Monday, August 22, 2011

Pikes Peak Ascent? Check!


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
With about 1.2 mile to go (or the "Cirque" at 13,600' as they call it), the last aid station appeared and thank the heavens above - the hose worked and there was water.  I drank about 4000 gallons.  It gave me some the strength I think; I suddenly just felt good here.  I started climbing stronger and a woman behind me began chatting and soon we were both talking about our hellacious battle with PF and Achilles tendinitis - isn't it great, in a sad sort of way, when you connect with people because of an injury!  She couldn't have been any friendlier and the refreshing thing was that she was totally in agreement with my "no orthotics, minimalist low heel-drop shoes, mid-foot planting, toes and hip strengthening" PF antidote.  Time felt like it was flying and before I knew it, I was at the top, with about 45 minutes to spare.  Phew!
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
By the time I got the shuttle and bus back down to the start line and grabbed my finishers shirt (no shirt just for registering, you earn your shirt in this race by finishing in the allotted time), Jon and my other friends were pretty liquored up (ha!).

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
finisher's jacket)
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!

57 comments:

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

That is so awesome that you were able to run so well after all the BS with that dang foot. Like you emphasized, even though it wasn't a PR, it was a win on so many other levels for you. Very happy for you. I think it's funny how your mindset changed from the first time you did it.
I may need to add this race to my to-do list.

GZ said...

Congrats Jill. Love how this race called you back even though you said you'd never do it again.

For what it is worth - you posted thank the heaves above for the Cirque aid station - rather than heavens. That might be much more appropriate though at that place in the race.

CONGRATS!!

Jennifer said...

Congrats Jill! You did so well and I am so proud of you! With all you have been through with your foot you still have such an amazing attitude. I could never do that race. I get above 8'000 feet and I get terrible headaches!

Also jealous you got to meet Amanda!

Anne said...

Fantastic Jill! Congrats on getting redemption! What a great report...and how lucky are you to get to meet so many bloggers. :)

Mamarunsbarefoot said...

Soo proud o of you JIll!!!!! After all that crap your foot gave you you showed it that you are in charge! I'm bummed I allowed fear to get in my way and I didn't sign up to do this with you. Although I still fear I'd throw up from the altitude!

Julie said...

You are such an inspiration!!! I'm so very happy for you and your successful race! You are one BA woman!!!

I laughed out loud when I read the race report from 2009. Funny isn't it how we forget things.

ShutUpandRun said...

Wow, hard core! Nice job. You must have felt "on top of the world!"

C2Iowa said...

"..one highly successful race." You said it!

Congrats. Like I told you the other day - inspiration and one who sets the bar.

Do share the "Wichita way" training plan with the rest of us.

Anne said...

Someone stole the line I was going to use, so let me just reach out from sea level and give you a big, big hug for what you accomplished. It is still hard to imagine you were scaling towels with your toes earlier in the year, and now you're climbing mountains - by the cutoff time!

Jamoosh said...

Sweet. I'll have to come out and do it with you one year. Is there a brewery at the top!

SSB said...

Congrats. I did the ascent in 1993. It was my first ever endurance race/endeavor. I still have my shirt. Those jackets look sweet though. Someday I'll do it again.

Teamarcia said...

I'm thinking running is often like childbrith in that we forget the agony and come back for more.
Way to transcend the heel woes and ascend the peak! You rock!

Julie said...

You simply amaze me! That takes some grit, girl. You might be the grittiest girl I know :-)
Cute pic of you and Amanda!
So glad you got to meet Jon, too. He's a funny one, that guy.
What a fun weekend!

Amanda@runninghood said...

I love this: "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 think you can say that this was a "mission accomplished" successful event! So awesome! Looks and sounds hard too. I don't know what I would have done with the broken hose thing...rough! So glad the next water station worked. Way to go Jill!

And I had such a good time meeting you. You are eve more awesome in person than via cyber space. :) Thanks for lunch and the walk through REI. I might have to race in that outfit we were talking about...just for kicks and giggles. :) Wish I could have seen you longer.

Terzah said...

You ROCK! I'm so happy for you! And that beautiful shirt....

Your race reports are so nice and detailed, too....you really get a picture of what you're in for.

We really must meet--I feel stupid that you see all these folks from all over the country while I live "up the road" and haven't met you yet. Maybe post-Top-of-Utah? I might need some consoling, but I promise not to be too whiney! :^)

Marlene said...

You sneaky thing!!!

Sooo glad your foot held up and you finished strong with a great race! Time-shmime! You earned your finisher's shirt (nice, BTW!) and that's what counts. Congrats, lady!!

Heather said...

That's awesome! Nice job on the race.

bangle44 said...

Wow, I was tired after DRIVING up that thing. (Sorry, I couldn't resist) Quite the accomplishment, lady! Glad, your foot held up.

ATTrio said...

Congrats! I had a friend run that one as well. I'd love to give it a whirl someday.

-Jen

Go check out my giveaway. alwaystrainingtrio.blogspot.com =)

mtnrunner2 said...

Congratulations, that's fantastic! After your injury trials and tribulations, that must be pretty sweet!

Brett Martin said...

That race is an intense one even with a good foot for an entire training stint! Congrats for it, and that is a pretty awesome finishers jacket!

HappyTrails said...

We are SO,SO HAPPY for you, Jill! This can mark the start to a new and healthy you. Awesome finisher's jacket - I MIGHT have to consider doing it someday so I can look as cool as you wearing it! :-)

Aimee said...

Seriously...you ARE AMAZING!! How many people would even attempt that after the injuries you've had?? Not many! Yet, YOU DID IT!! You are so awesome!!! Yay for you!

ajh said...

I loved reading this on so many levels.

I am so happy reading about how well it went for you. I couldn't wait to read it once I saw your FB status! Woot woot! It is so great how well you did, mind, body, foot!
And you got to meet some new bloggers. Two of those pics look just like pics I have from my hike up. And I was way slow! I know M was worried about the lightning when we did it. She has worn those Hokas you wrote about.

Can't wait to see what you do next! You are amazing in your "never give up, always move forward (with minor side trips) attitude! Yeah!

ajh said...

And I meant to add, that is one sweet finisher's jacket!

Brian said...

Great recap...it sounds like an interesting (I wouldn't say fun!) race and a great challenge and accomplishment!

I hit the wall really hard in a marathon and there was another guy suffering alongside me as we took a walk break. I said "Dude, I'm never doing this again" and he said "Me either." and then he looked over and said "of course that's what I said at about this point last year."

Way to take your revenge on the Peak!

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

I should've known you'd get a race report up less than 2 days later. I was hoping just to start on mine tonight.

Glad you felt good enough (gritty enough) to embark on the climb. Hope the foot keeps getting better. You look pretty bundled up there at the top. I thought the weather was about perfect. That's a pretty good pic of us too, BTW. I'll have to send you some of the ones I took. Thanks for all the exageratedly (I can make up my own words too) nice things you said about me.

Glad you got to meet Ann after the race. I wanted to stick around a bit longer but the family was prepping for an early dinner.

I could say more, but I'll save it for my race report.

P.S. Tell Dan and Rob I really enjoyed hanging out with them.

Kate said...

Jill! I'm so happy for you. :) You did awesome. AWESOME! To go from not being able to run to running 13.1 uphill. And wow, did that trail look "fun" (much like labor was "fun"). I'm jealous of all your meet-ups. One day I'll be able to post real blogger meet-up pictures instead of faking them. :)

Char said...

It's almost worth doing the race just to get that cute jacket. But seeing as I don't like hills I can live without it. Congratulations.

Paul said...

That jacket looks really sweet.

Congrats on having a very tough but successful day!

Your foot is gradually getting better..whoot!

Good job on ZUYGS 8)

lindsay said...

Thanks for not calling me out. Though I'm glad I wasn't signed up for it because I was/am not in any condition to do this insane race this year.

Anyway. CONGRATS. now time to check you into an insane asylum. ;)

Oh and what does HT mean? From your comment on my blog?

Christi said...

Congratulations Jill! I am so proud of you for getting out there and testing your mettle. You are a true inspiration and I am excited to be one of your blogging friends!

Raina said...

Wow Jill! What a comeback! I had a little suspicion that you were still going to do this race after the "test run" and a few 13 milers mentioned. You are certainly a tough cookie. I would have been worried with the hose issue too. Hydration is so important. The elevation would have killed me anyways.

I bet you and Amanda had a fantastic time! What a neat person she is- you two probably had tons to talk about. Maybe someday all of us can meet up for a west coast race- like CIM? next year? Or some small posh marathon with massage at the end? Or Crater Lake marathon?

Great job, Jill :)

Black Knight said...

Congrats Jill, you made a great thing, you are an inspiration! You are a lot better than me: when I write on my log-book "never do it again" I never do it again!
I agree with the shirt only for the finishers so we are proud to wear it. I remember a curious story: the day before the Florence Marathon I got at the RWs stand a t-shirt "only for the marathoners". I was proud of myself and the t-shirt. When I got home I found the same item at the news-stand for "only 5 euro"!!!!!

termite said...

YOU FREAKING ROCK, SEESTA! WOOT!

now... would you knock it off ... you're making all of us look bad.

:)

termite said...

YOU FREAKING ROCK, SEESTA! WOOT!

now... would you knock it off ... you're making all of us look bad.

:)

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Man, that gave me chills - great job! Funny how you thought you'd never do it again ... GREAT JOB! I've met Jon, he's a good dude! Awesome!

trailturtle said...

Dear Jill,
It was SOOO nice to finally meet you...and it was really amazing how both you and Jon connected with me without prearranging anything or using modern technology to locate each other. In addition to the "matching" emails, we just "happened" to sit at adjacent tables......it was really meant to be--good karma. Notice that we were wearing the same shirt color, too :)). In any case, CONGRATULATIONS on finishing with a lot of time to spare and I love that smile at the finish. As expected, your race report is already in the books and I haven't started mine, but, hey, I WAS on a plane yesterday--;))). We got lots of pics, too, so you'll get to retrace your race again at some point......
BTW, I'm a Pennsylvanian (I DID grow up in CA, though, and have done a bunch of visits/trail races lately, so you are forgiven. Plus, I know that those Hokas have quite a "sole", but I hope that you were not referring to that, but rather my SOUL...:)))) Have a great week, and I promise to keep in touch...as well as get back to da blog....
Best, Ann

J&KEWL said...

So I'm a blog fan now...are you happy?

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

I LOVE the tone of this post Jill! YOu have come so far and I am so proud of you (begone annoying foot pain)!! Beautiful pictures.

Oh, how I would love to have a lunch date with YOU and Amandahood!!

Johann said...

Sorry I'm so late to comment but life's been crazy busy here by me. My hero Jill! You have the grit for sure and you inspire me in many ways. Fantastic to have the courage to take this on this year! You my friend know how to kick a mountain's ass. I'll learn from you still. Loved your comment on my race about being back next year. :D Rest well until your next challenge. You are awesome!

http://texasrunningmom.blogspot.com/ said...

That is awesome! I saw that race when we visited Colorado and I would love to do it someday!

Suzy said...

OK, you really need to revise a little bit of your post. "My fitness level pretty much sucks..." You just did Pikes Peak, AGAIN. Your fitness level isn't where it was, but you are amazing. Congrats.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats, I am so happy for you!!

BTW, sweet swag, more RD need to take notice of what good finisher items are

Glenn Jones said...

Must...get....finisher's....shirt.......

Kandi said...

I loved reading this report. Way to go, Jill! Get gritty!
I had heard about your earthquake while sitting in the waiting room waiting for Joey's surgery. I never would have expected we'd have one a few hours later.

Irene said...

Never say never. :)

Yeah, I think we all have those races where we say "never again." I just ran a HM that I swore I would never do again.

Yes, sign up for Carlsbad! I enjoy that race. I plan on running the half, but maybe hubs and I can make a weekend out of it and stay somewhere up that way, even though it's really not THAT far. It might be fun to take a break at that point.

Chris K said...

Wow, great RR. You Stud You. Looks like your heel is slowly getting better. How funny that you met Amanda, she's great. You should be in the Guiness Book of World Records for Blogger Meet UPs.

Molly said...

Yay Jill! Great how you connected with that woman, and chatted away the end of the climb!

Sounds like you're in a great place foot wise, and training wise, can't wait to see what you pull off next : )

Sweet shirt too.

Tara said...

Awww Jill, I already knew what happened in the race, but I just loved reading your report. I can just "hear" the hope and excitement coming through in your words. I know there hasn't been much hope in you over the last year, so I am so glad that you finally have that spark back! You so deserve to have that spark girlie, you've had one helluva year and it's time to put it behind you.

That being said, you are one tough bitch for getting this Pikes Peak thing done and I have no doubt in my mind that you will come back next year and kick some major Pikes Peak ass.

BTW-That shirt is really nice. Maybe I need one....hmmm. :)

Love you girl! XOXO

Cory Reese said...

I don't know what to say. I'm just amazed. This run seems so incredible, and miserable, and exciting, and rewarding. I am seriously impressed!

Caratunk Girl said...

SO excited for you!! After your injury problems you must be so happy to be otu there!! I SO WANT to do Pikes Peak, it is on my list. 1 more IM and I am IN. I think.

Tricia said...

wow, super awesome

slow ernie said...

Does this mean I can't blame Gary for my hurt foot anymore? Doesn't seem fair to me.

Jesse - Run To The Border said...

Dang, Pikes Peak is one race I could never see myself doing! Congrats on finishing the race though, and I'm glad that the ankle is on the mend.

Betsy said...

I came across your blog through Fastcory's blog and your heel issues struck a cord. My husband has had PF since last November and I've been dealing with it for about three months. We've done the cortizone shots,etc but one thing that has helped tremendously is Hoka shoes. I can't say enough good things about them. I've been able to run 2 half marathons and am training for St. George. We both love them.
Congratulations on your accomplishments!

Scott Keeps Running said...

Too bad I missed you when I was down. Maybe next year. :)