Monday, September 15, 2014

TransRockies Run6 - Stage 3

Leadville, CO to Nova Guides at Camp Hale
Distance: 24.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,361ft

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go" -T.S. Eliot.
Motivation words from Theresa on my "Day 3" card.  

During the course briefing the night before, the run course director shared some cool info about Camp Hale. It's a little bit of history that if I hadn't run this race, I probably would never learn; I figured I'd share:

What's left of Camp Hale. Added to NHRP in 1992.
Camp Hale is located between Red Cliff and Leadville in the Eagle River Valley (we run to Red Cliff on Day 4). It was a U.S. Army training facility built in 1942 for what became the 10th Mountain Division (I'll talk about this in a minute). Soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, and cold-weather survival. When it was in full operation, 15,000 (approx) soldiers lived there. Camp Hale was decommissioned in November 1945. 

The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division in the U.S. Army currently based at Fort Drum, NY. Originally constituted as a unique mountain warfare unit, the division was the only unit of its size in the U.S. Army to specialize in fighting in mountainous and arctic conditions, thus earning the division "mountain" tab. It was on July 10, 1943 that the 10th Mountain Division was constituted, and activated at Camp Hale 5 days later. 

Now, back to the race. I woke up in Leadville with a little bit of frost in my tent. I still tried to be efficient and got out of "bed" quickly, change and pack my stuff. After dropping off the duffel, we had the option of taking a shuttle to the Museum for breakfast. I, instead, walked there to calm the nerves and let the muscles loosen a bit. It was a 10 minute walk. My breakfast was light and I walked to the start on Harrison St. (main street). Starting a race in Leadville, CO is pretty amazing; I love it!

Start line in Leadville
At the start corral I saw Marna and Mark, we chatted up a bit and her and I started together. The first couple miles out of town were on pavement, which I gladly welcomed. It was nice to get the legs moving in a somewhat efficient way and without really thinking about it. Unfortunately, they went fast and all of a sudden I found myself climbing. As usual, I slowed down to a crawl. Fortunately, it was a 2.5 mile climb and we topped off at the 4.5 mile marker. After this, I picked up the pace on the downhill and caught up to a whole bunch of people. It was VERY muddy in some sections and while some people were slowing down I figured I should just push through it; I was gonna get muddy anyway, so if I was gonna fall, better do it sooner than later. I didn't fall though. All of a sudden and feeling good, I got to aid 1 at mile 7.

Some views from the top at mile 4.5
Coming in hot in muddy trails (you can't tell it was muddy, but I distinctively remember the photographer camped out where she could see people slipping and sliding!) 
The miles after this checkpoint went slow, I was going up again. Thankfully, this uphill was very runnable, and while slow, I was able to efficiently do a walk/run. I managed to pass a few girls in my category that pushed through hard run intervals but had to take a break or walk REALLY slowly after. The highest point was at mile 12 and after this I picked up the pace again. I realized I was close to the aid since I was clearly at a ski resort and we had been told that aid 2 was at the base of Ski Cooper. I left fairly quick and kept running down towards Tennessee Pass. Weird to run down to a mountain pass.

Tennessee Pass!
After crossing hwy 24, we jumped on the Colorado Trail. It was GORGEOUS and easy to run on. I was able to pick up the pace before hitting some single track. I was able to maintain a fast pace and was able to enjoy the views. The last climb came between miles 17 and 18.5 after crossing back to the east side of hwy 24, but we quickly got to the top and came down a heavily treed fun single track. At the bottom, there was a trail head and some structure that was left from the army days of Camp Hale (pictured above). I knew I was close. The aid station was right after this.

While I had 3 miles to go on a flat dirt road after the checkpoint, the weather had turned bad and it was now cold, drizzly and we all had a head wind. I tried to slow down and maintain a mellow pace and push through it. I did my best, but had to walk a couple little hills. This section felt like it was never going to end, but I eventually saw the finish and crossed it at 5h13m49s for 14th place.

Finish line shot! 
I picked a tent as close to the duffel bag pick up area as I could and showered right away. My friend Amanda from Boulder had run the 3-day guiding a blind runner and offered to give me a quick massage before heading home. She treated me to an AMAZING 15 minute massage!

Later, while at dinner (maybe 5:30ish), Houda came into the tent to announce that the last finishers were almost there... It was amazing  to see the 400+ people leave their dinner and seats to go out to the finish line to cheer them on. The team (an older married couple, maybe in their 60s), had tears in their eyes. Truly inspiring.

The night went on as usual with course, medical and weather briefing for the next day and an early bed time for me. I was truly exhausted this day, although I had very much enjoyed the run. Today I can say, it was probably my favorite stage (and favorite camp site).

Gorgeous place to camp! 
Up Next: TransRockies Run6 - Stage 4

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