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Pikes Peak Ascent - RunHalf Marathon

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Manitou Springs, Colorado
United States
Total Time = 4h 33m 23s
Overall Rank = 981/1642
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 46/87
Pre-race routine:

Usual race preparation, oatmeal, COFFEE! (I only let myself drink coffee on race mornings), Chris is nice enough to drive me to the race start – he is awesome, I tell him that I’m not feeling so competitive, that I just feel like taking a leisurely stroll up Pikes Peak where I get to chat with everyone, some days are just like that for me, I just don’t feel like trying to push it. He tries to get me in race mode by putting on some high energy tunes, it kinda sorta worked. I still wasn’t feeling it though. But it turned out that it didn’t matter, my body was going to be my limiter, not my mind.

I slather on the sunscreen and notice the clear sky, thinking back to last year where it was pouring rain, dark, and really cold. I was so grateful for the beautiful weather. Last year just wasn’t such a pleasant experience.
Event warmup:

Chris drops me off, I put on my fuel belt, make last minute adjustments, wonder if I should be wearing shorts like everyone else instead of my Capri pants, sip on some water, chat with random people, hit the port a pots, and head over to the start line. I wasn't too concerned with a 'warm up' - I figured the warm up will be the run up Ruxton.

I see Lyle and Kay (78 and 72 respectively), I had met them on Barr a couple weeks ago, we were all doing a 3-2-1 workout. They are so inspiring doing these races at their ages. Lyle was saying that he was pretty sure that Kay was going to win her age group – turns out she came in 2nd - that is still fantastic!
  • 4h 33m 23s
  • 13.32 miles
  • 20m 31s  min/mile

Then the gun went off and we headed out. I wanted to start slow and start to push once I got to the top of the Ws. I decide that I’m going to run up Ruxton until the bottleneck begins. As soon as I got in the bottleneck I realized that this pace was not going to allow me to achieve my 4:30 goal. So I started to expend a little energy here and there to pass people that were substantially slower than me. I finally ended up behind a guy who was going the right pace but he was wearing nothing but some really super short shorts and there was stuff I didn’t want to see hanging out of them. I had to pass this guy, it was not an option. So I pushed a little and got past him, luckily that was the last I had to see of him. That is just SSSOOO wrong, maybe that was his race strategy to keep people away from him.

I was really sweaty and hot for this whole bottom section, I had forgotten that I was going to experiment with Ecaps and potentially use them for the race. First mistake. My second mistake was my nutrition timing. At 1:30 I finally started in on my clif shot blocks and water. I was supposed to start earlier but I wasn’t disciplined enough to do it. Not good.

I get to the aid station at Bob’s Road and I look up and realize that my ex boyfriend Jeff (who lives in Baltimore) is standing there scanning the crowd of racers as they go by. He caught my eye and I said hello and kept moving. I didn’t know what to do or say. I was glad that I could just keep moving.

I saw John from the Incline Club shortly after this and I followed him all the way up to Barr Camp. It was nice to see a familiar face and as he passed people I followed right behind, somehow it’s less energy to let someone else initiate the pass and then just follow immediately after. I used that strategy quite a bit during the race.

I arrive at Barr Camp, say hello to Theresa (who somehow always recognizes me), refill my water container, and head out. The section of the course between Barr Camp and A frame is the toughest section for me, those long straight switchbacks, I mentally just told myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other, find the best path, step over the rocks, keep checking pace and pass if it’s too slow. My next mistake was not to fill up my water at A frame. I knew I had 3 miles left which on first thought seemed like nothing. However within the next few minutes my right inner thigh started seizing. Uh oh. So I take more clif shot blocks, slug down some more water, and walk very very slowly. The seizing goes away and I pick up the pace a little bit more and bam, the left inner thigh starts seizing. Oh no. I slow down again wondering if this was going to be a torturous race finish. But then that one goes away. I decide that I need to start taking in more nutrition more often. Soon after however my calves both start seizing. I have never had any muscle cramping before, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I get to the mile 2 to go sign and I am happy because I know this is a fairly easy mile. I take it as easy as possible while trying to maintain as good of a pace as possible without engaging my calves. The only way I know to walk without using my calves is from the Chi Running book where you pick up your feet instead of pushing off to propel yourself forward. You use your core to move forward instead of your legs. So I go with that style and I am surprisingly fine. I barely noticed that it had started to hail – I was so focused on picking up my feet. And thinking about those dreaded golden stairs. I get to 1 mile to go and I have only 2 oz water left. I know I need nutrition so I take a ½ a gel packet and drink the rest of my water. I get to the golden stairs where I hear ‘Welcome to the Golden Stairs’ and I’m thinking she should be saying – ‘Welcome to the Calf Torture Section’. I told myself the only way I could get through it without my calves completely seizing the entire time would be to push up completely with my upper leg (use my quad) on every step. So I do that and it almost worked. I did accidentally push with my down leg once and I almost fell over when my calf completely shut down – I learned that negotiating around a rocky trail with one good leg is very tough. I don’t think I blocked anyone too badly though. Luckily the spasm stopped shortly and I kept going. I made it to the top of the stairs and I continued my Chi Running stepping. It worked with no spasms and I finally see the finish line!! Oh my gosh was I glad to be done. My goal was 4:30 and I came in a little over 4:33.
What would you do differently?:

I would have been a little more aggressive with my passing.
Post race
Warm down:

I get some water (finally!), Gatorade, food, my finisher jacket (very nice!), and get on the shuttle. No puke smell like others had warned me about. My inner thighs were seizing the entire way down the mountain as I was trying to make sure not to take up more than my share of seat. But the conversation on the bus was enough to distract me from the pain and the time went by pretty quickly. We arrive at Memorial Park, I get some food and beer, sit in the grass, and wait for Chris to come get me. I tried not to look around too much for fear of the ex showing up.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I am currently following the paleo diet which calls for no salt in my food. I may have to modify this for races and longer training sessions in order to prevent muscle cramping. Or it may have been the fact that I sweated so much on the lower sections and I need to take Ecaps or start my nutritional intake sooner. Or maybe all of the above.

If I can get the cramp issue figured out I know I can improve my time significantly. My HR was in the mid 150s at the top, from a cardio standpoint I could have pushed harder, it was my muscles holding me back. I may also have to push harder at the very beginning of the race to avoid so much passing through the Ws and pretty much all the way to Barr Camp.

Event comments:

I really enjoyed the race, there were lots of volunteers and aid stations given the nature of the course. I would definitely consider doing it again, or possibly signing up for the marathon.

Last updated: 2009-03-12 12:00 AM
04:33:23 | 13.32 miles | 20m 31s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/87
Overall: 0/1642
Performance: Average
Course: Manitou to Ruxton road and then up Barr Trail all the way to the top!
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2009-08-17 2:17 PM

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Colorado Springs
Subject: Pikes Peak Ascent

2009-08-17 4:19 PM
in reply to: #2353786

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Madison, MS
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

Well done! Even with crabby, crampy calves! This is one of my dream races.

2009-08-17 11:24 PM
in reply to: #2353786

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Evergreen, CO
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent
Way to hang in there and finish so close to your goal time!!
2009-08-18 8:05 AM
in reply to: #2353786

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Parker, CO
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

funny about about the "short - shorts"    Great race...I know it's a tough course!  I would think a lot of your cramping issues are related to the no-salt diet.  I don't think I would try to minimize salt intake before a long race like this.  any, great race for you.  Congratulations!

2009-08-18 8:32 AM
in reply to: #2353786

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Extreme Veteran
New Port Richey, FL
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

If all goes well I'll be there next year. Unless they allow rocket packs, I won't be anywhere near that fast.

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