59th Annual Pikes Peak Marathon
4:59:38 (3:00:55 ascent)
Short version: Could have been better, but am thankful that it was not much worse. Ran smart on the up, moving well, but still saving enough for the descent. Hit the summit in 18th place and was very much in the mix, close to a handful of guys who I hoped to pass on the descent. The descent ended up being a bit of a mess and I wound up losing 10 places, was 12 minutes slower than last year and not quite where I envisioned myself finishing. After some digesting though, I am reasonably OK with it.
"Training" or whatever you might call it (I generally refer to it as "just getting outside") went reasonably well this year. I got in my usual vertical (370,000 feet prior to Pikes this year), a Grand Canyon RRR run, a few PR's and some very solid and encouraging runs thrown in here and there. No injuries either to speak of, just the usual ups/downs of working full time and parenting 3 year old twins, maintaining a home etc... which can be much more exhausting than any runs or races I ever do in the mountains.
Normally I am able to get to 14k several times (or up to 30+ times in the pre kid years), but this year only managed to get up Grays and Torreys once. I was able to get in some 13ers here and there, primarily a few solid runs on Audubon/Paiute, which helps, but is not quite the same as getting to 14k in my opinion. However, despite the relative lack of altitude training, I still (correctly) suspected that it would not be much of an issue.
I felt reasonably confident going into this race, felt well tapered and though antsy and somewhat nervous, had it all under control and was ready to give it my best.
Did not leave Louisville until nearly 7pm on Saturday evening (as Allison had to work and I was on daddy duty all day), which is a change from previous years, where I would arrive in time to get my number, attend the PPA awards and eat the spaghetti dinner. I like to soak up the race vibe and it puts me at ease being able to pin my number on the night before (but getting my number race morning turned out to be a non-issue).
Had a better than average night of sleep at my friend Jeff's house just 5 or so miles from the start (thanks Jeff!), a solid 7 hours worth, which is more than normal for me before this race. Parked a bit before 5:30am, just in time to get my favorite parking spot. Was able to eat breakfast with ease, a bowl of cereal with strawberries, an English muffin with jam and some coffee. I rode my bike up toward the finish to lock up for post race transportation and then bumped into George, where we ended up hanging out for much of the following hour leading up to the race. It was great prepping with George, as he helped keep me calm and distracted from getting too nervous.
The calm before the storm
I started off at the front and despite the pace feeling conservative, was surprised to find myself in 9th place until half way up Ruxton. I got passed by a few and did some re-passing, but generally maintained somewhere in the 11-15th range much of the way to Barr Camp. It felt as though I was moving well, but my time splits were not indicating any real magic and I knew I would go through my usual fading beyond Barr Camp. I just made a conscious effort to not be racing anybody (yet), stay within my own limits and pace myself reasonably.
Looking at my watch, wondering if we are there yet.
Looks like a trophy, only smaller.
- I have heard various complaints about the shirts. Though in my mind not a big deal, I too have to admit that they are not my favorite (looks a bit like a LA Rams jersey, or perhaps something an Admiral would wear) and I would be a bit sick of the purple if I were running the Ascent. They have also seemed a bit too similar over the past 4 years. I would love to see a different design next year, maybe something short sleeve, gender specific colors, or even a no shirt option for the race at an appropriately reduced price. The grey short sleeve shirts that the race staff were wearing were quite nice and would be a step up from the usual. More of a suggestion though than a complaint.
- Questions and comments from my 3 year old daughters when I got home: "Daddy, did you see any balloons? Did you see any animals? Why was George Zack not wearing a shirt? Daddy, did you win? How come you did not win? Because you are older? Did George Zack win? I want to race Pikes Peak Marathon with you dad! (Amelie) I want to race the Tour de France (Isabelle)
- The Hoka Huaka was the PERFECT shoe for this event. Light, stable, great control, protection, cushion, just enough traction and I was the least beat up afterward of any of my previous Pikes Peak Marathons (wore the Stinson last year, Bondi the year before, Pearlizumis the year before). Some of that may have to do with not running as fast down the mountain this year, but still.
- On the descent, I was grumpy and was thinking this was my last Pikes after 6 Ascents and now my 4th marathon since I first ran here in 2004 (missed 2009 due to a broken foot). I still contemplate other races, but suspect I'll be back next year to redeem myself. Even if I don't ever live up to my expectations here, I still love the race, the tradition, the mountain, organization, friends and overall experience.
- I was surprised how minimally impacted I was physically after the race (well, after the oxygen and IV). I was a bit slow the next day on the stairs, but I could fake a pretty normal walk. Shoulders, glutes, arms and lower back were a bit sore and stiff. No blisters or sore spots on my feet/toes. Am taking 3 days off, partially as recovery, but mostly because live coverage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is cutting into my normal post work running time.
- Ate 3 gels on the ascent (before Bobs, before A Frame and around 1.5 to summit, then a last one ~1.5 down from summit. Carried a bottle, sipped off it often, but the bulk of my fluids came from stopping on the descent and guzzling a few cups each time.
- George has an excellent summary here, does a much better job conveying thoughts on the race and has many points I can relate to.
Top of Ws: 32:04
No Name: 47:21
A Frame: 2:02:50
A Frame: 3:32:59
Bob's Road: 4:19:32
No Name: 4:28:12
Top of Ws: 4:39:19