Buckle or Bust: Two Athletes' Journey to Leadville 100 - Part 1

"Sure, there are many less strenuous courses out there, most of which do not involve ascending mountain passes. But many people would agree that Leadville is like the Boston Marathon of ultras. It’s iconic, it’s legendary, and it’s tough as hell." 

Meet Anne and Tim. 2 Nuun athletes embarking upon the journey to the legendary Leadville 100 race. This August, Anne will toe the line for the 100-mile trail run race, while Tim will compete in the 100-mile MTB race. Follow along as they share their training tips, the highs and lows as well as the personal growth that ensues.    

Meet Anne

 My running career started when I was a freshman in high school. I joined the cross-country team having very little experience with running for two reasons: 1.) I wasn’t very coordinated with the ball sports; 2.) I needed a hobby to occupy my time so I would stay out of trouble. I worked hard, and I quickly learned that I was talented at both running and leading others to run. I credit my two high school coaches, Michael Butscher and Sparky Lundberg, for believing in me and helping me to develop my talent. Who would have thought that all these years later that running would have turned into a lifelong passion and a way to achieve my dreams?  

To provide a little more background, I come from a family of very talented athletes. My brother was a NCAA Division II national champion in discus, and my sister played college basketball. My dad also played college football at Purdue University. Having good genes definitely helped me to develop as a runner, but also having a lot of grit, determination, and an addiction to hard work played a role as well. Having a wonderful and supportive mother (hi mom!) and running community have helped to keep me on track and helped me continue to set and strive for new goals.  

For me, running has become an identity, a lifestyle, and a way to help me deal with the stresses of life. I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my life, from losing my dad at the age of 19 to struggling with an eating disorder as a young adult. Running has always been a constant and a comfort for me. I ran the Nike Womens’ Marathon in San Francisco in 2011, and other than the continuous bone chilling drizzle that fell, I recall seeing a giant electronic billboard around the halfway point. It said simply “running is cheaper than therapy.” Nothing could have rang more true. Logging thousands of miles alone has given me much time to reflect and meditate on my life, and has helped me gain perspective on what’s important. Running has helped me heal emotional wounds that I thought would never stop haunting me. It has also brought me many great friends with whom I have shared my deepest and darkest secrets without fear of judgement.  

Sowhy 100 miles and why in Leadville? I have completed over 50 marathons in my life, and two ultra-marathons to date (a 50k and the Silver Rush 50 miler in Leadville in 2017). As someone who is always striving to achieve bigger and better goals, 100 miles was the next challenge to check off my bucket list. And as far as I am concerned, there is no better place in the world to do so than in Leadville. Sure, there are many less strenuous courses out there, most of which do not involve ascending mountain passes. But many people would agree that Leadville is like the Boston Marathon of ultrasIts iconic, it’s legendary, and its tough as hell.  

There is also one other reason why I chose this year to do this race. My boyfriend Tim has committed to ride the Leadville 100 mountain bike, and I did not want to miss out on the fun of spending the summer training and racing in the (literally) breathtaking mountains of Colorado. And with that, I turn it over to the other half of this dynamic duo...  

Meet Tim 

 I started my athletic career at an early age participating in swimming, soccer and baseball and enjoyed the movement, the camaraderie and goal setting aspects that each of these offered. I worked hard at all three but never was the best at any of them. This didn’t discourage me it just forced me to shift my focus onto doing the best I could and letting the chips fall where they may. As I got older, I began to focus more on my swimming and it lead me to swimming competitively in college where I felt accepted as a vital member of our team. With the help from my college swim coach, Tim Pukys, I began to believe in myself more and continued to train hard. The hard work paid off and I was able to break the school record in the 1650 freestyle. This wasn’t a long lived record as one of my teammates broke it a few weeks later at our championship meet. It was one of my proudest athletic moments for sure. My swim coach also introduced me to the sport of triathlon which I continued to pursue long past my college years. Thus, my life-long passion of endurance sports.  

This summer I’m embarking on a journey to complete my first 100-mile mountain bike race at the iconic Leadville 100 in Leadville, Colorado. Through the years, I’ve completed 7 Ironman races and countless other triathlons but in 2016 I came down with a back injury that does not allow me to run anymore. My identity was challenged and I had to find something new to keep me in this world. This is where my introduction to long distance mountain biking happened. I signed up for Breck Epic which is a 6-day stage mountain bike race. Without much technical training or confidenceI unfortunately crashed too many times and had to drop out after only three days. This led me to rethink my reasons for training and racing and my own self confidence.  

Leadville offers me an opportunity to give 100% to an event without leaving any room for excuses if the race doesn’t go as planned. In all my years of training and racing, I have not given that 100% due to fear of failure. It has left me feeling unfulfilled when finishing events and always wishing I would have done more. This year I am going to leave no stone unturned and do everything I can to get to the starting line in the best possible shape (both physically and mentally) that I can be. When race day comes, I want to know I’ve done everything I could to get me to that finish as fast as possible. If the race doesn’t go as planned, I also don’t want to look back with regret.  

As excited as I am to race myself, I am even more excited to support and watch Anne throughout her journey. It will be a fun summer for the both of us and I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for us. 

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