Julie has alluded to it a few times, but I deemed this the Summer of Mikey (closely following the Summer of George from Seinfeld), and it all lead up to the Pikes Peak Ascent. For those that don't know (and for me, because I like saying it), the Pikes Peak Ascent is 13.32 miles up the East side of Pikes Peak, with 7,815 feet of elevation gain! The start is in front of City Hall in Manitou Springs, and the finish is just a few feet below the summit. Most of the races and training I have done this year has been for this event, and as it turned out, I would need each of those miles during this race.
There was a large group of us going to run this race, Jim, Hoff, Andy, Chris, Jack and I found our way to the start at about 645 AM, to see Jack off in Wave 1, which left at 7. The rest of us had to wait for 730 to roll around before we got our chance at the peak. Just before the start, we were treated to a great rendition of America the Beautiful, which was written at the top of the mountain many years ago!
I'll spare you the boring details of the race itself. But what follows is a quick snap shot.
The first 3 miles or so is spent switching back up a section called the W's (because the switchbacks look like W's on their side, should have been Z's or something), then a few relatively flat miles to Barr Camp, then another steep section past the Bottomless Pit (1500 feet down!), up to timberline and the A-Frame shelter, then what has been called the worst three miles in running, from timberline to the summit.
Right after the start, the W's was a mass of humanity, with people running two abreast, all the way up the trail. Passing was ill advised (although I did a lot of it) and your speed had to match the speed of those around you. The next few miles were nicer, as the trail became wider and the people thinned out. Andy and I decided to run most of it together, which is great to have someone with you, and we made it to Barr Camp 1 minute ahead of our goal time. Unfortunately the good news ends there.
Up to the Bottomless Pit we lost 4 minutes on our goal, and then to the A-Frame shelter at timberline, we had dropped about 18 minutes behind our goal. Our backs hurt, and my calf muscles were cramping up quite frequently at this point, despite refilling my water bottle at each aid station. From there, Andy called it the 'zombie shuffle' until about 2 miles to go, where we took a long sit break. That seemed to help out a great deal, I found some more energy, and had left poor Andy behind. I tried to wait for him with about 1/2 a mile to go, but my legs cramped up immediately upon sitting down, so that was the end of that.
My goal was 4:30, but I finished at 5 hours and 7 minutes. A little disappointing, but we all made it without major injury and made it off the peak in relatively good spirits, which is a success by any measure. The best part of the day (besides the grapes at the aid stations!) was having everyone up at top waiting for all of us. I was sooooo happy to see them!!!
With that, the Summer of Mikey comes to a close, thanks for reading about the race, and hopefully I'll write some more entries on blog now!
Jim finishing the race, notice the bloody knee
Me finishing the race
My mom and I at the finish
Julie and I at the finish
Jack and I at the end
Chris and Andy after the run