Friday evening, I started combing through some old race reports of years gone past and came upon my 2009 Pikes Peak one, which I decided to re-read. Here's a little blurb I found from the report ....
"...I am done with it [Pikes Peak Ascent] and hope I have the common sense to never do it again."
Funny I said that....'cause on Saturday, I did the Pikes Peak Ascent.
Clearly I lack common sense.
Thankfully that's okay because though this year's race was much slower than Ascents past, due to the tiny fact I haven't been training for anything and my fitness level pretty much sucks, I'm so glad I did it.
I know I didn't exactly broadcast I was doing this race (a few of you Facebook spies knew and I thank you for all the well wishes) but when I signed up for this race back in March, my foot was at an all-time max ouchness (that's a real word) level and the chances of actually doing it were slim to none, so I didn't want to make a big deal about it ... up until the day before the race, I wasn't even sure I was doing it. The race fills up most years within hours so back in March, who knew where the heel fiasco would find me come August. My physical therapist and I both came to an agreement we would put the whole Pikes Peak race thing on the back burner and revisit doing it when/if I could run 13 miles with no heel or ankle repercussions during or after. I worked like a madwoman, taking my running from zero to 13 in a mere six weeks and crossed that magical number in early July, just before I headed to climb Mt. Whitney. I got the thumbs-up from PT-man, and Ron,(who has a great article about BF running HERE) to do the Peak, but due to the fact I was still severely out of shape (apparently, it takes longer than 6-weeks to gain back what you lost in over a year. Whaaa!), I was a teeny bit ... um....fearful.
Not fearful I couldn't do it, I knew I could climb all 8000' in a day, but could I do it in the race's cut-off times was the big question mark. Very strict time limits are placed at 3 different check points along the route - this is due to the fact that the Colorado mountains produce very quick moving afternoon thunderstorms, and I can attest it's not a fun picnic being above tree-line in lightening. And, according to the race director, this is a race afterall, so time limits are enforced. And as I learned yesterday, they are pretty strict about this.
I suspect there was an ulterior motive behind all the altitude climbs and runs I did this summer - aside from the fact I just enjoy testing my mettle against the elements and reveling in scenic vistas. If you recall, just a few weeks ago I ran/hiked to the first check point on Pikes Peak... the sole purpose was a test if I could make the cut-off time for ths race. Sneaky me.
I knew the race would be tough - one can't climb 13.4 miles with an 8000' gain with lots of jagged rock beneath your feet in under the time limit and it not be. So I was mentally prepared for that....and well, I love myself a good physical challenge! What I wasn't prepared for was just HOW hard it would be - especially above 10,000' and just how tired I would get. I think all slow moving things - like snails and rocks - moved faster than me; bagged time at earlier check points (and very minimal at that) began slipping through my fingers the higher I climbed. It was much hotter than my previous two ascents (and I was way overdressed....but in 2008 I raced it in a snowstorm and almost froze to death....I now enter in the "be prepared for any weather" mode); I ran out of water in my Camelbak; the hose leading from the summit to the last check-point at 12,000' sprung a leak so there was no water at that aid station (I can only suspect this was due to the hose hitting many jagged rocks along the way down from the top) and thus I had no water for many miles and my throat was drying up fast. And I was a bit dizzy. I was stopping more times than I cared to give myself a little break and time was clicking away - fast.
|The trail around mile 11.5|
I didn't hang around at the top long - just enough to get my medal, use the pottie, and grab some grapes (in that order of priority)... I was just plain tired and wanted to get down to the bottom to see my friends. Jon, from 2slow4boston was in town from Wichita to do the race and he was texting me to get my sorry ass down to the bottom to share a celebratory beer with him and my Denver friends (he finished a good hour and a half before me. Hate those flatlanders!! ;)).
|Jon and I just before the start of the race|
|1/4 zip light-weight wicking purple shirt front. Sweet!|
|Status quo for the shirt back. Love it! (see my side bar for 2009's |
Jon soon had to catch a ride back with his family so we didn't get to chat too long after (Jon nailed the race, btw, finishing well ahead of all my local friends - way to go Jon!) but we did get to have dinner together when he and his family arrived into town - which was awesome. Such a great guy and a beautiful wife and kiddos. So glad I got to meet them all, Jon's been one of my long-time blog followers and has a blog I greatly admire! After Jon left, I was sitting with my friends, trying to eat something (my stomach wasn't overly happy) when I just happened to look over and saw another blogger who flew in for the race - Pennsylvanian Ann, from Trailway to Heaven.
|Myself, Ann, and Ann's hubby, Gary|
Small world, eh? A beautiful soul that woman has; her and her husband did great in the race (far surpassing me) and it was so much fun talking and she told me a lot about her Hoka shoes and how they might be a good match for my foot issues (I am very intrigued!). I also met another blogger, Hannah from More Than A Marathon, from Wichita but don't have a pic....I'll try to get one from Jon and include next post. She was really fun and super fast too (hum...I'm starting to see a "fast" and "Wichita" connection here... maybe I need to start training the Wichita way!).
How did my foot hold up, you ask? It's actually hard to describe exactly what was going on with it, but I did notice something there. Early on, I had some problems with the balls of my feet and I think that was from being on my toes so much going uphill. I felt my feet swelling as the heat, and the running, continued and I won't be surprised if I don't end up with a few black nails. The heel was rearing it's ugly head from time to time but honestly it wasn't anything unbearable and the ankle and the Achilles held up remarkably well. Today, I'm walking just fine....had I done this race 3 months ago, I'd be crippled and crawling to use the bathroom. I have come a long way in the past couple months...something I constantly remind myself if I start to get down on how much conditioning I have lost.
I finally got home about 14 hours after I left that morning, accomplishing "America's Ultimate Challenge" - I couldn't have been happier if I tried. No, it was not even close to my best time - but this race wasn't about a finish line time. I was about seeing if I had the "grit" (as my friend likes to call it) to do it, to test my foot to see if it could handle the torture of that beast, and hopefully ignite a little fire under my butt and jumpstart some serious training in me.
I had the grit.
My foot did well.
My one prevailing thought up that mountain was that I am so ready to put the past year and a half behind me and get into some decent shape.
I'd call that a one highly successful race.
BTW, I also had another blogger meet-up this weekend, Amanda from Runninghood was in town for a little reviving of her soul with some quality girlfriend time. We had a pre-race carb-loading burger and fries and then a fun little trip to REI and had some great laughs at some funky running stuff. Good times! She has this wonderfully big heart and so glad I got to meet up with her and share some great laughs. Thanks, Amanda, I think all those greasy fries did the trick on Saturday :).
I will not write in my 2011 RR that I hope I have enough common sense to never run Pikes Peak again ... I plan to be back - I got a little redemption and it WILL be about a finish line time. Bring it on!
Run strong, my friends!