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Woah, we're half way there, Woah Oh! Livin' on a Prayer.

Sunday was the running of the Barr Trail Mountain Race (BTMR for you acronym lovers).  This is a race I have loved for years.  There's been a lot of transition in the past 5 years, but it's still just a brutal as ever.  It's relatively simple: run halfway up Pikes Peak, and then run back down for a total of approximately 12.6 miles.  You would think that doing half of the Pikes Peak Marathon would be easy.  It's not.  Once the gun goes off, or at this race, the hat is dropped, it's easy to realize this is going to be hard.

The race starts at the Cog Railway Depot on Ruxton Ave.  Within 200 yards of the start, reality sets in as runners get to "run" up one of the steepest hills they may have encountered in their entire running lives.  I don't know the grade, but it's a 1/4 mile of sheer hell and it hits you like a windshield hits a fly.  I could feel my calves tightening up and I wasn't even a half mile into the race.  I know I'm supposed to use this race as a barometer for the Peak in 5 weeks, but I always know what's training and what's a race, and this is a race and I must treat it as such.

Photo by Tim Bergsten

The "Ws" follow over the next mile to mile and a half as a steady, grinding ascent of about 11% grade My race legs didn't feel so good, and I walked a ton of this section.  Once above the Ws, I was able to run, but not as much as I felt I should.  I began to fall behind my splits and just figured I would settle in for a tough "race."  Those of you who know me, know I walk with a purpose when racing, so I settled in to a determined walk until I was 1/4 mile past No Name Creek.  I lost time, but thought I might get some back on the downhill.

Just past the 7.8 mile sign on my way up, Joe Gray came whizzing by on his way down.  He was damn near 4 miles ahead of me.  Photo by Tim Bergsten

A quick energy gel just as I came into Barr Camp--the turn around point to head back down, and I was ready for the return trip.  I made it to Barr Camp in 1:29:01.  Joe Gray would finish the race 1 minute later a full 6+ miles ahead of me.  That's fast!  "Woah, we're halfway there..."

I'm not sure what happened, but man it was nice to feel that second wind.  I started running down and I had a time goal in this race of 2:15 or better.  If I was going to hit that mark, I needed to crush it on the downhill.  It was hot, I was tired, and I had just eaten a Gu.  I'm on a mission from God. "Woah Oh! Livin' on a prayer."

With half a mile to go, Tim Bergsten snapped this photo of me.  At this point, I felt I had a shot at the 2:15 mark, but I was going to have to run like hell to hit it.

Below Photo by John Garner

The brutal reality of this race hits every participant at the end.  It's a little hill called Hydro, and it crushes every runner.  The final approach is to run down the hill I complained about earlier in this post.  When your legs are trashed from that little number, take a hard left and run UP a hill that is at least as steep, and twice as hard.  I buried my head in my chest and began the long, slow chug up Hydro.  I ran out of gas about half way up.  I could barely muster the energy to get to the finish line and be done.  I lay down in the finish chute and drank some water.
 The Race Director, Peter Maksimo, snapped this photo of me and Mike Teger.

I know, you are wondering if I made the 2:15 mark.  No!  2:15:43.  But I did have my fastest downhill time on this race ever. at 46:44.  This is not quite half of the Pikes Peak Marathon course.  But it gives runners of the PPM and PPA a good dose of what is coming next month.  I have some uphill work to do because I am only running the Ascent.  I am comforted that I can have a sub par first half--  "Woah, we're half way there..."-- and recover to finish strong--"Woah Oh! Livin' on a prayer."

L to R: Me, 2nd Age Group, Larry Rosenkranz 3rd AG, Craig Summerdorf 1st AG  (2:14:28)

Photo by Tim Bergsten

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Comment by Vanessa Shawver on July 20, 2016 at 10:16am

Great job, Mike! It was a tough day on the mountain and SO hot!!! You were fantastic!

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