Perhaps my mistake was visiting Leadville earlier in the week. I was greeted by hard-packed orange dirt trails littered with rocks and debris, with zero shade and somehow heading up an incline in all directions. I got out of the car and walked around, we were somewhere close to 11,000ft at this point.
I took THIS picture and was completely out of breath by the time I made it back to the car.
Or maybe it was this particular piece of scenery that made me unsettled:
What makes this race so hard? Well, start with the elevation. When was the last time you were at 10,500ft elevation at a starting line? Ever tried running at that altitude? Yeah, me neither. I've been up here for a week with my family, and while I'm finally acclimatizing on my runs and hikes, it's still insanely hard. Add to that the lack of shade at that altitude and you're getting a serious smack-down from the sun. Oh, and did I mention there's a total of 6,000 ft of climbing? Sigh. At least the peak is only 13,500 ft at Mosquito Pass! (come on, pretend with me here).
I stopped in a local outdoor gear shop to find out a bit about the race, I figured if anyone had any sage words of wisdom it would be them. Sadly, one of the employees had entirely too much fun freaking me out.
At first, it wasn't so bad...
Then he started showing me the "fun" parts...
And now I'm completely ready to pack it up and go back to sea-level:
I know, I'm being a big wuss. Not really though. We stopped by the race office where they still have the results from 2009 taped to the window. Average finishing time? 6:18!!! 6 HOURS and 18 MINUTES! For a MARATHON!!! I actually found a blog online and stalked the poor guy to put myself in comparison with his finish time, because I honestly have no idea what to tell my family. See you at the finish line, hopefully? At some point before dinner? Anyways, this guy ran a marathon in 3:15, lives in Boulder, and finished Leadville in 5:55. Ehhh?
Alright, my musings/freaking out has to come to an end, heading up to Rocky Mt. National Park to see some moose/elk. And I don't mean my brother. Hopefully my name will make it on the finisher's list tomorrow...for the first time in my life, I'm not so sure.