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Pikes Peak Ascent - Run

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Manitou Springs, Colorado
United States
Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc.
Total Time = 6h 00m 8s
Overall Rank = 568/634
Age Group = f45-49
Age Group Rank = 75/86
Pre-race routine:

We drove to Colorado Springs on Friday, checked in to the castle, then headed to packet pick up. I'd been contemplating whether to have the pasta dinner at packet pick up or do something else. After seeing the plates of pasta I opted for our favorite German restaurant (to DH's delight). I was comfortable with it knowing that I'd had some great long runs the morning after having eaten there. (Unfortunatley I didn't look at my virtual race bag until we were home. I could have had a free beer glass!)

Then we headed to REI for sunblock. I ended up getting an organic sunblock called Garden Goddess. I highly recommend it. It doesn't smell like sunblock and after 6 hours in the sun my only burn was where I missed on my back.

Then back to the castle for some semi-restful sleep.

I set my alarm for 5:15 but was up by 5. I dressed, sprayed on the afore mentioned sunblock, dressed and ate my homemade biscuits drizzled with a Honey Stinger Gel.

We were out the door by 5:30 and headed to Sbux for a pre-race Flat White (thanks Salty!).

DH dropped us at the park and went to look for a parking spot. We wandered and chatted for a bit then when Salty went to warm up I went in search of the port a loo. Success, yea!

Met back up with Salty for a bit before it was time for her to line up. We sang America the Beautiful (because it was inspired by the view from Pikes Peak) and the fasties were off!

At that point I hit the loo one more time and did some strides to wake the legs. Then we watched a few more waves before it was my turn to line up.

And.... GO!
Event warmup:

Some strides and nervous shifting back and forth :)
  • 6h 00m 8s
  • 13.32 miles
  • 27m 02s  min/mile

The race starts at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs and follows the city streets for the first 1.5 miles or so. Still steep, but paved, and a good chance for everyone to pass and be passed. Then we are quickly funnelled down on to a narrow path and commence THE CONGA LINE. It was still moving and was an odd feeling of climbing up a mountain in a line of people. Everyone still happy and chatty. Occasionally the path would widen and the line would split with people passing a few people before the path narrowed again. Depending on the pace of the people direclty in front of me I sometimes stayed in line and sometimes joined the passing group. At one point I was behind a guy who irritated me for a couple reasons. The first, and clearly not his fault, was the fact that he reminded me of someone I work with that I don't care for. Secondly, and still not his "fault" I suppose, was the fact that he had terrible gas! I generally tried not to surge to pass people, based on the recommendations of those that have raced before, but with this guy I HAD to!

At about 4 miles in there was a neat spot where we went under a large boulder that was leaning up against the mountain and it was cool, for a second. There was an aid station and the conga line seemed to dissipate. After that there were a few smaller lines but not the long, endless, line of racers. Somewhere near this spot I was passed by a woman who was barefoot. Yes, barefoot. She had vibrams in her bag, maybe for the rocky top.

The mile markers were done in reverse. When I got to "11 to go" I was surprised at how quickly the miles were passing. I was having a blast and enjoying the scenery. I decided to stay on top of nutrution, even though it felt like I'd just started to I took in a package of chews. At 10 to go I sent DH a short "10 to go".

I was watching my progress based on an estimate calculator for finishing in 5 and at the first few checkpoints I was pretty close. I was alternating nutrition and updating DH at the mile markers, though after the first message he got just a number.

There were supporters here and there, and rescue and rangers with horses here and there. And in between we were left with the beauty, and our thoughts.

Somewhere around 3 to go (the A-Frame) my body figured out what was happening and turned against me. I could no longer eat without gagging so I was left with just liquid. Although, I was only trying my chews. In hindsight I wish I'd tried the candies they had at the aid stations. As I went on I got deeper in to the pain cave. Somewhere in there we also broke above tree line and were left to bake on the rocks like lizards.

Interestingly, although I could hear my heart pounding my HR was dropping! I was gassed and felt like I needed to get my heart rate down, but it wasn't that high! I'm no longer convinced that HR is a great indicator of effort.

I trudged on, continuing the death march. I talked with the others also truding through their own death marches. We encouraged each other, we comiserated, we bonded. Up we trudged. Up and up and more friggin up.

My legs were never a problem, I continued to be able to step up on to the rocks without issue to the end. My heart and my lungs were the culprit. They were not happy with the heat and the oxygen deprivation.

At the last aid station the man offered me Starburst. I joked that I didn't have the energy to chew. In retrospect, again, I wish I'd tried.

Somewhere near the top I heard my name from above. No, not that above, DH was perched on a rock near the finish and called out to me. I stopped and waved. And with a small, not even worthy of the word burst, trickle of new energy I continued. It was still the better part of a mile to go. (We'd been able to hear the top since we topped tree line.) There were photographers everywhere! I wanted to say "please don't" but I figured I'd just chalk it up to more lousy race pix.

At one point toward the end we passed a spot where the people said "from here you can see the finish". Ummmm I've been looking at the finish for 13 miles, thanks. But anyway, they also told me that the woman in front of me had attempted the race before and was turned back at the intermediate check point. So I congratulated her and on we went.

Finally, I was within throwing distance of the finish line. I continued up and crossed. They said "your medal is up there". Yup, after climbing 13 some odd miles I still had to continue up to get my medal. I now understand why DS1 complains about being forced to continue moving after finishing the BolderBoulder. I just wanted to stop! But no, keep climbing to the medal and to the bag check. Then, finally, I could sit.

What would you do differently?:

Maybe I should have tried to take in the candies at the aid stations when my stomach would no longer tolerate the chews. I wish I'd had liquid calories, like a soda or something.
Post race
Warm down:

When I reached the medal giver I also got an amazing finishers hug from Mary. I felt defeated but she reminded me that I'd done it. Then DH also told me he was proud of me. My BIL wouldn't let me hug him. What the...?!

Then I got hugs from my sister, niece and nephew while we hung out in the line for the bus down.

Of course, if the race isn't enough of a weekend highlight, we later went on a mini-craft-beer-tour with Salty and Laffinrock and her DH (arranged and researched by her DH (thanx Alex)). What a fun evening of brews and laughs!!!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Here are my thoughts after 3 days of retrospect. I've never had that problem before so it was a new experience. Was it because of the altitude? I'd been up to 12,800 with no similar issues but that was a much cooler day. Maybe the combination of heat and elevation?

And the HR, i don't understand that at all.

I've been struggling with my feeling of defeat over this race. The first 10 miles were awesome and I had a blast. Yet I'm letting the last 3, which are known for their difficulty, to cloud my memory. It is a beautiful race and an amazing challenge.

Event comments:

This is an amazing race that is suprisingly well organized based on the logistics. Getting the volunteers and aid stations up to where they need to be and getting the racers down after is quite a feat.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2015-03-23 12:00 AM
06:00:08 | 13.32 miles | 27m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/86
Overall: 0/634
Performance: Average
HR high 177, ave 157
Course: up
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2015-08-19 12:53 PM

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Rio Rancho, NM
Subject: Pikes Peak Ascent

2015-08-19 1:30 PM
in reply to: #5135876

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Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent
You. Did. It! And that is a HUGE "it"! Congrats on your training and this hard-earned finish :D
2015-08-19 2:00 PM
in reply to: 4agoodlife

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Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

My comment to Salty was "wow" and I have the same comment for you - WOW!

What you accomplished was amazing, don't let those tough (that doesn't seem like a strong enough word) 3 miles take anything away from it!! Congratulations!!

2015-08-19 2:25 PM
in reply to: amd723

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Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

TJ, EVERYONE has the same struggle above the A-frame. It's part of the magic of this race, surviving. 

Your success running at 12,800 just cannot be compared to running at 13,000, 13,500, 14,000! Not to mention those 10 miles of running up beforehand. Focusing too much on a time goal is not really a good measure of "success" in a trail run anyway.

You finished, you enjoyed yourself, you got to stand on top of a 14er that you RAN up. You had beers after. You could walk the next day.

I'd say all in all it was something you could chalk up as a great accomplishment and a success.

2015-08-19 2:59 PM
in reply to: #5135876

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Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

Those!  Seriously, just walking up the thing is a major feat, let alone running.  BAD. AZZ!!!  Please, please stop beating yourself up  It was a heck of an undertaking and you finished it upright and in one piece.  Gas man = stinky but funny.  Loved how you were able to have some moments of serenity and enjoyment in such a beautiful place.  Kudos to Mary and Alex for creating a fun beer tour for you and Salty, I'm jealous!  BIG congrats again on your MAJOR accomplishment!

2015-08-19 4:52 PM
in reply to: #5135876

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Katy, Texas
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent
Incredible!! HUUUUUUGE Congrats!!!

2015-08-19 7:22 PM
in reply to: #5135876

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

Goodness, you are an absolute stud!  That is (and you know I don't take this lightly) an EPIC race.  Congratulations on all of the good that came from this one.  If you are even still thinking of beating yourself up we will all come down there and give you a little what for.  You should be standing proud after that one, heck even standing at all sounds like it is a challenge.

Congrats again.

2015-08-19 10:05 PM
in reply to: cdban66

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Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent
Yes, you need to be standing tall and proud! It's natural for some of us to beat ourselves up after a race - I'm still doing it after my race. But we have to remember what we did. It may not have been the race you wanted, but you finished! Give it a few days and the post-race blues will subside and you'll be able to see what you accomplished. It will take time, but the pride in what you did will come. I promise!!!
2015-08-20 12:05 PM
in reply to: #5135876

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Albuquerque, NM
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

AWESOME race report - very entertaining and informative!
Congrats on just completing that monster - you are a beast!
2015-08-22 8:52 PM
in reply to: RockTractor

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

Seriously bad- running to take on Pikes Peak.  Congrats!

2015-08-24 1:47 PM
in reply to: QueenZipp

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Pikes Peak Ascent

Sounds like everyone had the same issues - you rocked it! BE PROUD!

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