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Triple Crown Experiments..Death of a great Olympian....

The Summer is flying by, again!  It always does for me, especially the time I spend training for the Triple Crown.  Only one leg left.  My favorite one.  Pikes Peak.

As I have shared this is my 25th year doing the Pikes Peak races..  A handful of those races have been roundtrips.  Every single year the Peak races, even the DNF's (sad face), have all been "experiments".  Like all experiments, some have failed.  I will talk of those "fails" first.  I would really have 34 races under my belt if I had a perfect record.  But who is perfect?  No me, for sure!  I am a work in progress!

1978 was my first race.  Up til 1992, you could be a doubler, the easy way.  Race to the top.   Get your time.  If you feel good(yes, you could make the choice on the fly) go back down, get your time again.  Pretty nice deal compared to today, where you really have to work for that doubler status. 

After all of these years, I don't remember every statistic.  I do remember being a good downhill runner, with a 4:49 PR for the roundtrip - and the irony of that feat,seeming so studly and healthy, coming to a point where, as a doctor said, "you have the back of a 70 year old, slow down"(my discs in the back where compressing due to overuse).   Stubbornly, I entered another roundtrip or two after that, not even making it to the start line due to injuries  because the training did me in.  I ran as much as I could back then.  Now I run as little as possible to get the job done. That is what happens with the aging process! After marriage and children, there were no more roundtrips!

Some of the failed Ascents included quitting when I was a young gal, going for a sub three and bombing early on.  I walked down thru the Experimental Forest after No Name Creek. I was younger and had a big ego, which has now been bashed down so many times that it is nearly non-existent(that is a good thing, I think). And then there was the time, while as a school teacher in the Marshall Islands my boss would not let me use a competitive entry because I was not allowed to miss the first teacher workday of the year.  I felt sad getting into that airplane and missing that year, but more grateful that I was going back to a good job at the time. Of course I missed the 2 pregnant years and at least once because of of a conflict with collegiate Cross Country Season,but otherwise I was there!

Last years experiment was to try the Ascent  while healing my sciatica(by the way, caused by those same thinning discs from when I was 27).  It was a fruitful experiment.  I did what I could to the best of my ability--bottom line--no impact(yes, that means no running, no jogging, nothing where  two feet are in the air at the same time).  So I worked on walking. Fast. As fast as I could! I had to do the first races of the Triple Crown(if you miss one you are disqualified for the rest) to get to the end product of the experiment, which was the Ascent.  I worked diligently to get my incline times down closer to the prestigious  sub 30 mark(from the first tie--PR is 31:49), twice a week.-The stairclimber nature  of  the incline  was fine on my sciatica last year.  I ended up with a 3:45 Ascent last year , pretty good considering my limitations.  I would almost be pleased with that time this year, but I do hope for a bit faster. 

I consider my experiments a success when  No. 1) I sign up for the race,  No. 2) I make it to the start line, No. 3) I make it to the finish line. Once I sign up for a race, I hate not making it to the start line  Others may not be bothered by this, just happy they signed up for something for the sake of having a goal  Me?  Once I pay and sign you can be 99% sure I will show.  The roundtrip, therefore,  is too much of a physical risk now, due to those failed experiments in  my late 20s.  The Ascent is more of a win/win proposition for me.  I like those.  Another thing learned: Over-thinking statistics  wrecks it - they're only for your peripheral vision. Always have goals and be focused but look for the small pleasures.  These will keep you wanting to come back year after year.

For example. I remember less about never breaking 3 hours in the Ascent, but more about how my bother (who ran a 2:59:59 compared to my 3:00:26) will tease me till we reach our grave about this(I think I will blame the lack of chip timing for not breaking 3 hours?)  Our sibling rivalry was a healthy one, and we fed allot off of that while this wimpy brother was still actually running(he cannot run anymore due to bad knees (wa, wa, who gets the last laugh now?)

I will remember the years the family all trained together, instilling the love of the outdoors early on in the family.I will remember that cat found, the marmot that hid in the back of my dad' s truck that we found after we drove back into town(had to take the thing back)--the time I went up on Father's Day with Michelle ("We MUST forge on!, my Dad is waiting for us on top!", I told the tentative  training partner,"For the sake of Father's Day Tradition!) even though the Peak was covered in several feet of snow at the top. I will remember the way me and my friends tease, banter, and laugh with each other while up there in training.

Congrats on finishing the first two legs of the Triple Crown and good luck on the last Pikes Peak leg --I will see if my experiments work this year.  Hope yours does, however you define it.

And don't miss the TCR award ceremony in September  That will be a good time, as always. I will make the ceremony for sure, as I did a college track and field reunion last year at Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado. The photo is a pic of tour family in Alamosa at the reunion. I jogged/walked the 5K alumni fun run with my daughter while my husband ran the whole thing with my son).
These running memories are very special, and you never know when or if you will see some of your old running buddies again.

My most accomplished  teammate from Adams State , the famous Olympian Pat Porter,  died over the weekend in a plane crash along with his son and his son's friend.  Just another reminder to live each day as if it may be your last.  Pat Porter was an inspiration to me and my team mates at Adams State.  He was symbolic of our program down there---where young athletes from modest high school careers came to coach Joe I Vigil's amazing program, and in an almost assembly-line fashion, went on to achieve great things.  Please goggle this amazing athlete, read about him,  and celebrate his life.  He did run the Pikes Peak Ascent once(he won it, of course) in 1981 and though this race was never his focus, he was an advocate of high altitude training as his pursued his Olympic career.  He made the US Olympic Team for the 10,000 meters in 1984 and 1988.


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Comment by Bill Beagle on August 15, 2012 at 9:34pm

what a great travelogue of your running career, with more chapters still to be written! I will do what I can to celebrate the life of a great runner in my own humble way, making it to the top. That's my goal. Sure I have a time in mind, have to :) but the ultimate goal, as you say, is to finish. Carpe Diem! Excelsior!

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