So. That was hard. There was some praying. Not gonna lie.
The Leadville Trail Heavy Half Marathon is 15 miles.
Here’s the course…
The race started out with beautiful temps in like…the 50’s. The bluest sky you have EVER seen and the gorgeous views of the mountains. I swear it could not have been more perfect.
Out of the gate I had no air. This sucker is no joke. It is straight up right away.
The race course is out and back through the historic mining district on the east side of Leadville. The course is primarily on old mining roads and trails, topping out at 13,185 ft. at Mosquito Pass. ~source
Sean started right away to run (completely not intimidated, what the hell?) and I said “whoa. I need air”. In other words…I’ll be walking this, thankyouverymuch. I attempted to run/walk but my little backpack was bugging me quite a bit. I didn’t think it would but it did. I had put my little jacket in it and two little snacks just in case the aid stations wouldn’t have something I could eat (they did) and they bounced around in there the whole time. I usually hike with the same kind of backpack but this really did shoot me in the foot.
He hung back a bit and tried to walk with me but his WALK is really much faster than mine. So at one point he’s powering up this serious hill and I finally just stopped. I could not do his pace. I told him this lovely girl I was now walking next to had a much better pace than he did and I choose her. It’s called slower. Once I slowed my pace just a bit…I could breathe much better.
This was pretty much the routine. Pace as best as you can and as you go…talk to whoever is standing next to you and it helps the situation because this sucker is no joke. We would “stop and admire the view”. It was totally worth that, for sure.
There was an aid station at 2.9 miles. It was amazing. They had watermelon, oranges, chips, pretzels, m&m’s, gatorade, water…I don’t even know what else. It was better stocked than my kitchen on grocery day. I saw no cross contamination so I felt completely comfortable eating a handful of chips, downing some water and continuing on. They were all incredibly nice.
There was a little downhill here but I didn’t get excited because I knew I’d have to go up on the way back. That was so not going to be friendly.
(this was trail…)
photo credit: new friend Jamie
At mile 4.4 there was another aid station…
And here is where it gets serious.
It’s about here I picked up Jamie for company. Talking to someone is a great way to get yourself through the tough stuff. This was definitely the tough stuff.
Here is where the trail stops messing around, it gets steeper and rockier.
As we get closer to the top we have a very narrow pathway for our last two miles…(last mile for sure)
It’s really more a path for one but it’s two way traffic and there is a lot of it. Runners are coming down as we are going up. We’re all trying to encourage each other as we climb and also try to give each other space. This was definitely the tough stuff.
If you’re on the outside..try very hard not to fall off the mountain.
this was a very real possibility.
I don’t have any photos of that because it was precarious and packed with people moving very fast. If I stopped to take a photo, they would have actually thrown me off the mountain.
If you look close…those are little people on the switchbacks… okay…not little people. But regular sized people they just look really little.
Check out the view from what has to be the highest aid station ever…
Reaching the top of Mosquito Pass was amazing though freezing cold.
We didn’t want to stay there. We took a few pictures. Most looked really really bad. We both vetoed them and moved on.
We headed down and Sean predictably flew past me. He really wanted to run and I really wanted to not die.
So there you go.
Side note: I have no grace. I would love to have grace. I admire it so much. But none. zero. I attempt to hike and invariably twist my feet this way and that on the rocks.
And that is exactly what happened VERY badly a short ways down before that aid station again. My weaker ankle gave an angry little yank and oh my gosh…I was in some pain. I remembered the last time I twisted it several years ago I knew I had spent the whole day on it before the pain set in for good so I hoped I could do that again and it would get me to the finish. That theory worked.
Fortunately I hooked up with a darling girl from Colorado Springs (Heather) who also had no intention of running and we talked our way into the finish line. We gave a token run over the end but really…we walked the whole way.
I knew this was going to be hard. I just really wanted to finish and I knew I wanted to take lots of pictures.
Halfway through it I knew I wanted to run it again next year.
At the finish, I’m pretty sure I don’t.
We’ll see. Sean says he would run it again.
I am definitely a hiker and definitely not a trail runner and I’m sorry to all the people out there who are trail runners and swear by how awesome it is. I have no desire to run the trails.
I realize this puts me in the severe minority and as I am a strange person…I am accepting of this.
I don’t regret doing it one bit because I love to do things I’m afraid of, this sucker was SUPER HARD and I did pretty well considering.
I see what I need work on (really for sure I do)
and I met great people.
What an amazing event, too. I love to participate in events done SO well.
I needed more sunscreen than what I applied and oh am I sunburned (Sean, too).
It’s SUPER pretty. I have the cutest farmer’s tan.
It took Sean and I just under 5 hours. I think Sean did it in 4:51? and I did it in 4:55. He was ahead of me for the majority of the time and occasionally would wait for me just to check in.
Shout out to Heather from Colorado Springs for the entertainment on the way down and Jamie on the way up!
If you are a trail runner…this thing is totally for you. It’s awesome.
If you are a 5k city runner..I would advise a bit of training.
I’m sort of in between.