Running the Pikes Peak Ascent can never be taken for granted. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. Although I haven’t spent really anytime on Barr Trail this year, I have been training for the various events I have on my calendar. I have done Pikes Peak many times before, so knew what to expect going into the Ascent. What I didn’t anticipate is having to travel for work the week leading up to the race and then coming down with a cold. I definitely wasn’t feeling great on race morning but figured I would still start the race and just take it easy knowing that I could at least finish it.
I lined up in the corral with Danielle to try to run with her. At the gun, the usual rush of adrenaline hit as we all headed down Manitou Avenue. I quickly realized I didn’t have much in me as I watched Danielle pull ahead as we climbed up Ruxton Avenue. I just tried to at least settle into a pace I thought I could maintain. As we started up the W’s, I actually started feeling a little better and was able to pull up behind Danielle again. That was short lived though. I knew it was probably not going to be a great day when a guy in a gorilla suit beat me to No Name. After No Name, the wheels came off. We got to the section just above No Name and I told Danielle that the entire section was runnable in hopes that she would go ahead and she did. That was the last I saw of her until the top. From that point on, I could only manage to settle back into a slow slog up the mountain which really came to a crawl above tree line.
I will say I was proud to carry “Mike the Marmot” up the mountain and be apart of the PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Team. In fact, Mike is probably what kept me going. I seriously considered pulling from the race at Barr Camp, but knew I couldn’t with Mike on my back. So, I just concentrated on getting to the next mile sign and not worry about the pace. I did have lots of other encouragement along the way from fellow runners commenting on Mike, of course the wonderful volunteers, and fellow Marmots which is always helpful. It did take everything I had just to get to the finish line. The last 3 miles above tree line seemed to take an eternity and I felt like everyone was passing me. I did manage to get to the finish line and then experienced something I have never experienced before. I bent over in exhaustion and then found myself unable to breath. I stood up and tried to breathe in, but just couldn’t get any air. I had to be taken into medical and be put on oxygen. I have been up at altitude many times and have never experienced any altitude effects before. It was such an awful feeling. The oxygen definitely helped and I was able to recover.
Because of the toll yesterday’s Ascent took on me, I decided to skip today’s Pikes Peak Marathon. My friend’s know how hard a decision this is on me as I’m not one to throw in the towel and can usually rise to the occasion. But the episode at the top of the Peak yesterday made me realize that I am not invincible and my body was telling me something. The Pikes Peak Marathon is hard enough when you are in great condition. Good luck to all the runner’s out there today!