Am I really climbing Pikes Peak in 48 hours???
My emotions have been swinging wildly this week: "I've got this!" "I could have trained so much betttttter!" "This will be fun!" "What was I thinking???" The usual things that go through your head when you're crazy enough to sign up to run up a mountain.
The unhappy news that there may be some snow/bad weather this year on the last three miles has put a little bit of a damper on things because I'm an awful runner on slippery surfaces, mostly for psychological reasons because I've become terrified of falling ever since my knee surgery a few years ago. The weather may really determine whether placing is possible this year, or if I just need to be satisfied with the bragging rights of running up a mountain through snow, lol.
Rain, snow or shine, what's special about doing the Ascent for the very first time this year is that it coincides with what would have been the year my grandpa turned 100. He is the reason I ever got the Pikes Peak bug to begin with, and in a way, I may not have ever even thought of racing Pikes Peak if it wasn't for him.
My grandpa passed away less than two years ago at the age of 98. Except for the last four months of his life, he aged the way you can only dream of aging: in the years past 60 he traveled all over the country (hit every state) and many places around the world. He walked several miles a day up through his 97th year, and when he had his own knee surgery at 95, he started doing 5Ks around San Antonio with his walker. He always placed in his age group (who cares if the competition was a little light? ;-) ).
And another thing he did after 60: climbed Pikes Peak up AND down 10 times.
My mom was the much youngest in her family, so Pepaw's other grandchildren are a lot older than me and my sister. We missed all the Pikes Peak hikes because Pepaw had moved away from Colorado by the time we came around. So as a little kid, the tales of these Pikes Peak climbs just enthralled me. My dad would tell me about A-Frame, which sounded kind of magical in these stories for some reason. About the difficult trek above timberline. And my favorite part: that when they got to the top, there were doughnuts and lemonade waiting! Little kid me pictured the summit in my head ending at a point with a little shack balancing precariously at the top, a cooler with lemonade and a box of doughnuts inside this tiny, tiny structure. Hahaha, imagine my surprise when I finally climbed Pikes Peak for the first time in 2010! If I think about it, despite having been to the summit many times now I can still see those images.
I grew up dreaming of climbing the mountain. My dad teased me and a same-age cousin from another branch of the family by taking us on a two-mile hike up Barr Trail when we were 11, with promises that we'd climb the following year, but it didn't happen. My turn finally came six years ago, and it was so set in my mind that you HAD to walk up and down the mountain thanks to Pepaw that I was devastated when my group opted to drive down with a friend instead. It didn't feel like a real climb if you only went to the top! I finally convinced my dad to go down with me.
I moved to Colorado a couple months after that climb, and until he died, every time I saw my grandpa he would ask me about Colorado and the Peak. He called me "Colorado Girl." When he passed away, I inherited the 10 patches he earned climbing Pikes Peak.
I'm going to San Antonio for a week after the Ascent, and I'm sad I can't go visit him and tell him all about running up the mountain. But I know Pepaw would love the fact that I'm running it on his centennial. In fact -- he'd say that we were all running the Ascent this year in honor of him :-)
*Photos taken from a family photo album and are already circa 1980ish, so the quality is awful!*