Pikes Peak Road Ascent Race Report

At Pikes Peak last weekend I got back in contact with Mike from the Incline Club, and we became Facebook friends. Late last week he posted about signing up for the inaugural Pikes Peak Road Ascent: an 11.6mile run up Pikes Peak Highway. Intrigued, I asked him if there was any incentive for “triplers”. He said there was, so I made a decision. This was the first year for the PPRA, so the first chance to be a tripler. I decided to register.

Now, my weekend was already pretty booked: a bout Saturday night, and another Sunday at 4pm. Thankfully I knew our Sunday game we’d have a lot of jammers, and the opponent is ranked much beneath us.

I ate well for the bout Saturday, knowing I was also fueling for the next days race. I skipped the afterparty to get some sleep, only telling KJ of my plan (I was excited, but didn’t want anyone to question my dedication or performance on track).

The alarm went off at 4, and I was out the door before 5. I wore lululemon shorts and a tank, a hat and my leg sleeves. I brought a long-sleeved shirt but judging by the forecast, I didnt think I’d need it. I was less tired than last Saturday as I made the drive, and listening to the endurance planet podcast got me pumped. I was in Manitou Springs nicely before the 6:30 shuttle to the start, and I stretched and chatted a bit to some of the other runners. At the start I saw another fellow from the Epic Relay (he was wearing his team shirt), and met plenty of doublers and members of the Incline Club. They invited me to join their Fight for Air Stair Climb team: they start early so there isn’t the congestion I got caught in last year.

Eventually it was time to go. I’d (arbitrarily) set a 3 hr goal. I didn’t know what the course was like, or even the elevation to which we were to climb. Details, schmetails!

I started at a conservative pace, not wanting to kill myself. I walked a few times, trying to adopt a race-walkers stride and speed: it was actually good for my knee.

My stomach gave me a bit of trouble within the first two miles, but cleared up. Although it was a tough course, the distance just ticked by. After the first few miles I was feeling pretty good. While the overall course had some serious elevation gain, the road was nice and undulating.

Apparently some folks who were more familiar with the course said they’d heard the first two and the last three miles were the most steep, but there was some reprieve in the middle. Looking at my splits, I certainly see the challenge at the end! But even as I was pushing through, I felt stronger than many of the other folks around me as I passed them. In the last half mile I played cat and mouse with a couple guys, but ended up being able to pick it up a bit at the end and stay ahead of them.

1: 11:31
2: 11:13
3: 11:15
4: 10:58
5: 9:17
6: 9:23
7: 9:07
8: 10:46
9: 13:25
10: 13:58
11: 14:16
.6: 12:31pace

2:09:34

The race was run in conjunction with the “Assault on the Peak” bike race, so for much of the course it was just runners and bikers. I think some of them honestly had a tougher time of it than we did! In the last few miles I’d hear the breathing of someone slowly catching me, only to see it was a cyclist! There was a nice comradery and support between the athletes as cyclists and runners cheered each other on.

I was really happy with my finish time, and Mike told me he was pretty sure I’d finished Top 10 women. We took the bus down to the start, but there were no preliminary race results posted. It was already close to noon so I waded in the stream to cool off my legs, then I had to head back to Denver not knowing how I’d done.

Recovery and preparation were on my mind, so I stopped at 7-11 for a protein shot and drank water all the way home. I grabbed sustenance at Chipotle, then at home took a quick cool bath and headed to our practice space for derby (I also grabbed an orange drink from McDonalds – mmm sugar).

I was in athletic/competitive mode right away. My legs felt loose and limber and I was in great spirits. The game went well, I didn’t feel any ill effects from the run. If anything, I think I’d turned my brain off (my mental game is my weakest). We took home a big win and then I checked the race results: I’d placed 1st in my age group! A nice cap to the day!

So.. I’ve also seen in scrimmage that I tend to do better if I work out earlier in the day. Now to just figure out how to emulate that in the future…