Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘PPM’

As I begin to reflect on the events of yesterday, it’s hard to even put in words all the emotions and feelings that occurred during this race.  Pikes Peak Marathon is nicknamed “America’s Ultimate Challenge” and they don’t lie. This race is not meant for the average joe that just wants to do a marathon.  It takes true heart, guts and determination to get up and down a mountain.  That said, I wanted this challenge.  I wanted it badly as I have been writing and talking about this for almost a year.  It actually started last year after my friend Andrea finished the marathon and I decided this would be my 30th birthday present to myself. There also was a tremendous metaphor in this as I feel like reaching 30 I’ve become a very different person than the shy girl that moved to NYC at age 22.  Mostly though, I wanted the challenge.  I wanted something different and Pikes Peak definitely presented a challenge and a very different kind of adventure.    

So race day.  I had taken the cog train (one of 3 in the US) to the top of Pikes Peak on Saturday to get a feel for what the conditions at the summit.  It should be noted I never had really been at altitude before so it was all new.  Anyway we drove down to the race and cut it a bit close to the start but honestly, did it really matter?  That’s the difference between this and a road race.  We chose to hit the bathroom first so I actually missed the official starting gun.  No biggie.  It meant as we started we got personal cheering;)    

I started out with my friend for the first mile before she took off.  I knew it was going to be a long day and my intentions were to finish with a smile on my face.  I remember running up the roads and hitting the trailhead.  That’s when it really hit.  I was heading UP UP UP.  I was stuck behind a lot of walkers right away which was OK for a little while but it was even too slow for my power hiking.  I was able to pass a few people but didn’t expend too much energy.  As so many Pikes veterans have told me, it’s about keeping the legs moving forward and don’t waste energy – you’ll need it!    

  As we hit mile 5 (8 miles to the summit) my legs felt pretty good.  However, I knew don’t take anything for granted the race doesn’t really start til you hit A-frame (aka the treeline).  I met some friends around Barr Camp and we stuck together all the way up.  One woman was from Kansas and had come to run this after overcoming breast cancer.  Another woman had run this 11 times and 75 total marathons.  It was a blast and really helped me pass the time.  I wore my camelbak which was a very good move – aid stations were about every hour on the ascent!  As we reached the A-frame, I remember the aid volunteers welcoming us.  This is when I looked up and went WOAH.  All I can say is it was a long ways to the summit – I was in switchbacks hell.  Again, I was pre-warned about this so I knew there was quite a while to reach the summit.  This is when things got a little sour.  My calves started burning worse than I had ever felt before.  It was awful.  Fortunately the women I was with comforted me and just kept helping me remember to keep moving forward.  I saw Andrea at this point and she was on her way down.  She asked how I felt and I lied that I felt fine…but didn’t lie that I’d see her at the finish line;)    

This is only part of the way up. The views just got better

 

As runners continued to pass, I knew it was one step closer to ending the burning calves and a faster down.  Again, I was told 75% of the race is the up.  Funny since I’m used to mile 20 being the beginning of a marathon!  Again I look up and all I saw were switchbacks of runners.  Oy.  Where the heck are these golden stairs?  The golden stairs are what are the last switchbacks up to the summit.  They really aren’t golden and you shouldn’t bother counting.  They’re rocky and it’s a last calf buster as you approach the summit.  By now, I felt like a snail and was getting encouragement from the other runners how once you turn around it’s a whole new ball game.  All that kept going through my head is keep moving forward.  One foot, now the next.  Refuse to quit.  Oh and thoughts of Katharine Lee Bates using the summit of Pikes Peak as the basis for America the Beautiful.  If there was a bit more oxygen, I may have started singing.  As it was, thoughts were all there would be at this point.  Finally, I reach a switch back and look to see a sign for the Pikes Peak Marathon.  I had made it…to the summit!  13.32 miles down…less than a half marathon to go;)    

A little taste of life on the trail

 

This was the ascent finish but Sunday this was my just past half way point

 

 Coming back down I felt like a new woman.  My calves were pleased to be put on a bit of a rest and let the quads take the next part of the show.  The plan for down was to run where plausible and allow gravity to take me down the mountain.  Don’t fight it.  Less fight means less quad pain later.  I stuck with the other two women all the way down the A-frame part of the trail.  So helpful as it made time fly.  As long as that 3 miles felt going up, it felt so much quicker going down (which it was).  When we approached the A-frame aid station I knew greenery was around the bend.  And..more oxygen! Major win.    

They had traffic lights at the aid stations for where the end of the trash zone was to contain cups and miscellaneous trash

 

At this point my legs said “ok, time to rock ‘n roll.”  And I’m sure it wasn’t really rocking that fast but hey after that painful expedition up the A-frame anything felt speedy.  I lost my two friends I had made at A-frame at the aid station.  I started passing people which was a nice feeling. I began feeling fresher and a pep to the step.  Very odd but I went with it.  I made sure to continue to eat and drink at each aid station to keep that pep in the step.  I got a few rocks in my shoe but I knew if I stopped to empty my shoe I may have issues moving again.  So blisters be damned I kept forging ahead.  As I got to Barr Camp, I remembered there were a few down hills on the way up so of course you know what happens on the reverse.  I decided to walk the uphill to save my legs and give my poor beat up calves a break.  Time was not an issue and I knew I was well within the time allotment.    

Doesn't even begin to justify my experience...

 

For the last 4 miles I tagged along with another girl cruising down the trails.  It was nice to have someone dictate the trail which took the pressure off of me thinking about direction.  After 7 ½ hours on your feet, it becomes tricky.  Finally I see 3 miles to the finish and know the dream is about to become reality.  I look up to see clouds forming around the summit.  At that point, I was thinking “time to bid adieu to Pikes for now.”  I continued running passing an aid station playing “Chariots of Fire” and finally reached the trailhead which emptied onto a roadway.  Ouch.  Roads at mile 25 after all that trail running feels AWFUL.  At this point Leo (@ex_cyclist) rode up next to me!  What awesome timing.  We chatted for a couple of minutes before he took a quick picture.  At that point someone yelled to me “just a couple more turns to go.”     

half mile from the finish and pumped!

 

I will say at this point I moved my sunglasses up to my hat so all emotions would show.  I saw Andrea on the sidelines waiting for me.  I yelled something to the effect of “this was fantastic” with a beaming smile.  As I was about to round the final turn I hear from Brooklyn, NY here comes Bridges Runner!  Thoughts flooded my head.  Most of all, holy crap I didn’t just run a marathon.  I got to experience one of the most scenic marathons in the world.  Then thoughts of all that have supported me through the training and in general.  It’s amazing what thoughts flood the mind during special occasions.  Finally, I cross the make shift finish line where they tear a piece of my bib off for a gun time of 8:28:28.    

Pikes Peak

 

I wish words could do justice for the experience I had out there yesterday.  I’m not sure they can.  I’ve stated that this is my year of 30.  While I’ve experienced so many great events, I will say it’s also allowed me to meet some pretty cool people along the way.  I’ve been able to reflect a lot about life in general and what it is I want out of it. Life is about experiences.  This now may be one of the top experiences of my life so far.  It was worth every mile, every twisted ankle on the trails, and every thought of “can I really do this.”  I do believe if you want it, you will get it.  Dreams are great but getting after them is even better.  Believe in yourself.  It goes a long way to making reality.  I made one of them happen yesterday.    

It’s great to look back and know I did this for the right reason.  It reaffirmed my love for running and experiencing things that simply cannot be justified by words.  I guess you have to be there to really understand what I exactly felt yesterday.  Sure, I may have said this about other road races but this is different.  There truly is something to be said about experiencing a day on a mountain and the views that go along with it.  As my friend mentioned to me, we spent a workday on a mountain!  I proclaimed “well, I can’t think of a better working day.”  It’s true.  So thank you, Pikes.  You gave me a very special birthday present!    

And thank you for all of your support.  It truly has been a magical time. This was marathon #8.    

The stats of elevation: start 6300’ summit 14,115’ finish 6345’    

the mountain

And this is what a mountain looks like on a garmin

 

To come? A guest post and more pictures,,,,

Read Full Post »

Well, we’ve reached the time that there are no more tomorrows.  No more oh it’s next week.  No more one more run.  This is it.  Tomorrow I will be tackling the trails to head up to 14,110 feet before descending back down to a measly 6,300 feet .  I kid.  Although coming back down gaining oxygen will be a welcome addition:)  Tomorrow I tackle America’s Ultimate Challenge: Pikes Peak Marathon.

Today I was able to take the cog train up to the top of Pikes Peak and experience true altitude.  I didn’t feel sick more of a “slow” feeling.  It was definitely helpful to know what type of feeling I may feel at the summit.  I definitely noticed coming back down the cog train I was gaining oxygen.  So, I suppose that will be nice? 🙂

Overall, I’m excited.  I’m ready to conquer.  The work is done.  This is my celebration.  I feel honored to be able to tackle this race tomorrow.  Thanks to everyone for your support – you’ll be in my head as I go through the highs, lows and everything in between.  This is what it’s all about – experiencing and living life to its fullest.  This is a part of it for me.

So with that I’ll see you at the finish line.

pikes ascent finish

and i thought the nj stairs were intense,...these are the colorado version (not part of race). 41 degree incline at one point!

Here she is all 14,110 feet of her! Pikes Peak - what helped inspire the song America the Beautiful!

Read Full Post »