Ready To Go

So, I’ve not been in a writing mood for some time. I think that it took me longer to recover from the South Downs run than I anticipated, and I’ve had a huge amount on at work as well, in addition to persuing another few lines of interest in my life, which I’ll talk about in the future.

Still, excuses aside, I’ve had another race to prepare for and, as Frank Sinatra would say, now the time is near.

My final adventure for 2013 is the Leadville 100 trail run, the fabled Race Across the Sky, so named because of the altitude at which the race is run in the mountains of Colorado, USA, i.e. around the 10,000ft mark. This is the race which was covered extensively in the bestselling book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, a book which acquired almost cult status amongst runners some years ago. The race has a personal connection for me though, because as my regular readers will know it was at Leadville 3 years ago that I had to pull up at 75 miles, experience my first ultra DNF failure, and walk away with a ‘sore’ hip which was later diagnosed as a broken neck of femur (actually, I recall crawling away with the assistance of Liz and our good friend Mike who was helping us at the time).

The route is fairly unchanged from 3 years ago, with only a few modifications having been carried out in the entire 31 years of the race, so I am looking forward to covering it again – my memories of that day and the course have come flooding back, even if I considered that they had been consigned to some back room of my mind in the intervening period, this was such a significant event in my, and Liz’s life, that my recollection upon our return is as fresh as it could possibly be.

To cut a long story short, my physical recovery is over and I am back here in Colorado now with Liz, and it is as if we only left yesterday, the place seems so familiar, we have slotted straight back into relaxation and preparation mode, travelling the streets of Leadville ready for Saturday at 4am when the race starts. I am anticipating that finishing this race should complete my psychological recovery, filling the void left by my DNF and those 25 missing miles which I was unable to carry out on my return journey from the halfway point at Winfield back to Leadville. Ironically, I had already negotiated the difficult part of the course, the 3,400ft climb up Hope Pass to 12,600ft which has to be ascended at both 45 miles and then 55 miles on the return leg, but it had clearly taken it’s toll on my body, and I had to leave ‘buckleless’.

The View from Twin Lakes
Hope Pass from Twin Lakes

So, here I sit, in Twin Lakes, a few hundred feet from where the 40 mile aid station will be located on Saturday, and from the vantage point of our hotel in the village, I can see Hope Pass, perhaps tormenting me, playing a game with my mind, twisting it every way it can to throw off my preparation. My will to complete this race, in under 25 hours to get the ‘coveted’ gold and silver buckle, is far bigger than any mountain can throw at me though! Strong words maybe, but in the end it was not my will that was broken last time, only my leg 🙂

11 thoughts on “Ready To Go”

  1. This really is the ‘big’ one from every point of view.
    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to run (cover) 100 miles in a day, but I am very proud of what you do.
    God speed.

    1. Thanks Dad – That means the world! I do it because I can, and will hopefully continue to do it until I can’t any longer, but all indications are that this could be quite a few years away 🙂

    1. I’ll be walking plenty, especially up that big hill, but the view from the top makes it all worthwhile. Hope you are well.

  2. MSL. Who has ever doubted your will and determination to complete all your races? None.

    It took a broken neck of femur (!!!!) to stop you in your tracks.

    I will never forget the text from you a few miles after you passed the 60 mile checkpoint at Twin Lakes saying you we’re really struggling with your leg. I had seen you limp away, you hadn’t said a word, and it bothered me. Michael and I were waiting for you at Pipeline checkpoint (+-10 miles away) and with a really niggling worry, coaxed you on so we could hopefully ‘attend’ to whatever was halting your excellent pace throughout the previous 60 miles.

    The text a few kilometres later saying you could not walk shocked me and it was only when Michael and I strode out against all the runners heading for Pipeline, to meet you half a kilometre back towards Twin Lakes, that the full extent of your pain became clear. Knowing what I do now, there are times I cannot believe we agreed to attempting to finish the last 25 miles with me pacing you.

    After Michael and I managed to get you to the car at Pipeline, forcing you to lie down, massaging your hip (with hindsight, how laughable), thinking it was a really disagreeable ligament and seeing and feeling your despair at this 75th mile, I was strangely overcome with the same determination you manage to find so often, to get you to that finish line.

    I cannot for the life of me fathom HOW you then, after a massage, stood up, faced the last mountain before the finish, Sugarloaf, and said to me, ‘let’s go’. You bravely held onto me and ‘mind blowingly’ managed another half a kilometre, even having runners ask if you were ok, offering and dispensing pain killers and wishing you on, before that fateful moment when, holding onto you, alongside you as you stumbled and groaned in pain, I almost felt that something inside of you truly break once and for all. That moment of true despair, what it meant, after years of training, the absolute knowledge your race was over, beneath the most glorious starry night sky, seemed surreal. Thank God for Michael, he drove as close to us as he could, bearing in mind we were in the middle of a field and had no option but to still then get you to the road. What agony you must have felt. I mean, what pain threshold does this husband of mine have that he had to have a BROKEN HIP to stop!? I still struggle to understand the strength of mind that belongs to him.

    And now all that is over. It is in the past and I look forward alongside you, to the challenge again. Renewed hope, your character tried and tested in the 2 years that followed, although it needn’t have ever been, and I pray most sincerely I don’t mess up again with your headlamp that I didn’t have for you, my sincerest apologies again ML, in those very dark hours, broken leg and all, trying to head for Pipeline…

    Here we are ML and knowing you, this time you will triumph, God willing, as it is a desire He has set upon you. To push your body and mind to unimaginable limits, back to this 100 mile race, along with a very thin layer of air 10 000 feet up, in which to breathe and a 13 thousand foot mountain which you again, will have to climb back to back…

    I am here for you ML. I see the finish. I see you coming through it triumphant. I see that buckle. May I be an excellent crew for you this time. And most importantly, may God be with you all the way. X xxxx

  3. MSL. Who has ever doubted your will and determination to complete all your races? None.

    It took a broken neck of femur (!!!!) to stop you in your tracks.

    I will never forget the text from you a few miles after you passed the 60 mile checkpoint at Twin Lakes saying you we’re really struggling with your leg. I had seen you limp away, you hadn’t said a word, and it bothered me. Michael and I were waiting for you at Pipeline checkpoint (+-10 miles away) and with a really niggling worry, coaxed you on so we could hopefully ‘attend’ to whatever was halting your excellent pace throughout the previous 60 miles.

    The text a few kilometres later saying you could not walk shocked me and it was only when Michael and I strode out against all the runners heading for Pipeline, to meet you half a kilometre back towards Twin Lakes, that the full extent of your pain became clear. Knowing what I do now, there are times I cannot believe we agreed to attempting to finish the last 25 miles with me pacing you.

    After Michael and I managed to get you to the car at Pipeline, forcing you to lie down, massaging your hip (with hindsight, how laughable), thinking it was a really disagreeable ligament and seeing and feeling your despair at this 75th mile, I was strangely overcome with the same determination you manage to find so often, to get you to that finish line.

    I cannot for the life of me fathom HOW you then, after a massage, stood up, faced the last mountain before the finish, Sugarloaf, and said to me, ‘let’s go’. You bravely held onto me and ‘mind blowingly’ managed another half a kilometre, even having runners ask if you were ok, offering and dispensing pain killers and wishing you on, before that fateful moment when, holding onto you, alongside you as you stumbled and groaned in pain, I almost felt that something inside of you truly break once and for all. That moment of true despair, what it meant, after years of training, the absolute knowledge your race was over, beneath the most glorious starry night sky, seemed surreal. Thank God for Michael, he drove as close to us as he could, bearing in mind we were in the middle of a field and had no option but to still then get you to the road. What agony you must have felt. I mean, what pain threshold does this husband of mine have that he had to have a BROKEN HIP to stop!? I still struggle to understand the strength of mind that belongs to him.

    And now all that is over. It is in the past and I look forward alongside you, to the challenge again. Renewed hope, your character tried and tested in the 2 years that followed, although it needn’t have ever been, and I pray most sincerely I don’t mess up again with your headlamp that I didn’t have for you, my sincerest apologies again ML, in those very dark hours, broken leg and all, trying to head for Pipeline…

    Here we are ML and knowing you, this time you will triumph, God willing, as it is a desire He has set upon you. To push your body and mind to unimaginable limits, back to this 100 mile race, along with a very thin layer of air 10 000 feet up, in which to breathe and a 13 thousand foot mountain which you again, will have to climb back to back…

    I am here for you ML. I see the finish. I see you coming through it triumphant. I see that buckle. May I be an excellent crew for you this time. And most importantly, may God be with you all the way. X xxxx

    1. Thanks MSL – Thank you for all your support over the last 3 years – I would not be back here without all the help, love and support you have given me. That buckle is as much for you as it is for me 🙂 xxxx

  4. I can’t believe I missed you and Liz out in Leadville! I was out there crewing for a friend and all the crazy San Antonians. I can’t wait to hear how the race was for you. Great job to Liz for dealing with the aid station traffic. Good grief! It was incredible.

    1. That’s a shame Liza; it would’ve been good to catchup! Yes, Liz did well – we had a hotel in Twin Lakes so had a ‘pass’ for the day which helped immensely! Hope your friend did well and you enjoyed the event from the other side – I’ve no doubt you’ll be back next year?

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