Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pikes Peak

Okay, that was hard.

I realize now that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Running the little rollers of Iowa isn't quite the same as running this "hill".

I started towards the back of the group because I wasn't sure how this thing was going to go down and I didn't want to "clog" up the start. The first mile ended at around an 8:30 pace , which felt really slow, but I knew was probably too fast. (I will say that a lot). Most of that was in town and the last real road I would see all day. As soon as we got off the road and on to the trail, it just kept getting steeper. That was the first real glimpse I had at what I was in for. There was no rest from the constant uphill. It just kept getting steeper...and steeper...and steeper. I remember being proud of myself for flying up a .62 mil long hill in Des Moines a month ago. That was cute.

I was trying to latch on to someone that was setting a good pace, but people were all over the place. Just moving forward and keeping my head down seemed to be the best move. I was passing people, a few people passed me, but it was pretty bunched up at the start of the trail. My goal was to hold a 15:00 minute pace for the day. I ended with a 15:55 average.
Miles 2-3 three were about the toughest. They were very steep and there was no break. I ran 85% of the time through what I think are the "Ws". I was not prepared to walk, but I know now that walking was the right choice, rather than running in parts. It was faster to walk than to run. I was passing people but my legs were screaming for me to stop. At that point I truly didn't know if I could finish this thing.
The rest finally came and some light rollers were a welcome break. People were flying by me on the downhill and flat portions. I thought it made sense to "rest" (run recovery speed) on these sections, but I wonder now if I should have dropped the hammer? Maybe next time. I caught everyone that past me eventually...
I got to Barr Camp in 1:37:00. That may have been too fast? I took my first GU at this point and wished I had taken something sooner. My stomach didn't feel great so I was nervous about eating too much.

After Barr was my worst performance. I had started to feel light headed with 5 miles to go. Weird feeling. People started to pass me walking. (I was walking, they were walking faster) I couldn't hold a fast enough walking pace to keep up. I started to run for 15-30 seconds and then walk. I was able catch people that pulled away...but eventually they pulled away for good. It was really frustrating that I couldn't go any faster. I was breathing okay, my legs felt okay. I just couldn't move as fast as I wanted to. Stupid air.

The "Mob Mentality" started in that everyone seemed to be doing the same thing. Walk, run, walk, run. I tried to run my own race. There wasn't nearly as much passing after this point.
After the A-Frame, the real work started. It was an amazing view and you could see the finish. I could hear the finish announcer for over an hour. It was kind of cool to hear them announce the first female. It took me over an hour to complete the last 3 miles. I was very light headed and had to concentrate just to keep moving. I got passed by 5-6 females during this part and only 2 males. Not sure what that was about. I would guess that I passed an equal amount as passed me. It took so much longer than I expected to go such a short way. Dizzy.
The last half mile was cool...and very hard. They announced my name with two switchbacks to go. That was a good motivator.
My finish time was just over 3:32:00. Good enough for 199th male (38th girl). Not bad I guess for a "flat lander" in his first high altitude run.
See more info from my Garmin here. (My Garmin wasn't real accurate.)

See race results here.
Now I want to go back and do the full marathon...

Post race thoughts
I was disappointed that I didn't feel worse when this thing was over. I went in to this event fully expecting to be destroyed. Prior to the race, I had vision of crawling across the finish line and being immobile for 2 days after the race. Instead, I felt really good almost as soon as we got off the mountain and ran 8 miles the next day. Did I not go hard enough...or was the altitude keeping me from running hard enough to burn up the legs? I hate feeling like I may have left something out there. Don't know.

I really wish I had done the full. I feel like I left this goal incomplete. The good thing for the Pikes Peak Marathon is that I will be back in 2010. Not that they need the race numbers.

Great race, great event. This is one of the longest standing goals I have had. Run a half marathon, run a full marathon, run Boston, complete an Ironman, run Pikes Peak ascent, run Pikes Peak Marathon, run an Ultra.

I am running my first 50 miler in October. All that is left after that is the Pikes Peak Marathon...the final goal.

See you in 2010!


  1. Funny, when they announced my name with two switchbacks to go I was a little depressed that the whole thing wasn't over yet. It probably took me 30 minutes to complete those next two switchbacks.

  2. Good luck with the Full this year! How did your Ultra go last October?