Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pikes Peak Ascent

"I am so never doing this ever again....Nope, this is a one and done kind of thing....I just really want to sit down...my fingers are so fat it is unreal....these golden stairs look nothing like stairs at all...oh my gosh they are even having beer hand-ups...I so want one...but I so want to puke more....oh let me just sit down here for second...this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life...I am so never doing this again."

24 hours later...."Yeah, I'd probably do that again."

Honestly though it was traumatic and really awesome all at the same time.  Last year we took a trip out to Manitou Springs with some friends so they could do the Pikes Peak Ascent running race. Since I was a  mountain biker I opted out and rode my bike to the summit instead (via Pikes Peak Highway).  It was pretty freaking rad.  However, this year I convinced my coach to support me doing the ascent on foot.   He was mostly worried about me getting hurt.  To be fair, so was I.

Pikes Peak Ascent is essentially a trail half marathon (13.32 miles) that takes you from downtown Manitou Springs, CO to the Pikes Peak Summit at 14,115 feet.  7,815 feet of climb at an average grade of 11%.  Ouch.

Some people (even strangers) asked me if I had "trained for this race".  The answer is a bit unclear...cuz lets be honest, I train my butt off all the time.  But no, I did not train specifically for this race and I would not count the 5 or so 20 minute treadmill hiking sessions as training for this race.  It was really just injury prevention. I didn't have any big goals for this race, other than to just finish. Ok fine, I wanted to break 5 hours...but truthfully I wasn't overly attached to it.

However...the moment the gun went off I pretty much forgot that I was a mountain biker. I ran WAY more than I had intended to. The thing is most of us endurance folk are sick, sick, sick individuals. Once we were on the Barr Trail it was pretty much a conga line  and whenever the person in front of me ran, I ran.  Whenever the person in front of me fell off pace, I made a surge to "close the gap." When we approached technical sections I applauded myself for choosing the better line which allowed me to make another pass.  For the first 8 miles I felt amazing and fast.

Miles 8 and 9 were a bit technical and I completey stopped any and all running at this point.  My lower back was killing me and my feet were starting to cramp from all the uneven footing.  When we got above treeline (about 10 miles in) everyone except me seemed to be suffering from the altitude.  I felt like Pac-Man and started to pick up the pace. In the end, I'm pretty sure this was a horrible idea. With 1.5 miles to go shit really hit the fan!!! I could see the finish line, but it looked SO INCREDIBLY FAR AWAY!!! 

I suddenly felt awful, dizzy, and nauseous.... like I had had one too many shots back in college :)  I could barely put one foot in front of the other and I kept checking my Garmin to make sure that I was actually moving. This is when the buffet of terrible thoughts entered my mind.  I wanted to be done so bad, but I kept having to sit down and take breaks. HOT MESS!   I wasn't even out of breath and I remember how confused I was to see my HR only at 140.  Altitude is so freaking weird.

Finally I had dragged myself to the top, finishing in 4 hours and 11 minutes, crushing my expectations. The last mile took me 33 minutes, confirming that it was indeed the longest mile of my entire life. As I was running towards the finish I heard Tom, Christina and Andrea scream so loud for me that it seriously took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes!!!  One of the girls shouted "Who says mountain bikers can't climb Pikes Peak??!"  Damn right!! This was easily one of the best days of my life!

I can touch the clouds!!!!
One of the reasons this day was so special was being able to share it with many of my friends!!! Huge congrats to my favs Aaron, Eman, Jeff, Lisa, Sue and Katy who all summitted and had great races!! Major props to the three amigas who all PR'd!!

Tom, Me, Lisa, Eman, Aaron at the summit

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