Let’s play a little catch up. Leadville. Again. Surprise surprise. We love that area. This second weekend was for racing though and it was almost two weeks ago now. We Were up and on our way to Leadville bright and early on Saturday the 2nd for the Turquoise Lake 1/2 marathon!
Don’t be surprised by this but I always go through prior year results when getting ready for a race. I like to see what other people had done, I usually know a few of the top finishers and can gauge how tough a course is by their finish times. It also let’s me know if I’ll be able to contend for a top spot or not! So, looking back over the last 5 or so years, one name was consistent. Marco Peinado. I knew he’d be back since he lives in Leadville. I had seen him at a few races the last year as well.
CC and I got to the start with about an hour to spare. It’s good knowing we can get to Leadville in about an hour and forty minutes. Cruisin! We pick up our packets and kills some time before heading to the start. We aren’t exactly sure what to expect for the course, we just know there is a ton of climb in the first 5 or so miles around the lake. We take off up hill to the ring of a shotgun. Marco goes out at the front but not too fast and I stick right on him. He made a surge though and I was the only other to go with him. I knew he’d run this many times and that I wouldn’t have a chance on the uphills so I had to just stay as close as possible. We broke away early and pushed the hills and I kept a 10 to 20 second gap behind him. It’s all I could do and hope for! 10,200′ is no joke, especially for a half marathon where you should feel like you’re running top gear the whole time.
A few miles in we hit our first downhill, we’d probably climbed 300 feet to this point and we quickly descended the same and I pulled back up on his shoulder. Had to keep it close. The next climb was going to be brutal and 2x or 3x as long! As we make the ascent, I take my first gel and hold on for the ride. I never look back to see where 3rd is but I have a feeling someone is within a minute. Turns out it was Stephen Gartside, a Newton runner we met the week before on Powerline. It’s such a fun thing when you see people a few times a month that you had never met before but know you’ll see again. Running has such a great community. We seemed to climb forever, probably a good mile and a half or 2 miles. I was still holding on to my 15 to 25 second gap to first and knew I had to push on the downhill whenever it came.
We finally summit and I feel a little tired. Surprise! Welcome to running hard in Leadville. I don’t have the spring in my step that I usually do on the downhills. I was glad to have a handheld bottle tho. It was getting hot. I knew Marco didn’t and wondered if it would be an advantage. I very slowly started reeling him in but not until we hit the first aid station at 7.5 when we hit the trail at Mayqueen campground. From here it’s all single track (same trail as the 100) back to the Matchless boat ramp.
I knew I was in trouble at this point. All my hopes of holding on and making a move on the trail were done as soon as we hit the first short climb on the trail. My legs were dead! I was just hoping to hang on at this point. It’s a good 5. 5 miles to the finish. I had no clue if I was losing ground or not since the trees keep you from seeing too far. I had my second gel at the aid station and hoped it might give me a little help. Luckily it did! I was able to start moving a bit faster as we wound around the lake and finally caught sight of Marco again, maybe 30 meters up. Good to know I hadn’t run as bad as I felt! I just had to stay strong and who knows what would happen.
We finally make it to the second aid station and a bunch of his family is there and I can hear them talking, telling him I’m close. He makes a quick move as we pass through and it’s all I can do to hang on! I yell as we go through, “I just can’t catch him!”. They laugh. I knew unless he blew up, I was going to finish second. I had no kick. I had no chance at closing that gap. We kept running through the trails. I knew this section really well since we just camped here the week before and ran it a few times. We definitely were pushing harder now with only a few miles to go but it was tough. We were both hurting. I pretty much gave up hope of over taking him miles back so it was a matter of giving him a good race and feeling like we competed the whole way! Finally see a few flags leading us up some stairs to the finish area. What? Stairs? While running? You know I fell on those. It was inevitable! I can run down stairs at full speed but up is hard. Don’t laugh. Next is a lap, maybe 300 meters around the parking lot, to the finish line. Finally made it!
We chat for a bit after and realized we were both hurting for most of the race! Obviously. It’s hard but such a fun course. I’ll be back for sure. I went up the trail a little to find Courtney and didn’t have to wait long. She finished well too! Tougher course than we thought!
My stats: 2nd Place overall, 1:25:52. Just 15 seconds back.
We actually had a few pictures in the local paper too. Pretty fun to see! Link to it here.
The rain and wind rolled in as we were waiting for awards. It was crazy how fast the storm moved in over Mt. Massive to the west. We eventually headed out and wanted to get warm and find some lunch so we ended up at the Golden Burro. Good, cheap food and it’s always a top choice of ours in town. We hang out for over an hour waiting for the rain to clear so we can try and set up camp or find a hotel. It was clear by 2 pm and we were thankful! It was ridiculously nice out. We headed back to the lake and decided to find a pay site instead of a place along Halfmoon Rd. It was awesome. Plenty of room and a bit better sites than at Baby Doe the week before. Camp gets set up and it’s nap time for a while. We were beat!
We eventually get moving again, do the usual camp stuff like fishing (Court caught a fish!) and fires and cooking. A really relaxing night topped off by smores! Couldn’t have asked for a better night. We had an early bed time as usual when camping; as soon as the sun goes down it’s time to call it a day!
Fish Hatchery 5k
The next morning was the 2nd part of our race weekend. If you signed up for the 1/2, you got to do the 5k the next day for free! $30, two races. Can’t beat it! This one is at the Fish Hatchery, the second aid station of the Leadville 100. This time though, it was a cross country style 5k on the trails behind the hatchery that I didn’t even know existed. I knew this one would be tough. Marco warned me about this 14 minute 5k guy that runs this race so I knew I was going to be a bit farther back today. My legs were still sore and I had no idea what to expect!
We started of to the sound of a shotgun again and take off up the hill. This course was going to be good, I could tell. Lots of turns and climbing in the first 2 miles and some fun single track on the way down. The first guy was off the front from the beginning. Marco was a bit closer but I knew I couldn’t compete today so I was content in 3rd. Just finish! This was a really fun day, even if it was slow and hard. Finished in 3rd about 10 seconds back. Great day!
My Stats: 3rd Place – 20:18
I thought it was funny my pace for the 5k was the same as the half the day before. Oh well, it was a great weekend! Definitely recommend these races for the future, just know it is going to be tough!
**As always, thanks to Runners Roost, Point6, Mizuno and Honey Stinger for all the help and support! Check these companies out!