Thursday, July 11, 2013

Leadville SR50: T-Minus Three Days

Middle section of the SR50 trails last weekend: the wildflowers were bursting
in color the higher I climbed
Crap, I started this post days ago and now I'm about to head out of Denver and land smack at Leadville.

That can only mean one thing: IT'S HERE!

I haven't documented this journey to the Leadville Silver Rush 50 like I had originally intended.  The excuses are getting lame and I could repeat that old adage that I'm lacking time to write, but really I don't know how to say the same repetitive words to make them sound exciting, "I went to the mountains.  I spent hours in the car to get there.  I ran a lot.  I fell (again).  I got lost (a lot).  And I (still) suck climbing uphill.  The end."   The thoughts I want to convey have been whittled to the equivalent of the loud, slow English one would bark in, say, Serbia, while trying to get directions from a native who only knows two English words: Obama and McDonald's.

Looking on the bright side, after next week (or whenever I write a race report - could be September at my blogging pace), I won't have to ponder what to write about it any longer (coincidentally, nor will anyone have to read about it, but more importantly, I won't have to pull up the website and link it any longer; I'm sick of looking at it).  Starting next week, the real empowering and inspirational posts will arrive, "I didn't run today.  I ate a gallon of chocolate ice cream - in a record 3 minutes flat.  I drank too much beer.  Damn, those nachos were delicious."

In the meantime, my head's in a really good place right now for this race (as opposed to, say, 2-3 weeks ago) so I'm going to do everything in my power to let it sit right here and brew until the big day.  My dear friend Louise, er Marcia, is flying in today to help crew for me - I'm pretty stoked to see her.  Marcia and I have had some crazy running adventures together over the years (I'm shocked sometimes we're still alive - or at least not permanently injured), and I'm sure Leadville won't disappoint in that department; she'll be a great diversion for my head in the remaining two days leading to the race. Cross your fingers we stay injury-free.  I find myself stunned I'm actually getting a little bit excited for Silver Rush vs. biting off heads in my path from nerves.

I've lost some fitness in the past couple months (I can "feel" it).  Denver has turned on the oven and baking me to death when I run - or simply walk out my front door.  I fell (again) about 2 weeks ago running on the course trails and tore a rib muscle - I thought for sure Leadville was doomed (it's now about 80% healed and I'm basically ignoring it, expect when I breathe deep, which is a bit problematic - especially at 12,000'.  Whatever).  Point of impact:

I have a blister from Hell x5 on my left foot - for the past 6 months.  And just because I like to torture myself a bit, whenever I look at the elevation profile of this beast, all above 10,000', I question my sanity.  Just one of these things alone can be terrifying; combine the masses into one big equation and I'm stunned I didn't quit long ago and head for the track, where my heart sings loudest.

Though I haven't been training as I wish with my rib, I have been up in altitude as much as time permits, and  Ryan and I hit Leadville a couple times since I last wrote.  It's a rare opportunity when I get to share a run with this kid; his track schedule keeps him on a pretty tight regiment, never mind the fact that the kid's abilities left me in the dust - overnight.  So I cherish the few moments he's had the opportunity to head to altitude to help me train.  We ran a half marathon trail race 'together' two weekend's ago in Copper Mountain (right outside of Leadville).

Yes, that is snow in the background

Ryan came in 6th overall at some insane super fast speed.  Me, I sandbagged the thing due to my rib, and the fact I wanted to practice my SR50 pace (aka: power-walking),  yet I somehow got 2nd in my age group (I may have gotten a wee-bit competitive the last two miles :)).  We both won a free pair of Asics (and additionally I won a Nathan waist pack).  I've never worn Asics in my life, I don't think, but free shoes are, well, free shoes.  I hope they come in pink.

Then, last weekend, Ryan and I headed back up to Leadville to scope out some of the race course; he's going to be crewing for me - the kid can read a map like no one else (unlike his mother who was reading the 100 mile course map at one point ... don't get any ideas in your head) so he's been hired (or drugged) as main crew-er.  I don't necessarily NEED a crew at SR50, there are plenty of aid stations to get me through, but this race is kind of a long way race and kind of a really big deal for me, so the presence of some special people who mean a damn lot to me out there will be treasured.  I ran about 8 miles at 12,000' last weekend and just chugged along nicely at a snail's pace, and socked in my surroundings, wishing I could capture these moments and bottle them up to take them out when I needed them most.
Training up here is just so damn ugly, eh?

I may not be as fit as I was 2 months ago, but I believe I'm fit enough to finish this thing, even if it takes me all  damn 14 hours to do so (cut-off).  As my coach wrote me: You have plenty of time to finish, so don't get caught up in thinking about times or people in front of you.  The goal is the finish, nothing else....This is not a race; it's a day of enjoying the mountains and stretching your boundaries.  Stay positive and “light” all day.  When the man of few words writes some powerful shit, you take the words to heart and you listen (I'm learning, probably not the easiest way :)).

Silver Rush is not a race for me, it's an accomplishment - I need to keep that in perspective!  I'm not out there to win the damn thing, I'm out there to prove to myself that I can achieve something that is pretty dang scary to me.

I chose to do the Silver Rush 50 because I got complacent where I was before my injury.  I needed a new experience that stretched me and called me higher.  I needed the validation in my mind that I could do something outside my box, something that just plain and simply frightened the crap out of me and made me vulnerable.  I mean, let's be honest, if you can take the flat road marathon girl and slap her on some steep-ass mountain for 50 miles, can't that girl learn to accept, love, and possibly ask for forgiveness in other areas of her life!?

With the few exceptions of people I care about, and admittedly my coach, I don't really care what people think about my running, nor think much about it.  I run for me, to make me a kinder, better self.  But damn if I didn't get choked up when I got this email from Ryan's track coach yesterday:  Ryan is very proud you're doing this, and very proud to do this [crew] for you. He talks about your accomplishments with great admiration.

Ahhhh, dammit.  That made me cry.

If I don't finish thing this on Sunday, it's not because I didn't try... for me....for my coach.....for those who mean so much to me.  For Ryan!

Well, Marcia's plane is about to land so it's time for me to sign off, throw my bags in the car, and get this thing done.  Thank you for sharing the miles with me - it's been an incredible journey and I can't wait to get back and share how it goes.  I think it's going to go well.

T-minus 3 days....

I ... am ... ready!!!