But fact is, I must have waffled back and forth whether or not I'd run it about 30 times. The Mt. Evans Ascent is run on America's highest road (man it's great to live in Colorado :)!!), thus rightfully earning its "America's Highest Road Race" title. It is almost 4000' up, starting at an elevation of about 10,200' and topping at 14,264'. It's not like I've done much altitude training (one whopping run, which I felt pretty miserable doing) and it's not like I've done much massive hill climbing training (same one whopping miserable run. Okay, two really....my son Ryan and I ran a 1650'decent then ascent trail run last Tuesday, which left my quads so sore I could barely walk the next day). Nothing like cramming all your training into one week! :)
I'm usually up for a good running challenge. But I know my training right now is pretty sub-par and my weight isn't exactly making massive gains in the "lost" category.... the reason I was so wishy-washy about doing Mt. Evans because I was honestly scared of not making the strict cut-off times. I've run this race two other times, I know how demanding it is. I was mortified I was about to embark on my first race being swept by the sag wagon along the way.
So, I finally told myself the night before the race that I'd at least go and if it was crazy windy, like it tends to be up there above tree line, then I was out. This was the 31st time I changed my mind, but negotiating with the weather is so much easier than leaving it up my feeble mind to make the decision. Nice!
Of course, when I got there, the weather was perfect. Of course!!
I ran into some friends I used to run a lot with (back in the days I used to be much faster - whaaa ) and snapped a quick picture before lining up (btw, if you didn't read last week's post, the header picture at the top is Echo Lake - the start of the race).
Then it was time to line up. This race is relatively small - about 500 runners - and it's not packed with your typical road racers. These people are die-hard nuts and look like your classic mountain man ultrarunner.... I just thought to myself: I really don't belong here.
Shut up, head. Here I am. I am running!
The race is sort of divided into two different sections: The first part is 9 miles to Summit Lake where the first cut-off point of 2:30 lies and it's about 7% grade incline. The second part is from Summit Lake to the top in 5.5 miles and is about a 9% and must be reached in 4:30.
The first 3ish miles are some of the steepest of the first section and the body just isn't adjusted to the climbing yet. Lots of pine trees here which do a pretty good at sheltering the wind, if there is wind. Today there was none and because of that, the crazy Hyde Park Fire to the north of the race site was causing smoke to fill the valley and not be pushed out. My eyes were watering like crazy. But as we climbed and got above tree-line, we also got above the smoke so the eyeballs were much happier.
|Haze from the Hyde Park fire|
|Approaching Summit Lake at mile 9|
As I'm climbing, my back is starting to hurt - I can only suspect my posture was absolutely crap and I was leaning into the climb way too much and for way too long. I had been looking forward to seeing Kathy at mile 11.5 where she was manning the aid station there, a familiar face in this crazy race would be such a welcome sight. What a wonderful spirit boost to see her and she even had her car all decked out to cheer me on :).
Around mile 12, I see white clouds on the down side of the mountains....crazy to be running above the clouds.
But on the up side of the mountain, I'm noticing dark clouds rolling in. Oh crap! This means trouble soon. Storms roll into these high elevations VERY quickly and I just wanted to get done ... and get down.
The last mile seems to drag on forever. You can sort of see the top of the mountain, but you're weaving back and forth on so many switch-backs it just never seems to get there. I was so glad I didn't have "elevation" displayed on my watch, if I knew how much higher I had left to climb, I'd probably poke my eyes out. Finally reached the top.... 3:32:31.
Happy, Happy, H A P P Y!
I quickly found my checked bag with my warm clothes and ran over to the summit sign to have someone take a picture. I was stunned how the mountain was now almost engulfed in one large cloud....and, it was starting to get really cold.
|Screaming in happiness.|
Usually you can see for hundreds of miles from this spot. Not today.
They were really nice though, very inquisitive about all the Search and Rescue vehicles and how it all worked (like how were they paid, and such). The guy next to me was super annoying but he seemed to know everything so I just let him do all the chatting to the Indians. I was way too busy saying my prayers that we made it down the mountain in one piece, preferably not upside down in the Indian's car having rolled 4000' down. There were cars going up and down on a road that really is only 1 1/2 vehicles wide; runners were still coming up; crazy road bikers were coming up - and down. All of us sharing this narrow road, with non-existent guard rails - all while it was SNOWING and SLEETING!! Scared the crap out of me. At one point about half way down, Mr. Know-it-all announced he couldn't find his I.D. and maybe we should turn around and see if he dropped it at the top. Are you kidding me?? Time for Jill to speak: HELL NO!!!!!
I think it took about an hour to get down the 14.5 miles. It was raining when we reached the bottom so I didn't hang out to find my friends, I just wanted to go home while the smile was still beaming across my face.
My 3rd Mt. Evans race completed. Worst finishing time of all.
Proudest of all three.
|Stolen official race photo. Yeah, posture sucking big time!|
I kinda like running in my "discomfort zone" sometimes, once I settle down and relax; it allows me to see if I have any of the grit left in me which I left behind so long ago before my foot disaster. The more I am aware of it, hopefully the less likely I will avoid it. I don't have it all back yet, but I'm working on it....