Saturday, January 31, 2009

2007 Pikes Peak Double - Revisited.

I don't have much to write about this week. It has been an exhausting week. I did 43.8 miles total according to my Garmin. I have no idea on the number of vertical feet but I am sure a fair amount of that too.

I blew my "allowance" yesterday on more weights for the house, approximately another 200 lbs or so. That being said my post-run/weight workouts are going to be more intense too.

This week I have tried very hard to not think ahead so much about the San Juan Solstice or the Leadville race but my mind has been wandering off in that direction. I can't wait until the marathon is done in March so I will have some idea of where I am in regards to training and performance. Basically I want to get it done to start building some confidence.

I have also thought a lot this week about my 2007 bid to complete the Pikes Peak Double which I did. Often then I considered that to possibly be the high point of my running career. Ironically though, after this year "The Double" will only be a footnote in the past.

Anyway, I am re-posting from another source my experience that weekend doing both races. Enjoy.

17 August 2007

Months, weeks and days have been reduced to mere hours now. In less than 48 hours my attempt at completing the Pikes Peak "Double" will be concluded. There is no telling how this is going to turn out. The die has been cast. My fate sealed two or three weeks ago yet I will not know what the outcome will be until it is all over.

Training went well this year. I did things I never thought were possible. I ran stronger than I possibly ever have. Of course with that comes the psychological adjustments that must happen to keep the rest of reality in proper perspective. I worked hard this summer, ran hard, but I also played very hard for a bit just to counterbalance it. It is funny how I must always do that.

I have been in taper mode for the past three weeks. This is always a difficult period for me. I am exhausted from the routine of months prior, but also in a mode where I am so used to continuously pushing through physical pain, mental burnout and hell, just spiritual fatigue as a whole. I tend to feel more sluggish through this phase and less productive. With running less comes the time to think more, and thinking more about things I probably shouldn't be thinking about. Mostly though time is allowed to think about the run, what do I want to do, how do I want to do it, what are my goals, will I pull this off?

This has been one of the longest weeks of my life, sitting around and waiting. At least it feels that way. Last weekend was great weekend with just Roxy and I camping up in the mountains at 11,000 feet in elevation and away from everything. The best part of the trip was Saturday night as I was laying next to the campfire, drinking beer (carb loading), smoking a great Arturo Fuente cigar, looking up at the stars, the milky way and the meteors. The second part, climbing a 13'r that I have wanted to climb for years Roxy and I did on Saturday afternoon. My last two bigger runs were also last weekend. Since then it has just been taking it easy. Rest on Monday, two light runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, yesterday and today have been off days. Tomorrow I get up early and do phase I of the weekend. The Ascent.

I am not concerned about the Ascent. That is only the gateway I believe to the entire experience that will be this weekend. The plan is simple. Get up, get to the starting line, get to the top of the mountain, then get down as quickly as possible. Right now I do not allow myself to think of Sunday and the Marathon. I am only thinking of the Ascent tomorrow. Of course, after doing the Ascent I am going to have to completely forget it, put it out of my mind and HOPE that my body does not remember either. I have to by some Jedi mind trick J have my mind convince my body that it is 100 percent and fresh again come Sunday morning.

Get there, get up, and get down…. Once down I am going to re-hydrate, eat, and hopefully have both my hydration and blood sugar balanced out as quickly as possible. Then it is back to pretty much sitting around like I am now. Resting, feet up.

I am closing this for now and I will add to it two more times, once after the Ascent, and again after the Marathon.

18 August 2007 14:02

Well I have been home for a little over two hours. I have consumed a ton of water, two Banana's, a ribeye steak and some spinach. I was hungry. :)

This morning was so-so. I got up at 5 as planned, fed Roxy, showered, got dressed and got the rest of my stuff together to go. I was out of the house by 5:50 and stopped in the garage real quick to do some lifting just to warm up a little, not a full workout. In the Jeep and off to Manitou Springs at 6:00.

Parked a bit from the starting line then walked to there. Looked for Erich and for the first time ever I couldn't find him right off. Weird. Actually I got concerned. Erich is never late to anything, ever. Actually his timing is typically 5 minutes prior to what most people would call early. It's a quirk of his and after 20 years of friendship one that still gets me at times. We finally synced up at 6:45. He had some issues getting his packet and stuff pre-race as it turns out.

I really don't know how to explain how I felt this morning. Obviously nervous which was apparent by grossly inappropriate flavor of humor that I was enjoying and sharing this morning. That's just me being me I guess. Even though I was nervous at the same time I was quite relaxed.

The race started and as I feared my legs felt a little dead, more like cold. I've felt worse though. It was a reminder for me to just relax, take it easy and think only of "my race" and not about anything going on around me. Always at the beginning the distance, time required to cover that distance and the elevation to be gained to the summit always seems damn near impossible. This morning was no exception.

It just did not feel like things were going great. I just could not seem to find my happy pace or groove. The first four miles or so which are tough to start with challenged me appropriately this morning. My mind tried to wander so much, and extra effort was needed to stay focused. Legs still feeling a bit tired, not in my best stride, and on top of it all, it was warm.

The heat was a factor for me today. It wasn't terribly hot per se but hot enough to be a factor and make things uncomfortable. The heat stayed constant pretty much all the way to treeline. Finally it started to cool off when I hit the 3 mile to go mark.

3 miles to go... the mile between 3 to go and 2 to go to the summit has always been the toughest part for me on the course. Going up, or going down, that mile just F'ing kills me. I thought I had it licked this year as all of my training runs went really well through there, amazingly well. It wasn't to be that way this morning. I suffered every precious inch of that stinking mile. But I gutted through it and started reaping my reward through the last two miles.

See, a lot of folks end up going out way to fast. Don't think their way through the course as they should. The end result is above treeline they suffer greatly. Me this is where I do my best work and today was no exception. I would see someone in the distant and mark them as prey more or less and would not relent until I was past them. And I know it's probably not sportsmanlike but it is fun to see other people crumble, knowing you did the work, and they didn't.

I knew I was close to a PR as I got through the last mile. My best time last year of 3:33:33. I was fading though and fast within the last quarter of a mile. Hard to keep going and maintain the same level of intensity. I was close and I wanted to beat that time so bad.

I threw myself to the finish line and it was a goat rope. Actually I crossed before the guy to my left did and they pulled his number first so I don't know how that will play out. As for my time I'll have to wait and see what it is. I didn't see the clock and though I thought I stopped my watch, I didn't hit the button hard enough. That being said my time may be in the 3:32, or 3:33, or 3:34 range. I am guessing that I am in the upper 3:33 range and not a PR.

My friend Dana met me at the top before going and spending the rest of the weekend with her boyfriend in Denver. She got me down off of the mountain as quickly as she could and back to Manitou to the Jeep so I could come home.

All in all, today was tough, but it still went well. The best part is I recovered completely within five minutes of being on the summit. I know that today if I had to I could have easily made the 13 mile trip running back down the mountain, no questions asked.

The big question is, can I do it tomorrow. We will soon know.

18 August 2007 16:39 UPDATE - The times were just posted. My official time is 3:34:04. I am not sure how I feel about that right now. Sort of pissed knowing they jacked around at the finish pulling my number and they pulled the guys tag to my left before mine, and he crossed after I did. I’m just going to have to concentrate on tomorrow. If I get a personal record (PR) on the Ascent tomorrow it will still stand as a PR by itself. Now if I want to go for the whole ball of wax, PR on the Ascent and PR in the Marathon. Times to beat will be 3:33:33 and 5:56:02, respectively. I gotta start thinking on those terms now. Time to eat and drink more. :)

19 August 2007 16:25

I will add more later but here are the cliff notes. Woke up this morning feeling absurdly well considering. Mentally wondering why I would want to do what I was attempting but still got ready and went. The trip up the mountain was okay but i was not faster than yesterday. My ascent time was around 3:45 and change. Not bad, today the heat was way worse than yesterday and I figured I was still well within the tolerances to get a PR.

A PR did not happen. About 1.5 miles down from the summit I went down and went down hard. Rolled my left ankle again. At first I nearly cried thinking of all the work the past few months just went up in smoke and my bid to complete both races was over. Took some Aleeve which thank God I put two in my pack for just in case, took a few minute break, tested, my ankle and it seemed okay. For how long I was not sure but I was going to get as much out of it as i could. Started back down.

Around two miles down met a nice running partner to pair up with as long as I could. We talked a lot and that kept my mind off of my painful and swollen ankle.

Gave up all hope for a PR of course and was fine with that. Ran down the entire 12 miles or so after rolling it, well, I did roll it again around mile 19-20. Oh did I yell. It got hot as hell coming down.

Finished strong with my time of 6:10:48. I am happy with that. I will write in more details later. But the big thing is I did it. My first Pikes Peak Double, both races and both races done well. Time to open another bottle of wine. :)

20 August 2007 09:27

It is truly the morning after. My ankle is way worse than I ever thought. The swelling and visible bruising is quite pronounced. I think this is way worse than when I originally sprained it in April. I am still not upset, disappointed or anything like that. If anything I am quite grateful because I know that when it went crunch yesterday, and I flew things could have been a lot worse. Worse being, I could have been cut up pretty bad on the trail, at least skinned up pretty bad. Or something more serious like hitting my head on a rock.

To fill in the gaps from yesterday... I woke up at 05:00 and felt absurdly well. A little tightness in my left calf but I knew that would be worked out after being up and moving around for a few minutes. I felt like my energy level was good and I felt completely recovered from Saturday. As I said early the only thing bothering my was lack of motivation or purpose for going forward with my quest and running the Marathon. Regardless I got ready and my buddy Erich and I left here at 06:00 when he came to pick me up.

The starting line was not the circus it was the morning before. Two different races to different kinds of people in each. Erich got some cool photo's at the starting line and we hung out and just BS'd about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it.

Before the gun went off, someone sang the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone who knows me, knows how I can be a little emotive... sentimental, whatever. Every time I hear that song it always moves me. Yesterday was no different. I was thankful to live in a country where we have all of the freedoms and liberties that we have and for those who have all made that possible through personal sacrifice.

Mental state was relaxed when the gun went off. My strategy was to go out and just do what I could do. The race and my result would just be what it would be. My pace was 3 minutes off 7 miles up the mountain from the day before. But hey, there was a day before, it's not like I am 100% refreshed and recovered to do this. Three minutes in the grand scheme, is not that much. I also had 19 more miles or so to go and anything could happen.

Sunday was much hotter than Saturday and heat was a big factor. Even above treeline it was a lot hotter. My time to the summit was 11 minutes slower than on Sunday. Again, the heat, running the day before, and holding back to have some for the downhill leg played into that. Again, nothing I was concerned about, I actually felt that I could pull a PR on the Marathon at this point.

When I got to the summit I was craving chocolate... bad. They didn't have any. But they had some animal crackers. I turned around up there quickly handful of animal crackers and I think when I at the first one, I might have messed my shorts up a little! :) They were that good. But anyway, I am on the downhill leg. My plan was to get more water 1.5 miles or so down, not get water at the top. So far it was going well.

Negotiating going down with runners coming up the rocky and craggy trail can be difficlut. I was careful not to do anything stupid to get hurt. I knew in a bit I would be on somewhat smoother trail and could begin to open up. The goal, lose as much altitude as I could, as quick as I could and get more air.

I stopped at the traverse aid station 1.5 miles down from the summit, refilled my water bottle and got a handful of those wonderful animal crackers again and M&M's. I was in heaven. This was my error.

Running, completely blissed out with the crackers and M&M's, and not paying a damned bit of attention. I hit a soft spot, rock, what I don't know. All I remember is hearing/feeling a loud "crunch!" I was airborne then I was down, hard.

It took a second or two to come around and realize what had just happened. When I realized completely the nature of the situation I almost threw up. I almost cried. I began to unravel as I saw the work, planning, etc, etc, all go up in smoke. I am 11-12 miles from the finish and I am hurt pretty bad. People stopped to ask if I was okay, if I needed the Search & Rescue Medics to come up/down. I told them I wasn't sure. Not yet. I calmed down. It wasn't going to go down like this. NO. I will not let it.

My ankle could support weight. Then I tested it to see if I could walk on it and I could. I remember saying to myself that if I have to walk the entire way down (which the thought of really didn't appeal to me) that I was going to finish this Motherf*cker one way or the other. I was not going to not finish the freaking double.

I walked a few steps then came the big test. Can I run/jog on it? I could and it hurt. Could I bear the pain? How far will my ankle last? The pain seemed tolerable. I just didn't know how far I could go. So off I went. Slow at first, then as I felt more comfortable, I picked up speed. I had to pee really bad and had decided to take care of that at the two mile point down from the summit at a rock I have used many times for that very purpose.

Stopped at my rock and did that. When I came out I ended up in a herd of people who seemed to be going at a pace I was comfortable with. After a mile or so ended up running alone with just one person from that pack. She and I ran together the rest of the 10-11 miles to the bottom pretty much the whole way. I lost her when I rolled my ankle again around 5-6 miles to go but then caught back up. She was a godsend, as she was quite chatty, which kept my mind off of my ankle, and she had a great pace which pushed me at times but then as it turned out, I pushed/pulled her along at times a little bit too.

Erich was expecting me around six hours and started to get nervous when I wasn't there. He figured something had to have happened, and he was right. He got the great photo of me blasting towards the finish line.

I crossed the finish with great form, and the way I like to finish races like this. I was intact. I wasn't bleeding (could have been), I wasn't throwing up, I wasn't fainting. I did it with dignity and class and after a minute people were asking me if I had really ran. :)

Erich and I got back to my place. Called my folks then we drank a great bottle of German Spatelase in the backyard and I smoked a superb Nicaraguan Cigar and we talked about it all. Of course my ankle is wrapped with ice on it by this point. It was a great part of the whole day.

I am happy with the way this weekend turned out. Grateful for many things. A PR was never truly a part of the equation for either race. Would have been nice but it was not to be. My original goals were simple. Finished the Ascent in just under four hours... did that in 3:34:04. Finish the Marathon in just under six hours, well that was 6:10:47. Looking at the two times and the differences in goals it is a wash, and actually I am a head of my conservative goal.

Getting to sleep last night was a little hard. Every time I would close my eyes I would be falling on the trail again. I hope I shake that soon. :)

141 people did the Double this year, running both races, both days. Of those 141 people, I came in 30th. I'll take it! :)

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