Leadville 100
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After climbing LaPlata peak back in August of 2000 I noticed a bunch of miserable and tired people jogging down the road. I later found out they were part of the Leadville Trail 100 and I always thought it would be cool to run 100 miles. Six years later I was signed up and doing some fun training runs/hikes with Keith, Steve, and anyone else you cared to join along. These jaunts were some of the best times of the summer! I was a bit worried about the summer being signed up for a 50mile run in May, a 100mile bike in June, an IronMan at the end of June, and then the Leadville 100. Oh well, I figured I’d give it a go and see what happened! Three out of three went great but I was slightly burned out by the time the beginning on August rolled around. I wasn’t running much at all but still was getting up to altitude and some good long days in.

Friday 8/18/06
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Come race time our pacers were set, crews was ready to meet us along the route, and the Yukon was full of anything we could imagine needing or wanting. Keith, Steve, and I headed out to Leadville Friday morning and got the check in taken care of. We had a couple hours to kill before the pre-race “do this race and you’ll die” speech, so we went to Steve’s friend Susan’s house where we would be staying for the night. May as well have a couple beers?! At the pre-race meeting they had bins of Coors so may as well have a couple more beers?! The meeting was cool, lots of folks introduced who had done this race up to 22Nicholls pics 11.jpg (73222 bytes) times…YIKES! We headed to the Tennessee Pass Café afterwards for grub and more beers. By this time we figured we were going to be doing a Leadville bar tour and we were having a blast laughing non-stop. Some grub, beers, pictures, and laughs and we were heading off the Leadville Legendary Saloon so Keith and Steve could see the porn-covered women's bathroom I told them about. The conversation went like this once there....
Jeff: What kind of tasty beers do you have?
Bartender: Well, we have Samuel Adams, PBR (pause and smirk)
Steve: PBR is tasty, we’ll take them!
Nicholls pics 16.jpg (63117 bytes) We laughed through a PBR and ordered a few more. Keith opted for the Samuel Adams and we attempted to lock him in the bathroom for doing so. Ends up the bartender was from Philly also, so we shared some laughs and whacked back a couple shots of Jager-bombs then Irish Car Bombs…..not a good idea!
We eventually left the Saloon and just had to stop at Manhattan’s for another PBR and laughing with the locals about how stupid we are for trying to run 100miles above 10K feet.  Back at Susan’s house we crashed out for a couple hours before meeting up with Jules and Emeri for some Mexican food at The Grill. Hhhmmm, Mexican food the nightNicholls pics 21.jpg (81623 bytes) before a big race?! D’oh! Jean, Beth, Stinger, and Denali made it into town around 9:30pm after getting stuck behind an accident in the Eisenhower Tunnel. Sleep for me was just not happening, I was too nervous and stayed up listening to the cold and heavy rain. Around 2:30am I hopped out of bed getting 2hrs max of sleep. Not good!! We got the rest of our stuff together and headed into town.

Saturday 8/19/06
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It’s 4am, I feel like dog shit, and SO not looking forward to this. The shotgun goes off and we slowly start jogging down the road. My heart rate is racing already and post-nasal drip is getting me close to throwing up. Great! Everyone is quiet and in their own little world. I was trying to have fun and look around at the strings of headlamps but I could not shake the funk. Some dude was singing behind us and I felt like killing him. Keith said his standard, "um, yeah, I'm gonna have to ask you to not do that anymore!" Soon enough we were on the trail along the longest lake in the world (well, it felt like it). At 7miles Tabor boat ramp came up after 1hr 25mins, still 6miles to the aid station. This seemed like forever but once the sun was coming up there was a cool glow all around in the fog and early morning air.
At May Queen aid station (mile 13) at 6:33am I tried to eat some potatoes but they just weren’t going down. I was able to drinkNicholls pics 30.jpg (76048 bytes) a bunch of liquid, but food still wasn’t happening. Stinger and Jean were waiting outside of the tent and they could tell things weren’t going well. I grabbed a sandwich to-go and we headed out after a few minutes. Here the trail starts to climb and climb and climb towards Sugarloaf Pass. I was trying my best to shake the funk and we told some jokes and shared stories with a couple other racers. I managed to take a spill along the way trying to pass some people. The sandwich was not staying down and I ended up tearing off pieces of ham and slowly chewing them. Once on top of the pass it was a rolling trail along some LT100 10.JPG (134837 bytes) powerlines on old dirt roads. I swore I saw the tops of tents, but it ended up being the reflection of a puddle. Hallucinations = 1, Jeff = 0. We joined up on the paved road near the Outward Bound/Fish Hatchery aid station (mile 23.5) and enjoyed hearing some girl hoot and holler at the top of her lungs non stop! The skies were still overcast and we all still had our long sleeves on, better then being boiling hot I suppose!
Stinger and Jean met us right after the aid station at 8:54am and true to form Stinger said into the walkie talkie, “look for theLT100 12.JPG (99495 bytes) guy standing in the road drinking a Jager-bomb”. His goal was to drink the entire time we were racing….mission successful! We grubbed again, complained about having no fun, and it sure was tempting to stay with those guys and have fun crewing instead of running more! Stinger announced that they had a good method going….he would pull everything out of the truck, and Jean would put everything back in! These two are hysterical together and fight like siblings, great fun to watch!!
Too soon it was time to go. We headed down the road towards Halfmoon Road where we would see our crew in 5 LT100 18.JPG (155388 bytes) short miles. Keith was trying to choke down a sandwich, and Steve was trying to keep down a belly full of Ensure and food. We jogged some, but walked most and our crew drove by slowly with Stinger hanging out the window screaming at us between chugs of Twisted Tea. Having driven the road to the Massive TH several times, we knew it would be a slog. A quick stop with our crew and me confessing to Jean that I wasn’t having any fun. The chick with lungs was along here again and some other woman was puking her guts out. We walked most of the way except a few short bouts of jogging on the downhills. Whoever startedLT100 20.JPG (130186 bytes) jogging got cursed out immediately by the other two! The Halfmoon aid station (mile 30.5) was just a quick stop for some soup and chips at 10:39am. We made the turn onto the Colorado Trail for some steep uphills before several miles of familiar territory. This is a beautiful section with smooth/soft trail, aspen groves, small streams, and ponds. We were having “Wayne moments”. Finally I was feeling a bit better physically, but seriously considering dropping out. I kept thinking that I wasn’t having any fun and it would be more fun to hangout and crew. Keith quickly let me know that this wasn’t even an option and I was then determined to shake the funk for good. We quoted Stewart Smally from SNL and laughed about other disgusting stuff. Once on the final downhill into Twin Lakes I talked to Jean and Stinger on the walkie talkie and started feeling really good. I convinced myself to take a big drink of “shut the fu#k up” and enjoy the day. LT100 23.JPG (133701 bytes) Stinger had Jean stop in town for some Boone’s wines so we were sure to be entertained at this aid station! The trail kept switching back closer and closer to the lake until we could finally see the houses. Tons of people here cheering and having a great time. We checked into the Twin Lakes aid station (mile 39.5) at 12:52pm and found Jean and Stinger fighting like cats and dogs once again! Hysterical! Jules and Emeri were here as well and it was a great vibe joking around, taking pictures, eating burgers and brats that Stinger grilled up, etc etc etc. My butt crack was getting really chaffed already and I knew this would lead to problems. I switched into my Salomon trail runners and once again, it was way too soon that we had to leave. Luckily the sun was out and it wasn’t storming yet….yet. From Twin Lakes the trail worksNicholls pics 39.jpg (122807 bytes) through cow pastures, then crosses some serious puddles and the stream that feeds the lakes. The stream was thigh deep and really felt awesome on sore feet and legs. Next, 4miles up to 12,600ft Hope Pass and known to be the worst part of the course. All three of us are good on climbs and better at altitude. Regardless, after 40miles…this would not be easy! Soon enough the leader came hauling ass down the trail. We steadily passed folks and came across the “Two miles to Hopeless Aid Station” sign. D’oh! Seeing these signs sucks, seeing the aid station is good! It’s stocked by llamas and people that are camped out for the w/end, we arrived at 2:58pm. Some more warm soup and Cheetos before the last few hundred feet to the top of the pass. It was such a relief to be on top, and we wasted no time heading down the south side Nicholls pics 42.jpg (59770 bytes) since the sky was about to open up. More and more of the leaders were heading the other way and it’s always fun to cheer them on. My friend Kevin Andrews came chugging along and hit tree line as soon as the hail started! Next was Bill Geist and Sean Cunniff from 14erworld going head-first into the hail and cold rain. It was freakin’ pouring. The trail turned into an un-runable mud slide that was downright dangerous! So much for making up time on the downhills.
At CR 390 we knew we had about 40mins to the Winfield Aid station (mile 50) and that we’d be halfway done. I was determined to drop out at that point and Keith and I were all ready to. This was SO miserable and not fun. Why are we doing this? Whose idea was it? OhLT100 24.JPG (162906 bytes) crap….mine. Near the aid station I called ahead to our crew that we were close and I was so frustrated at everything that I turned the radio off so I wouldn’t have to hear questions and comments. Steve was ahead and feeling great, Keith and I stumbled in meeting Beth and told her we were dropping out. Regardless, we checked in at 4:50pm and drank some coffee and soup. It was still drizzling out and as soon as I stopped moving I started to shiver. Back at the car was a party going on! Jean, Stinger, Beth, Jules, Emeri, Susan, Rob, Amy, and Piper were all there and having a blast. I was miserable and could barely stomach some food. I told Jean I was going to quit and she could tell right away I was miserable. Stinger threatened me there was no way I was allowed to quit and I disappeared off to the bathroom to take care of some business. My muscles felt fine and mentally I felt okay. The LT100 27.JPG (129174 bytes) biggest problem was that my ankles felt like they were about to snap and it felt like someone was holding a belt sander between my ass cheeks.
After several minutes in the crapper I went back to face the music. Steve was all set to go, and Keith and I looked at each other then started getting our stuff ready. We were going to go a bit further. Beth grabbed our CamelBaks to fill up and Jean handed us all the food we could need. Off we went, unfortunately. Even 100yds down the road I told those guys that I may hop in the crew car as it went by since my ankle and ass were killing me. They zoomed by before I had too much time to think of it. *sigh* Soon after I was telling Steve that he should run ahead since it was a slim chance that Keith and I would make the time cut off. Steve kept offering words of encouragement and hung with us. About halfway up Hope Pass Keith and I finally convinced Steve that he had to run ahead to Twin Lakes and make like Forrest Gump to the finish with Bob pacing. I was a broken man, mentally and physically. Steve took off up the mud slide of a trail and was quickly putting distance between us. Keith and I justified not going on for several reasons…1) we weren’t having fun; 2) our pace was ridiculously slow and we would not even be able to job the flats or downhills; 3) injuryNicholls pics 43.jpg (33939 bytes) prevention.
At the top of Hope Pass once again. I radioed Jean to tell her Steve was running ahead and to get Bob ready for pacing and that Keith and I were going to drop out at Twin Lakes. After a pep-talk from Stinger and laughing about their escapades getting pizza and gin, we slowly started walking down the pass. Sure would’ve been nice to be able to jog down, but there was no way that was going to happen. We hit the Hopeless Pass aid station at 7:35pm then once back in the trees the headlamps came back out and the rain started again. Keith’s batteries were barely working and we were taking every step real cautiously. It was taking forever, but physically I could not go any faster. Finally we could see the lights of Twin Lakes but still had to cross the stream and get through the cow pastures. We made it into the aid station (mile 60.5) at 9:41pm with just a few minutes to spare for the 9:45pm cutoff. Jean, Beth, and Stinger were waiting at the trailhead. Stinger apparently was standing in the rain for two hours saying “if they suffer, I suffer”. He was soaked and just about hypothermic! We told the aid station folks that we were dropping out and they all congratulated us for making it this far. I was completely exhausted and ready for clean/dry clothes and a beer after almost 18hrs on the go. I could barely change clothes since I was laughing so hard listening to Jean and Stinger bicker at each other! I’ve never before dropped out of a race but knew it was the right decision this time. We packed up the cars and headed towards the Halfmoon crew stop to meet Steve and Bob, we promised Steve that we would crew the rest of the way. Stinger was snoring in the front seat and Jean, Denali, and I curled up in the back seat until we heard from them on the radio. A few hours later they came in and Marlene took over pacing. Steve looked great and said he felt great. I still had no regrets over dropping out!

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Next we headed back to the Outward Bound/Fish Hatchery crew stop and drank some beers and coffee before and after Steve and Marlene came in. Another quick stop for them and Amy took over pacing. Off to May Queen where we had to park far away and Jean and I could not bring ourselves out of the truck. My knees were killing me and kept waking me up. Bob took over pacing again and we all headed off to the Tabor Boat Ramp for one last crew stop before the finish. The sun was working its way up and we made some more coffee and hot chocolate for Bob and Steve. These guys looked great coming through and took the hot drinks and off they went! We all headed into Leadville and set up just a few blocks before the finish cheering on runners on their way in. Some folks looked great, others looked barely alive!
Around 9:10am we saw Bob and Steve chugging along. Wowza, absolutely amazing!! With our Team WMPH shirts on we ran the last couple blocks with them cheering and goingLT100 35.JPG (119362 bytes) nuts. Steve was in great spirits and was so happy to finish!!!!!! It was awesome. We all sat around chatting and Bob is already psyched to sign up for next year! Myself….no way.
I definitely missed doing the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon this year since I've done that for the past 5 years. I think I'll switch back to those next year...a better vibe, more fun, much shorter, and marg's at The Loop afterwards!
And, there is NO WAY possible I could've pulled those 60miles off without Jean helping me along and giving me all the encouragement through long days of training and helping me with ideas for food, gear, and clothing! It's the family and friends of the racers that should get the awards.

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