As I sit here in the Colorado Springs airport, I have a little bit of time to reflect on my experience from yesterday. Before I get into my race report, there are two things that really stand out from where I sit, one: there is no substitute for running actual mountains and two: it doesn’t matter what kind of fancy gadget you have to try and acclimate yourself to higher altitudes, again there is no substitute for running at altitude, period.
Race morning started off great, since Colorado is a two hour difference in time from Indiana, getting up at 4:00 Colorado time is a breeze. I had a pre race meal of a banana, coffee cake and a banana nut muffin along with plenty of Gatorade and water. I made my way over to Manitou Springs and found a great parking spot near the park. I sat in my rental car for a bit taking in more fluids and going over plan A, B and C. Around 6:00 I made my way over to the start line to “get rid of some butterflies”. (Thanks for that euphemism GZ). Speaking of GZ, I ran into him and we exchanged some pleasantries. Later I ran into JV, Brad and Daryn Parker. I lined up right on the line and hoped I could hang with some of these guys. A couple of arms lengths away was Matt Carpenter, the King of Pikes Peak.
The race started off uneventful, I found myself on the tail of GZ and Sean O’day (who would eventually finish 8th)… I hit Ruxton in 3:01 and feeling very good. Up through the W’s I was feeling very smooth and relaxed, around mile marker 3, I stepped on a rock and turned my bad ankle (the right one) very hard and searing pain went shooting through it. The guy behind me said, “oh dude, are you alright... That didn’t look good.” The only thing I could say was, “I’ll be alright”. I hobbled over to rock and sat down waiting for the searing pain to subside. After about a minute, the only thing I could think of was quitting and walking back down. But then other thoughts started filling my head, my kids, my wife, my family. I had to get up and at least try to finish this thing, even if it meant walking. I got up and starting walking back up, after about a minute I tried to start jogging, it was slow but it was faster than the alternative. Around Barr camp, the jogging morphed into running and I was feeling better, the ankle was hurting but tolerable. Past A frame, my breathing was not as labored as it was last year, I didn’t have a splitting headache and I didn’t have the urge to vomit ever other minute. I said hey to JV coming back down as well as GZ, and just about took out Brad as I didn’t see him, he was right behind GZ. I hit the summit in 4:22, about an hour slower than last year. The downhill was uneventful this year, even with the bum ankle there were no spills before Barr camp. I did take a minor spill at the 1.44 miles to go sign that just got my shoulder a bit dirty, but I was up and running back down without missing a beat. I will say that the last 5k was probably the most painful 3 miles I have ever run. With the ankle being injured, I was altering my stride, which in turn was throwing off my hips and my back, so along with the ankle, I had all those other things working against me. I was really happy that this run was almost over.
It’s still too early to contemplate doing this race again next year, but I still have to think about it. My time means that I’ll have to register in the 2nd wave, which really sucks, but maybe that’s a good thing. I’m still hoping that I win the lottery so I can move out here for a couple of months prior to the race…