What can I say, other than it’s great to be back in Colorado! Our last trip here was in April/May(?) for the inaugural Quad Rock 50 up in Ft Collins, which really helped solidify my pre GrandKonaSlam fitness going into WS training camp 4 weeks later. With two 100s now under my belt in the past 8 weeks, I’m feeling much more recovered going into Leadville than I did going into Vermont. That’s a good thing, right? Plus, Meredith and I came out to Colorado on Saturday, a full week before the race, to decompress from “real life” and acclimate to the altitude. Our first day/night here we spent outside of Denver in Lakewood, and got to revisit portions of the Bear Chase course at Bear Creek Park. Some nice easy running at “only” a mile high. We raced the 50k there last year and spent some quality time with Mer’s good friend Jamie Donaldson and her uber-friendly Newfoundland Morrisson! It was then that Jamie introduced us to Sweet Tomatoes, a Lakewood soup and salad buffet joint that we could not resist hitting up a second time for a late lunch/early dinner, their mac and cheese is ridiculously good: sometimes you have to “Dig Deep” for that 3rd bowl! Mer will be returning to the Bear Chase later this year and bringing some fellow Austin trail runners with her to race.
Sunday saw us up very very early to watch Meb “Dig Deep” and nab 4th in the men’s Olympic Marathon, very gutsy run by him and the Ugandan who beat the two Kenyans. Another run out at the park, and then a trip to the Whole Foods in Lakewood for lunch, shopping, and a pre-race Team Terranova meeting with our good friend and one of my pacers Drew Wolff and his family who recently moved to Denver from Austin. Drew holds a special place in our hearts not only as the former shop manager at Jack and Adam’s Bicycles but also as the previous owner of Meredith’s tri-bike, aka the Lil’ Kaiser! Drew is doing a fantastic job now as Mr. Mom and race management consulting with the TriRock series of triathlons around the country.
Our drive out to Leadville happened to go through Idaho Springs, where of course we picked up some take and bake pizzas from Beau Jo’s for pre-race meals! We met up with our rental housemates Aliza Lapierre and her parents shortly thereafter, got unpacked, made a plan for Monday, and watched some of the Olympic closing ceremonies. Monday morning we hit the trail early to beat the impending rain, and timed it just right to hit Sugarloaf Pass and back via Powerline (about a 7 mile round trip) before the rain came. Lunch, 2 hour nap, easy swim/hot tub/sauna at the County Recreation Center, 20 minute nap, dinner, and that was all she wrote!
Tuesday, Meredith and I hiked the front side of Hope Pass from Twin Lakes, while Aliza and her Dad Jim hiked the back side from the Winfield side. After crossing the Arkansas River, it took a little while for Mer and me to find the Continental Divide trail that takes you up past Willis Gulch to Hope Pass. Fortunately, we found it with some crafty terrain association, my 2010 TransRockies Run stage 2 map, and a little help from Siri. We were treated to a beautiful yet lung-sucking day up top at 12,600’, and even played around with our new GoPro video camera, thanks Mom and Dad for the anniversary gift! Mer and I descended the back side of Hope Pass, chatted with some fellow runners, saw the TransRockies crew Ryan and Bo marking tomorrow’s course, and met up with Aliza and her Dad who were driving us back to Twin Lakes. Almost 11 miles total, and boy, were we ready for lunch! But first we soaked in an ice cold creek to refresh our legs, well worth it! Then, Ian Torrence and his well-behaved pup Zoroaster, from McMillan Running joined us for dinner (yes, some Beau Jo’s pizza).
Wednesday, Mer and I reconned the inbound climb from Twin Lakes towards Fish Hatchery. Great views of Twin Lakes from up there. Joined my first pacer Derick Williamson (Durata Training) and his wife Kelly (watch out for her at the upcoming Hy-Vee Triathlon, Half-Ironman World Championships in Vegas, and of course Kona) in Buena Vista for grass-fed local burgers from Eddyline Restaurant and a pre-race strategy session. It was great to catch up with them, and do some beer tasting, as they are spending some time coaching and training in Salida this summer.
Thursday, Mer hit the pool for another swim session: 10,000m at 10,000’ ? , and then we caught an 8am Mass at Assumption Catholic church in Leadville, before scoping out the course around Turquoise Lake and then packet pickup/medical check in at 11am. So far, all systems go!
In case you were wondering, beer #3 Dogfish Head IPA is in the fridge back at home, many many thanks to the Davis’ for their motivation!!!