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*shhhh!!!*  Don't look now, but I think I'm being followed!  Everywhere I go, everything I do, I keep peeking over my shoulder and seeing it...  I can't escape, no matter what I do.  That's right, I'm being stalked by Pikes Peak.  While I'm working, while I'm sleeping, while I'm playing, while I'm running, our neighbor to the west, ever-present on the skyline, has been haunting me.  I've hiked, crawled, hopped, climbed, and clawed my way to the summit of Pikes Peak over 25 times, and yet have never run the infamous Pikes Peak Ascent, so this race has been looming large on my mind.

In addition to prepping for the Ascent, late summer has brought another big change to my life:  becoming a high school chemistry teacher.  This new shift in schedule, getting up early, working late, lesson planning, grading papers, etc., has made it very difficult to squeeze in workouts, training, hitting the trail.  I've caught myself doing some pretty bizarre things to train my body, from doing calf lifts on the stairs at the high school where I teach, to squats during my planning period, to midnight runs through Old Colorado City.  (If you're the owner of the dog on 22nd and Pikes Peak who loves to howl at me, sorry about that...)

Not to say that I've been entirely dormant since the Summer Roundup in July!  I competed in an Olympic-distance triathlon in Leadville, which definitely pushed the limits of my current fitness and abilities; swimming a mile, biking 25 miles, and running a 10K at 10,200ft elevation really takes it out of ya!  I also escaped away to hike the 4-Pass Loop near the Maroon Bells, which was incredible!  And yet, it seems my intended twice-a-week Barr Camp runs weren't destined to be, as those efforts continued to be hampered by work, inclement weather, or personal matters.  In all, I only made it up there 4 times this summer, and this fact has left me racked with nervousness for this penultimate Colorado Springs race.

Despite this anxiety, I am putting on my running shoes with optimism and excitement for this Saturday.  I know I won't win, or set any sort of record.  But I know, as I climb my way up those Golden Stairs, I can be proud of my effort, proud that I finished, and hey, this is my first Ascent, anything will be a PR!  Thank you, everyone, for your constant encouragement and comments along the way; its your camaraderie that has helped me get through this Triple Crown of Running journey.  So I'll see you in Manitou tomorrow morning, and then I'll see you at the top! 

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Comment by Megan Kunkel on August 22, 2013 at 5:54pm
Congrats on a great racing summer, Ryan!! And congrats on becoming a high school chemistry teacher! I just know you'll be fantastic!

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