Race Report: 2013 Collegiate Peaks 50

Common sense usually dictates that the more you work at something, the better you get at it. In my case, it seems like there are a whole lot of unfulfilled assumptions built into that premise.

While I have had some races I am happy with over the years, they tend to fall into the one-and-done category. I really don’t care much about my time and placing, I just want to approach what I know my potential is. Sadly, it is a rare event to even get close.

I have established a fairly dismal record when it comes to repeat races – always getting worse with each attempt:

Leadville 100
2009 – 24:45
2010 – 27:52
2011 – 28:23
2012 – 28:45

2009 – 5:19
2010 – 5:38

Rescue Run
2008 – 43:14
2009 – 44:04
2010 – 44:45
2011 – 47:27

Antelope Island 100
2012 – 23:28
2013 – DNF@82

And now I can add Collegiate Peaks 50 to the list…
2011 – 9:17
2013 – 10:15

I had low expectations going into this one. I’m fat, out of shape, old, and crippled with the usual calf/heel injuries. My 2011 race here was such an exquisite disaster, that I went into this year’s thinking I could easily beat that time and go under 9 hours. Turns out I was wrong. Again.

Despite all of my whining, I actually have good memories of the race and will consider it a success. Mainly because after a very long time, I am finally starting to feel some momentum beginning to build. I kept thinking during the race that this was going to be a launching pad to propel me through the year. Hopefully that is the case.

Making this year’s race extra special was the chance I had to run with my son (he did the 25 miler). I smile when I think of our first trail races together several years ago and how I would pace with him for every step of the way, keeping him going with fluids and calories. He has turned into a very solid and competent runner now and it is great to hang out together and run more as peers these days.


I picked Malcolm up from school in Leadville on Friday and we spent the afternoon checking out different spots along the Arkansas River.




Possible albino red-tailed hawk, or very light ferruginous – super cool to see a white hawk against the blue sky

Yellow-rumped warbler

Rafting the Arkansas River




We got busted by a landowner for being a few steps on private property taking some pics of the river. An initially very ugly situation eventually swung the other way and we were able to leave on good terms with an invitation to return anytime (more on that encounter in another post). I was just thankful to not be spending that night in jail or picking shotgun pellets out of my ass.

After dinner, we went up on the first few miles of the race course looking for a spot to shoot a photo concept I had rattling around in my head. It took a while, but we finally found a good location and pulled off the shot. I’m really happy with how it turned out. The new Project E:Motion line of shoes is actually having a positive effect on my troubled calves. I’m amazed that they are actually feeling better after every run, and my Achilles tendons are no longer feeling like they have been hit with a baseball bat.


Race morning arrived and it was great to line up with so many of the usual suspects. RT was out and about with his camera gear and got a quick pic of me adjusting my hat. I was briefly jealous and wanted to swap places so I could shoot photos instead of run, but I knew I needed to get through this thing to set me up for the rest of the year.

Credit: Robert Timko

Credit: Robert Timko

I don’t think we could have asked for better conditions as a beautiful and clear morning revealed itself. I intended to take things easy, telling myself to treat this like the first 50 of a 100 miler. That worked for a while, but truthfully even that pace was working me over so I just kind of drifted into a zone of working hard but not really going very fast. Okay, then.

Credit: Robert Timko

I was happy to cruise past the place where my calf popped last time. Things still aren’t great in that department, but I felt like I could keep it together. Although I ran the entire climb up to the course high point, it was probably a bit too much for me at my current level and I gave some time back on the descent – paying the price for my lack of training.

Credit: Robert Timko

I hit the turnaround about where I wanted to be, 15 or so minutes up on my split from 2011. I thought I would be golden for sub-9, because now all I had to do was match the 2nd half of my race with the bad leg.

I had conveniently forgotten that I was still pretty fit back then even with only one good leg to run on, and I ran the second half that time with a clenched-jaw type of determination. Not so today. By the time I was back at the high point of the course (mile 31-32), I had slipped back to being dead even with my prior splits.

I faded from there on out.

Again suffering from lack of training. That is turning around, though.

Another thing I have had a huge struggle with is getting my fluid and salt intake dialed in. For years I have been thinking my symptoms (shortness of breath, badly swollen hands, etc.) were due to too much salt. Now I think maybe I was wrong and in fact it has been too little all this time.

All of my weekday training is done without water, and my weekend runs are often pretty light on fluid as well. Then I show up at a race and drink and drink and drink right from the gun – pure water. Eventually my lungs feel swollen and my pace slows to a crawl as I am unable to push very hard at all.

Although my water intake didn’t seem that excessive for this race (I went with a single bottle) I still met with the same results. Feeling a little experimental, I didn’t take a single salt cap until hour 9. I was hurting then. Familiar routine, legs worked over, but the chest/lung thing is what was really holding me back. This is what I have dealt with at Leadville the past 3 years, too.

I took the salt and gave it a while, about 10 minutes later I swear I was starting to feel better. That feeling lasted about 20 minutes and then I was back to crap again. I should have popped one every 20 minutes for a while to see if things would turn around, but for whatever reason I was just ready to be done and didn’t mess with it anymore.

The lungs then felt worse than before and I pretty much walked the final 3 miles.

Glad to be done, glad to have done it.

Despite the poor result, I had a good day. I have new shoes that are starting to turn things around, and I have some more things to think about and try with sodium and fluid intake.

One of these days it will all start coming back together again.

Malcolm’s finish. Credit: Robert Timko

Malcolm had a good day and it was fun to spend the weekend together. After the race we went grocery shopping on our trashed legs to get him stocked up for the next few weeks.


It was cool to see so many friends have smashingly great days out there, and even those that felt a little off still managed to run some good times. Thanks to Rob for the pics and cheers, nice to see a friendly face out there.

The mojo is returning. At this point it is more like slowjo, but I’ll take it!

Posted on May 18, 2013, in race, run. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice on the ice on the cart. That might be trend setting for the finish area at all ultras soon.

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