Running long distances isn't a big deal for Jen Segger. But running long distances at altitude in blistering summer heat is something she had to spend three weeks training for.
The endurance athlete from Squamish travelled to Colorado three weeks in advance of the Leadville 100 to give her body a chance to adjust to the high altitude before she competed in one of the most gruelling running events staged in the Colorado Rockies.
"That was a bucket-list kind of race for me," said Segger after the race. "I've always wanted to do Leadville and go and see the heart of Colorado and it was incredible. The whole course you are just surrounded by these massive mountains and it is a really inspiring place."
She said the place was vibrating because about 2,000 people were in the small town of Leadville for the annual mountain bike race held in the community. Segger said there were another 1,000 runners in the town for the event she participated in.
Her sixth place finish against 56 female competitors wasn't as strong as she had hoped for after climbing and training on 4,200-metre mountains in Colorado in advance of the race.
"I've been dealing with a really bad Achilles injury for three years that I've been pushing through," she said. On top of that, six months ago her adrenal glands gave up on her so she pulled a few races off her calendar.
"It was very iffy if I was going to go to Leadville," said Segger. "I made the decision to go down and then the week prior to the race I had a huge setback with my adrenals, I just pushed hard, taxed my body too much and I was ready to pull the pin and come home."
She rested and took things easy and ultimately decided to participate, and deal with whatever came up on race day against a field of competitors that Segger described as a "stacked" field of women who know how to win and what it takes to win.
Segger said she decided to go into the race doing her own thing exercising patience. The start didn't go very well but Segger said things picked up in the second half of the race. According to the runner, she and her pacer were passing people who had previously run by her in the first half of the race.
"Before we knew it with three miles to go from the finish we were (in) fifth place," said Segger. "We had worked our way right back up and I started puking continuously. My tank was empty. I just kept running and throwing up. So the cycle kept repeating itself right up to 100 metres from the finish line."
Segger said her final time of 23 hours and 26 minutes was four hours greater than her goal.
"All things considered I'm happy I did the race and I just had to accept where my body was at," said Segger. "Now I just get to focus on my recovery."
While Segger wasn't healthy enough to post the kind of time she was looking for she said the fastest woman in the event was someone she has worked with, so she called it a win-win situation.
"Regardless of my performance, I got to watch Tina Lewis, the eventual first place winner, take it all. I've been providing advice to Tina and her racing for several years now, it was amazing to see her finally execute and win a big one," said Segger.