I arrived at Winfield and like everyone else was immediately shuttled over to a scale where I was found to be five pounds down from my starting weight or 199. I was feeling hot and tired and was worried because I had gotten hints that my left calf was starting to give out. I headed into the aid tent where several runners were sitting and looking beleaguered but I was immediately intercepted and the GeekGrl, Tim and Jane took me over to a special place they had set up for me out in the open air. The GeekGrl explained to me that it was stifling hot in that aid tent and I needed the breeze. Meanwhile Tim appeared by my side holding a giant umbrella over my head to shade me from the mid-day sun and then the GeekGrl appeared again with a cool, damp cloth and wiped down my legs, arms and face. I swear wouldn’t have been surprised had a group of guys with large feather fans arrived on the scene and while that never happened Jane appeared with some spray on sunscreen since she noticed I was getting a little red.
So, as I said, they sat me down and immediately went to work. Aside from what has already been mentioned my time at Winfield was fairly mysterious. I may have changed shirts, I felt some ice at one point and I know I drank some Coke or possibly Sprite. What was left of my focus was on the clock. I did have the presence of mind to ask for my compression socks in the hope that they would help hold my calf together for the rest of the race and they were immediate produced and pressed into service. I wanted to get out of the Winfield aid station no later than 12 hours and 30 minutes into the race and as I departed with my first pacer Tim it was 11 hours and 58 minutes into the race.
The remaining 50 miles of Leadville was a demonstration in just how valuable a good crew and pacers can be. Tim and I walked and jogged back down the Winfield road toward Hope Pass and we chatted about various things, none of which I remember, but I do remember that he was immediately taking stock of my nutrition and hydration. Having just fueled up a bit in Winfield I was doing ok but he knew I was five pounds down. We began the steep climb up the inbound side of Hope Pass and at first I was passing a couple people here and there but as the incline steepened and the heat started getting to me again my progress slowly ground to a halting creep. As with my earlier climb on the outbound direction I knew this would happen and so having trains of people going by was not surprising nor demoralizing.
This, by the way, is a huge change for me. I often get on the pity-pot and lament how so many “small” people have so much less weight to carry than I. I tell myself if I were to weigh 30, 40, 70 or 100 pounds less I could cruise on uphill too but instead here I am engaged in the Sisyphean task of dragging my big butt up a mountainside. Physics aside this line of thought is really a load of crap. It changes nothing and it does not get me where I need to go one microsecond earlier. I told myself a million times “I need to race MY Leadville 100 not anyone else’s.” I am pretty sure I told Tim this numerous times as well and am amazed he didn’t ditch me in the woods somewhere or just slap me silly on some dark and lonely trail.
In any case, it was on this inbound climb that I could begin to see some of the human wreckage of the day. There were pacers cajoling and consoling their runners along the trail. There was even one pair about a third of the way up the pass where the runner had curled up in a ball on a large flat rock and his pacer was sitting on the other side of the trail staring at him. Tim and I asked if the guy was ok and the pacer just said, yeah, he is just taking a nap. While it isn’t unheard of for a runner to grab a few winks during a 100 mile run it is not a good idea and it is even more unusual to be doing it at such a difficult point in the race, a point that you want to put behind you with all possible speed. Tim and I also continued to see a stream of people still descending Hope. I was wondering how many of these folks would make the cutoffs as they rolled through the night and then I was interrupted by a wave of nausea. I pulled off to the side of the trail and started throwing up. Tim was pretty indifferent and simply waited for me to stop being such a big, pukeing baby and then said, “You should be eating more, here, have a pop tart.” In disbelief I simply replied, “I need to at least wash my mouth out first” to which he said “Ok”, waited a minute and then thrust a piece of pop tart in my face and said without emotion, “here, eat this.”
Tim was very serious about my nutrition; he was possessed by someone’s grandmother and was constantly suggesting that I should eat this or that, drink this or that. At a much later point in the race deep in the night when I tried to scarf down some top ramen and immediately began throwing up again he simply said, “That didn’t work very well. Here, have a pop tart.” I felt I was playing the role of Hansel but since Tim is not blind he could tell whether or not I was fattening up and fatten up I did for when I entered Fish Hatchery I weighed three pounds above my starting weight!
Shortly before Tim finished up his pacing duties at Fish Hatchery he and I stopped at Pipeline where the GeekGrl was waiting and I had my feet re-taped since much had come off and I was developing hot spots on the balls of my feet. However, that was the least of the magic she worked for the GeekGrl had prepared an elixir so potent that even I am not privy to the full recipe. As Tim and I left Pipeline with my secret weapon in hand I regaled him with stories from my time in the Marine Corps and offered up my best effort at a couple Brian Regan bits and he regaled me with, well, with pop tarts and Gatorade.
Ok, I know this is becoming (has been from the second paragraph of the first post) self-indulgent and overly long but I’m having almost as much fun writing the repot as I did doing the race. You can go ahead and throw your virtual tomatoes at me now and I will suffer them with dignity. I will try and wrap this story up tomorrow.