About 8 years ago as a high school kid, I attended a two-week camp in Manitou Springs, a little hippie town at the base of Pikes Peak. Though I had visited Colorado before, this is where my obsession with the mountains began. And it was a rough start. On the weekend, a group of us from camp hiked Pikes Peak and we were very unprepared for how difficult it was going to be. Fortunately my friend and I had picked up some low-quality Walmart fanny packs the day before, but a lot of kids were using plastic shopping bags to carry food and water. Altogether I probably brought less than a liter of water with me. Needless to say I had my first encounter with altitude sickness and vowed to never hike Pikes Peak again.
I find this story so amusing because I have done Pikes Peak 5 or 6 times since then. I don't know why I keep coming back to Pikes Peak... it's not the most beautiful or majestic 14er in Colorado and Barr trail is usually packed with both runners and hikers. For some reason, I've been fascinated by the Pikes Peak Marathon and I decided last year that I want to run it in 2013. Yesterday a group of us ran 13 miles down the peak, and I'm not so sure that I want to run it ever again. My quads and calfs are totally trashed today and I can hardly walk.
My dad and Cory enjoying their pre-run donut.
I wonder how many thousands of people have pictures under this sign.
Complaining aside, let me share a recap of the journey. A group of 9 of us took the cog to the top of the peak. After taking some pictures at the top six of us began our run, a 7,500 foot descent. As the only girl I felt like I had to prove I wasn't the slowest runner but I started out pretty discouraged. My body struggles to acclimate and I felt pretty queasy for the first 5 miles. From the top of the peak to tree line is pretty technical if you are running (though much less technical than other 14ers). The boys flew down and left me in the dust (except for my dad who would run ahead and do push-ups while waiting for me). I've always been a pretty tentative down-hiller and I know that's something I need to improve on if I want to be a faster racer.
The group of runners. Cory, me, my dad, Dave (who just ran the Leadville 50 last weekend) and his sons.
After getting below tree-line I caught the boys and we all came into Barr camp at mile 6 to fill up on water and eat some food. At this point we were all feeling pretty good, though Noah and I had twisted ankles and Luke had blisters. High-school aged Noah had kept up with Cory the whole time! Good thing he's quitting football to join the Cross-Country team.
The boys at Barr Camp
We took off strong and once again I realized how competitive I can get. The boys blew by me again and I was smuggly convinced that I was going to catch them by the end (which I did). I was pretty sure the fast pace was going kill some quads. Ultimately this was a stupid mentality because we were just out there to have fun. There was no need to prove how tough I was. It wasn't a race. Sometimes I really wish that I could just relax and enjoy the company of others.
As the boys started to slow down, the dads waited for them and Cory and I got to the bottom wondering where the rest of the group was. Along the way I ran a maybe two miles with this awesome and inspiring older woman. She was training for the Pikes Peak Marathon next month (which she's run 6 times) and was putting in her last long run. She told me about her races and how it's been frustrating for her to adjust to getting slower. She still can win her age division but she can't win races outright any more. Eventually I had to let her go, though. The bottom 3 miles of Barr trail at mid-day are like an oven and I was starting to get some serious calf cramps.
Cory and I were planning to run the flatirons in Boulder today, but I can hardly move. I guess that's what I get for not being willing to slow down. Plan B, go see the Dark Knight Rises... not in Aurora.