Monday, August 11, 2008

Pikes Peak

Continuing on my Colorado vacation theme of running some of my favorite places to hike when I was a wee one, I ran Pikes Peak on Tuesday Aug 5. Well, I ran to Barr Camp (1/2 way) anyway. I was lazy and slept in a bit so I didn't actually get on the mountain until about 7:30, which was too late of a start to consider doing the whole round trip. I was crossing my fingers and hoping I was altitude adjusted enough not to get sick and also hoping that I could be quick enough to get back down before the afternoon storms rolled in. I was carrying a long sleeve shirt in my Nathan pack but I'd just prefer to avoid the storms and the heart attack inducing lightning strikes that can happen on the Peak.
I started up slowly into the first switchbacks, and by the time I hit the first 1/2 mile there were a ton of runners coming back down. Running up the incline and then running back down Barr Trail is a popular morning run and since the Pikes Peak marathon was only a few weeks away, I was spending a lot of time giving way. I know that technically uphill runners have the right of way, but on the loose scree it's a lot easier for me to step aside and some of those runners were flat out flying. I took a mile detour over to the Incline trail to watch people coming up for awhile, I was kinda hoping for a Matt Carpenter sighting, but no such luck. I chatted with a woman from Michigan for a few minutes, she was asking about my Nathan pack and I was more than happy to extol it's virtues to her.
After a few minutes of watching gasping, sweating people struggle up the hill, I made my way back to Barr Trail and continued upwards, at this point I started passing people going up but no one was coming back down yet. I passed a woman with a light day pack on and a comb in her hand, and periodically she would stop walking and comb her hair! I slowed way down to watch for a few minutes... it was the oddest thing I had ever seen.
It was a gorgeous, peaceful morning, temps in the low 80's and most importantly low humidity... I was loving running for hours without ending up drenched in sweat. I was enjoying running by myself and had kinda gotten into a bit of a trance when I rounded a switchback and up ahead of me, I saw what I thought was a bear. I stopped dead, let out a squeak and as my heart raced madly, I realized it was just a big furry black dog. Scared the bejesus out of me. These are the times I wish I had a Garmin 305 with the heart rate monitor just so I could see what kind of spike I had gotten. I gratefully patted the dog as I passed him and expressed my relief to his owner. The rest of the way up was uneventful, except for losing my bright pink bandanna. When I realized I had dropped it, I just figured I'd find it on the way back down instead of backtracking.
When I reached Barr Camp, I used the bathroom, which were the NICEST things. They were composting toilets and were meticulously maintained, there wasn't a bug or piece of dirt, or even a bad smell in there. I was tempted to take a picture, but figured that might be a bit too weird. I ate a Lara bar and cleaned out my shoes while watching all the hikers mill around. I spent a few minutes talking to Teresa who along with her husband, Neal are the caretakers at Barr Camp.. they are both ultra runners and we talked races... she was hoping to do Heartland but it filled up too quick. I moved on when a bunch of hikers showed up with questions, but not before telling Teresa that I'd kill for her job! The idea of living half way up my favorite mountain year round taking care of hikers & runners.... woah, talk about a dream job! Cold & snow and all!
I headed back down at a quick clip... the last time I ran down this mountain I couldn't walk for a week, so I was really hoping this time would be different! I wasn't a 1/2 mile down when I heard the first thunder come rumbling through the trees.... I looked up and sure enough, dark, cranky looking clouds... I picked up my pace even more. It felt like flying at times, and luckily it only felt like flying... I remained solidly on my 2 feet instead of spread eagle on my face. As I pounded down the trail I was keeping an eye out for my bandanna that I had dropped, and at one point folded up nicely under a tree was a bandanna... but it was purple, not my pink one. I kept going and not a mile further there was another bandanna in the middle of the trail, and this one was pink, but it was a light pink instead of the dark pink I had dropped. Very odd. I never found mine, all I can figure is that someone decided that they would rather have my pink one and exchanged it for theirs.
By the time I had reached the lower switchbacks I was starting to get comments from hikers about how I was looking great and good luck at the race. I guess the assumption was I had to be training for the marathon... which I'd like to do someday... maybe. I'm not sure I would like being that crowded on the trail. I finished up before the rain hit and was amazed at how many hikers were just starting out, ominous clouds and thunder rumbles and all. I guess if you're only going a short way up it wouldn't be bad, but I hoped they were prepared!
I was thrilled at how good I felt after finishing, I never even felt the altitude and my quads felt great after the 7 mile descent. I did not want to fly home the next day!!

I managed to get up early enough to do an easy 5 mile run with Dad at Ute Valley Park before leaving for DIA. I wanted to run longer but decided that getting a shower in before boarding the plane would be a good thing. Although.... it might have meant getting a row to myself.... hmmm, something to consider for the future!


Kim said...

Wow! You had me so sucked into your story and then bammm...back at work. Much rather be at Pikes Peak!

Venus in the Kitchen said...

Breathtaking views! I'm glad you had such a good trip.

IHateToast said...

i volunteered at a park that had composting toilets. had to clean and restock them. by "clean", i mean sweep the floors. anyway, they were always odor free. we looked into refitting our house with a composting loo. why use potable water?

but aside from the pooage, great views! mountains and OCD hair combers (what the f minus?).

David Ray said...

Nice pics and a good run!

Larabars are my new faves. Key Lime Pie . . . mmmmmmmmmm