I’ve been talking about Pikes Peak for about 6 months now. The week finally came!
For reference, here’s the course.
My friends have ran this race; both the Ascent & the Marathon. I am now convinced that I never actually understood just how hard it was. Don’t get me wrong. I knew it would be tough, but not on this level. Judging by this race, I’m not sure that I ever really challenged myself before. This was by far the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life!
One of the things that makes it tough, besides the fact that you’re going up a mountain, is the cut-offs. There were multiple checkpoints that you had to make or else you were turned back.
No Name (4.3 mi, 8,800′) 1:40:00
Barr Camp (7.6 mi, 10,200′) 3:10:00
A-Frame (10.2 mi, 12,000′) 4:30:00
Summit (13.3 mi, 14,115′) 6:30:00
Think about this… you get to A-Frame at 4:31:00. You missed the cut-off. You have to go 10.2 miles back down. That’s 20.4 miles in a 13.3 mile race.
I’ve been training & I thought I’d be faster, but the mountain has a way of checking your ego in the first mile.
I felt that I was doing fairly well until after Barr Camp, mile 7.6 at 10,200ft elevation. Not long after I made the checkpoint (1hr ahead of cutoff) I really started feeling it. I made it to A-frame, mile 10.2 at 12,000ft elevation, a mere 20mins before the cutoff. I lost 40mins in that section. From there it was an all out battle of the mind & body.
With about 2 miles to go I decided that I wasn’t going to make the finish before the cutoff. My miles were slowing & I had all but lost the battle of the mind.
But I kept pushing. Pushing is an exaggeration. It was more like slinking… Just plain surviving. With just a couple of turns left I heard the announcer say, “we have 10mins left in the race!” I couldn’t believe it! I was going to make it! I pushed myself hard. (I think this actually qualified as pushing)
I crossed the line at 14,115ft with just 4 minutes to spare! (after recalibration of the race clock I only had 1m 49s left to cross!) I was so tired that I could barely walk to the aid station for an orange & banana.
I have never really been emotional running races, but today, at that moment, as I walked toward that table alone, the emotion of me thinking I wasn’t going to make it & then barely making it, I started crying.
I literally left everything that I had on that damn mountain. After all was said & done 13.32 miles & 7,815ft of vertical gain!
Dare to see what you’re capable of. You just might surprise yourself!
Originally posted at https://justeerunning.blogspot.com/
Courtesy Eric Sessums