As a coach I always ask to my athletes to plan every single race some weeks (or months) before. I think this is a MUST when you are training for a goal.
Sometimes, in the past, I have decided to race in a 5 K or 10 K just the day before. I have run just for training and this type of race are not too long or too stressful for your body. But I had never thought to decide to race a trail marathon (42 km, 1900 m D+) the day before. Ok, I trained a lot during the spring and I could run this distance without any problem.
Last Friday I was working in the office when, I don’t know why and how, I ran into a website… “Leadville trail marathon“… I didn’t know this race but I knew Leadville and I would to go there for some hiking/running sooner or later. What a better excuse to go up there!!!! I thought that this was a “sign of fate”.
In 5′ I decided to race. The registration was closed, but I could register the day after, at the race start. I posted on FB and wrote an e-mail to the trail-running group, to find a ride (I don’t have a car here in Boulder). I was sure that someone from Boulder went there. In fact, after 10′ I got an e-mail…I had a ride 🙂
On Saturday I got up at 3.45, I rode my bike for 15′ to the parking lot at Southern Sun and I waited for Joy and Andrew. I was excited to race above 10,000 ft (3100 m).
It was my “highest” race ever.
After 2 hours we got to Leadville, a lovely city in the “far west”. I went to register and pick up my bib, then I had breakfast (bread, Nutella and cookies, of course). At 8.00 am was the start. More than 500 people chose the full marathon. More than 500 people chose the half marathon! It was a BIG race!!!
I knew that my shape wasn’t good, I was there just for fun and I didn’t care about the result. So I started slowly, I didn’t know the guys in the leading group and I only thought to my race. My legs were heavy because of a workout on a steep treadmill a couple of days before so the first uphill for me was tough. After the first 2 miles there was a short downhill, which was good to recover and to choose the right pace to keep in the next uphill. I passed the first aid station (mile 6, 13th place) with good feeling, and the next downhill gave me more motivation. I kept going with a good pace until the mile 10 (aid station #2, 10th place), just before the long uphill to the Mosquito Pass. The uphill to the Mosquito Pass was steep (and it was above 12,000 ft), I walked a lot, but I caught and passed a couple of guy. In the last part I had good feeling (13,200 ft). I started the downhill very fast, in the first technical part I was flying. I caught two guys (and then I was in 5th place). Unfortunately, after that downhill, there were two more uphills… short, but steep. After the 18th miles I bonked, I felt bad, I had nausea and I couldn’t drink or eat. “WTF, I was running fast and feeling good. I was doing a great race even if I didn’t prepare it“… and maybe this is WHY I bonked!! I tried to keep going fast, but also in the downhill I could not push hard. My muscles sore, my head was somewhere else. But I was happy (don’t ask me why). I finished the race in 12th place, loosing about 20′ in the last 6 miles.
Michael Aish won the race with an amazing time of 3h31′. But he is not a “normal” athlete. He os a former Olympian (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) and he is now one of the best trail runners in US. Was great to race with him!
My biggest mistake was that I did not eat enough in the first part. When I started bonking, it was too late to recover and save energy.
At the end was a tough day, but when I crossed the finish line I was so happy to be there. I enjoyed every single meter of the race. I looked around when I was running uphill and I thought about all those people who do not go out in the nature because they are lazy (“WTF, move your f***ing ass out from that f***ing couch!!”). Then, a couple of beers, a good burrito, and I was (almost) ready for the next one…
This was my last race in US. In one week I will be back to Italy. I’m gonna miss this mountains (even if Dolomites are better ;)) but above all I’m gonna miss the Colorado people. I don’t know if there is any other place in the world where you can find so many people who run or ride. I don’t know if there is any other place in the world where you write a post on FB the day before a race and you can find a ride with a person who you don’t know and that you have never met before! This is Boulder, this is Colorado!! I love it!!!
PS: finally, after six months in US, I decided to write a post in English…maybe I should stay longer!!
Picture “Mosquito Pass” credit http://www.staythetrail.org
Race picture credit http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com
Featured image credit http://www.coloradoguy.com