I have been processing my experience at the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run this year and am only now at a place where it is making sense to me and I have some good ideas on what's next.
Simply put, the race was a disaster. I have had my fair share of really good races and this wasn't among them. Coming into Twin Lakes outbound (mile 40), I was experiencing kneecap pain and low energy. Not sure why I had such low energy. My knee pain started in March and plagued me into May, but I had thought that it was well behind me by the time the summer rolled around. As I sat there in Twin Lakes on race day, I told my crew I was dropping. I will fight through a lot but not knee issues. My crew encouraged me to keep going so, after getting in some calories, I headed out for the big trek up Hope Pass.
About halfway up the mountain, my knee was not in a good place. It didn't help that I had experienced horrendous cramps in my calves after crossing the river, right before the climb starts. When you have those kinds of cramps, a lot can come unraveled (physically speaking). Going up Hope, I vacillated on whether or not to drop. I was with a friend of mine, Jon, who was also running the race, and he encouraged me to stay in the game. Finally, about 500 vertical feet below the Hopeless aid station, I made the call to drop. So I turned around and hobbled back down the mountain. That trek back down the mountain and into Twin Lakes sucked. Not only did it physically hurt, but it absolutely sucked mentally.
As my crew was waiting for me in Winfield (mile 50), I hung out in Twin Lakes for several hours, until they came and picked me up. Thanks to Jon for delivering word to them when he arrived in Winfield (there is zero mobile phone reception in Winfield). Just thinking about the whole experience makes me almost physically ill.
Driving back to the cabin, I vowed to never go back to the Leadville 100. This year, like no other year, I have felt old, slow and a bit broken. And while I am not yet sure I will go back, I am more open to it now than I was in the immediate aftermath.
Several friends have told me to relax expectations on myself. They say I put too much pressure on myself in these races. That all sounds good, and there's probably some truth to it. I used to be a decent runner. I had high expectations for myself and I often realized those expectations. Not anymore.
My knee is much better. I have been doing some weight training and cross-training and keeping my mileage at a reasonable level as it heals. I am going to run a 50K this weekend if my knee is good. Another issue I'm dealing with is a likely strained abdominal muscle. Not fun. To run the 50K this weekend, that injury also needs to be in a good place.
So this year has kind of sucked. I have considered running Javelina to keep myself alive in the Western States lottery but have decided not to do that. My body needs a rest. No more 100s until at least next summer. I am letting go of the dream of a second Western States buckle.
Hope you had a great summer!