Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Half way up Pikes Peak and a few As to the Qs

Pikes Peak in all her glory.  Elevation 14.115'
Wow!  I think I got about 1085 questions to answer for Chris' stupid lovely Q&A.  This is good actually, this way I have something to blog about for the next ... year or two.  I enjoyed reading all the questions and actually look forward to sharing them - but because I'm such an exciting person and all, and live life on the edge daily, I'll cut the answers into a few posts so I can share some of my latest adventures also.

Last Friday I continued on with my mountain hill running climbing quest and tackled half of Barr Trail, which eventually reaches the top of the infamous Pikes Peak (elevation 14,110').  I decided to run alone this week (aka: couldn't bribe my either boys to go with), a little test to see where my current sucky fitness level is.  I actually already know where it is, pretty much down there with the pond scum, but I am slowly chipping away at the body fat and my mileage is picking up ever so slightly - this, coupled with my insatiable desire to test my mortality, I wanted to see if I could make it the 7 1/2 mile trek to Barr Camp - about the half way point to the top of Pikes Peak - and how long would it take me and in what condition - both mentally and physically. 
Well, I'm sitting here writing - which at least answers your question if I survived. 

I started about 3/4 of a mile before the trail as this is where I had to park my car due to peak tourist season invading the parking lot near the trail head.  Not that a lot of out-of-towners like to torture themselves hiking this thing (though many do, and I always cringe how many wear flip flops, or have no water, or are on their cell phones, gasping for air....) but there is a Cog Railway which goes from the bottom of Pikes Peak to the top and it's a huge "must do" for tourists.  So my starting elevation was 6330' according to my Garmin.

When I arrived at the trail head, I already ran about 3/4 of a mile and gained several hundred feet.  According this little sign, I had about 7 miles to Barr Camp:
It was a gorgeous day, filled with Colorado's famous bright blue skies, but a little muggy from all the rain we've recently experienced due to the invading mid-July monsoons.  I know I shouldn't complain about 67% humidity, but when you're used to 28%, it feels pretty blah!  The trail was a little muddy in spots but not too bad; it's mostly marble to golf ball-sized grave for the first 3ish miles.  And steep.  I think these first trail miles are the steepest of the entire trail (but lower in elevation than towards the top, where breathing becomes rather .. um...difficult).

The trail starts about 6500' and by mile 2 you are already at 9500'

After about 3 miles on the trails, you come to Arch Rock where you get to run through a little arch, kind of a fun point along the trail.

Running through the arch
I'm not doing a lot of running these first 3 trail miles, it's just too dang steep for my out-of-shape legs and lungs, but I'm maintaining a pretty good hike pace and feeling strong.  I'd run where I could but mostly it was just a strong hike; my goal was to make it to Barr Camp in under 3-hours so no time to lollygag.

Around mile 4 (3.25 on the elevation profile....remember, I ran about 3/4 of a mile to the trail head and thus start of the elevation map), the trail widens and is less steep so I manage to run a little here.  Pikes Peak comes into view, too....and yowzie it looks far away (about 9 miles to the top).

The peak of Pikes Peak hiding behind the trees, seems a lot  further than 9 miles
With a couple miles to go, the trail becomes steeper and I resort back to a hike yet I'm still feeling pretty dang good but can tell the altitude gain is catching up to me a little.

Liking that butt shot?  HA!  I was in a hurry and didn't take the time to
see where I was in the view-finder.

Pikes Peak - again
The last mile takes you back to the wooded area and I just keep plugging away until I knew I was close - been on this path a few times in the past when I was training for the Pikes Peak Ascent so I tried to run a little and finally, Barr Camp:

Welcome to Barr Camp, elevation 10.200' (the best thing is they have a potty here!  :) )
I really didn't know how I'd fare or if I could make the 3-hour cut-off time I had set in my mind (this is the cut-off time for the race) so I was pretty stoked that I DID IT!!  7.22 miles in 2:32 with a bit over 3900' elevation gain.  Definitely not my fastest (in fact, it is my slowest) but even adding another 5ish minutes on to the that 2:32 time (due to the fact the race actually starts about a half mile further into town than where I parked and started), I made it with a bit over 20 minutes to spare.  Hum........

Barr Camp marks about the half way mark distance-wise and elevation-wise to the top of Pikes Peak.  I did it a little faster than I thought.  My heel and ankle were cooperating.  So far.  I was beaming.  At the entrance to Barr camp is a little stream, shown above.  You can rent a water filter from the camp people inside for $5 or bring your own if you have one, but I had my 70oz Camelbak and my 20oz water bottle around my waist (the latter filled with electrolytes) and felt I had enough fluids to get me down safely so I didn't refuel with water here (though by the end of the day I sort of wish I had) but I did dip my hands and face in this ice-cold water. It. Felt. Amazing!!!!

I didn't linger around too long at the camp; I know the longer I am on my foot, the more my ankle and heel start to protest - especially going DOWN, which I had 7.22 miles of to do.  So off I went.  I did run most of the way down, but my run actually was more of a shuffle - I tend to get a little freaked by how steep the trail can get and I have fallen on this once during the first time I raced the ascent (2008.  Long story...I'll have to share sometime) so I took my time.  By the time I reached about mile 10, my ankle was starting to bother me and by mile 12, it was screaming.  With only two more miles left, I just took it really slow and walked it in and I finished with 14.64 miles (not sure how I put on more mileage going down than I did going up.  Weaving I guess) in a total of 4:51.  I know, I know - 11 minutes faster to get down than to go up.  Yeah, that damn heel and ankle.

But I did 14.62 miles, climbed 3900', made the 3-hour cut-off in ample time, survived... PLUS, the next day my foot was just fine.  3 months ago, this would not have been the case.  By Sunday, my calves were done screaming at me for making them climb those 3900' and I managed to pop on my treadmill for 14.5 miles.  What?  Yep, I did.  Wasn't pretty at the end but I did it and the only reason I stopped there was that my heel let me know it had enough.

Progress....I'm slowly making some - and I couldn't be more excited.

I'm headed out to California this weekend - my son, Brendan, and I are going to climb Mt. Whitney - the highest mountain in the lower 48 (14,496').  I am a little worried about the foot behaving for the 22 mile long trek up and down but I talked with my physical therapist and he's on board for this little adventure so I'm going to give it a shot.  If the foot won't let me, I'll just wait for Brendan and other friends we're going with at camp, about half way up, but I think all is going to be good!  And then when I get off that mountain, I'm meeting up with some blog friends (yep, more blog friends, Chris K!!) and I can't wait.  So I may be a little MIA next week but I can't wait to let you all know how Whitney goes, all the great bloggers I meet up with, and read about your adventures upon my return.

Okay, so here we go....some answers to your awesome questions:

CautiouslyAudacious Asked: So how do you stay motivated while working through your heel problems?
Dear CA, I think I could write a novel on this.  Seriously.  I have not always been motivated and many days/weeks/even months I was angry and bitter - even depressed and had to seek help for my feeble state of mind.  Even today, as my foot hasn't been overly happy, I questioned why I continue to pursue something that just feels like it's never going to be totally pain-free.  But I remind myself - constantly - that I am a better me when I can run.  I may never run the times I once did nor feel that victory of placing in my AG or BQing with lots of time to spare, but running has been part of my life since I was in high school and I just know that I must keep going ... it's part of who I am.

Amanda@runninghood Asked: 1) How long does it take to adjust to altitude for say a high altitude race?
Obviously, living at 6000' helps (where I have a huge advantage, I feel, is living at 6000' and racing at sea level.  Every marathon I have ever done, other than Pikes Peak, has been much lower elevation than where I live) but when I have done the Pikes Peak or the Mt. Evans Ascent races, I take full advantage of the higher altitude in my backyard and spend time in the mountains - like I did Friday going up Barr Trail - and train as often as I can.  I'm not sure there's a magical number of amount of time, specifically, but more is always better.  I do have a good friend who lives in New York City and runs the Pikes Peak Ascent AND full marathon and he never has a problem with the altitude....and yet there was one time I raced Mt. Evans and had to get off the mountain as soon as possible, I was having some altitude issues (but I think that's cuz I was dehydrated).

2) What is your favorite place to go if you want an excuse to "dress up"?
I'm not a huge dresser-upper, but I do like girls' nights out sometimes!  :)

3) A guilty pleasure?
Chocolate ice cream.  Yum!

Jamoosh said... And you are associating with a self-professed "Manly Runner" because...
I sorta feel sorry for him.  Don't you?

Adrienne Asked: So, my question is kinda dumb, but do you ever get used to running in the mountains, or ever wish for different terrain?
Never get tired of the mountains - never - but I do love the ocean and the few races I've run near it (Big Sur Marathon, SF Marathon, Seattle Marathon) have always been incredible.

Patrick Mahoney Asked: If I had magical powers and could move Colorado to another location completely intact, where would you want it moved? To the coast? To a different time zone? Farther south? Another planet? Since this is a completely hypothetical question the answers "nowhere" or "I like it just the way it is" are not acceptable answers.
Let's plop Colorado next to you in California and I'm all set!

Petraruns Asked:  !)If you could force Patrick to race in a major race in any outfit which would you choose?
One of the 3 Musketeers!
2) When are you coming over to run with me in Europe?
I wish I had the funds to do so RIGHT NOW!  One day I will be, promise!
3) Can I really be on your relay team next year?
Definitely!  Wish you could come this year, we need another runner!

Julie Asked: 1)Which state do you want to ride across with me next year...Colorado, Iowa, Wyoming Nebraska...? 
Rhode Island. 
2) can you make me a faster a runner without too much pain?
The pain is so worth it, girl...it's half the fun! 

misszippy Asked: Here's mine: Since you are the blog meet-up queen, who haven't you met that you are dying to meet? (I'm sure tough to nail down, but give it a go!)
This is hard because there are so many great people I have gotten to "know" through this blog and meeting them in person has been an absolute high for me.  I guess there's some across the big blue pond like Petra I'd love to meet, and Johann and Stefano.  I'd also like to meet Julie from Minnesota because we've had some very similar paths in our lives lately.  Shelly from running stroller mom was probably one of my earliest followers so it'd be cool to meet her. 

Anonymous (Jessica) Asked: Do you miss me?!
YES!!! (Jessica was one of my past clients and I miss her a lot!  She is an amazing runner!)

Caroline Asked (many):
have you visited other countries?
Unfortunately, only Mexico and Canada.  But Canada is all that matters, right?  :)
where did you go on your honeymoon?
Kauai, Hawaii
Guilty pleasure? if it is Jersey Shore I am not sure I will get over it...
I've never seen Jersey Shore....is it bad? 
I love chocolate ice cream.  I love a cold beer...with a lime (sorry Jamoosh) and a great margarita.  I love Mexican food.....
most embarrassing moment as a mom?
Probably the time I left my son in his stroller at Disneyland ...and didn't realize it until about 5 minutes later after we were all standing in line and I looked down and holy crap, where's Ryan.  In his stroller.  Screaming his lungs out.  Opps.
how old were you when you ran your first marathon?
if you could have dinner with Lance or Dean who do you pick?
Lance.  Maybe he could tell me why my girl bits and my feet hurt all the time biking! 

Okay, that's all I got for today.  If I'm not able to post again before I leave for California, have a great week next week - and of course, run strong!


Alma said...

Oh, that trail looks awesome! Definitely makes me want to pack the car and head to Colorado!

Cory Reese said...

That run looks amazing! I am jealous.

Caroline said...

Yes Canada is all that matters!
You are headed my way! What town are you going to be in? If you meeting the manly one means San Diego?

Caroline said...

I love all these pics ! Beautiful!

XLMIC said...

I want to do that run with you someday!

Hope California is amazing :)

Jennifer said...

Nice job with the Barr trail! You have such a good attitude, Jill!! XOX

Mark said...

So good to hear the ankle/heel is healing....that is no easy run!! Man it looks like fun! Hope you have a great trip!!

Johann said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! Must be the attraction of Pikes Peak…? You are making fantastic progress, exciting! Can’t wait to read about Mt. Whitney. Glad to see you would like to meet me…ditto! I’m very positive it will happen. Have a great trip!

Jamoosh said...

Now that is some hill work!!!

Miss Erosion said...

I would absolutely LOVE to regularly hike with you. I cant wait to read about your Mt Whitney summit. Do you know yet what route are you planning on taking?

Anonymous said...

I have yet to hike up that darn thing. Matt has done it a few times. He and Connor almost made it to the top but snow blocked their way.

Christi said...

Congrats girl on a great adventure! I am glad that your running is starting to come around.

Have fun in California!

Keri said...

I love all of your pictures of your Pikes Peak run! My husband and I hiked up Pikes Peak last year and are hiking it again this year. It is such a wonderful hike! One of these days I will be as brave as you and run the marathon!

Karen said...

Congrats on the climb - great pictures! Sign me up for the ride across Rhode Island - HA HA :)

Marlene said...

Wow, incredible! Congrats on making the trek in one piece, and yay for minimal repercussions!!

have an awesome time ion California and good luck with Mt. Whitney! Look forward to reading about that.

Kandi said...

That run sounds so hardcore! But you've inspired me a little to want to run up a small mountain close to where I live. I don't run on hills much these days but maybe I'll get out there at some point.

HappyTrails said...

So, so, so EXCITED and HAPPY for you!
You had a fantastic day! Outstanding progress, indeed. Fingers crossed that it continues by leaps and bounds. I need to get up to Barr Camp this summer - it is such a peaceful, beautiful place. Have fun on Mt Whitney! Big hugs...

lindsay said...

67% is considered low humidity here... so shut yer trap ;)

LOL about riding across RI. Hahahahaha

Umm I am disappointed about the answer to zippy...

Lance does drugs. Where are your morals? ;)

Laura said...

Canada is totally where it is at. :)

Laurie said...

That run/hike looks amazing and breathtaking... like seriously how do you catch your breath?! I think I need to get out of the valley and into the mountains. I hope Mt. Whitney goes well, can't wait to read about it.

ajh said...

Love the Rhode Island comment

and the story about leaving Ryan in the stroller!

ajh said...

Have a great hike up Mt. Whitney. You are amazing! So glad you keep doing better with that dang heel.

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

Dude, that's some serious progress!! Nice work. I'm always a headcase about steep descents, too.

funderson said...

HA! Rhode Island..funny...
Way to kick some Barr Trail!

Julie said...

Rhode Island!?!?!?! LOL! I miss you we MUST GET TOGETHER!

Doing the happy dance for you that things are going so well with the running! That trail looks awesome! There was a time I thought maybe a fourteener was on my bucket list..maybe some day...

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I have decide I am coming to Colorado, I dunno when, but I am, and Mercy is coming with me

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

Of course, I was very interested in this post. I wish I could have been with you going up the Barr Trail. I'm stoked that your heel is feeling good.

Cool pics of the trail. I didn't realize Pikes Peak would look so far away.

I had a good incline treadmill workout today, 7 incline miles with the last 4 miles set at 10% while going no slower than 4.5 mph. I am noticing some improvment.

I missed out asking you a question for your previous post, but I've got one now. What's your most embarassing moment as a runner?

Paul said...

Hey that foot is letting you do more and more! Amazing tough hike. I would love to do it, even if my nephew doesn't pony up the $1000 ;)

Have a great hike on Whitney!

Anonymous said...

jill, your photo's are just getting better and better.. they are lovely!


Amanda@runninghood said...

I'm finally here. I saw your post last night and have had Jill's Blog on my list all day. :) You are such an ADVENTURE woman!! It is official...if come visit, I will beg you to take me on one of these Colorado trail runs...please! ;) I'm not much of a dresser upper either...I enjoy it sometimes though. Sounds like you are doing really well Jill. Love the picture of you bending over because you didn't know where you were with the camera. :)

Char said...

What a great looking trail. And gorgeous looking weather. It makes me want to get outside and do something ... But that's not going to happen today.

Teamarcia said...

Pikes Peak, I can't even imagine. You can whine all day about how out of shape you are but I'm not buying it. Fantastic trek and glorious pics. Were you all alone in solitude?
Have a fabulous trip! I'll have some boot picks for you when you return.

Anonymous said...

YAY! Miss you too!

PS: I am blogging on a site for Louisiana runners called claimyourjourney.com

check me out!


bangle44 said...

Awesome! and Inspiring!

Molly said...

gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Did I spell that correctly?

I'm dying over how you left your son in the stroller, I would totally have done that!

misszippy said...

Progress is progress so you're doing alright in my book! What a beautiful run.

Have a blast in Calif. More meet ups? You are the queen!

Thanks for answering my tough one!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

That's some super mountain climbing Jill. You will regain your strength FAST with all that climbing. I'm fearful of "the coming down part" too. Just to walk down scares me. Hope the trip is FUN!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

I can see why you would never get tired of the mountains. The little bumps we have around me in PA keep me happy until I see your photos of the real mountains you get to play in!

You are making great strides! That is a lot of elevation change. So glad your heel/foot was happy afterward.

Of course you'd want to meet me! ;-) We are two of the longest running females in the blogisphere! We'd have a lot of running history to compare. And you are right, I feel like I've "followed" you forever. thanks for all the great advice.

Bubble Boy said...

Jilly B, have a great trip and I hope your heel and ankle behave!!!!I wished I lived closer to the Mountains, those climbs look OSOM!

Love the pictures! Unfortunately I have no pressing questions. Have a safe trip and have a Blast! I want a MOM like you!!

Emz said...

Yay progress. Loved reading that.
What an insanely hard yet beautiful run.

Julie D. said...

wow. that is awesome! way to go! and 14 miles the day after?! you are amazing. and inspiring. no excuses for me...that is for sure.

Black Knight said...

California I miss it! Have a safe trip and have fun.
The run looks amazing; I love all the pictures.

TX Runner Mom said...

Okay, I need to add Pike Peak to my running wish list. Love the pictures!

Kate said...

Your biking across Rhode Island answer cracked me up! :)

Let me know if Lance has any good advice. My girl bits are literally scarred from my last mountain bike crash. Not an injury I foresaw.

Your pictures are making me sooo wish I could come to Colorado and run/hike/drink with you!

Raina said...

Jill, you always write so well :)

The trip to Pikes Peak sounds so....demanding! I have heard that it is not possible to pass others during the race. Is that so??

I bet that stream water was AMAZING. I haven't spent much time at altitude, but I can imagine living at 6000 ft helps. I think the last time I climbed a mountain, I had a headache already at the base.

Glad your heel /ankle is doing so well and that you were able to crank out another 14+ on the treadmill. Your recovery is picking up speed!

Happy Runner Girl said...

WOW! great run I have hiked Pikes Peak and have always wanted to do the marathon later in life I hope!

Caratunk Girl said...

This is awesome!! I have always wanted to do the Pikes Peak race but figured it would kick my butt. ha ha It is so cool to see it in pictures.

AND WAHOOO for no heel pain. That freaking rocks.

Chris K said...

Hi Jill, my strategy is to read your Posts later than everyone else. That way the best comment is always last.

Damn, you are a stud. And, you will have done a 14-er in back-to-back weeks.

See you on Friday. I guess you are allowing me to your party cuz you feel sorry for me. I'm honored.