2014 Pikes Peak Marathon

2014 Pikes Peak Marathon
2014 Pikes Peak Marathon, Ready to Rock (or be rocked)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, 9/02/09 SuperFlag

28 miles
1:34RT

My intention today was to put in a hard ride up Superflag. What "hard" meant in regards to time, I did not know, but I wanted to beat my 31:24 from a few weeks ago. All the smoke in the air from fires in the West did nothing to encourage me, but when I got out of work at 4, things seemed quite a bit more clear. I started pedaling toward Boulder and the air quality seemed great, but as I got closer to the foothills, I started to smell and see smoke. Although nothing compared to yesterday, I am apprehensive to put in a hard effort when air quality sucks, as it wreaks havoc on my throat and lungs.

Only mildly deterred, I continued up Baseline at a conservative pace, saving my efforts for the climb proper. Near 7th St., I pulled over real quick and stashed my bottle and seat bag in the bushes, trying to save every bit of weight that I could.

At the bridge, I started my watch and began spinning a low gear at a fast rate, but never really hanging it out there and figured I would see how it goes as I ascend. I felt great, but the smoke was definitely noticeable and for the next 1.5-2 miles I waffled a bit, debating how much I really wanted to put into it.

Although not a super time, I hit the turnoff in 16:05 which surprised me a bit and gave me confidence. I upped the effort, as I knew now that I had nothing to lose and felt as though I was soaring up the road. Normally, I sit in the saddle for the entire climb, but today, on the steeper sections, I stood up and really put some force on the pedals. This is a bit of a risky tactic, as it increases HR by 5-10 beats, but my cardiovascular system is clearly stronger than my cycling legs, so I figured what the heck.

For a long time, I did not look at the watch, but couldn't help sneaking a peek before the final switchbacks and knew I could go under 30. Although near my max, I pegged it for all I was worth and snuck in at 29:47. Certainly not a time to rave about, but it was a bit of milestone for me, as I have not been able to break 30 minutes for many years, as my riding has been sporadic at best since 1996 (my PR on this climb is 27:??).

I was super elated and riding a major high as I bombed back down the hill. I was going a bit over 40mph, just beyond the Amphitheater turnoff whan a large deer came up from the steep dropoff on the right, hopping a guardrail and ran right in front of me. I could not believe it, one of my worst biking fears being realized. I squeezed the brakes hard, trying not to skid, as it ran along the yellow line in the same direction as me with my front tire just a few feet away. A little bit of luck, fast reactions and good bike handling avoided a potential disaster.

Still on my high, I jammed home from the summit in 34 minutes. I also weighed myself for the first time in ages (I was afraid to look) and was pleased to see 141. My foot felt good enough today that I ran with the dog on the nearby trails and felt as though I am almost at the point where I can start running up peaks again, maybe in another week. I am burning to get after it again.....