Sunday, August 22, 2010

Make that a Large Pizza...No Make that Supersize.....Leadville...Colorado River Trifecta

View South from 12,200 ft. Hope Pass of Collegiate Peaks Range
Who Throws Motor Oil Bottles  Out OfTheir Window?
What a stunning Colorado weekend! Heather and I loaded up the Sprinter and headed up to the Leadville Trail 100 to pace a few patients and friends of ours. We snuck a quick ride from Leadville up Independence Pass first thing in the morning followed by getting Joy Robertson and John Hill up and over the 12,000 foot Hope Pass.

All was smooth sailing for both of them. Joy arrived into Winfield looking the best she's looked in 4 years of pacing for her. She was celebrating the possible last time she'd complete Leadville for nearly the 6th time after realizing this year she was in need of a hip resurfacing procedure. She started the race with a not so perfect pain in her hip but seemed to have been in control of it. We made it to the top of Hope Pass, mile 60, right on schedule and began the descent. It was quite clear within the first 200 vertical feet of descent that Joy could go uphill all day long but the descent simply caused the cartilage problem in her hip to occur with every step. By the time we'd descended to 11,000 feet she was literally unable to take another step. With night fall upon us and 2,000 feet of descent and 4 miles left back to Twin Lakes,  we made a plan to have her piggy back and ride on my shoulders 5 minutes followed by 2 minutes of her walking. Luckily she's only 115 lbs dripping wet and I never thought in million years I'd be carrying someone on my back scrambling down a drainage ditch but our system worked albeit time consuming. I think we scared other racers more than ourselves with Joy and I combining to be a 10 foot tall hiker:) and the humor in it just offset the misery factor of being at such an altitude unable to ambulate. We made it back to the Twin Lakes aid station in 5 hours instead of the normal 3 and I just felt horrible for this long time ultra runner who just lives and breathes trail running in the Colorado mountains. She's always lands on her feet and I look forward to hearing where she diverts her energy until hip resurfacing technology is at a point that runners can return to running. Currently, the hardware interface fails with the load of running and technology doesn't exist for such an application.

Avoiding wave friction just on the seam...the secret art of swift water racing!

Heather Riding The Wave Train...a little bouncier just left of the seam!
So at 10:30 PM, Heather and repacked the Sprinter and drove over Independence Pass into Aspen just in time to grab a few hours of sleep before the 25th Annual Colorado River Race put on by Jerry Nyre In hindsight, I think we were both more bummed we'd missed a thick crust supreme at Leadville Pizza Hut than were about starting a race with 4 hours sleep. Heather really impressed me as she was approx. 5th overall and ran some good rapids in an Epic 18 (ft) that really tests one's ability to line up the boat in tight wave trains that want to push you into the eddies and bridge abutments. I felt surprisingly recovered from the Leadville saga and went on to win the race for the 5th consecutive year. I chose to paddle a "short boat" WakaTwo wildwater racing kayak in the "long boat" unlimited class this year and at 15ft I was very surprised to see me just beat the previous course record of 1 hour 4 minutes I set 3 years ago in my 22 foot JKK Supernova. It just goes to show that hull speed doesn't always win if one considers bow wave resistance (greater in longer boats) when paddling in shallow water ways. Additionally, I'm a mass start racer by nature and the other long boats kept me focused on forward progress for sure.

For those wanting some advice on pacing on longer paddling efforts like 1 hour, I simply break the race into 15 minute intervals and each 15 minute interval into 5 minute sub intervals of increasing intensity ie hard, harder, hardest rising from just below anerobic threshold to just at threshold at the end of the final 5 minute sub interval. I monitor this as well as average pace on my Garmin 305 GPS odo/speedometer. The art of this pacing control I owe to Andy Corra's mentoring last year and it has been the single reason I finished top 5 nationally last year and beating my long boat record that had previously stood for 15 years originally set by a tandem K2 kayak in 1993.

Next week, off to Seattle to adventure race with Team Dart-NUUN-MultiSport who I've respected for years for their consistency in national and international races. They have a stable of swift talented multisporters that gave BPN a run for their money 2 years ago so really looking forward to seeing the Cascades with Sean Clancy, Mari Chandler, and Matt Hayes.