...hurry!" I was like, what the hell is all of that about? Here I look up and they are all yelling at John Taylor! Telling him to hurry, get out of here. I asked him if he was going on. He said matter of factly "YES". I said even though we can't make it back to Twin Lakes in time. He said he came to run as long as he could, if they would give him 10 more miles, he was taking it. I felt kind of like a fool, that I was actually thiking about not going back out. OK, I'm in. Even if we can't make it back to Twin Lakes in 345, I'll get a 60 mile training run in for Superior Sawtooth in three weeks, instead of 50. Plus I get to climb over Hope again and see the llamas.

Winfield back to Twin Lakes

I told John I'd head out and see him soon. I headed out of Winfield, feeling sad that I didn't think I could make the next cut off, well, I knew I couldn't, feeling sad that my race was over, really. Feeling sad that I had trained so hard for this, what more could I do? Would I try this again? What would I do differently? I had to run faster. Plain and simple. Run faster. Speed work. The hill work worked wonders. My legs weren't sore from climbing or the downhill, they were just too slow. I have become faster the past few years from running more miles and becoming leaner, but I really don't do any speed work other than some intervals, some repeats. I could definately improve my speed. As these thoughts were going through my brain, I saw Paul Hasse and Greg Allen coming up the road. They were over the time limit for Winfield. I felt foolish for going back out and asked them if they thought I should even continue. Paul said hey, if you can still run, you should try. I told him I could run just fine. Pretty soon I saw Paul and then Mike, they were done, too. Beth Simpson-Hall was coming up the road, she wished me good luck and said she may see me at Twin Lakes, as she would be crewing Larry.

John caught up and I began to sway back and forth upon whether I should continue or not. Maybe it was stupid. Maybe I couldn't climb Hope again. Maybe it would be too hard. God, he probably wanted to tell me to just shut up and run, woman! We came upon the Sheep Gulch, upto Hope Pass and I started all over again. Maybe I shouldn't do this. All of my doubts were coming forward. A gal in back of me was looking for her runner, she said she was a pacer, she would help me up to Hope as she was looking for her runner. OK. Let's go. She prodded my forward as I climbed ever so slowly. We stopped now and then for a drink, then began to climb. Pretty soon climbing forward began automatic. I came to realize that I wanted this 10 miles. I wanted to climb back over Hope. I wanted to come back into Twin Lakes. Even though I probably wasn't going to make the 345 into Twin Lakes, I was going to do what I could. If they were going to let me squeek out a few more hours on this beautiful Colorado mountain, I was going to do it.

John and I trudged up the mountain, sharing stories, sharing weariness. As we finally reached the top we realized a cold wind was upon us. We took off our packs to get our mittens, hat, our lights and more jackets. Then John realized we should run down 10 feet to get out of the wind! We were spent from climbing that mountain the second time and it took a few minutes to realize we could get out of the cold wind just by lowering ourselves down the trail a few feet. We dressed and put on our lights and continued on. Pretty soon we could feel snowflakes upon us. It was cold! We came into Hopeless Aid station, filled our bottles and continued on. I knew the race was over for me, but I didn't feel a loser. I felt like I had done all that I could. I now knew that 14 hours wasn't a good time to come into Winfield, there was no way I could get back to Twin Lakes in 345. No Way. I needed to be in Winfield in 1230 hours, maximum, to get back to Twin Lakes by 945 PM. Now I knew. I didn't know that before, I don't know if it would have made a difference.

John and I continued down the mountain when a woman and two of her children passed. They were volunteers at Hope Pass and she was heading to Twin Lakes so that she could pace a friend from May Queen to the finish. Man all I could think is that I wish I were able to run May Queen to the finish. John suggested we pace some runners in! Hey, we'd be able to run more..good idea! We just need to find some runners that need pacers :)

We ran down the mountain, trudged through the cold river, onto the road bringing us into the Twin Lakes aid station. John stumbled into the aid station asking "Did we make it? Did we make it?" We thought it was hilarious, we knew we didn't make it. The poor volunteers didn't know what to say! The woman came and said, "Um, no, you didn't make it, I need to clip off your wrist bands" We explained that we knew we weren't going to make it, but that we wanted to continue for as long as we could. We truly did.

Two other runners came in after us. Luckily for us, a man from PA had his wife meet him here, so he drove me to the wonderful Bed and Breakfast in the pouring rain, where my family was. He would take John to Leadville.

It was pouring out so hard. I couldn't see where I was going to find the door! Eventually I found the door to our suite. I knocked, it was 1130PM. I quietly said "It's me, I'm done". Steve came to the door and ushered me in. Gave me a big hug and said "It's OK" I told him I timed out at Twin Lakes and gave him a quick overview of the race. I took a hot shower and climbed into bed.

This isn't how I wanted it to end. I wanted to be a Leadville Trail 100 Finisher. I wanted to still be out there running. I didn't want to be in bed. I wanted to come back to Minnesota with my buckle, the beautiful Leadville pendant, the glow that comes with a finish.

Sunday morning we went into Leadville to pick up my drop bags. It was 945 AM. 15 minutes left of the race. As we were pulling into the courthouse, where the drop bags were I saw Al Holtz. I told Steve to stop the car, I'm getting out. Meet me here in a bit. I ran up to Al. He had a finisher medal upon his neck. I hugged and cried tears of happiness for him. He was looking for his bags, I helped him to find them, but one was missing. Al did it. He finished in 29:39 or so. Tough Al. I'm in awe of him. Really. Al is the ONE out of TWELVE Minnesotan's to have finished the race. Cheers to you, Al.

I watched the final finisher come in. We were yelling, run run run run! The speaker said "45 seconds left, you have it if you don't fall. Don't fall!" Two little boys were pulling her hands forward, someone was pushing her from the back, she was going to make it. She made it! 15 seconds to go and she finished the race. I went up to her and congratulated her. I told her she inspired me and I was in awe of her. She told me she had a lot of help and couldn't have done it on her own. I told her she was my hero. We began to cry and just stood there, holding one another. What a race.

As I think back on the race, I can only smile. I don't feel badly about timing out. I don't know why. I am not beating myself up, I don't know why. I know I gave it what I had. I had trained well, I rested well, I didn't hurt myself, I was hydrated, fueled, I did what I could do. It was an incredible experience, an awesome race, it is all that one might think it is.

At breakfast on Sunday morning I told Steve I didn't think I would try Leadville again. I told him I had trained hard and I still couldn't finish in time. I told him I was too slow. I was too slow. He looked at me and said well, that's it. You will run faster. You now know the course, it is familiar to you, you will run it faster. I just blinked at him. Yeah. I will run it faster. Yeah. Leadville Trail 100 2009 Baby. I will run it faster.

I feel excellent. No pain, no aching, just swelling. Topaz and I went out for a five mile run this morning and everything felt fine. Topaz, how I missed him! The week we left he was diagnosed with Lyme's. He is now feeling back to his spunky self and doing fine!

Tomorrow I go back to work. Instead of dreading the day, I'm telling myself I am grateful that I had 8 weeks off. I am.

Today as I was grocery shopping I was just feeling happy. I wondered why. Why are you happy? You didn't finish Leadville. Well, I had an awesome 10 day family vacation and I was able to experience the Leadville Trail 100. Just as I told my running groups: you are a winner for starting your race, you are a winner for stepping out of your comfort zone, you are a winner for trying, you are a winner for being here. I'm finally believing the words I speak to them, to me.

With each race I run, I learn. With each race I run, I grow. I'm happy to have tried, I am happy to have been able to toe the line of the Leadville Trail 100; The Race Across The Sky.

Thank you for all of the emails, the phone calls. I appreciate each and every one of them. I'll post photos soon. Now, I have a ton of laundry to do!

18 comments:

johnmaas said...

Absolutely inspiring, Julie!
I'm so proud of what you did out in Leadville. I was waiting/hoping for this report. Thank you for sharing your excellent story with us.
I have no doubt you will get that buckle in 2009!
Way to go!!!
John

Danni said...

Speedwork does wonders. You have a great attitude. I never knew until reading reports that Leadville was so complicated strategically.

I'm so excited for your great comeback! How fun will it be to have this great challenge and avenge the Leadville course! Victory next August will be so awesome. It will be worth it!

-- Random Stranger/Reader

Kel said...

Sounds like an epic journey Julie. Congrats on a valiant effort!

Londell said...

You will tame that beast! Just like Superior, you learned and suceeded. With this weather, it is just amazing! Great report.

keith said...

Oh, man, Julie!! I have such a lump in my throat from reading that. Really quite amazing and inspiring. Good job. See you soon!

keith

Anonymous said...

JULIE!! I am so frickin' proud of you I am bursting! As I read your report I could feel your happiness and excitement for the race and your appreciation of God's great outdoors. And your attitude, Woman! Your positive attitude - so inspiring! I am glad you are not on "beat myself up mode for not finishing"! Way to go, Girl!!
Love- Carol

Karen G said...

What a great story Julie, told like only you could. I have tears in my eyes. You are more inspiring than ever!!! I have no doubt you will find a way to finish it next year. I am so happy your family was there for you.
Karen G

Helen said...

You ARE a WINNER Julie!!! Wow - what a great story about a great race. Epic stuff. You did so well in tough conditions and should be very proud of yourself. Looking forward to catching up in a few weeks!

Helen

Matthew Patten said...

Great report JB.

I felt so bad for all of you when I was checking the race updates. Everybody kept coming up as DNF.

Knowing how tough all of you are, told me something was tough this year more than others.

I think we need to name a mountain on Sawtooth after Al.

See you at Superior.

Andy Holak said...

Julie,

Great report! Like you said, everyone who toed the line is a winner. You continued on until you no longer could. That's a true champion. Now you know the course, and that will really help. And, the best part is, you had a great family vacation! Have fun at Superior - hopefully see you there.

Andy

Bedrock said...

Juli,

Great report and you gave a gret effort at Leadville. Leaving Winfield when you knew the race was over is very inspiring. Good luck at Superior and at Leadville next year.

Gary said...

Wow, a greater challenge for you than Superior Sawtooth? Looking forward to your '09 report. Thanks for sharing!

Gary Henry

Anonymous said...

Julie-
You are just awesome! I think the writer who described it as an 'epic journey' really hit it...and the journey is not over! That was just your first one! Yeah, we all would like to finish it the first time, but come on, you never ran that course before! So much is gained by the first race, knowledge-wise. You can definitely do this, I think next year you will just kill it...Zoey

Anonymous said...

A valiant effort, and a great race report, thanks for writing it.

Anonymous said...

Your are fast enough just not that day.

Get back there next year and with all that you've learned, a bit of luck (everyone needs it in life) and your training buddy topaz you can get that shiny buckle.

Now get that gear ready for the home course awaits and the sawtooth buckle is second to nothing.


Dallas " I'm ready for the night and everything the sawtooth course is willing to give me. " Sigurdur

olga said...

You fought. That's all that counts. Great job, Jul, be proud!

Travis said...

Great work! Glad to hear that the altitude did not effect you too much. You'll get it next time. These are all learning experiences, and as you know its what you take away that makes you better. Keep up the great work!!

Jim V said...

Awesome effort Julie.....next year, remember and learn...next year. You'll get it.

Jim V