I checked my email just after 6AM after finishing my morning run on a Tuesday a few weeks ago and was greeted by a message with subject line blaring Pikes Peak Ascent Registration Confirmation. My first thought was, what kind of spam is this? Then, after checking my text messages, I realized that my brother had signed me up to do the Pikes Peak Ascent this September.
The Pikes Peak Ascent is no joke – it’s a serious uphill endeavor. The website describes the half marathon as a: “…grueling 13.3 mile race from Manitou Springs, Colorado, to the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes Peak. With a vertical climb of 7,800 feet up the historic Barr Trail, this is NOT your typical half marathon!“
I haven’t seriously raced in several years. I’ve had good reasons: a third child, a global pandemic, a seriously damaged pelvic floor…but mostly, I just haven’t wanted to. The thing is, I LOVE to race. I truly love racing: the nerves, the energy, the challenge, the excitement, the exhaustion and exhilaration. I love the whole deal. Despite this love of racing, I simply haven’t felt drawn to that challenge lately. So, paying good attention to my instincts, I’ve not even looked twice at a race. In fact, the past few years when my brother has mentioned doing the Ascent together (he’s a far more committed mountain racer than I am), I literally laughed him off the phone with something like “yeah right, thanks, but I’m going to go run my usual flat, road surface 3 mi loop today, see ya!”
My brother definitely gets the laugh on this one, since it looks like I’ll be re-entering the world of running races by climbing a freaking mountain, at “one of the greatest challenges in American sport!”
I kept returning to look at that confirmation email throughout the day and I actually got pretty excited. Some butterflies alighted in my stomach. This is probably more due to the fact that the prospect of running (hiking? crawling?) to the top of a 14er scares me than to the fact that I think I’m actually getting ‘race performance’ nerves, but it’s still exciting to feel that nervousness again.
I am not joking when I say that this running up a mountain is going to be a challenging activity. I am very glad to have about 6 months to get ready. The biggest thing for me will be to first simply run more consistently. I’ll also need to add more longer distance runs, running on uneven trail surfaces, and most of all running uphill! My usual 3-5 mile loop of neighborhood streets has about 100ft of elevation change so, I have my work cut out for me.
I am happily accepting trail running and mountain running advice. If you have tips, tricks, or experience on the Ascent, please, let me know! I’ll gladly take it to heart!
In the meantime, follow along as I chronicle my preparation for this race over the coming months! Next week I’ll talk a bi more about pelvic floor health as I’m in the midst of a series of PT appointments that focus on that.