|Rank||254 of 769 finishers|
|Summit Elevation||14,115 feet|
|Elevation Gain||7,815 feet|
With the way they are scheduled, the Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon fall on the same weekend. But once every 7 years, they diverge and you get them on separate weekends. That happened this year. So I felt that was reason enough to return to Pikes this year for another go at the mountain. Unfortunately, I just didn’t execute the mountain training plan I envisioned back in the spring in preparation for the race. So leading up to the race, I decided, as many do, to label this a “training run” for next month’s big event, the Run Rabbit Run 100. And in that context, I felt like this day went well.
The race implemented starting waves this year to ease some of the trail congestion that is normal on this course as the runners start up through the singletrack of the W’s. I was seeded in corral 6 which wasn’t helpful. When my corral went out, I found myself quickly leading the group out. This wasn’t some Leadville 2011 where I chased the patrol car. I was running 9 something minute pace and was totally conversational. Everyone is my corral seemed to be learning what it meant to be running at elevation. I caught up to the 5th corral as we began to ascend. Being in this position, I was constantly behind a freight train of hikers. Folks who wanted to run, like myself, were constantly looking for space and moving around packs of people. Created a lot more work to do this. We really didn’t get opened up until Barr Camp.
I carried a hand-held bottle as it was predicted to be hot on the way back down. I probably could have gone without. However, it was handy to have as I practiced more fluid intake because I had it. Tried to keep myself nicely hydrated throughout. I was enjoying all the fresh fruit at each of the aid stations on course. It was all going down well. Stomach was great all day. Near the summit, they had those cheap-o Red Vine licorice sticks. I grabbed one. It was so phenomenal. On the way back past, I grabbed 10 and continue to chew on them all day. Everybody has something that just tastes great in a race…that was the licorice today.
On the last few miles to the summit, the leaders came back past us. Always my favorite thing to watch. However, it really starts slowing traffic on the uphill. Everyone yields to the downhill runners per the rules. But I found myself stopped on trail for up to 30 seconds at a time behind a line of 10 folks that were yielding to downhillers. It wasn’t helping our times. Probably nothing that can be done except for be up with those leaders. I guess I am arguing that those leaders get a significant time advantage that gets exponentially worse as you go back through the field. With the slowness through the W’s then that stuff near the summit, I can see a huge advantage to being as far forward as you can be. Even sacrificing your return a bit in order to get better position on the ascent. Oh well. I think I knew that from before, but didn’t adhere to my advice.
It started raining when I hit Barr Camp on the way back. It was welcomed. Cooled things out. It only got a little sloppy in the W’s with the trench filling with water but it was manageable. I was really having fun on the downhill by this point. I wasn’t running super fast but I was holding and I kept picking off a person in front of me every minute or so. I don’t get to “hunt” often so it was good motivation and made the miles melt away back into town. Finally, hit the pavement of Hydro Street and just kept ripping it. Was sub-7 pace for a bit. People were blowing up but I just saw more positions to eat up. I ran hard to the line. I probably couldn’t have held up another block. Cross the line and was glad to be done. But really wasn’t too worn out. If I hadn’t run that last few miles so hard, I probably could have just continued on ultra-style.
Post race, I was sitting in the tent trying to cool down a bit when I bus ran into the side of the medical tent. It took out the guard rail and whole side of the tent. The cops all rushed in as they made most of us evacuate the tent. Seemed crazy to run up and down a big mountain only to be nearly killed sitting in the medical tent. I went outside and notice this car wash where they had setup showers out of PVC pipe. It was glorious. I stood there in fresh cold water until I shivered. It was the best post race cool down ever.
Such a pretty run but I didn’t take a camera today. Sorry. A few pictures of me on the race photographer site over here.
All in all, seemed like a good training run. Ultra pace all day. Legs felt great. Breathing was eh, but I took no inhaler or drugs. Stomach in tact. Really nothing to complain about. Was recovered enough by the time I got home to head to a rock show and stand on my feet for 3 hours. That’s hard-core.