The party is almost here! The weekend when all of the runners I know are gathering in Manitou Springs to show off their training. To volunteer and support their friends and family. To earn their finisher's shirts or jackets. To celebrate completing a huge challenge, whether it's their 1st or 15th time. It's always a challenge. It's the final leg of the Triple Crown of Running. The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon weekend! (Though this year I also have a number of especially crazy friends racing the Leadville 100mile, or crewing or pacing for them! Can't wait to hear all the amazing stories of triumph!)
I've already made it to the RunFest, shopping for fun race shirts and meeting up with other friends who are volunteering and racing this weekend. I hope you all get a chance to spend some time in Manitou before your race begins!
At the moment I have 3 official Ascent finishes and 2 Marathon finishes to my name. There was 1 Ascent started but not finished, the infamous year when most people who were going to finish over 4hrs had to turn back (so instead of doing 13 miles, I think I completed closer to 17-18...). Hopefully after this weekend, I'll have evened out these finishes to 3 and 3!
But this year's edition of the Pikes Peak Marathon also only falls 2 weeks after completing the longest race of my life. So the question I've been asked countless times since I returned from Canada- Are you actually racing? - is one that I don't know exactly how to answer. I took a week off of running after the Canadian Death Race, and in this last week, have only started running 4-6miles at a very easy pace. I'm recovered-ish enough for such athletic feats, but 26miles is a different beast! I just won't know how my legs will perform until I'm actually on Barr Trail, trying to keep some racers from my wave within my sight! What I do know, is that I will certainly be putting forth my best effort (which means smart pacing, not sprinting up Ruxton!). I honestly don't know how to do anything else.
Every year I learn something new- I can't wait to see how my legs and lungs respond to an attempt at another hard effort so soon after my last one! The things that I've learned already though, I'm more than happy to share!
1. Try to enjoy the scenery. At least a little bit. Probably just on the climbing part. I've twisted my ankle(s) enough times on the descents to know that all my concentration has to be on the ground if I'm moving faster than a 20minute mile! But any time the trail is smooth or you're hiking, take a look around.
2. Keep checking that forecast, and then maybe bring an extra layer or 2 to the start line before you make your final decision. (Or you could wear a garbage bag for a few miles when you realize your water resistant jacket really can't handle the rain for more than 15 minutes...)
3. Eat all the donuts when you get to the top. Unless you're doing the marathon. Then probably you should just get some ice cream from Matt Carpenter's place when you're done. (That's my number 1 priority after picking up my finisher's shwag!)
4. Try to give this race your all. Leave no doubt that you could not have gone faster 'if only' you'd made that effort to pass the line of people at A Frame, or if only you'd tested your legs to see how badly your muscles burned when you tried to push the effort a little bit with 2 miles to go. Even when I've pushed a 'little' too hard at 2 miles to go, and maybe suffered more in the 16 Golden Stairs section because of that, I've never once regretted finishing a big race completely and utterly depleted. That's actually my very favorite feeling in the world. To know that I had nothing left to give.
This tapering marmot wishes all the Pikes Peak racers a completely depleted finish, whether it's a sprint or a crawl, and overwhelming pride at finishing such an awe-inspiring feat at this weekend's Ascent and Marathon races!