Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pikes Peak Marathon 2016 Recap

Pikes Peak has always been a race that grabbed my attention.  Run 8000 vertical feet up to the top of a 14er as fast as you can and then turn around and run back down as fast as you can to where you started..... It's just a great setup for a good old fashion footrace!  Ran Pikes for the first time last summer with scrapped together training due to moving and remodeling our new house and keeping time for the family so this year with life a little more stabilized I was excited to give the race another go with some consistent training under my belt.

Ryder as excited to run at the beginning of the race
The morning of the race started out as a perfect Colorado day, feeling a bit more like fall than the end of August the temperate was in the upper 50s to start the race.  After warming up my parents, wife, and son Ryder showed up to watch the start of the race which was really exciting to have.  Ryder was excited about the race atmosphere and I had a lot of fun running around with him near the start line before the race start.  The beginning of the race started out comfortable and settled into a groove next to Peter Maksimow who was running the Double which consists of running the Ascent on Saturday followed by the Marathon on Sunday.  Ran together with Peter for the first several miles until a little below No Name then broke off on my own for almost the remainder of the ascent.  Even though Peter  was running the double I new that he is a really strong ascender so I wasn't going to be suprised if he came charging up past me further up.

I didnt feel super smooth on the Ws up to No Name which is the bottom part of the course but came through No Name a couple minutes ahead of plan so just tried to relax and keep on pace.  Above No Name the course flattens out a bit with a couple short downhill sections and it felt good to get the legs turning over and it felt like to legs were starting to get into a groove.  Coming through Bar Camp which is 7.5 miles in and about 6 miles from the Summit I was 3 min ahead of my goal pace for a 2:35 ascent time.  I new from running the course last year and from getting out for a training run a few weeks prior that the last 5 miles to the summit is really where the difficult part of the course
begins so I tried to hold myself back from pushing too hard after Barr Camp.  Last year this last 5 miles was where I really start to fall apart and once I hit treeline I pretty much hiked the remainer of the ascent costing me a lot of time.  I was determined not to let this happen to me again this year and was really focusing on keeping my effort in check to make sure the legs could still run after A Frame which is the checkpoint right at treeline.  I came through A Frame just a minute ahead of pace which left me wondering if I had backed off a little to much after Barr Camp.  Despite the loss of time the legs were running well above tree line and really only started to slow down for the last1/2 mile of the ascent or so nearing the Golden Staircase and really didn't start feeling the altitude until about 13000 ft which I was really happy about as pretty much all of my training was around my house which tops out at around 7800 ft.  I hit the summit at 2:35 right on pace.
Coming down off the summit
The summit at Pikes is always such a relief and almost feels as if its the end of one race and the start of another.  I started experiencing a bit of cramping in my calves and inner thighs after coming off the top and was a bit worried that I had backed off my fueling and sodium replacement a bit too much after treeline.  Despite this the legs felt really refreshed switching to the descent and I just tried to keep them moving smoothly to help relax the cramping muscles which seemed to be working.  On the descent I quickly caught and passed Timmy Parr who seemed to be dealing with an injury or some other issue since normally i'd be chasing him down the mountain.  Legs felt like they were moving well on the downhill but tried to keep myself in check since the first 4 miles of the descent are through pretty rocky fairly technical terrain and I didn't want to end my race let alone season with a bad fall or a busted ankle.  At about 4 miles down I did take a bit of a fall but it was pretty minor and was able to dust myself off and keep moving without loosing to much time or self dignity.  Once I got a bit above Barr Camp I really tried to open it up and push hard for the remainder of the descent.  About a mile below Barr Camp I took another pretty high speed fall after catching my toe on a small root but was lucky again to be able to ninja roll out of it rather unscathed other than a minor cut on my elbow.  Once I got the legs rolling again they were running pretty well and I was really trying to stay on my goal pace of 4:05.  No one was saying anything about anyone being close in front of my so I kind of felt like I was running in no mans land and had to really remind myself to keep pushing and not back off.  With about 4 miles left my right inner thigh locked up after coming off of a rock and I thought for sure I was going to be hobbling down for the remainer of the race.  I stopped and stretched it out for a moment and started back into a slow job to see if it would relax and luckily after about 200 yards it started to relax and i was able to fall back into a good pace again.  Tried to keep it relaxed to keep the cramping at bay while still mainting a good pace and then with about 1.5 miles to go I saw Micha Steiner was in striking distance and that I was slowing gaining on him.  After catching Micha the cramping had pretty much alleviated and I was able to put on a good surge and hammer it home for the last mile.
Bringing it Home!
Ended up crossing the finish line in 4:04:38, in 5th place overall.  Overall I was really happy with the race, I beat my time last year by 23 min and hit all the goals that I had set out for the race right on target.  Pikes is such a great race, I would really recommend anyone that hasn't run it should do it at least once in their running career.  Its so well organized, so unique, and overall just kickes your butt every time :)

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