Thursday, April 5, 2012

A small glimpse into summer.....maybe

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 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!


Julie said...

Ha. I only wish I sucked as bad as you! And I love that you aren't stressing. Possible your feet just need time to adjust to this different terrain.

Karen said...

Nobody signs up for Pikes Peak because it's easy. I think that's the hardest part. The rest of it is just one foot in front of the other. You've got this!!

pensive pumpkin said...

oh my i am really truly super jelly of this. pike's peak is soooooo beautiful, it was one of my favorite vacations as a kid. and to think- i was jealous you did the ascent!!

one day, when i grow up, i'd love to do that. you are so awesome.

i have faith in you.

Bubble Boy said...

Jilly Beans, you amaze me. Pikes Peak, WOW. By the way, did you remember to go back and pick up your son the next day. :)

Neon Blonde Runner said...

Oh my goodness, what a crazy looking marathon. You are a machine, best of luck you you, you've got it!!

Neon Blonde Runner said...

(I mean best of luck to you, you've got it!!)

Terzah said...

Oh, you KNOW I think you can do it. I just wish this were my year for the Ascent so I could come out and cheer for you (maybe I can find a way to get down there and cheer for you anyway!).

You do NOT suck (you KNOW you don't suck--you are a machine) and you can do it (and even if you are unsatisfied in some way, think what this will do for your fitness for Chicago). It will be good all around as long as you don't beat yourself up mentally.

I think your son is awesome too--wow, one day maybe my kids will want to camp on their own....too weird....(I like the Amazonite!)

I probably will eat lots of chocolate on Sunday. :^)

XLMIC said...

You are super brave and very awesome! And I know you are also smarter than you are giving yourself credit for :) If you proceed with this insanity, you will do great...'cuz that is how you are! Best wishes with it all!

SupermomE13 said...

I have no doubt that you will do GREAT. I had to laugh though because I am the BIGGEST chicken about running down hill on trails. I could come run with you and we could hold hands. :) (kidding!) I think you are super brave and super awesome. Keep it up!

Average Woman Runner said...

WOW. I can't imagine that climb followed by that downhill. You've already done it once so you will be great. The stone is very pretty - why do they call it Amazonite when we're no where near the Amazon? (non-geologist here though I work with many rock jocks)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I had to scrape my car this morning, I want warm weather NOW

I love reading about your hikes

Jennifer said...

Ha! What beautiful trails. Sounds like you had a good workout too, I am jealous, but for sure my head would explode at those elevations. XOX!

A Prelude To... said...

Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse - going UP or going DOWN.
Either way - that sure looks fun...and by fun I mean HARD!

Digging the great attitude. Life's too short to put too much pressure on yourself about things that are supposed to give you joy.

Live it up, girl!! Summer's coming!

Anonymous said...

is it me or is Barr Camp at the tip of a great big nipple?

Coy Martinez said...

This looks like so much fun! A massive challenge but that's what makes it cool! Don't feel alone on the downhill thing! I'm like a pack mule taking small tiny steps going down a trail. I'm so paranoid about everything! I love it but I'm slow :)

misszippy said...

I think you're taking the perfect attitude. Don't over think it don't obsess. Just do what you can do. You'll enjoy it and it will be great to check off your list.

I totally feel you on the weather going back. We've had some amazing weather this spring, but right now it's only in the upper 50s. Not fun to return to this. And I'm over wearing tights for the year, so I'm freezing for pride!

Ransick said...

Nice pictures from your hike! That marathon looks tough, but what an accomplishment it will be when you complete it!

ShutUpandRun said...

I love that you always choose these hardcore goals - no fear!! Might have to come down and run that one with you sometime. Gorgeous. And 3,800 feet. I've never done that.

Tasha Malcolm said...

Loved the pictures, very beautiful place!

Chicken said...

You're crazy...and I love it! Is there a half option that is the Downward portion of this race? I'm just not sure I'd EVER want to just go up! But you're amazing!

Christi said...

Girl, you have got the marathon. Just believe and all things are possible. Let me know when you need a training partner. I am here for ya my dear!

Jenny said...

Girl, you're hard core! I'm not a fan of hiking downhill much less running!
You're awesome!

Black Knight said...

As usual great pictures for a great post. It is almost unbelievable what you succeed in doing!
The elevation to Barr Camp is really scary.

CautiouslyAudacious said...

We have the same thing going on here!!! You always have awesome pics!

Kim said...

You just made me ridiculously "home" sick for Colorado Springs. I lived there for 11 months (moved away a month ago...) and I absolutely loved it. I never took the Barr Trail up--I always took the Incline up and the Barr Trail down. I wish I could have stayed longer so I could hike the entire trail.

You're going to do awesome in the race!!

Kim said...

You just made me ridiculously "home" sick for Colorado Springs. I lived there for 11 months (moved away a month ago...) and I absolutely loved it. I never took the Barr Trail up--I always took the Incline up and the Barr Trail down. I wish I could have stayed longer so I could hike the entire trail.

You're going to do awesome in the race!!

Teamarcia said...

Wow the scenery makes me miss CO. Hell I miss CO and YOU every day. How cool B goes up there to camp. I know you'll be fine no matter what kind of shape you say you're in. That's how you roll.
xoxo :)

Jeff Gallup said...

So awesome! I am planning to run the marathon next year.. I hope. I know that bottom part of Barr Trail very well!

Jeff Gallup said...

So awesome! I am planning to run the marathon next year.. I hope. I know that bottom part of Barr Trail very well!

Laurie said...

You are amazing and brave. Looks like an incredibly hard amount of fun.

Unknown said...

Girl, you are up to some FUN trail adventures, you are SO blessed! Sounds like you are having lots of fun this spring, despite your WILD and crazy weather!
Have a wonderful Easter,
xo meg

ajh said...

I enjoyed this post but I think you are giving yourself waaaay too little credit. You are tough and you will do it. You live in the area and can "practice" as you just did and your confidence will build. Yet I get it because it is just how I feel about swimming. Instead of 26.2 I am talking a whole third of a mile! I know I can do the distance and a lot more but I hate to be last esp. if I am last by a lot. I have no confidence at all.

I love that your son loves the hiking/camping so much and you share it with him - at least the hiking part! I would go home too so I don't know why we gave Kate such a hard time!

Hope you get some nicer weather - no more snow!

Kate Geisen said...

"Suck going up and reserved coming down"...sounds just like me on a bike!! You sound like you're in a good place mentally. You've got time, and more than that, you've got experience...I won't be surprised to see you rock this when it comes around.

Anne said...

All this practice in all kinds of weather will help improve your confidence as much as your physical stamina. I'm having trouble breathing just reading this post.

Jenn said...

Jilly! I agree with AJH before I even comment on your post here. You don't give yourself enough credit!!!!

Yes, Colorado and Minnesota. 65 degrees yesterday and now it will be like 20 degrees tomorrow for Easter Sunday. Good thing Max has nice new shorts and a Polo to wear to church....

You know this is like a lifetime dream for me. I would LOVE to do that marathon!! It would absolutely kill a prairie runner like me but I would love every painful minute of it-moreso if you were with me:) A few speed goals that I have to get out the way and also a right leg transplant but then I'm there!!!

As always, love your pics! You and Brendon-beyond cool that you guys can do stuff like this together.

I have been purely AWFUL with both blogging and email. I'm an introvert when things aren't necessarily going my way....I think of you often!!

DRog said...

gagging on zero air

Im also a chicken coming down

love the photos and the outing
take it as it comes now THAT is the life:)


Tina @GottaRunNow said...

Sounds like a fun adventure for you and your son! The race sounds tough - but what a challenge!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

ditto what Tina just posted.

Happy Easter as well!

Paul said...

Hey Jill,

Yah...well the weather: APRIL FOOLS!

Pikes Peak is tough, no doubt about it. I would practice downhill running a bunch...maybe put a 4x4 under the back of your treadmill even.

I would guess it's all about the quads..the stronger they are the better off you'll be. The whole race is all about leg strength no?

Have a nice Easter..


RunToTheFinish said...

can't figure out why your blog won't update in my reader! i keep missing posts.

anyhow can i move in with you? i'd love to hike all those amazing trails

Ewa said...

I'm not listening, I'm not listening!!! I am covering my ears and eyes - I do not want to know what I signed up for.
I have a job for ya. Bribe, threaten, do whatever you need to do to the weather people so they get this thing stabilized for our run. What do you say, 56-57degrees, no wind, not too much sun from start to finish? A slight breeze to cool off the sweat ever so often would help.
Have you considered running with hiking poles? Some people do. I tried this a couple of weeks ago and actually liked it but I am not sold yet.

Matthew Smith said...

What a cool trek you had with Brendan!

You've got to be nuts to do the Pikes Peak marathon! Good for you! I don't know if I could hack it. You're awesome!

Enjoy the weather! :)

Unknown said...

Dang, what a gorgeous place to run!

Caratunk Girl said...

Awesome photos...

Hey I would be freaking out as well... But you do not suck. That is the toughest craziest marathon out there IMO and you are bad ass for signing up. Keep up the training!

C2Iowa said...

Awesome pics!!

You sound as if you have been wandering about inside my head. Talk about sucky -- did you not read my numbers I sent you? haha

Another 50k? - Not for me. Ever.

Hope you have a good week.

Lindsay said...

I think all the people who didn't get a spot in PP will not like you after reading this post ;)

It does seem like an extreme race and I'm glad I've had the mental power to not get suckered into it yet. I would like to do it one day but I'd like to A) survive and B) not be in 300% pain the day after. :) But one day, I will drag you up and down that hill with me!

Hope you had a happy Easter! I never understood camping. I prefer the luxuries like a soft bed and running water haha. And camping supplies are so darn expensive! And I hike slow enough as it is. Don't need the weight of camping gear to slow me down anymore - may as well just pitch the tent in my yard. That will take me all of the daylight anyway.

Tara said...

Hey you, I absolutely LOVE your pictures on here. I so love trail running and being in the woods, I would love to run this sometime (NOT the full marathon, but just some of the trail). Maybe next year after I pop the kid out.

I like the new attitude. I think you've been hanging out with me too long. Watch it! You might take on the total slacker attitude that I have. You will do well at this race Jill, I know you and you won't let yourself fail. You'll make all the cutoffs.

That kid of yours looks happy as a lark. I don't blame him, it is beautiful up there!

Tara said...

P.S. Now I wanna skip work and go trail running (just not on Pikes Peak)

Kenley said...

This post def makes me want to put on some trail running shoes and go for it, the only problem is where? lol. I am so jealous of that trail. ANd you kick ass by the way. I am NOT a cold weather person either. Thanks for sharing all of this. Off on the trails I go now.

Tim said...

Is this Pikes Peak Marathon something someone could try on their own? Like, alone? Like, someone just happening to be there? Or would that be idiotic.

Mark said...

I love your post! Great pics!

Molly said...

Give me uphill any day, seriously. I HATE downhill. I climbed Blue Mountain in the Adirondacks years ago with a group, in the middle of January. They gave me the "Blue Mtn Buttslide Award" because I refused to walk down certain stretches.

I ate waaay too much chocolate yesterday, I probably ate enough for the both of us :)

HappyTrails said...

Ahhh, you will savor every step - you are one who enjoys being a glutton for punishment - which is good because it just pushes you to a higher level. You will do just great! Remember, I hope to be mostly recovered and will be glad to do a few training days with you on the Hill! :-)

Kathy said...

Aaah! I know you can do it but AAAH just the same. OK, I'll stop freaking out about Hurricane Point in honor of you doing the ascent - I'll just tell myself - "sure, this sucks but at least it's not Pike's Peak!"

Laura said...

You are just amazing. I get freaked out doing out (smallish) hill repeats! Hope your Easter was awesome.

On the Right Track said...

It's so beautiful there...and the pics are amazing! So cool that you could enjoy part of it with your son...I sure hope he made it home ;)

I am constantly in awe of you and your strength and can do anything you put your mind to, and it shows!
That is some steep downhill trail...yikes! You will be great!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

Wow! Changes! But used to that being from NE! Will I get to see some of these beautiful sites when I visit in June?! Booked my ticket for Thurs night June 21- Monday AM June 25th!

Robin said...

Thanks for the vistit to my blog and the encouragement! Looking at yours was amazing...beautiful. You are a very accomplished runner/athlete! Awesome.

Anonymous said...
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One Little Jill said...

I miss Colorado!! BUT- I will be visiting again in July :) Maybe this time we meet up???