Monday, October 11, 2010

Pikes Peak summit

I had a major breakthrough this morning in my running (and new mindset). No, I didn't break 5 minutes in the mile. No, I didn't have the greatest tempo run ever. So what happened this morning? In the wake of my Pikes Peak round-tripper on Saturday, I took the morning off! I woke up at 4:55 intending to run but felt very, very sore. My calves and shins were on fire. My quads felt like they'd been beaten with a hammer. Rather than make myself suffer through 8, 9 or 10 miles, I got back in bed and went to sleep. Yes, I've learned a valuable lesson in the months after the Leadville 100. At 37 years of age and with more than a few decent years left, I've learned to listen to my body. I ain't 25 anymore. So, tonight I'll stretch, do some core strengthening and maybe cross-train a bit. Running will happen tomorrow.


On Saturday Henry Hendrickson and I headed down to Manitou Springs to summit 14,115-foot Pikes Peak and then run back down--a roundtrip of 25+ miles on America's greatest mountain. Pikes Peak is an incredible sight--since moving to Colorado I haven't seen a mountain quite like it. You climb 7,300 vertical feet on the famous Barr Trail. Henry was one of my pacers at the Leadville Trail 100. He took me from Winfield, the halfway point, over Hope Pass and then down to Twin Lakes. He's a great guy and his passion is with triathlons.

Henry and me at the Leadville 100 leaving the 50-mile Winfield aid station. He's into minimalist shoes and is wearing some Vibrams. We talked a lot about minimalism as I was (and still am) very interested in the concept.

Here's thee sign that greets you before you enter the Barr Trail up to Pikes Peak. Fairly sobering, yes?

Henry enjoying a huge banana.

A nice view of the peak.
Henry powering up the mountain. Check out the views behind him.

Another nice view of the peak just below treeline.

Here's a photo above treeline, which is about 12,000 feet. Above treeline it's just basically rocky and brown everywhere with very delicate tundra. It kind of feels like a different planet.

Nice drop off, eh?

Here's a photo of the Cirque, which as you can see from the sign is 1,500 feet deep. A cirque is basically a huge basin in a mountain. The Pikes Peak cirque is at about 13,500 feet.

A really cool rock formation.
Henry and me stopping for a photo at about 13,000 feet. The temperature here was in the low 30s, but fortunately there was next to no wind--a huge plus when you're on a 14'er. Note the tundra in the foreground.
What's a Pikes Peak photo album without a shot of the Sixteen Golden Stairs sign? The sign refers to the 16 switchback pairs you have to negotiate before reaching the summit, and along the way there are several rock steps. The 16 Golden Stairs are among the final challenges you face before the summit.

Here's the money shot--Henry and me at the top posing at the famous summit sign. The sign says Pikes is 14,110 feet but it was recently remeasured to 14,115 feet. A lot of people might disagree with me, but I think the actual act of summiting Pikes Peak happens really fast and abruptly. One second you're trucking along up the trail and then the next second you hear the deafening horn of the Cog railroad up top. It all happens so fast, adding to the excitement. Henry and I had lunch in the summit house. I had some amazingly delicious beef stew along, coffee, Fritos and a few of the famous donuts--and the donuts definitely lived up to the hype. It was great fuel for the run back down.

Some cars parking at the summit.

From the summit.

Some folks getting off the Cog railroad up at the summit. The last time I summited Pikes I had to take the railroad down due to the deep snow past 12,000 feet (and sheer exhaustion), but on Saturday Henry and I ran down the mountain.

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