Welcome to springtime in the Rockies! Sunday, April 1st we had a record high of 86 degrees. I got a slight sunburn running. The next day we had horrific winds and a good 30 degree temperature drop. By Tuesday we had 3" of snow. I try not to whine too much - Colorado's front range has been extremely dry this spring and we are way behind in moisture and even had a horrible forest fire last week where several homes burnt to the ground and 3 people lost their lives, so moisture - any way we can get it - is much needed. Still, when you've been subjected to some amazingly gorgeous summer-esque days and two days later your backyard is full of freezing white stuff, it's hard to be super duper happy about that.
Unless you're a cold weather person. Which I am not.
Don't worry though....blink your eyes and today it was 74 and I got suntan reminder on my back.
But it's not just the weather that's causing me to think about summer. Idiotically
, I signed up for this little race this summer:
That little red line is the Barr Trail
that takes you from the town of Manitou Springs at the bottom of the pic 8000' up to the top of Pikes Peak 13.3 miles later.
I know you're all thinking: Jill, you bonehead, you've done the Pikes Peak Ascent 3 times - the last being with zero training last summer and you are amazingly still breathing - what's the big deal?
Well, friends, the big deal is that I've never signed up for the full marathon, I've "only" done the Ascent. And though I did survive that little Ascent feat, it was physically the most demanding thing I've EVER done.
Now, I get to climb the 8000' up AND get to go back down. All on the same day even.
Beings 1) I'm not part mountain goat and 2) I'm a huge chicken running downhill....I'm thinking that I may have bit off a bit more than I can chew. I'm not sure how my feet are going to handle being on them for 10 hours straight; they're still not happy with me for that 50k attempt almost 3 weeks ago (seriously, what's wrong with my achy feet lately?!?! ugh).
So, when some best laid plans with my mountain climbing son and his friend attempting to climb Pikes Peak last week turned into a fizzle, I took that as a sign that I better take Brendan myself and get my butt up part of that thing and get some extremely much-needed training in.
It was one of those gorgeous days here in Colorado, like April 1st in the above picture. Our plan was for the two of us to go to approximately the half-way point, Barr Camp. Brendan then was going to pitch his tent and spend the night and I was going to run back down, go home, and then pick him back up the next day. I know. He and I climbed Mt. Whitney last year and I camped at 12,500' - but I had no choice then. I did here...and I didn't want to camp. Camping is his gig, not mine. And he was absolutely happy with this plan. Besides, I knew there is a couple at the Barr Camp Hut
, which is directly across the path from where Brendan was camping, so he had company, if needed.
So that's what we did.
It was a bit slow going to get to Barr Camp with Brendan's heavy pack, but that kid loves this stuff and he just steadily climbed.
|Brendan and I with about a mile to Barr Camp Hut.|
Pikes Peak in the background
I ran when I could but considering I'm in pathetic shape, that wasn't much. The steepness of the first three miles is insane and I just was gagging on zero air here. And because Brendan was carrying 33 lbs, he WASN'T running so if I ran any, I'd run back to where he was and getting to Barr Camp seemed to be taken an inordinate amount of time.. Needless to say, we came up WAY short of making the 3-hour cutoff time the race requires to get to the camp. Not that that was a goal - but I was trying to gauge exactly where on the blah-y fitness scale I landed.
Um, that'd be pretty much at the bottom of that scale.
|Barr Camp Hut, elevation 10,200'. The people who stay here and run this are incredibly|
nice. Brendan hung out with them during dinner and they told him lots
of really cool stories of others who have traveled these paths.
We got up to Barr Camp, about 7.5 miles and 3800' elevation gain, in about 3hours and 20 minutes. We checked in with the people at the Hut, talked with them a bit, and then walked around some looking at the gorgeous scenery, using the facilities, and I gathered small pieces of Amazonite (the geology geek I am :)).
Brendan found his campsite and was one happy camper :). Once he was settled, I then headed for the trek down. I felt a little parent failure-y leaving him there but I knew he was much more capable of staying there than if it were me alone up there. I'd be a frantic mess. He was in heaven!
|Thanks, Happy Trails - I stole this pic off your blog :)|
The trail is a little rocky at the start of my descent. I was running some, but did I mention how chicken I am coming down? In 2008 when I did the Ascent, the weather was horrific and when we got to mile 10 of the race, they called the race and we had to turn around and run 10 miles down (hum...similar "race called" story as my 50k. Only this was due to extreme cold and snow and thunder and lightening ... all things you DON'T want when you're stuck on the side of a mountain. I'll have to write a blog post around that race sometime :)). Some guy clipped the back of my heel and I went down - HARD - and was on the bottom of a 4-man pile-up. Hurt like a you know what ... and every time I run down this trail, I think about that incident and thus tend to be a little reserved going down.
And since I suck going up, and reserved going down....now you're getting the whole picture and probably wondering why the hell I registered for this full marathon, right? Well you have every right to be concerned about me. I am.
After a couple miles of rocks, the trail loses a lot of the protruding rocks and becomes a nice, steady dirt and pea gravel trail, engulfed in the pine trees. This is my favorite part of Barr Trail.
And then the last 3 miles are what they call "the W's" because it's a lot of switchbacks. It's fairly steep here and is pretty exposed to the beating sun.
I ran pretty much the entire 7.5 miles, at least about 90% of it anyway, albeit slowly. At one point I thought I was flying yet when I looked at my Garmin, I was doing a whopping 11:00 min/mile. Whoohoo. Yeah, I rock at this trail running stuff (I was sore for a good 4 days after. How pathetic)!
|Elevation to Barr Camp and then back down|
It took me about an hour and 40 minutes to go 7.5 miles and 3800' down. You can stop laughing, I totally get that I suck.
I'm a bit concerned about this coming down stuff and the full marathon in August. I'm concerned about what shoes are going to help my incredibly achy feet. I'm concerned about how incredibly sore my ankles were for days after.
I'm concerned about a million things about this race. And therefore, I'm not going to obsess about it.
Huh, you say?
Well, it's not a big check-list race that I feel I MUST DO in my lifetime! It's close to my backyard and I have loved accomplishing the Ascent race, but the full marathon is a whole different race and my head's not really sure about it right now. I'm not ruling it out, but I'm not ruling it in either.
I'm just going to get down on that trail whenever I can and see what progress I can obtain.
And I'll go from there. If I can do it, great - it'll be part of my summer races. If not, oh well. No stress. No pressure. Part of me still wants to do the Chicago Marathon so if things don't go well on the vertical training then I have other options.
I'm sort of digging this take-things-as-they-come attitude. I really should utilize it more often.
In the meantime, I have a slew of other races coming up in April and May....and next week, I even have a giveaway on this here blog (I know, me?!?!? But it was something I couldn't pass up so be sure to check back, especially you girls
And THANK YOU
so you much for the very kind words on my 50k on the last post. Many asked if I'd do another. Oh yeah, that's a given. Just not right now, not until the time is right. Whenever that is.
So until then....
Happy running, my friends. And don't eat too many chocolaty eggs Sunday!