I'm not sure where to even begin on this post. I've been waiting to write this one for a long time, and for some reason I am now having a hard time putting down the words. (So forgive me if I ramble a bit.)
Let me start by just saying... I DID IT! I am now a Pikes Peak Ascent veteran. I've completed the 1/2 marathon race to the top of a stinkin' mountain.
I began my training back in January for the Pikes Peak Ascent. That is when I first entertained the idea of toeing the starting line of the race to the top of America's Mountain. I was faithful in hitting the gym before and after work during the long winter months. So faithful that I think I burned out a little too soon. (Before one of my qualifying races I had a touch of plantar fasciitis.) So, as the big day approached I was honestly a bit nervous and feeling unprepared because my training had tapered off a bit the last month and half.
Well, last Saturday was the day of truth and I crossed that finish line on the top of the mountain!
Race day was amazing. The weather was perfect with only a slight risk of afternoon showers. I was prepared and had extra clothes, gloves, hat, etc. strapped to my CamelBak because I know how the weather can turn in an instant in the mountains, especially above timberline. After the singing of America the Beautiful I was off in the second round of runners towards the summit. We wove through the quaint town of Manitou Springs and slowly began the upwards jog.
It wasn't long until the majority of runners became fast hikers. I was feeling good and ready to jog the first portion of the trail, but as the trail became extremely narrow and steep the option to pass seemed impossible. So I gave into the idea that there would be plenty of time to pick up speed later. Honestly, at around the 3-4 mile marker I was thankful for the fast hike instead of feeling pressure to run the steep terrain. So we wove our way up the switchbacks, counting down each mile.
The volunteers for this race were amazing. Around the 7 mile mark there was a great aid station. A huge kudos to those guys who hauled refreshments back there. I was starting to hurt about 1/2 way in and desperately needed the fuel. I quickly filled up on fresh grapes, a few skittles, and I was off. The hard part was ahead of me. Three more miles to timberline where I could down some water at the last aid station and head to the summit.
As I reached the A-frame aid station I quickly realized there was a long line for water. They were filtering water from a small stream and it wasn't a fast process. As a result, there was encouragement to proceed on if you were carrying any water and could make it to the next aid station. I still had a few more swallows in my CamelBak and was thankful to hear there was one more aid station 1/2 up above timberline. So, I was sure I could make it 1 1/2 more miles. Let me tell you... I was really happy to finally make it to that last aid station. I think I downed 3-4 glasses of water!
One thing I didn't realize or expect was how bad my legs and feet would hurt. I think every muscle in my lower extremities cramped up at least once. At one point I was sure that I had pulled both groin muscles. What was that all about? It hurt and hurt BAD. Oh, and I should probably apologize to those running behind me since I'm pretty sure I was rubbing my butt cheeks (hey! They hurt too!) I think I was running funny at one point also because I was trying to prevent my calf muscles from seizing up on me. And I'm pretty sure I farmer blew my nose multiple times. Sorry.
I was pleasantly surprised that the altitude didn't seem to affect me. I didn't get a headache, wasn't dizzy and wasn't even short of breathe. But then again, some may disagree since I was blowing snot out of my nose and didn't care. Maybe the altitude did get to me a bit.
Anyway, I still can't really believe that it's done! A Pikes Peak Ascent medal now hangs on my dresser and I'm left with a mixture of emotions... relief that I finished; proud for doing it; sad it's done; and strangely, craving more. Yikes! I'm having a hard time processing that last one, especially since I crossed the finish line and almost immediately told my husband, "Never again! That was so painful and stupid." However, the pain is now a distant memory and I'm now thinking a medal that reads, "Pikes Peak Marathon" would be fun to have. Oh Lord, help me!
Are there any other crazy ones out there who want to take on a mountain marathon with me?