Back in August of 2007, I competed in the Pikes Peak Ascent in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I think it was January of that year when I started training for the event but, I was a classic example of too much, too soon. I trained on a super incline treadmill at the gym which was capable of inclining to 30 degrees. I the span of about 10 days I increased my training on that treadmill from 30 minutes to 60 minutes to 2 hours….
That was too much too soon. I blew out my piriformis muscle to such a degree that, at times, it was difficult to stand without that muscle “catching” and looking back, was most likely irritating my sciatic nerve. Whatever the reason, I was completely knocked out of any kind of training for many months. I had a great job with excellent insurance so, in addition to chiropractic adjustments I was also able to avail myself of physical therapy and a weekly massage for over two months. I really liked those weekly massages!
And …I really want to go back to Colorado! The point in bringing up Colorado is to contrast the massive overtraining and subsequent injury I did for that event and the much smarter training I’m doing now. Still, it’s hard to stop musing over the two weeks I spent in Colorado back in 2007, especially looking over all the pictures I took back then.
My first day in Colorado was nothing short of amazing and a day I would gladly live over. I landed in Colorado Springs early that morning, got my rental car and checked into the first of two different places I would be staying during my time in Colorado. During my first week, I stayed at the Eagle Motel which was about a mile from the Cog Train or base of the mountain, my second week was spent just down the street from the Cog train at an extremely elegant bed & breakfast called Victoria’s Keep. Below are pictures from my view at the first place I stayed and a picture of Victoria’s Keep.
I think my entire week’s stay at the Eagle Motel cost less than a single night at that bed & breakfast.
Here’s what’s kind of freaky about Colorado. On the same day I took that sunny picture of Victoria’s Keep I drove to the top of Pikes Peak (which I did about 10 times) to help acclimate myself to the lower oxygen concentrations but, there was a freak snow storm at the top of the mountain that day and the park rangers ended up closing the mountain so we all had to drive back down. Below are pics from later that day, at the top of the mountain and a view out my windshield as I was driving back down the mountain.
Of course – once I got back to the bottom of the mountain the sky was all sunny again. Pretty cool environment 🙂
Within minutes after checking into my first hotel, I headed off to the mountain! I stopped at the Cog Train depot and bought a one way ticket DOWN the mountain then headed up the mountain to Barr Camp which is located about 7 miles up the mountain. I bought some M&M’s and a drink at the Barr Camp store, took some extra trash with me from the store (because there is no trash service at the middle of the mountain) then shot laterally across the mountain to hook up with the Cog Train on it’s way back down from the top of the mountain.
Anyway, after Barr Camp, I shot over 1.5 miles to meet up with the Cog Train on the way back down and met a great couple from Denver who were visiting the Peak area for a few days. We all ended up going to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, had steak that evening at the Stagecoach Inn and partied it up at pretty much every local pub in the area. After that couple left, I had moved to the Victoria’s Keep B&B where I met up with the 180 Energy Running Team from Anheuser Busch and spent the rest of the vacation with them.
There’s so many pictures I’d love to share from the zoo, to the mountain, 180, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, and a host of other places & people but, my Internet connection here seems to be a little quirky today so I’ll have to save that for another time.
I did run across some videos I took while on the mountain and, in particular, from my first hike up to Barr Camp then over to the Cog Train. Per those videos I learned it was 2 miles to the Cog Train from my hotel, then 7.5 miles up to Barr Camp then another 1.5 miles across the mountain to hook up with the train. Also, due to the busy time of the year, I had to purchase a round trip train ticket to ensure I would have a spot when the train headed back down the mountain.
All I can say is …I want MORE! 🙂 More please. More of the same. More of the really good times.
When I look back over those pictures a really cool part of it is that in less than two weeks after Colorado, I have another folder for the time I spent at Virginia Beach and that trip pretty much rocked as well.
Even though I was injured while training for the Pikes Peak Ascent, I still went and had a great time but it took me a little over 9 hours on race day to get to the top of the mountain and, that is quite a story in itself. The cutoff is 6 hours to make it to the top. Race officials tried turning me back at Barr Camp on the day of the race because my pace was a little bit off of what was needed to make it to the top in 6 hours but, they said they wouldn’t stop me if I continued, so I pressed on. At A-Frame, another stop about 1/2 way between Barr Camp and the summit everyone in the race was being turned back due to not making the necessary pace. A-Frame is about 10,000 ft up and about 3 miles or so from the summit.
I just didn’t want to turn back so I tore off my racing bib and my racing bracelet and pretended I was just a hiker so I could get past the race officials at the A-Frame checkpoint.
The plus side of things was that I could continue on my journey to the top of the mountain. The down side was that I had to give up a few things like the remaining water stops along the way to the top since they had already closed down. I also had to give up my ride back down to the base of the mountain but figured …well, I just figured I’d be OK and could end up meeting someone who would give me a ride back down which, is exactly what ended up happening.
I did get lost and ended up in part of the tundra where grass grows about an inch or so every 100 years and there were stories circulating of a Bear spotted in the vicinity of Barr Camp.
Anyway ….this is a good program I’m on now.
Week 16 –
I sort of skirted around my first few legitimate long runs. I did my 7 mile long run a few weeks back at the Lake of the Ozarks but my 8 mile long run the following week was substituted with the 34 mile Tour de Donut. The 10 mile run the following week was substituted with the Biggest Loser 10k at Six Flags but, there was no getting around things this past weekend and my original plans were to meet with some group called the Walking Ramblers who were going to do a five mile loop around Babler State Park and I figured I could do that loop twice like some of them were going to do then tack on an extra mile at the end to make my full 11 miles of training for that day.
I had to work late the night before and didn’t have it in me to get up as early as was necessary to get to the park by 7 a.m. (it was about an hour away) but, I did eventually make it to the prescribed starting destination and headed off on my 11 mile journey.
Miles 2 to 4 were all uphill and from my Sports Tracker, I could tell there was an elevation gain of about 350 feet for those two miles.
My 7 mile jaunt at the Ozarks was hilly as well and I was able to compare the two runs. My average pace at the Ozarks was 17:41 and my average pace for my 11 mile hilly run was 15:50!
I could really tell I was much, much stronger at Babler State Park for my 11 mile run.
One of the things at Babler Park that reminded me of Colorado was a cemetery I came upon during the first part of my run.
The first picture is a grave of someone who died in 1895 and the gravestone to the right is off a little guy who lived less than 3 years and died in 1865.
In between those two times is a lady by the name of G. Inestine B Roberts who was born in 1869. Talk about feisty – this lady was all of 5 feet tall and weighed 89 pounds. This lady made 14 Ascents to the top of Pikes Peak and about 9.4 miles from the trailhead of Pikes Peak is a memorial to this amazing lady who died on the mountain during her way back down from her 14th Ascent.
I came up on this lady’s memorial during my 9 hour trek to the top of the mountain during my own personal first ascent. After I gave up all the safety and security of being watched after from the Pikes Peak race officials, I was in pure survival mode while in pursuit of the summit. Death is kind of an option one needs to be aware of while hiking up to the top of Pikes Peak on their own.
I vividly remember stopping at Inestine’s memorial and placing my hand on her memorial and praying a bit for safe passage to the top of the mountain.
Anyway – Week 16 was a very, very good week and a very solid week of training. I can tell I’m getting stronger. Many years ago, I first had a notion of training by running a half marathon distance every weekend because that distance seemed to profoundly affect me in a very positive way.
I suppose I wasn’t too smart back then because I never built up my training miles to adequately complete that distance every weekend but – from this point on, from my 11 mile training run forward and for about the next 14 weeks, that is exactly what I’ll be doing for my long runs – i.e., completing a half marathon distance or better every weekend.
I’m perceiving these efforts as being in the realm of life changing. I felt fantastic after the 11 miles. Some basic sore feet and fatigued leg muscles but nothing to incapacitate me as has been the case in times gone by when I’ve completed similar distances.
I liked the fact that I didn’t need a crowd of spectators in order to finish this distance as is the case when running a half marathon.
Sort of like, pure internal strength.
Even 9.75 miles into the run I was still able to pick up and jog.
I better save the rest of my life’s ponderings for later. This is Week 17, Day 1 and I still have a 4 mile run to get in before the night is over.
Somehow, someway, I’ve improved and gotten stronger. That last 10k I did had me out and very sore for 2 days which is why I did my three preceding runs before my long run last week on three consecutive days – Tue, Wed & Thur and those were runs of 4, 5 and 4 miles respectively. But, I had no problems with any of those runs and the 11 miles I just did was easier than the 6.2 miles I did the week before.