FAMILY AND RUNNING
Quick sound: the air raid sirens. I haven’t seen a ribbon in way too long. Panic sets in as I try to rationalize what I have done wrong. I have a random pacer who decided to join me, frankly without my permission, but now I am lost. Thankfully, Random Pacer has a phone, so I call my wife in utter panic. I am over 60 miles in, and I have nothing but thoughts about dropping out. Then I start to come to my senses. Lets thinks about this rationally. There is only one way I could have come. Lets just go back to the last flag and figure this thing out.
Leadville sits at around 10,000 feet, and my family was generous enough to make the journey from Truckee to Colorado with me. I was also privileged to have my Father (who has now made it to all 3 of my hundreds) and my mother join us from New Hampshire.
We all know that many of our hundreds are now lotteries, and my Leadville journey began in late October when my Grandfather lived his final days. He lived 97 long years, and he is directly responsible for my motivation to run the Leadville 100. You see, my Grandfather or as many called him, Slim, was a member of the 10th Mountain Division who trained for WWII in Leadville.
I had a great reason to go and see what he trained through, learn a bit more about the 10th Mountain Division, and finally have some quality family time. Funny things happen sometimes, and really the race became an afterthought, as we were having so much fun enjoying our vacation.
With all of these factors on my mind, I finally got back onto the course and made a decision that I was going to finish no matter what. We had traveled so far, and my family is always so supportive that unless I got injured, I was finishing. Time goal out the window, and time to just get it done.
I was honestly having the most fun I had ever had in a race up to the point of my navigational error. Leadville is a very crew-friendly course, and it allowed me to see my family a lot starting at mile 25ish. My daughter Siri and I have a fantastic method of communicating for aid stations. I howl like a coyote as loud as possible, and she knows I am coming. She howls back and is generally running towards me when I come into the station. It is truly one of my favorite experiences every time this happens, as she is all smiles and just wants to help. I am truly lucky.
During the week we were in Leadville, there were many highlights, including a trip to the old site of Camp Hale. It’s difficult to tell it is still there, but there is a monument, and it had some really amazing facts about the 10th Mountain Division. It was a very emotional day, to say the least.
The best part of the Leadville course is easily Hope Pass. Runners summit it twice between miles 40 and 60. We reached the highest altitude that I have ever been to, which was 12,600 feet. It was so inspiring to go up and over, and I certainly dug deep knowing my Grandfather had trained through the middle of winter in these mountains. I really had no reason to complain, so I just continued to push.
My family also got the pleasure of spending time at the country’s second oldest fish hatchery. Watching my daughter feed the fish was pure joy. These fish were very aggressive and would come driving to the surface to eat the food. One could not feed them without getting splashed.
I finally made it back to mile 75 and picked up my real pacer, Tony Molina, who my friend Dan Baxley introduced me to. Tony is really the only reason I finished. Shortly after leaving the outward bound aid station and going by the fish hatchery, I got a very intense knee pain. Fortunately, Tony didn’t allow me to see my wife even though we called her for something. My motivation to finish was gone for a bit, and if I had seen her, I would have hoped in the car. Nonetheless, we kept going, and I was on my way over the powerline and finally smelling the barn a bit.
The final highlight of the week was going on a train ride which my daughter had never done. The Leadville train is certainly the most scenic one I had ever been on. My daughter was glowing all day, and really, this was the theme of the trip.
I made my way down 6th street and could finally see the red carpet. I was certainly relieved that the race was done. The final 12 miles were not pretty, but I dug deep and walked hard. I had my entire family waiting at the finish line. There is nothing better than crossing the line with your family and crew. That is exactly what I did, finishing in 21:47, good for 2oth overall.
(Photo Courtesy of the Leadville 100 Trail Run)
Ultra running is a very selfish sport for many reasons, but it also takes a team to finish these. I am very lucky I had Erin (Crew Chief extraordinaire), Siri (my daughter), and my Dad and Mom, who helped crew and take care of me during the race. Without that support, I honestly feel I would not enjoy this sport as much. I am truly lucky. Tony Molina was a fantastic pacer and kept me moving despite me not being very motivated at times. All of the people I am fortunate to run with regularly also makes this sport awesome. We aren’t just friends, we are family!!
Last and certainly not least I have two more people to thank. First off is Chris Cloyd who helped me balance my body and offered me a great strength regiment. Secondly, a huge huge thank you to Peter Fain, who really has been my coach for the past two seasons and has really helped me become a regimented runner. His coaching, experiences, positivity, and ability to push me out of my limits are priceless. Without these two coaches, I simply wouldn’t perform as well on race day!!!