Thursday, July 14, 2011
This is, of course, my first trip to Leadville. After reading so many stories about this place and knowing how many great runners have done amazing things here, it's exciting just to be in this town. For any fan of ultras, this is a trip that is definitely worth making.
I went for a 4 mile run at 4:30 this morning to test my legs and lungs at 10,000 feet. This town is ALL hills, so going easy wasn't an option. I felt sluggish, but that was to be expected. Not alot of activity in Leadville that time of day, so I used the streets as if they were MINE!
So to test myself further, I decided to climb Mount Elbert. This is the highest peak in Colorado and the second highest peak in the lower 48 states. The base of the mountain is a 30 minute drive from Leadville, so this opportunity is too good to pass up. The trek to the summit is a 12 mile round trip with chin scraping inclines. A perfect way to test my legs and lungs at this altitude!
The trail eventually became single track and wound through large aspen groves that were dotted with beaver ponds fed by beautiful mountain streams that are fed from the glaciers far above us. A beautiful setting.
Due to the unusually nice weather, there were several hikers and climbers on the trail. And I made it my mission to pass them all. Jo didn't see the entertainment in this, but she humored me. How many times have I been told "NOT EVERYTHING IS A RACE!!!"? I dunno...but I'm not sure I understand that logic. So I set out to smoke all those bastards on my mountain.
After we broke through the treeline, the trail began to climb fast. We were out in the open with the sun beating on us and navigating some very steep terrain. But as we climbed higher and higher, the views just kept getting better. It was truly stunning!
As a side note, my legs felt great and my lungs managed the altitude well. This was certainly inspiring confidence in my chances of doing well during the 50 mile race.
The higher we climbed, the steeper it got. Jo was doing great and I allowed her to dictate our pace. It was a tough climb, but she kept pumping her legs! I was pacing, but she was strong enough to keep up and pass plenty of locals that are accustomed to this altitude. We were kicking serious ass on that mountain.
If it was a race, I'm sure we BOTH would have got an AG award, if not an overall award. Just sayin...
We finally made it to the summit! Because we were at the highest peak in Colorado, we had the most amazing views of the Rockies. Truly stunning! We had a quick snack of trail mix and a power bar, and headed back down for a quad crushing descent!
The climb took us 3:20 and the descent took us 2:10. We would have made it down faster, but I wanted to go easy on my legs because I have to save something for Sunday.
Climbing a 14'er has been on my bucket list for a long time. And to do it here, in Leadville was amazing. And to tackle to highest peak in Colorado is even better. It would be tough to have a better day than this. Truly amazing!
Now...I have 2 full days to rest before the Leadville Silver Rush 50 and I'm going to make the most of it. I feel strong and prepared. The trip today gave me confidence in my training and I'm sure it will carry over into the race on Sunday.
Stay tuned for a race day update and photos! Thanks for all the support!!!