Part One: The First 50 Miles
When I bounced around in the dark just before the start of the Leadville 100, close to the front of a crowd of nearly 700 runners, I wasn’t thinking about the daunting task of running 100 miles. I just thought about how all I had to do was spend the day running, and end the day right back here, again in the dark, at the finish. I had expectations of course, goal times of arrival and departure from point to point along the way, but by being relaxed and focused, I rationalized I’d get there one way or another.
And so, we began – a mass wave of bobbing headlamps galloping downhill, around a corner and out of town. I started slow, as my sister Lauren had warned me I should. “Ashley, whatever you do, do not get to May Queen winded. You cannot be breathing hard when you get there.” I heard Lauren’s voice the whole way around Turquoise Lake. I had to force myself to slow down, to take my time, to relax. I decided anything under 2 hours was way too fast. I came in at 2 hours on the dot. I was on top of my hydration, nutrition and perhaps on the verge of being a little too on top on my electrolytes, but I felt like I had hardly run a step.