Leadville 100 Race Report

Hope Pass #2
Photo: Sandra Carpenter
Another Leadville in the books and finally a race I feel like I gave it my all and my body delivered. What was different this year? What did I do differently? I ran. I ran. A. Lot! A lot more than I have in previous 100s. And I ate. A. Lot. And I suffered better. When I say it like that it sounds simple. Eat, run and suffer. A lot. And that's all there is...

The week leading up to Leadville felt really hectic. Lots of appointments, my parents came in to town to help with the kids, I was up late cooking so the kids had food, by the looks of my kitchen you would have thought I was planning to be racing for days! Even getting to Leadville was hectic. We didn't get up there until Friday afternoon and when I double checked packet pickup it said 7-10AM! So in a panicked dash I ran up to Leadville to drop off drop bags and beg for my packet. I mean I couldn't be the only one to get to Leadville after 10 right? They ended up having another pickup at 5:00 so we had some time to kill after doing drop bags. James threw a fit about riding in the stroller so I parked it by the packet pickup and we wandered around for a bit finally I got my packet, we loaded up and headed back to BV. With the kids it seemed easier to stay there than in Leadville. 

We got back, I scarfed down a hamburger, tried to get all the kids stuff unpacked and them to bed so I could sit down at some point. As I was looking for my keys, I could only find my spare, I came to the horrible realization that my keys were in the back of the stroller that was still sitting in Leadville. Thankfully it's Leadville so it was still there when Dan went back to get it. Needless to say I didn't sleep much before that 2:15 wake up. 
Coming down off Powerlines

I got to the starting line and was surprisingly not too nervous. This wasn't my first rodeo and I knew what lay ahead. I lined up way closer to the front than I felt comfortable but I knew this was where I belonged. And based on the fact that I didn't get passed by a ton of people it was the right place. It was pretty chilly so I had my sleeves over my watch which probably ended up being one of my best decisions. It's a huge pain to pull my sleeve back to check my time so I only checked to see where I was at when I went through an aid station. My plan from the start until Twin was to keep the heart rate low and running easy. I didn't wear a HR monitor but I'm a pretty good judge of where I'm at without it. A few people blew by me on the Boulevard and while it was tempting to chase them I kept repeating...you'll see them on Hope, you'll see them on Hope...and I did. I actually ran alone most of he way around Turquiose which was a strange feeling, but it allowed me to just run the pace I needed for my race. I got to Mayqueen checked my watch, 2:09 my goal was 2:10, I had carried extracalories so I just refilled and didn't even bother to drop my head lamp. As I left the AS someone yelled out 6th woman and I cringed. Way too early in the race for me to know or think about this. 

Cow pasture
Mayqueen to Outward Bound was more of the same. Steady on the climb, listen to my heart rate and keep calories coming in. Even down Powerlines I didn't let it rip, I needed to keep the quads intact for awhile longer. I got to Outward Bound in 4:18 my goal was 4:10 but I realized I had misjudged how much further the AS is then when I ran in 2013 so I figured really I was pretty close. I cruised through this AS pretty quick. Nick and Allisa were there so I gave a quick wave and kept moving.  I had prepared myself for the 'cow pasture' but was surprised how easy it actually was. Then a couple quick miles on the road, a right on to the trail, I swear I could do this in my sleep, but I distinctly remember this turn because in 2012 Rob and JB were there with high fives and in 2013 I was pumping here. For some reason this section seemed really fast this year. I ran every step which probably had a lot to do with it. The next thing I knew the road turned left and we were cruising through Treeline. This was my first crew point and James came charging out yelling mama! Totally made my day. A couple quick hugs and kisses and promises to see him real soon. I refilled my calories here so I could just cruise through Half Pipe. In fact I didn't even have a drop bag for Half Pipe. In the past I felt like I waited forever to get my bag here and all I was going to need was calories so easier just to carry extras. I did slam a couple cokes and then just kept running. My pace was spot on and I knew I'd make Twin right on time around 7:15. 

The section to Twin is one of my favorites. I love running through the aspens and this year did not disappoint. It's a super gradual uphill so I made sure to reign myself in. Every uphill I asked myself will you run this hill in the last 30? I walked a couple of these but mostly I ran everything to Elbert. At Elbert it was starting to heat up so even though it's only 3 miles to Twin I refilled my water and took off running. Before I knew it I was on the steep decent into the AS with an ear to ear grin knowing I was rocking my splits. 
Heading off to tackle Hope

I quickly saw Dan and my Dad and they pointed out where the crew was. I grabbed some coke while they refilled my bottle with calories and stuffed extra calories and chews into my handheld. More quick hugs and kisses for the boys and then I was off. I knew Hope would be the make it or break it section for my race. Coming into Twin I'd been told I was in everything from 4th to 10th place all of which I tried to ignore. 

I easily ran across the meadows pushing the pace a bit knowing I wouldn't be running for awhile. As soon as we got to the no vehicles sign I knew that was my sign to go into hike mode and immediately switched gears. I was also planning to try to get as many calories in on the lower section as I could and I nailed that pretty good. The climb was actually pretty uneventful. I stayed steady and just kept pressing on. And for maybe the first time in my short 100 career I passed more runners on a climb than passed me! For someone who's climbing is not their strength this was huge! My stomach also didn't completely fall apart. Around 11,800' I had to back off the pace a bit and couldn't get any calories down. But as soon as I crested the pass and began running down I started getting calories in again. Another huge milestone was only Max King passed me on the front side! I cruised pretty easily down the backside and made the right turn to head to Winfield. I forgot how uphill this section is and ended up hiking more of it than I would have liked. 
Hope #1
Photo: Patrick Nguyen

At Winfield I picked up Sandra, she filled my bottles while I chugged some Coke and then we were off. That's the one other thing I really did pretty well, was my AS stops were all super efficient and there was no wasted time. I tried to run as much of the first section as I could. I was really not looking forward to this climb back up over Hope and wanted it over as soon as I could so in my mind getting through the rolling section got me to the top faster. As soon as we started climbing I felt like I was barely at a shuffle. I must have been moving better than I thought because I think maybe one person passed us. I just kept reminding myself, it's a short climb, keep moving, don't stop and before long we were at the top. Coming back getting calories was the same story, once I hit about 11,800' I wasn't getting anything in. But for the first time I also didn't puke and lose any calories. I think the key for me was backing off the pace every time I felt my stomach start to go. I hated going that slow but in the end I was probably faster because of it. 

We hit the top and I started letting the legs go and really running. I knew I still had a long way to go and didn't want to totally destroy my legs but I did run this downhill pretty hard. When we hit the meadows I didn't stop I just kept going. I knew we were ahead of schedule but then Sandra commented she hoped Dan would even be there. I really wasn't worried. I had all my gear planned as if I wouldn't have crew. With two littles you never know so you have to plan to be independent. I cruised into Twin 40 min ahead of schedule and had done the double crossing in 6:20!  In 2013 it took me almost 8:00 so this was a huge improvement. Plus secretly I wanted to see how close to 6 hr I could do it. 
Back into Twin with Sandra

At Twin I had to stop to change socks. They were filled with crap from the river crossing and one thing I've learned if you get something in your shoe that you 'notice' fix it right away or the chance that it will lead to issues later is significant. After Twin was where I made my only significant mistake of the race. I miscalculated the Elbert AS...how long it would take to get there and just that I could refill calories here. At Twin I should have grabbed enough calories to refill both at Elbert and Half Pipe but I only packed enough for one of those. The game plan was steady and strong on the climb but not to overdo it. I felt like I nailed this pretty well. But by the time I got to Elbert I was done with my first bottle of calories and the chews weren't going down as well anymore. In retrospect I should have refilled calories here but I just filled water and waited until Half Pipe for the calories. It's a gradual, rolling downhill so we flew pretty quickly through this section, but I could tell I was getting bonky. By the time we hit Half Pipe I was dizzy and starting to get teary. I know well enough now that as soon as I feel like this I need calories. As many as I can get in. Nothing is wrong I just need sugar. So I quickly filled my bottle, downed 3 or 4 cokes and headed off for the two miles to Treeline. I honestly had no idea if Sandra and Dan were switching pacing duties here or at Outward Bound, but I was really looking forward to seeing Dan. I had built in some buffer time in this section giving myself 45 min for two miles and we were moving way faster than that. We came cruising into Treeline still about 40 min ahead of pace and Dan was barely ready to go. 

Heading up to Elbert with Sandra
Still running...
I was stoked to have made it here without a light so far but it would be dark before we got to Outward Bound and we had the road section so I put on my light and a long sleeve, refilled my calories and off Dan and I went. We made great time getting to Outward Bound where I had planned to gear up for night. I changed into my Hoka Challengers, buff, gloves and tights, in retrospect I should have waited until Mayqueen for these as I was way too hot on the climb, grabbed more calories and coke and once again we were off. The extra calories had paid off and I had left the bonkiness behind without any terrible effects. I still wouldn't let myself think about place, although I knew I was somewhere around 6-8th. Some people like to count the false summits on Powerlines but it just throws me off wondering do they consider that a false summit? Or maybe this one? Instead I know the first section is steep but after that there's some runnable flats and before you know it Space Station is there. I just cruised through ready to get running downhill again. Steady, steady, steady...all day and all night and before long we crossed the fourth bridge and hit the road. I just ran right through Mayqueen as Dan stopped to refill bottles and eat. He seriously eats more crap while pacing than anyone I've ever met. At this point I was really slowing down though. I tried not to walk much but we got passed by a couple people, including one girl, and I just didn't have much more in me. But quicker than I had anticipated we reached the quiet cheers of Boat Ramp. I tried doing the math in my head but it was pretty foggy. I knew sub-23 was out but I was pretty sure sub-24 was a real possibility. I didn't want to risk it by slowing down so I just tried to keep forcing the running. Then there's that damn mini Powerlines as I like to call it. It's short but brutal on tired legs. I cursed as I half hobbled half ran this section doing everything I could to stay upright. For as boring as the race really had been for me this is where it got interesting. Just before we hit Sugarloafin I see this guy step out of the dark and yell wanna get peed on? And then start peeing and swinging around madly. Dan starts to take off after him, I'm screaming get back here I am NOT bailing you out of jail tonight. Don't you dare get me DQ'd or I swear... Finally the guy got back in his four wheeler and took off and Dan rejoined me. 

At this point my headlamp was almost completely dead I didn't want to tell Dan because the last thing I wanted was to waste time changing batteries. I was ready to be done. So I tried to stay in his light as much as possible. Until he got a few steps ahead in the cobble section by the train tracks. Next thing I knew I was brushing myself off and Dan was yelling what the hell are you doing? So we switched lights and just kept going. We were maybe half a mile from the Boulevard where it's smooth enough you can get away without a light. 

As the orange light from 6th street began to appear on the horizon I finally let myself believe I was actually going to go sub-24!! And then I saw the girl who had passed me around the lake. I knew I could get her back but I wanted to be sure when I passed her it would be for good this time. And it was. Shortly after I passed her we turned onto 6th and I knew I had it. I ran the red carpet and hugged Merilee to make my race finish official. 23:40...my splits exactly and 7th woman! I never let myself doubt I could do it but I was also never totally convinced it was possible either. But here I was amidst a group of really fast, solid women finishing 7th at Leadville! 

I know no matter what you do sometimes races, especially 100s aren't always going to go perfectly according to plan. But this time it really did. I stuck to my plan, the day gave me everything I needed it to and in the end I had a nearly spot on race. 

A huge thanks to my pacers and crew, Dan and Sandra, my parents for watching the boys, and to Pearl Izumi and Nuun for supporting my crazy races and keeping me healthy throughout. 
My awesome crew


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I definitely read your tips for big buckling at least 100 times the week of the race...they were a huge help!


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