Greetings from sunny Florida...... yeah right! If there's anything I've learned from running ultras is that plans should be flexible and to expect the unexpected. We arrived here in Orlando on Monday along with Hurricane/T.S. Fay. It seems as though I brought the fowl weather with me from Leadville. The great thing is that I get to spend quality time with the family in the hotel room as Fay passes over.
Believe it or not as I heard the weather report for Leadville I was happy - happy because only the toughest survive in austere conditions usually separating the contenders from pretenders. 560 some odd signed up for Leadville this year but I heard numbers in the 300's that showed up at the start line. Of that only 42% finished (186), one of the lowest finishing rate in Leadville history.
As I checked into the race I mingled with other runners and friends, several of which had asked me if I thought I could win since Tony Krupicka was not running. I realize I've been running strong but I never consider winning any race, I only think about running against my own ghost and beating down the demons that try to take me down. I'm never the most talented runner in a race (including Leadville) so I quickly pooh-poohed anyone who put me in that position. I told anyone who asked my expectation was only to get a PR on the course. My previous in 2006 was 21.27 so I would be happy with anything less, especially considering the conditions.
I recognized several names to include: Duncan Callahan, Zeke Teirnan, Andy Skruka, and Rick Hessek, who are all talented runners and would be tough to hang with over 100 myles. The only one of the four that had proved themselves at 100 myles was Rick Hessek and usually comes on strong late.
Before I begin my recollection of the race I want you all to know that I had a TREMENDOUS support crew in Leadville, no different than any other 100 but the conditions made for a miserable time for the crew. Aric Manning (friend and Pearl Izumi/Smith team manager) flew out from Utah to lead up my crew. His role included going on a training run with me around the lake on Thursday, putting up with my erratic state on Friday, waking up at 2 a.m. to get me to the start line, go to every possible aid station, pace me from Twin Lakes to Fish, meet me at the finish line, and then basically dress/undress me in my delusional state after the race . Next is my father in law, Rick Robinson -talk about solid as a rock! Rick called me on Friday and said he was driving out to help out in any way shape or form. I couldn't believe it! Driving 8 hours, sleeping in his car, and driving around to all the aid stations with Aric to make sure that all my needs were taken care of. Rick has been to almost every race I have ever done in 5 years. He has seen me at my worst - he has seen at my best. He knows how to gage my state as I enter the aid stations. Needless to say I was well taken care of. In addition I'd like to give a big "thank you" to Brian Fisher for not only being a good friend but also for putting me, my crew, and my family up in his cabin! My wife, kids, and mom all came up late Saturday to show their support but because of the bad weather I only wanted them to spectate but their support is just as vital.
At 4 a.m. on Saturday it wasn't raining all that hard but it didn't matter because I knew at some point it would. I ran down the boulevard with about 20 runners and some of us were talking, trying to make everyone laugh but most people seemed to be in a bad mood. Joe Kulak was running right next to me and began to feel ill down the boulevard. Joe flew in from Philly the day before so from 0 ft to 10,000 ft altitude in 10 hours can have that effect on anyone but Joe is the only one that I know of that can endure that state for 20 + hours. As we rounded the lake my stomach was upset thus I had to bolt into the bathroom. Next I twisted my ankle (again) as we approached May Queen and then had to stop at the bathroom again. I made it to May Queen in 1.48, which is what I wanted. After that the only other split that I really wanted to hit was Winfield.
For the next 20 or so myles I was running with Zeke Tiernan and Duncan Callahan. A couple more stops in the bathroom which is not normal for me so something wasn't right in the stomach. It rained off and on for the Colorado trail segment and I started to get a little wet underneath. I felt strong as I sat behind those two, hoping that they would battle and tire out. Turns out they both were strong all day and ran very smart.
As efficient as my crew was I only spent about 10 minutes in all aid stations. Having said that, I left Twin lakes in 1st place and that is something I didn't want. I have a tendency to overdo it because I'm feeling good and don't want to disappoint. I climbed Hope with Andy Skruka at a very rapid pace. Little did I know that Andy was an extraordinary fast hiker (great western loop). I got to Winfield in 8.40, which was about 5 minutes faster than I wanted to so I slowed up a bit and cruised down Winfield road. Then it all started to happen....
Last time I ran Leadville, the wheels literally came off on Hope inbound. And just like last time I slowed down but didn't realize how slow I was going until 4 runners (and their pacers) passed me towards the top of Hope, all within 3 minutes. I had loaded up on potatoes and gels so I knew that I wouldn't feel bad for long. By the time I got to Twin lakes I was starting to feel better but the legs felt dead and the stomach still wasn't right.
Aric picked me up and really helped me keep the pace by having me run all the flats and downs and hike fast on the ups. I really needed that! By the time Aric dropped me off at Fish Hatchery I was feeling much better and was hoping to have some magic left in the legs.... didn't happen. I realized that in order for me to go under 20 hours I would have to smoke the last 23 myles. By the time I got to the top of power line I knew that was out of reach so from this point on I cruised in. Although when I left May Queen I had thought I heard a runner coming in and so I gave it an all out effort to the boat ramp - 57 minutes.
In the end, 5th place with a time of 20.29. I'm extremely satisfied with the result! Those 4 out in front of me ran solid all the way in. I thought for sure someone would blow up but they ran very smart and I congratulate all of them! In fact, I congratulate all who finished! This race basically concludes my racing year for 2008. I've done some solid running and feel like I have evolved into a better Scott Jaime. Not only in the form of running but as a father, husband, son, and friend. I appreciate all those around me who have supported me in any way - you all help me become who I am. I will be there any time you call upon me