Monday, August 19, 2013

Blog: Pikes Peak Ascent 2013

I am happy I finished. This race is such a challenge that I now know about where my upper limits of performance lie. I predicted a 3:30 finish time. I finished in 4:40. Since this was my 40th birthday present to me - I am reading my time as "For Forty." To say this was "fun" is a stretch. It was interesting.

Mile 1: This mile is mostly road running. The herd left Manitou Springs at exactly 7am. We took up the entire street but there was plenty of room. I felt good through this mile. (300 feet of climbing)

Mile 2: This is where it got interesting. I guess I was naive to the lore of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. There was very little running in this mile. It was hiking / waiting in line. (629 feet of climbing)

Mile 3: This is the second steepest mile on the trail. I felt fine. It was still like stop-n-go driving. There were jerks on the trail just like on the road. Shoving, nudging, trash talking. I had to rub my eyes a little to make sure I was on the trail rather than on the set of some fake wrestling TV program. Picture this: two dudes in their mid-40s weighing no more than 145 pounds each slap-fighting their way up the trail. I actually laughed aloud. (740 feet of climbing)

Mile 4: This was more of the same ... but this was the first mile where I did run a bit since Mile 1. It was more toward the end of the mile. (663 feet of climbing)

Mile 5: I ran even more in mile 5 and I remember feeling strong. The trail was narrow and rocky in this section. It was interesting. (585 feet of climbing)

Mile 6: This mile was fun and I won myself some space from the others. It was a much more reasonable elevation gain. This was the mile where the crew I was in formed and most of the people in this little bunch would finish fairly close together. (308 feet of climbing)

Mile 7: Another fun mile. I was passing people and pretty much ran the whole mile except when the trail narrowed and a small waiting line would form. Most of the climbing in this mile was near the end - and it got steep. (295 feet of climbing).

Mile 8: Mile 8 got real very quickly. I tripped on a root and did the whole awkward catch myself thing. I have done this several times during training. Sometimes this quick reaction causes my back to twinge a bit. It didn't in this case and I was thankful. (657 feet of climbing)

Mile 9: I guess I did mess with my back a bit - because in mile 9 is where I started feeling extreme tightness in my mid back. The trail was good in this mile. (711 feet of climbing)

Mile 10: There was more walking in mile 10 than running. It was the steepest mile and was also above tree line. My back was not cooperating at all. (750 feet of climbing)

Mile 11: The loose gravel got annoying. This was the first mile I could discern between fatigue and altitude. I usually do pretty well at altitude. Today was no different. If not for a decent ability to handle the lack of oxygen - my back pain would not have allowed me to consistently move forward. (687 feet of climbing)

Mile 12: The views from here were fun. The view down to Colorado Springs and Manitou was awesome. The view up the trail was impressive because it was a continuous line of brightly colored shirts and shoes traversing ... holy cow how many switchbacks are there on this thing? I was scrambling with hand-checks on boulders at times to climb the trail. This was the last mile in which I ran. (674 feet of climbing)

Mile 13: Yes, this was the end. It was more of a scramble and a traffic jam than a run. For a bit during this mile I thought I might actually take 5 full hours to ascend. It was very slow going. Even after the finish there was MORE climbing to get to the actual summit. Literally as soon as I crossed under the finish marker it started to snow. That was like a nature-made ticker-tape parade. It was neat. I was ready to stretch my back. (715 feet of climbing + 120 more in the last two-tenths)

If I look more closely at this from a different perspective, I am happy. I was in Ascent - Wave 1. All of the people on the trail for the Pikes Peak Ascent are hard workers and gifted runners. I am glad they have the qualification restrictions - if nothing else for some measure of crowd control.

Ascent - Wave 1 - 750 spots
Qualifications needed to register for the 1st Wave of the Pikes Peak Ascent®:
Peak Veteran of the last 3 years:
- Have run the Pikes Peak Ascent® in under 4:15:00 or
- Have run the ascent portion of the Pikes Peak Marathon® in under 4:15:00
Peak Newbie or those who have not run the Peak in the last 3 years:
- Have run a half-marathon in under 1:40:00 or
- Have run a marathon in under 3:45:00. 

It is crowded the entire time. I passed people. People passed me. In places the trail allows it ... in others you have to make it work. I guess I had envisioned sections where I would be alone in my speed or slowness.

Split Times by Camps
  • No Name:  1:07:29
  • Barr Camp: 2:01:12
  • A-Frame Camp: 3:03:06
  • Summit: 4:40:33
My moving time was 4:29:24 -- I stopped twice on the trail on purpose. The other stopping was waiting on the trail due to traffic.

I was 102nd in my age group. I think there were 130 finishers. So that is the difference of being with a bunch of speed demons. I was 940th overall -which I think puts me somewhere near the middle of the pack.

I can cross this one off my list. It was too crowded and a little stressful to call it fun. I am proud to say I finished the Pikes Peak Ascent 2013.

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