Power Up

After arriving at 10,000 feet my brother welcomed me to his 2nd home by sending me up Powerline, part of the LT100 course. Thanks.

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I’ve never ran this section before but have heard of the crippling wrath it lays on its visitors. Like… my brother getting an ass crack full of gels or my brother laying in the fetal position on the side of the trail while JP dressed him. I didn’t want any part of that!

It looks steep from afar, and real steep from the base.

Leadville 100 - Powerline Climb

TL, B, EJ,and I set out. I was told to go 3.5 miles to the top then turn around. TL took off while B and EJ hung back. I was left to make my way up the numerous false summits alone, which was perfectly fine. I needed all my lung capacity to keep my body moving instead of talking. I just let my mind wander and take in the scenery. I started running and after about 5 minutes, it was time to hike. I had to let my lungs catch back up. After 5 minutes of walking, I was ready to get back to a run/hike to the top! I was excited to get to run a new piece of the course I’d never even seen before.

TL came cruising back down when I had less than 3/4 mile to go. Good sign I wasn’t lost even though the course flags were already up and it would have been hard to veer off course on this trail. I got to 3.5 miles but it didn’t seem like the “top”. I didn’t want to have my experience jipped by a false summit, so I kept going about another quarter mile. Then I was starting to see the back side of the mountain. Ok, think I went far enough! I headed back down and was within a half mile of the car, when I see TL coming back up. I shouted “What?! Are you trying to lap me?” He said the rest of the crew was getting worried that I was gone for so long, so he was sent to sweep the course for me. Come on boys, I’m not your ordinary girl. I ended up doing 7.5 miles in 1:42. Not bad for being at sea level 6 hours prior.

LT100 2011

2010

Frankly, I have been procrastinating this post. I understand how our race ended. I don’t like it. My brother is ok with it, so I need to be… Eventually. So in an effort to get there, I start by sadly saying my big bro DNF’d twice in the Leadville Trail 100 this year. How does that happen you ask? First, he DNF’d by Did Not Finish. Second, he DNF’d by Did Not Fail. I will be the first to tell you how amazing he was doing before the bonk of his life occurred. Let’s start from the beginning.

4am Gun Start

I was able to get some decent sleep (maybe 4.5 hours) this year. My alarm went off at 2:30 am and the whole house was already up and moving.  Since we had packed the truck the night before, it was a nice leisurely morning preparing for the big day ahead. This year the timing chips were attached to the bibs, so there was no pre-race check in to hurry out the door for. Our group loaded in the H2 (Brandon, B’s friend Tim – Runner, JP – Pacer, Kim – Wife and my Crewing partner) to drop our 2 runners off at the corner of 6th and Harrison at 3:45 am. Like last year, my group drove down to the bottom of 6th Street to get our first view of the field.  We heard the gun go off and waited for the runners to come up over a hill and show us the sea of headlamps in the dark.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

My brother seemed to be having a little fun at this point by leading the freakin’ race with Brooks. Neither one of them needed to be doing this, but when you are getting ready to put your body through 100 miles I guess you need to make light of something.

MayQueen – Outbound

Our big goal this year was to spend a little extra time with B at each aid station.  Last year we did some pretty fast in/out jobs, and felt it would be better for B to at least take a 1 minute stop in the early morning sections. We arrived at MayQueen aid station to find a different tent set up. I had told B to look for us in about the same spots as we were last year, but that wasn’t going to work here. With the new layout, I got as close to the point of seeing the runners as I could. I knew B would be up front this year, but I didn’t want him as up front as he wanted to be. This was the first time of many throughout the day where I repeated to myself “I don’t want to see Brandon yet.” But here he came at 1:48 for the first 13.5 miles. Too fast, but he said he was feeling good. I ripped out the trash from his pockets (1 gel and an open pack of blocks), filled his water bottle (he did great at getting almost a full one down), and walked him out. Kim and JP were down further on the trail to get some pictures, so we met back up and hit the truck. This is where we ran into a cluster-F.

The road to MQ campground is 2 lanes with no berm. The race officials did not put no parking signs on 1 side of the road, so as more crews arrived, they just parked (and parked badly) on both sides of the road leaving a very narrow 1 lane aisle. As I’m sitting in the H2 there is a pick-up truck in front of me at battle with oncoming traffic. We sit for a good 10 minutes and watch some exchange of words, people getting out of cars, people switching drivers… Even had a lady come from behind our line yelling “My runner is in first, I need to get out of here!!!!” What we think happened was the oncoming dually truck driver was unsure of his skills in those conditions, so a kid from the truck in front of me, got in dually-truck and started backing it up. We go a couple of hundred yards and the pick up in front of me is finally able to pass by. Me and my big Hummer are still too wide.  I told the guy I can’t fit through there to which he says “Then I have to back it all the way down the road.” I said “Gonna have to.”

Fish Hatchery – Outbound

I had taken some notes from B and knew he wanted his iPod, black hat and a 5 hour energy at this pit stop. I filled my pockets with replacement gel, blocks, etc and waited. He rolled in here just past 7:30am (~3:35 cumulative time) in a top 30 position. He was looking good, but didn’t get down a 1/4 of his water bottle in those 10 miles. I can’t remember what wrappers I might have pulled from his shorts, but I re-stuffed his pockets and trotted out with him.

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As B was leaving, I was doubling checking my pockets and I found the 5 hour energy shot! Doh! I turned around and sprinted to catch him about 100 yards away. He goes “I was wondering where that was!” Crisis adverted. But apparently I gave him his least favorite hat. I only saw 1 “black” hat (it had gray on the sides) and 1 white hat in the bag. Turned out, he had 2 clothes bags not 1 to rummage through. Kim agreed that we thought we gave him the one he wanted, but we were sure to have the all black one ready at Pipeline. Here’s B on the way to Pipeline…

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Pipeline – Outbound

Pipeline is at the marathon point of the race. B arrived here in 4:05 time around 8am. He was a little shocked at that pace, but was still feeling good with a little quad soreness. As we refilled his supplies, I squatted down and started rubbing his quads. Wasn’t sure how much it would help, but when mine hurt, a little rub down always feels good. I quizzed him on his calorie count and he failed. He needed to eat but I think he was too amped up to get anything down.  He grabbed some chips, we sprayed him with some sunscreen, he kept that black/gray hat, and we walked down trail. I yammered in his ear about needing to eat if you want to finish this… You can’t finish without fuel… Little did I know how much that would mean at the end of our day.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Twin Lakes – Outbound

The path to Twin Lakes is the longest we go without seeing Brandon. It’s not a difficult trek, but not knowing how he’s doing for almost 3 hours drives me crazy. I really want to put a GPS beacon on him next year (yes I said next year). He came down the steep hill around 6:38 total time.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

I wasn’t happy with our crew location. We were just ahead of the aid station so he had to go in and then back track a bit. Not a big deal in the 100 schema but something I know I won’t do again. The key piece of equipment at this point was hiking poles. I don’t think B even knew we brought them, but JP and I had been strategizing all morning on how we were going to get B to take them on the route to Hope Pass. Luckily he didn’t put up a fight. I knew any chance we had to save some leg strength would be beneficial. Since he’d been naked runner to this point, we got him a fresh singlet and a water pack to make using the poles as easy as we could.

Winfield – Turnaround

We arrived at Winfield quite early for our racer, but we were interested to see who the leaders were at this point. As we were driving up the dusty winding road around 11:40am, we caught a glimpse of #30 who had been out front all day. No clue who he was, but once we parked and set up camp, we noticed the real leader, Ryan Sandes (eventual winner) was already at Winfield in about 8 hours! Damn! As we waited for B, we got to see alot of friends coming in for the turnaround. JP and I tried to help anyone we could and yell words of encouragement to keep spirits up. By this point, B has been steadily slowing down to hitting a 25 hour finishing time. According to our chart of averages, he needed to be in Winfield by 2pm. He was a little late getting in but it was wicked hot, so we kept him sitting for awhile here trying to cool him off. I didn’t know this until after the race, B weighed in at 136lbs at Winfield, 5 pounds down from his official weigh in 2 days before. Not good. If we would have asked then, it clearly would have shown us what he was dealing with internally. Another note in the manual to being a better crew chief next time.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

We dunked his buff and hat in cold water. I did more quad rubbing. Kim and JP were trying to feed him, to which he didn’t want to eat anything. He kept saying nothing sounded good but that was not an option. He was able to get down some watermelon, oranges, chips, etc. Of course not enough, but we took what we could get him to do. With the poles in place for another trek up Hope, JP was suited up and was ready to lead him 36.5 miles to Mayqueen where I was going to bring him home to the finish.

Leadville Trail 100 Run 2011

Twin Lakes – Inbound

Mile 60.5. This section of the course had me in tears last year. We waited, and waited and waited for B to show up. I was hoping that same fate would not take place today. Your mind starts playing tricks on you as a crew member. Runners come by with some standout feature (Hawaiian shirt guy, floppy hat guy…) but you can’t remember if they were in front or behind your runner at the last stop. Guess I need to start writing numbers done to get a better feel for this. We set up camp across from the aid station this time and then Kim and I went down towards the campground where JP and B would be coming from. That way, she could get pictures and I could chat with them for 300 yards to get an assessment of how the day was going. B rolled in jogging around 14.5 hours of being on his feet. JP and I wanted him to walk it in to the aid station, but he was having none of that. Said he wanted to use it while he had it.

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As I was getting the low down from JP, he asks me to find out where the medics were at this station. WTF? I didn’t like hearing the word “medic”. Turned out, B’s feet were a mess. There is a water section crossing into Winfield and it didn’t treat him well. His feet looked like they’d been soaked in a bucket of water for 6 days. Using a trick he learned from the pros, he had already taken his socks off to let the puppies breathe. Last year, we did a shoe change here so I was prepared again for that. Also, it got really cold last year between here and Pipeline, so we strapped up JP’s pack with several long sleeve shirts, a jacket, pants, dry socks, headlamps… He about had it all. Off they went after 6:30pm!

I had scouted the starter list for Hoosiers and found 4. 2 of them randomly came to our BBQ from Bloomington.  So I’d been rooting and cheering for younger “Bloomington” all day. As I am packing up our camp ground, I notice “Bloomington”s crew next to us. He was in the TL aid station when B was but I didn’t pay much attention because I had my own runner to worry about. After B was out on his way, I found “Bloomington”s pacer crying. I asked what was up and she said “Scott wants to quit.” WTF? I decided to try to talk some sense into the guy. Went into the aid station to figure out what the issues were.  He said he had no gear for the next leg. Ok… what do you need? He gave me a laundry list, so I went back to his crew to see if they had anything he told me he needed. As I look at a guy in a sweatshirt telling me they have no warm clothes for him, I say “Give him the clothes you are wearing if you have to. He needs layers.” I don’t know if they never had any of it or just didn’t have it at that aid station. Their demeanor was like he was suppose to be doing a 5k. So I sprinted to the Hummer to rummage through my gear bag to give him a headlamp, long sleeve tech shirt, socks, gloves and ear warmers. I wasn’t going to give up any of B’s gear, but mine was fine. I ran back into the aid station to deliver the goods. Scott said thanks, I told him to get this thing finished! His pacer promised they’d drop the gear off at B’s place after the race. We’ll see if they do (B will be back there next week). If not, I’ll be finding a Scott in Bloomington to call.

Pipeline – Inbound

Using previous splits and B’s current pace, I had him coming into Pipeline around 9:30pm. He had been significantly slowing down and the sub 25 hour goal was being pushed to its limit. He surprised us by being about 10 minutes early. JP was singing his praises due to B running most of the way from Twin Lakes. They hadn’t put on the warm clothes yet, but no one else really going by us had either. Everyone was saying they were burning up as they ran by but it was still 40-50 degrees out there. I was in 2 coats trying to demand they put on clothes. We refueled and refilled the packs. As JP was getting things situated, B was ready to go, so I walked down the hill at Pipeline with him.  He was chatty about the day, Hope pass, reflecting on his breathing while hiking.  He seemed to be in good condition to get this thing done! He said he’d see us at Fish Hatchery in 45 minutes.  I was giving him 1:30 to get there. I didn’t mention the padding as I didn’t want to mess up any mental strength he was already feeling. I felt he was in the moment.

Fish Hatchery – Inbound

Mile 76.5. B and JP made it to Fish in 1 hour. B had a long sleeve shirt on at this point and it was now 10:30pm. B has to check in at this aid station, so he motored up the road, while Kim and I crewed for JP. JP mentioned that B was a little dejected that they were running about 20 minutes off the averages pace for a 25 hour finish. But what B didn’t know was that he was crushing the splits so 25 hours was in reach. He was gaining. I was hoping that he or JP had the mental capacity to do some math and see that going 23.5 miles in 6.5 hours was within reach, even if we had Powerline looming in the distance.

Apparently this is where it all went down hill. I learned all of this after we got back to the house in Leadville. As B approached the aid station, he asked for some soup broth. In the minute it took the broth to get to the cup to his face, B passed out in a chair. A volunteer woke him up to see if he was ok. He said yes and motioned that his crew was down the street and headed out. Unfortunately, he only found JP at the end of the road since Kim and I had taken off. Guess he was looking for a little more moral support. Another note in the crew chief manual… never leave an aid station before your runner.

Mayqueen – Inbound – Last aid station @ 86.5 miles

Kim and I took the long route around Turquoise Lake after the mornings fiasco. As soon as we parked, we got busy calculating pace times giving a 10 minute buffer to our 25 hour goal. I was hoping to see B between 1-2am based on 15-20 minute miles from Fish. By working backwards, we figured out paces at :15 second intervals based on his ETA… come in to MQ at 1:41am, we get 14 minute miles… come in at 2:08am, we get 12 minute miles. I knew the section B was on was his worst-feeling last year and took him 4:09 to go the 10 miles. Kim and I set up shop around 12:15am. Early, but I wanted to be extremely prepared since I’d be transferring from Crew Chief to official Pacer at this point.

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We waited. And waited.  1:15am… 1:40… As 2am hit, my nerves started in. Cue tears. I was worried.  My breaking point would be at 2:47am when we crossed his pace mark from last year. Fuck. I knew something had gone terribly wrong. I didn’t want to say anything to Kim to worry her. I just honestly felt this race was doomed. An ambulance pulled up at one point and I eavesdropped in the techs conversation to hear if they used B’s number. Nope. I felt so helpless.

While pacing between our camp and the aid station tent to generate some heat, around 3:10am, I hear “#343 coming in”. Oh shit, yes! He’s alive! I was pumped! New hope flooded my soul and I was ready! We can finish! 25 hours is gone but I’m ready to go! As I scamper around yelling at a crew of 10 people and 1 runner using all the chairs in the tent “Are you using every chair because I have a runner coming in?!” I yell to Kim,  “He’s here!” I grab all of our gear and get it to the tent and just as I am waving JP over, he ignores me and is walking my wide-eyed zombie brother straight to the medic tent. All I could say was “Shit.”

They zipped B into a sleeping bag on a cot to warm him up. I couldn’t watch as he shivered so hard. I kissed his forehead and walked out of the tent crying. I came back and told Kim I wanted to grab his number and finish this race in his honor. I knew it wouldn’t officially count for anything, but it was how I felt. She said “No, I need your help getting him home.” Ok, stupid thought but I wasn’t very rational at this point. It was clear his day was over. After about 30 minutes he sat up and was able to have some soup, still clearly out of it. I left to go talk/cry to the parking officials to get permission to bring the H2 down into the aid station to pick him up. They said of course, so I went back to tell my crew I was packing up and getting the truck. The bracelet had been cut. (Means you are officially out of the race.)

We got B in the truck and again had a parking fiasco on the Turquoise Lake road. I basically drove with my head out the window 2-6 inches away from everyones mirrors. Got home around 5am and B said we’d unpack the truck tomorrow. Nope, I needed something to keep myself occupied with. I unpacked everything, he got a shower and said he could drink some milk. After about an hour, he was back to normal (whatever that means after an 86.5 mile 25 hour day). I was still visibly upset so he came over and gave me a hug and said “Everything’s fine. I’m fine.” I tearfully said “I know but I’m not. I was worried.”

I know the DNF was the right call for the circumstance we were in. It took us 4 hours to do the last 13.5 miles last year and he was in worse shape this year. I didn’t need to be out there on the single track alone with him. We didn’t need to walk this race in. His plan all day was to run hard and he did. It might not have been the smartest plan, but he did execute his plan. As he was dropping me off at the airport, he commented that he hoped my trip out there was worth it and sorry if he wore me down in my crew duties. I said, “No. If you are running again, I will be there.”

Team Shart HQ BBQ

With Kim’s menu planning, B and I hosted a cook out yesterday in Leadville for all the runners he may or may not have met yet doing this years race. We had about 20 people show up. I’ve been around the scene long enough now that I got to see a few old faces and meet several new ones, even a few from Bloomington Indiana that are running! I made my signature taco dip that seemed to be a big hit with everyone.  We went through 1.5 batches of it!  So for all those that enjoyed it, here is the recipe:

8 oz sour cream

8 oz cream cheese

1 package taco seasoning

Mix sour cream, cream cheese and taco seasoning in a bowl

Spread into a 9×13 (or flat plate) pan

Top with whatever you want!  

I use 1/2 green bell pepper chopped, 1/2 red bell pepper chopped, 1/2 yellow bell pepper chopped, 2 roma tomatoes chopped, and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

All recipes come with a picture, so here’s one of it half eaten!

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17 Degrees to 47 Degrees (Part 2 of 2)

After 2 long days of skiing, the girls and I opted for a little outdoor play time. It had started snowing on us at Cooper and didn’t stop until Sunday morning. A look at the snow level Saturday….

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Compared to Sunday when we woke up…

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We certainly were in a winter paradise. The girls and I built a fort for “baby tree” using B’s supply of firewood.

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After all the hard labor, the girls needed a snack.

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After a few hours in the cold temps (17 degrees when we left Leadville), we all went inside to clean up and head out of the mountains to warmer temps in Denver (47 degrees when we arrived). Brandon had tickets to see a few bands at one of his favorite venues, the Bluebird, so we called in Brooks to bring the SanFran clan back together.

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We saw The Black Cloud Collective, Pop Evil, and Rev Theory. Brandon, the veteran metal concert go-er, snagged me Pop Evil’s set list from the stage, so I could get is signed by the band. At the Bluebird, the bands do a meet and greet with the audience were you can get pictures and buy some stuff from the band. I walked up with the set list and got it signed by everyone!  Can’t read any names, but I know its legit.

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When in Colorado, I always seem to find shirtless men…

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The show was fabulous and we were right up front.  The Bluebird is a very small initmate venue.  Kind of reminded me of the Vogue here but smaller, which I liked.  Wish we would get some better shows, live music is the best.  At one point, some guy commented that it was nice of me to hang out with my kid brother and bring him to a show!  Not sure which of us gets the slam in that comment.   

It was a great trip!  I enjoyed every second.  Thanks to my bro, Kim, and the girls for opening their homes to me and letting me crash their President’s day vacation!  I’ll be back in August…  This time for non-snow covered trails! 

B’s story

Copper to Cooper (Part 1 of 2)

Been back in the midwest for a few days, but yet to get myself back in the time zone.  Still feel off but hopefully the weekend will reset everything soon.  So, about my recent travels…

Headed out to Colorado for my yearly winter trip.  My nieces were on a break from school, so this was my first time having them around the entire time I was there.  B picked me up and we headed straight to Leadville to meet up with the Fuller women as they were already at the cabin.  B, Sydney and I, woke up early Friday morning to get a jump on the ski crowds at Copper Mountain.  Which, being only 30 miles away certainly helps! 

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I was happy to reunite with my snowboard while B and Syd skied. Syd had been skiing a few times before, but this year she really got the hang of it and had zero fear after a few runs.  My little skier…

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She didn’t even have any fear when she fell off the chair lift!  Yes, that’s right.  My bro and I made a boo-boo.  We weren’t even on the chair for 5 seconds and next thing I see is Syd falling over and face planting in the snow below like a cartoon character.  We yelled to stop the lift and Syd looks up at us.  I asked if she was ok, to which she said yes.  I asked if she was ok to ride up without us, to which she said yes.  So the ski dude put her 2 chairs back with a guy and his daughter.  The lift got moving again so I turned around to see how she was doing, and she waved at me like nothing happened.  That’s when I knew it was ok to laugh my ass off at what just happened.  Apologized to my brother for laughing, but it was too funny!  We headed back to Leadville to share our adventures with Kim and see if we could talk Reagan into skiing the next day.

Which we did! Reagan was very excited to try skiing but left most of the work to Brandon since it was her first time out.  Here’s B and his ladies on Cooper Mountain.

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With B taking care of Reagan, Syd and I were off on our own for the day.

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We skied our tails off! Syd was hooked and wanted to go until the chairs stopped. She even tried out a T-bar lift on her own at the bunny hill. At one point, we took a longer T-bar lift up to hit some more blues except Syd took a wrong turn off the lift and ended up taking us down a black.  Didn’t matter though, she did just fine.  Just as we finished our last run, B and Reagan were coming to find us to head home.  This time, we were only 10 miles away from home!  Totally spoiled now.

B’s story 

2010 Leadville Trail 100

Figure I’ll give my Colorado vacation wrap up in one post, so grab a beer and sit down for a long one.

Pre-Race
I arrived in Colorado Thursday and my bro and I headed straight to our destination, the town of Leadville.  A few months ago, Brandon asked me if I wanted to participate in his mega-run of a lifetime, the Leadville Trail 100.  Hell ya…. but it what capacity?  There was Crew Chief and Pacer.  I, in no way shape or form, wanted to ever slow my bro down during a race in the mountains, so I opted for Crew Chief.  Sounded like a job of executing a plan of strategic nature and efficiency.  I’m in!

We arrived to 10,000+ feet around noon.  Got checked into the hotel and started talking game plan.  Brandon led me through all his gear bags, food preparation, and race strategy.  Once we got through the serious business, we headed over the Scarlet to meet some character named Brooks.  Brandon and Brooks have been eFriends for some time, and it was cool to see that they finally got to meet.  They had 2 for $1.00 PBRs but I had my traditional J&D.  Go figure.  After drinks, we met up with some other LT100 veterans and newbies (also going for the Leadman award) for dinner at the Tennessee Pass.

Leadville Trail 100 2010

It was great to be around such inspired and adventurous spirits that had decided to tackle this beast of a race.  Besides hearing about epic shart stories, I learned the best way to clean up after a running deuce is using flat rocks.  The experts have all the secrets.  Suprisingly, this came in handy days later.  B and I crashed around 9pm to prepare for a short nights sleep on Friday.

Friday, we went over to the medical check in at the local gym and hit breakfast with a few of his running mates before the pre-race briefing. 

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I met more of his friends and finally got to meet Mr. Jon Teisher, aka PittBrownie.  We’ve had a bit of online banter back and forth about who’s colleigate team was better.  I’ll just say that I was owed 2 drinks on JT’s dime, but unfortunately his drink of choice is PBR.  What is the deal with the PBR other than giving you the shits?  (From what I hear)  So thanks to JT, I tripled my beer consumption for the year after calling in his debts. 

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In between my beers, I managed to get a 4 mile run up into the northern range that I was at last year.  I decided to get the incline over with first, and I was sucking wind but that’s expected when you came over from 500 ft above sea level 24 hours prior.  Felt great during the run, how can you not with mountain views covering 360 degrees.  When I got done, I headed back to the Scarlet because that’s where the “big deals” hang out, and was introduced to JP, my co-pilot for the first half of the race.

Leadville

We all headed back to the hotel for some more pre-race preparation then awaited the rest of our crew, Kim and Kayla.  My other two nieces stayed out of harms way and in Longmont with friends.  We all hit the sack as early as possible because B and I had to be up at 2:45 am for our race check-in by 3:45 am.

Race Time
B’s internal alarm went off a bit early, but we all got up at 2:30am, fired up, and ready to race!  I put on my Team Shart jacket and we headed out!

Leadville Trail 100 2010

You can read Brandon’s blog for all of his race details. I’ll give you the race from my perspective as Crew Chief.  I also MacGyvered my Flip camera to a lanyard to capture some live action at the aid stations.  B’s got that posted too. 

At each aid station, my job was to have each of his aid station drop bags ready for loading up the pockets in his shorts, get his water bottles/camel back filled, and basically have everything including the kitchen sink, just in case he needed it (batteries, tape, mole skin, extra headlamp, extra iPod, extra watch).  There are 4 aid stations to the turn around at Winfield, so 9 total stops for me to be ready at.  The aid stations themselves are barns or garages somewhere on the course where the race volunteers are also set up with food and replenishments.  But, racers are particular so that’s where a crew having exactly what you need comes in.  The crew can be about a 1/4 of mile from the aid station in either direction helping the runner.  We decided to crew at the same point at each station so he could easily find me and not waste time in the dark.  I also was in charge of tweets for #313 during the race so everyone could follow our progress on twitter. 

Brandon had organized all the gear into easily distinguishable bags and we used a wagon to haul the stuff from the Hummer to the aid station.  We got to MayQueen, the first stop, and I was a bit nervous.  I kept going thru the bags, triple checking, asking JP questions and he goes “Calm down.  We have 2 hours until he gets here.”  Oh right.  Its 13.5 miles on foot for him!  I spent the waiting minutes staring at the most beautiful star filled night sky I have ever seen in my life.  I wish I knew how to bottle that up and carry it with me.  It was amazing.

B made quick work of the exchange at MQ (6 am) and headed to Fish Hatchery (8 am).  Not much to report from the Fish Hatchery aid station.  Easy in and out.  I crewed him while he waited in line at the port-o-jon.  This is where a lot of  the men’s shirts came off, just FYI.

Next was Treeline (9 am).  It was up in the mountains on what appeared to be a runway for motorized paragliding.  There were a few guys flying around up in the sky getting a look at the action.  I stood atop the Hummer and flagged to JP once I saw B coming up the side.  We were about 100 yds away, so I ran down to get in on the action to find him side by side with JT enjoying the day.

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Twin Lakes (11:15 am) was the final crew point before the turnaround at mile 50.  This place is a one road, 4 shop town out of a postcard. Cars and people lined this road on race day.

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A look at Twin Lakes itself.

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Final stop of the first 1/2 of the race was Winfield (about 3 pm). This place was ridiculous. It looked like a tailgate lot at football game.

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It was packed and I felt really bad for the runners getting to this point. They have to run up a 2 mile dirt road that is also being used by vehicles. The dirt clouds were awful so we just tried to go slow and be as courteous as possible. B came in about 30 minutes off pace, but he looked good, so we suited him up with fresh gear and my sidekick JP took off with him for the last 50 miles of the race.

Now with JP on the course, I had 2 people to crew for. It didn’t add much pressure since JP had all his food and gear in bags as well, so I just kept making sure I brought everything to each stop in case of emergency. Before hitting Twin Lakes , part of my crew chief duty was to have beer on hand at the finish.  I drove over to Buena Vista to check that item off my list.

The Twin Lakes (7:30 pm) return trip was probably the most organized. The boys would need a shoe change here since crossing a river on the way, so I neatly set up 2 chairs with shoes and gear all prepared. And I waited. And waited. And waited. And got nervous. There is no radio between Winfield and Twin to see where your runner is.  He could have been mauled by a bear, JP may have taken him out for whining, you just had to sit and wait.  B was about an hour late getting to this station but he was alive.  He bonked and had to rest awhile.  Phew.  I wished them well, dried a few of my tears and headed out to meet them at Treeline again.

Treeline was pitch black this time.  I put on my headlamp and prepped the back of the truck for their arrival.  They arrived around 11:30 pm freezing their asses off.  I suited them up in all of the warmest gear we could find from the truck and headed over to Fish Hatchery.  They said they didn’t need me there, but too bad.  I’m going to show up anyway because that’s what Crew Chiefs do!  Turns out they didn’t need me, but I felt good just being there to say good job and wish them well to May Queen.  The last stop before the end.

I arrived at MayQueen around 2 am and settled in expecting them around 3:45 am.  More waiting without knowledge of what’s going on.  I started getting nervous as the cut off time for the race is 30 hours.  B had allotted 3h:45m to get from May Queen to the finish but using my pacing chart that he gave me, our Team Shart was now, not on track to make 30 hours.  Fuck.  Fortunately, at 4:50am, B and JP came through May Queen.  Unfortunately, JP’s feet were shot.  And Brandon had developed a massive deep blister on each pad of his feet.  JP couldn’t go on and said Brandon would be fine by himself.  “HELL NO” I thought!  I know Brandon could have found the strength to carry on without a pacer, but there was no way I was letting my brother finish this race alone.  Without a second thought, I went to the wagon, started putting on the warmest gear we had left, including the fleece Jeff Gordon blanket I’d been wrapped up in for the past 3 hours.  I grabbed JP’s water pack, told him where the car was and to text me the intersection when he dropped it off in town.  We needed to go!  I came out here to be with Brandon during this race however he needed me to, so let’s get this thing done!

At 4:55 am, Brandon and I headed out to the last 13.5 miles back to the finish.  I tried to keep his spirits up and motiviate him without pissing him off.  At this point, I was trying to get ahold of Kim who was expecting us at the finish around 7am.  Even though we are at 10,000 feet, cell reception sucks in certain spots.  We finally made connection and Kim was to meet us 1/2 way at the Tabor boat ramp to get some photos and encourage us on.  As we got there, I didn’t see her.  So I ran up a ways to the next parking log to see if she was sitting there.  Nope.  Damn.  It was daylight at this point and I need to drop the blanket, jackets, gloves, headlamps, etc. because I didn’t want to carry that 7 more miles.  At this time, my stomach reminded me who was boss.  Being up for almost 30 hours with 1 meal and no sleep, didn’t sit well with my gut.  I found a nice spot in the trees, tested the flat rock theory, and got back out on the trail.  Brandon was coming at me without his coat?!  He had found Kim in the car at the lot, so I ran back and said I would catch back up with him and to keep moving!!!  I dropped my stuff, and hit the dirt running to find him about 1/2 mile up the course. 

I’d been doing some rounding-math about our finishing time since May Queen.  I was calculating 20 minute miles but wanted us to stay at 15 to make sure we had plenty of time to hit the finish line.  His mind wasn’t the clearest, so I wouldn’t let him think about the numbers, just focus on keeping my pace and push through the pain.  He said as long as he finished under 30 hours, he’d be fine.  I didn’t believe him.  30 was not acceptable in my book.  Not on my watch.  Sub 29 was the goal. 

The last 4 miles are easy to recognize and count down.  We had a great view of all the work B just did.

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Basically, we were over in that mountain range in front of him the day before.

Kim was able to catch us a few more times for motiviation and photos.

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I kept counting down “96% done”… “97% done”… Tried cracking jokes about how he had to be seen with me wearing my monkey stocking cap.  You can tell I wasn’t quite in appropriate race gear, but duty called.

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As we rounded our last turn, you could hear the people lining 6th street and the finish line. There we were. 99% done. We had less than 3/4 of a mile to go and I pushed him harder, cuz that’s what I’m suppose to do! He says “I have 11 minutes to the finish before 29, that’s good.” I said, no, GO! So as we pushed, his right blister shatters. Oops, sorry about that. With tears in my eyes, I left my brother with 200 yards to go and ran up to the finish line to welcome him home.

Leadville Trail 100 2010

I tried to get video of the finish, but I wasn’t focused and hadn’t hit record on the Flip. Dammit. Feel really bad about that still. Would have been so awesome. A look back to the finish line and the last hill (just under the banner) of the Leadville Trail 100.

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I’m happy to report Brandon finished in 28 hours and 53 minutes. A job well done!!! Over half of the field does not finish this race. To finish at all is impressive. To know the training and preparation my brother put into this race is phenominal. He didn’t shed a tear, but I did. And still do just thinking about it.  I’m so proud of him and so happy that he included me in this event.  Even though my job went from Crew Chief to surprise Pacer, I would do it all over again in an instant, and more!

I really feel like a part of the Leadville community.  I’ve raced, paced, and crewed in this town.  And as my brother promised, there is plenty more to come for both of us!

On a side note, meeting all the ultra competitors was fun, but we also had a true Hollywood celebrity sighting of Jake Gyllenhaal.  Rumor has it, there will be a movie about this race, so we are unclear if he is investing, producing, or starring.  Only time will tell, but this little community event is going national and growing every year.

Leadville Trail 100 2010

So, that’s it. We hit the awards ceremony where B got his coveted belt buckle (yes that’s the prize) and said good bye to everyone.  We headed back to Longmont and I performed my last Crew Chief duty… the 3 hour drive home. After a Smashchicken and vanilla shake, we set off and were immediately slowed to slower than our finishing pace. Traffic jam. I would have been fine if we were at normal speeds, but the slow pace was making me drift. I downed a Red Bull and waited for it to kick in. After an hour, it didn’t. I employed tactic #2 of calling anyone that would answer and talk to me about paint drying, giving a dog a bath, I didn’t care. Just entertain me. We made if safely back to Longmont. I unloaded our weeks weekend worth of crap and we all hit the sack about 9 pm.

I slept about 12 hours that night.  Got up Monday feeling refreshed and actually went out for a 3-5 mile run.  I felt so good out there in the fresh air with beautiful views of the resevoir and mountains I decided to go for the 10 mile loop.  I had noticed a storm cloud over the range on my way out, but figured I had time to get around and back home.  At about mile 5, the rain sprinkled.  Then at mile 6, the rain came.  Still managable, but I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, so I flagged down a pick-up truck to make sure Rt. 5 was where I needed it.  As we were standing there, the Red Sea unparted and it poured.  The nice farmer insisted on giving me a ride back.  It was thundering and lightening at this point, so I took it.  20 minutes later, the sun was back out.  Stupid weather.

Tuesday I returned to the flatlands of Indiana, sad but with great memories and stories to share.  Til we meet again Colorado… 

Last Snowy Hoorah

After a slumber party in my room last night, the girls and I woke up to get ready for some ice skating at Longmont’s outdoor rink.  Of course, it was snowing but the place did have a roof and some heaters outside to warm up with.  Little kids get walkers to help them learn how to skate.  It’s quite funny to watch these little monsters zooming around and just crashing without caring.  Here’s our 2 little ones on the ice.

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It was Sydney’s first time ice skating.  She took 2 laps with the walker then was ready to try it alone.  She was a good listener to the pointers I gave her and was moving around in no time.  By the end of our time at the rink, Reagan was able to go without the walker too!  Big day for both girls!

I also got a delivery from the Fuller Girl Scout with my cookies!

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So, it’s back to the flatlands now where apparently, I’ll be treated to more snow this week.  I think my core temperature has dropped a few degrees.

Niece’s story…

Many thanks to the Fuller clan for letting me spend a few days in the mountains with them!  I had a great time as usual! 

Skiing With Sydney

Today’s adventure was held at Eldora ski resort.  Sydney has been skiing a few times before but hadn’t been able to pick it up on her own yet.  Today’s goals were for Sydney to ski on her own, meaning Brandon is not within an arms length and, my goal was to point my board down the mountain instead of side to side.  I’m happy to report both goals were achieved!

I have to say I didn’t think Syd was going to get there.  I was trying to give her some pointers too, but then she’d look at me instead of her skis, so I took off to let the father-daughter duo to work their magic.  As I was going up a lift, I spotted them and this little pink blob went darting down the slope.  When I caught up with them, Brandon goes “Did you see that?  She got it!”  I think he was very proud.  Here are some pictures from our day.

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The snow was so thick you couldn’t see the top of the lifts or the sun! It was great powder to get on.  We had almost a full day on the slopes and stopped at Wahoo Fish Tacos for some fuel.  Tonight we are just relaxing and hanging with the family.  Except Sydney just burped in my face.  I’m done hanging out with her now!

Tomorrow is ice skating with lessons by Reagan.  Good thing I got some practice a few weeks ago, so I won’t make a fool of myself (hopefully). 

Brandon’s story…

Here’s a little video of Syd skiing.

A Tortoise and 2 Hares

Woke up at 7:15 again to start day 2 of the adventure.  My nieces popped down to my room while I was stretching out some left over stiffness from the Keystone adventure.  We all got dressed and ready to hit the road again.  This time, Brandon and I had 2 kids to drop off at school.  Syd and Reagan entertained me with their singing skills, including Monster by Skillet, on the way there.  I went in with them where Reagan kept pointing at me and telling people I was her Aunt.  I was so proud!

Brandon and I headed over to pick up JV then head to the infamous Green Mountain.  I don’t ask a lot of questions on my brother’s adventures.  When he invited me on this one he said, let’s go on a run.  My only comment was “I don’t do the distances you do so don’t kill me.”  I kinda would rather not know all the details.  Not that it would psych me out, but it’s most likely not going to motiviate me either.  I generally have 3 points I care about – Start, Top, Car.  I knew it’d be a bit crazy with the snow storm we had, but this was nuts!  The snow was 4-8 inches deep.  I’m not joking.

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B loaned me his B-squad yaktrax so I had some traction since we were all in gym shoes.  I took it pretty slow up because I obviously don’t know the trail.   It was very difficult to determine what you were about to step on.  Was it snow?  Or a rock under snow?  A twig?  A log?  B told me about some guy who took a step on a run they were on once and all of a sudden he was one leg deep off the side.  Great.  Save that story for AFTER the trip.  I just kept my concentration and made my way to the top in about 1:20 something.

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You couldn’t see shit.  Oh well.  And, the stud JV does this thing in 40 minutes with a snow packed trail. 

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Coming from 600 ft above sea level 36 hours ago and spending the previous day snowboarding, I like my 1:25.  We head down to do a loop back to the car.  The down hill was a lot of fun.  I was able to get some jogging/trotting along the flat parts.  One tricky section, JV says “just don’t fall or you’ll go all the way down”.  Yea, thanks. Again, save that story for when we are done.  About half way down, the front part of the yaktrak came off, then shortly after the front, the back.  After a few slides, I stopped to adjust the gear and I was back on my way.  We went 5.2 miles in 2:20.  Thanks to the boys for letting this turtle tag along!  I really did have fun.  Guess Brandon might be able to call me “Myrtle” after this trip!

Brandon’s story… 

We hit up Larkburger to get another red meat meal in our bellies then headed home. Here’s photographic proof since no one will believe me.

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Once we got home, I went downstairs to get clean and warmed up. Two of my favorite girls joined me for some cartoons.

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Then my third favortite girl joined us too for some more Mario!

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Ready for our next adventure tomorrow!