A year goes by, I keep a distant eye on the race website and are tempted a few times to enter and give it another shot - but don't. The race takes place this past Sunday and throughout the day I steal time to look up the race splits in progress, wondering how I would be doing. Having come off the recent knee injury I know I wouldn't have done great - but still think a few times: what if?
So, a few days pass since the race and yesterday I have a day off from work. I have the 50K coming up in about 50 days and the longest I have run in the past 2 months is 14 miles. I need a long run.
I'm also in the mood for donuts.
|Somewhere high up there is a Donut with my name on it.|
I set out from the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent start line at 7:15 a with a loose goal of summiting in 4 to 4 1/4 hours. Hang out at the summit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then come down in 2 to 2 1/4 hours. So - the overall goal / what I thought I was capable of....was 6 to 6 1/2 hours.
I took my phone, a bag of Swedish fish - which is my go-to running fuel, 2 small water bottles tucked into my hip and 1 handheld water bottle and started off. I was walking within 20 minutes as I was midway up "The W's" - not that I wanted to start hiking so soon but just that I quickly figured out that if I was going to make any kind of progress then I would need to be conservative - especially early.
So I hiked the steep and technical spots and ran when I could and eventually made it up to Barr Camp in about 1:58.
|The view of the summit from about a mile below Barr Camp.|
|Barr Camp - not serving donuts here.|
I kept on with the run when I can / hike when I should-strategy as I continued up towards A Frame next. I stashed my hand-held water bottle at the turn off to the Bottomless Pit trail - still about 1/2 full - so as to pick up and use on the way back down. My other 2 water bottles I had filled with Skratch and began to work on those. The Swedish Fish also kept me up on fueling.
Surprisingly there were a lot of hikers - many of whom must have camped at Barr Camp the night before - on the next section of the trail. I tried to run past them as I came up on them. A bit of an ego thing. I made it to A Frame at around 2 hrs 50 minutes. This had been the longest I have been on my feet running (or at least moving forward) since The North Fork 50K back in late June. And I wasn't even half way done with my day !!!
|A Frame - definitely no donuts here.|
At A-Frame I realized that a strategy of mostly hiking the rest of the way up would result in a sub 4 hour summit. And that it did. I finally made it in 3:55:25. Not great but not bad either. The good thing was that I wasn't feeling too awful. The better thing was that I had bought $5 with me to buy a donut and a Gatorade.
|A fat filled reward - fuel for the downward journey.|
|The view from the Summit looking East. Awesome.|
|The View from PPM turnaround point looking South. Super Awesome.|
I started out slow as is customary and necessary for the top mile as it includes the 16 Golden Stairs and some technical rock hopping. I passed a lot of the hikers that I had passed previously on the way up. They were both encouraging and a little incredulous that I was now running back down. I didn't take the time to stop and explain to them that I was a little crazy.
I made it back down to A-Frame in about 29 minutes - a decent and controlled effort. Rolled my ankle a little just below there but it was minor and I kept running until the pain went away (no issues with it later or today). Made it down to Barr Camp in about 54 minutes. This lead to the thoughts that if I kept it up I should easily get under 6 hours.
I had picked up my water bottle and was hydrating and fueling well. I stopped a couple of times to burp out some gas build up - that relieved a little of stomach stress. The stomach wasn't great but descending 7800' + is not going to do many peoples innards any favors.
Below Barr Camp I really started getting tired. 5 hours in and my body was saying enough. By No-Name Creek the temps really started heating up but I kept moving forward and got down to the Cog Railway and on to the pavement for the final mile or so. That is such a tough long stretch after spending so much time on a trail, but eventually I got down to town, took a left turn and ran a few feet to the finish line area of the PPM race.
Down in 1:50 and change - actually about a minute or more faster than the race last year, a bit of a surprise. Total round trip time was just under 5:46 - plus the 10-12 minutes at the Summit. A satisfying effort and time result. It also reinforced in my mind that I don't need to do the race again. But maybe I will - I don't know. Don't need to worry about it for months yet. What it did point in my mind was I didn't train at all for it and was only 20 minutes off my race result from last year. If I trained for it like I trained from the 50K in June - as in doing a bunch more mileage and vertical training - I may be capable of a PPM PR. But that would really hurt and today - the day after running the course should be reminder enough that I really am a wimp and should make the smart choice of not signing up to do it again. But that is to be determined.....
After all - the donuts at the Summit are worth the run up to get them......