Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What a Rush- Leadville Silver Rush 50

 I tied my Luna's, grabbed my bag, slammed the hotel room door shut, and pushed play on my iPod. It was 4:45am as I began my walk to the start line of the Leadville Silver 50, the sky was pitch black, and the sun was waking, outlining the surrounding mountains with highlights of blue. The air was cool, it kissed my knees, tickled my nose, and sent a wake up call up my spine.
 My hotel was about a half mile from the start, which gave me plenty of time to gain some focus, while jamming some tunes and dancing all the way there. As I made my arrival to the start line, I threw my gear into the ski hut at the base of Dutch Henry Hill. For almost an hour I skipped in circles and paced back and forth trying to warm my chilled body.
 It was now 5:50, and with a quick but beautiful performance of the national anthem, we were just a few minutes from tackling this tough course... Smiling from ear to ear i walked through the crowd shaking hands and saying hello to many old friends, and wishing good luck to all the other runners.

With about a minute to go we all lined up at the start line, the RD Josh Colley hiked up the hill with a shotgun loaded and ready for the start. The bass from the speakers bumped through my chest, I put my headphones in, found a quiet peaceful place, and focused on the top of the hill. I could hear the announcer counting down "5...4...3...2..."and with push of a button my GPS was on, and so was my race. I sprinted up Dutch Henry Hill as fast as i could, I felt my lungs screaming as I reached the top. I looked in front of me and there were only 3 or 4 people, it was my goal to be one of the first up this beast of a hill. And there I was.. I grinned and thought to myself, "this is going to be a good day".
2012 SR50 Start
It took a few minutes before I could catch my breath but i had plenty of time over the next 10 miles, which slowly took us up and the first big climb. The climb was very rocky, as small streams flowed down the trail making the ground between the rocks very muddy and in some spots rutted out. Running, hiking, and chatting I met several awesomely amazing people on my way up this hill. I charged the last mile lungs burning and my legs tingling I finally reached the top. This is where we received our first breathtaking view, I looked around and was surrounded by huge mountains shooting up from the earth high into the clouds which now shielded us from the heat of the beating sun. I stopped took a sip from my water bottle, admired the beauty surrounding me and pounded down the road. From here there was a 4 mile down hill on fire roads to the next aid station. While charging down the road i spoke with several people about my life and my mission to carry on the work of our friends Micahs dream. To help preserve the running culture of the Raramuri tribe of Mexico. I spoke of how thankful I was to have received such a powerful, beautiful gift from such a humble people and how honored i was to share their spirit while i ran. 

Pounding down the road was easier than i thought so i ran 7 minute pace for the 4 miles leading into the aid station, I flowed through the station with such confidence, filling my water, and popping a few pretzels in my mouth then was gone before they even knew i was there. 
I was 14 miles into a tough 50 mile race and felt amazing, my only goal for this race was to keep a positive attitude the whole time, and so far i was way ahead of my goal. I kept smiling, encouraging, and chatting with people as we started our climb up the next big hill. I put on some music lowered the bill of my cap and a started to dig deep for this next climb. Running up and down the trail jumping over roots and rocks, I found myself with a grin, as i emerged from the dense forest. We had made it to timberline, and the view was amazing. 360 degree views of the most breathtaking mountains, I thought to myself, "THIS is it, THIS is why I run". When I am up high in the mountains and on trail I feel at home. Its the time when i feel the most like myself. Goosebumps covered my entire self, grinning ear to ear I ran up the rest of the climb. 
I was at the top, I paused took a minute to enjoy this beautiful moment, then bombed down the other side of the pass. Jumping off rocks and sprinting through berms, I made my descent down the steep mountain. The backside of the mountain was covered with thousands of wild flowers, blue, red, purple,green, yellow, the colors were like an explosion of motivation for my soul. 
I reached the bottom dipped my hat in a stream, ran down another little pass, slapping hands and giving daps to people who were on their way back up from the 25 mile turn around. 
As I made it into the turn around my legs were a bit tired, so i made it to the aid station and grabbed my drop bag. I ate some Saquito, shot a 5hour, and grabbed some more toilet paper. And i was off.. 
Cruising back over two passes and through the 50K aid station i was cruising a 7 and half minute pace, and felt really good. I knew that rain was in the forecast for the afternoon, so when i got to the next aid at mile 36.5 I grabbed a trash bag, tossed it over my head and was gone. I approached the long 3+ mile uphill just as the rain began, at first the rain came down as a nice refreshing mist and soon turned into a down pour. Once again i pulled down the bill of my cap and pushed hard up this hill. About a mile from the top the sun peaked out of the clouds illuminating all the colors of nature. The colors of the flowers looked more vibrant and the green leaves of the trees blew me away. The rain was a blessing, I appreciated it as did the flowers and trees. 
The sun was out rejuvenating me, as I chatted with my new friend Megan. We talked about the ultra running world and how we could change the world. :) 
Before we knew it we at the top...10 more miles... all downhill. Before I started the descent I popped a a SCap, a GU, and downed some water, then dove head first into the ole pain cave. 
I ran as hard as I possibly could, over little rollers, across puddles and through aid stations. My quads were on fire, and my calves were completely tight and locked up, as my stomach did flips. It felt as if i was looking through a straw for the last miles. I remember talking to my friend Micah for those last 10 miles, our conversation was beautiful and the moment was surreal. Nothing mattered at that point, pain was secondary, dehydration didn't exist, and nothing could stop our final push to the finish. We passed about 10-15 people on my way down making up about 15 minutes over 10 miles. Of all the times of the day THIS was our time. Finally crossing under the arch to the final down hill of the race i knew i was about 100 yards from the finish. I stopped at the top of the hill, to thank Micah, the earth, and myself for such a powerful, positive and beautiful day. Then ran as hard as possible down the hill ignoring the cramping and pain that filled body, I sprinted faster than i did all day as my eyes locked in on the red carpet that welcomes all the finishers of Leadville. I crossed the finish in 9 hours and 30 minutes... 1 hour and 28 minutes faster than the previous year.
This was a beautiful day full of positivity and beauty. Thank you to all the volunteers, runners, and supporters, without you this race would not have been what it was.....
Run Free!