Some happy, some dazed By Jill Gainer
Wow! The Pikes Peak Marathon is hard… dont let anyone else tell you differently! 10:08 later, Laura Nye and I finished. Whew! But let me back up to the start of the trip. Sightseeing, a round of golf on one of the prettiest courses I have ever seen, lots of really great food and lets not forget the hot tub party! And, of course, watching the Pikes Peak Ascent. Our hotel, same as last year, was immediately at the start line. The marathoners and Ascent supporters sported their jammies and went out to the start and cheered on the first and second wave of runners. And off they went, and then off went Laura, Hazel and I up to the top of Pikes Peak (the easy way, via car). One of the park signs we saw warned us that there have been Big Foot sightings. Alrighty then.
So, we continued on up and once we arrived we immediately put on our several layers of clothes, as it had gotten quite chilly. We placed ourselves along the rocky terrain so we could signal to watch everyone come in. I yelled and cheered, Hazel took pictures and Laura manned the video cam. We watched most everyone come in, some happy, some dazed, but everyone was moving forward and really, really happy to be finished. Then I knew, once that race was over, there was no stopping Sunday from coming.
It did. The Ascenters came out in their jammies, and cheered. The gun went off and not even 1 minute into the race, I lost all of my Power Bars. I didnt know I had to zip the pocket on my fanny pack. Who knew. Not me. The runners behind me said Hey Texas, you lost your Power Bars (I had on Texas shorts). Well, okay, there were at least 200 runners behind me that could have trampled me if I had turned around to pick them up. So I just left them lying there… not a good way to start off mentally, knowing all of your much need energy was left to be stepped on. Thankfully, some people dropped lots of hard candies along the trail, kinda like Hansel and Gretal and I immediately bent over and swooped them up. Partially empty GU paks even looked tempting.
The cutoff time to the top was 6:30 hours. Gotta move. So Laura and I moved quickly to get up there. We reminisced about all of the familiar sites from last years Ascent. Unfortunately, the altitude hit me about 6 miles from the top instead of 1 mile from the top, like last year. Dizziness and lack of desire to move forward to less air hit me hard. But I kept moving one foot forward and with the words of Laura ringing in my ears, I kept moving. For the marathon, you know if you go up you must (if you make the cutoff) come down, so after awhile, the really zippy ones, and I mean, zippy… came barreling down towards us. For every runner down, we had to pull over and make room. And at some spots along the trail that meant, standing up straight and pulling in your tummy. Not a lot of room. But we learned to stretch one muscle at a time as we stepped aside. As we got to the top three miles (which, incidentally, the first mile of the top three took up 37 minutes), and timing it after that was not an option… too many buttons on my watch and too little brain cell action… everyone promised me, as they blew by me on the downhill, that once you get to the top and turn around, the dizziness would go away.
Hazel was one of the runners barreling down upon Laura and I. Smiling. And she had good news… Kelly, Nancy, Robert and Diana were at the top! Which meant that A) we could drop off our fanny packs when had somehow gotten heavier on the uphill and B) someone would document how lousy I really felt. So, we moved forward at our pace, similar to a drugged, sleepy snail, passing runners on the way up that had stopped to sit and finally, I hear JILL….. LAURA…. it was Robert, perched on a rock with his camera. The top was reachable, we made it at 6:07 and surprisingly enough, once on top, truth be told, the dizziness passed.
Laura and I hugged everyone, re-grouped, grabbed our stuff, minus what we didnt need and turned around and headed back down. Slowly, down the top three miles, still the fear that if we slip, we will fall and continue falling for 13 miles. The tuck and roll concept really would come in handy. We were noticing that we were not passing a lot of people on our way down. We realized that we were at the very end, ultimately, one of the last ten people to finish. For most of the final descent, we didnt see people behind us or ahead of us. It was like being lost in the big scary woods. The same woods that had the Big Foot sightings.
For miles 9 to 8ish left we had the El Paso Search and Rescue escort us down… one of the benefits of being so close to the end. They were sweeping the course to locate any lost survivors. At the time, it was nice because that is when we encountered our first (of two) rounds of hail, cold rain, thunder and lightening. He provided us with some very fashionable clear trash bags to cover up with. He stopped at his spot and we kept moving. Around mile 8, the terrain become tolerable for running, so we did. Laura said I looked like a fairy with my clear trash bag flowing in the wind and my arms kinda fluttering.
About that time, another volunteer on a mountain bike came up on us, and declared that his job was to pick up the mile markers….WHAT??? we yelled…you cant do that, we need them… sorry he said, but that is what he had to do. So for the last 8 miles, we were disoriented, with regard to the distance and time and of the 4 water stops left, only two or three were manned. But, we knew that Austin support was down at the bottom, probably starving from waiting so long… but we knew they were there.
So we kept running, only slowing down for the hairpin turns and any sign of an uphill. By this time, I am having painful tonail ouchies with every step. Not so major quad pain, but definite all around leg pain. Finally, we reached the road, which left about .9 to go and we saw Raul (the most beautiful man on the face of this earth) and Donna. Wow. What a sight, I never thought I would see them or anyone from Austin ever again. But they were all there, lining the last mile, cheering, crying and running us in.
I crossed the finish line and immediately hurled, but only due to the final sprint in. The care that the Austin group gave to me was awesome. I was cared for, taken care of and basically pampered until recovery. Thank all of you. The hugs and congrats were so great to receive. Would I do it again? Tune in next year… J
A P.S. is in order here as to what Laura and I could have done to make the 10 hour cut-off time. Although we got to the top within the cut-off time, we were delayed going up by pulling over for, as it turns out, almost all of the runners in the race. We didnt run down the top three, as it was too steep. Maybe our potty break up top was too lengthy, as our friends were up there. Maybe the length of our water stops as well. Probably just the overall fear of having zero energy left at the wrong time in the race.