It’s been a tough summer for me mentally and I just didn’t have the heart to put anything down on paper (blog.) But, I’m back after a tough race yesterday — ready to take on fitness and training, somewhat, again and share.
I was nervous about the Ascent, as I knew it was like no other race I’ve done. At the same time, I’d heard so much about congestion, that I figured I’d be in a congo line much of the time up the mountain. And, I was. At times, I didn’t want to be in the line. In the last 3 miles. I was so very thankful for that line.
I had hopes of 4:00 to 4:15 for a finish – ambitious for a first. And, not in the cards.
I felt great running through Manitou and up Ruxton – a 10:03 pace for the first mile, which is better than I did in training as the hill of Ruxton eats me up. The long pile up began soon after getting onto Barr trail. People trying to pass where there was no passing room and so early – frankly annoying and not smart.
I felt good through the W’s and the crowds kept me governed – so I didn’t burn out. Got to Barr camp in 2:06, which wasn’t terrible – slower than I’d hoped, by about 10 minutes, but I put that on the crowds, not ability.
Miles 7-10 were uneventful, but no fun. My knee has been bugging me a lot lately – especially during squats, lunges and step-ups, so pulling myself up on this rockier terrain was not fun, but not awful. I had to be strategic and use my right side more (which I think is weaker and why I’m hurting on the left…but that’s another story). My pace was slowing somewhat, but I knew I’d banked a little time early on. I was aiming for an 18:30 pace – seems doable….
Then, I hit the aid station at A-frame. Up til then I’d had 4 sport beans. Yes, 4. Seems they’re hard to get out of the package and well, nothing else seemed edible. I’d been drinking Gatorade at all the stations, and was quickly reminded that Gatorade and races are not a friendly combination.
I was slowing with 3 miles to go – a lot. 21:30-minute mile, moved to a 29:30 minute mile. I was extremely nauseous – really thought I might lose it, but luckily – the 4 jelly beans did not come up. Constant – in ways I’ve never experienced. The hips cramped too – they just longed to do something other than go up.
I started to fantasize about soda – Coke to be exact. Mind you, I don’t drink soda – but remember how it had saved me during the Ironman run. I pictured a frosty glass or bottle. It’s all I could think about…and of course, not throwing up and not stopping. I leaned on a rock or two, counted to 20 and longed to be one of the people who crawled on a rock to sit – but knew that would be the end. Hips would cramp and I’m not sure I’d ever get down.
I passed a couple of sad souls who seemed to be in worse shape than me. Each switchback was a victory – but then I’d look up and see people switchbacks ahead…and ahead. I knew I’d get there and so wanted to go just a little faster to get to them sooner. Not to get an amazing time, just to be done.
One of the things about the Ascent – the only direction is up. No sag wagon, no escape – just up. In the last mile – which took me over 30 minutes, yes, over 30 minutes – you can hear the cheers at the top. You know the end is near…but never near enough. It was everything to put one foot in front of the other.
I crossed the finish line and just wanted a chair. So, I ended up in the med station for just a bit. Just to sit on something that wasn’t a rock or the ground. I was so nauseous, it was the safest place for me.
The good news, I finished. Not in my desired time – in fact quite a bit off 4:43 and change. I did get a soda too – a Pepsi. Actually three of them. I remained sick to my stomach the whole way down the mountain, and even to pick up my shirt.
This morning, my hips were stiff but they’ve kind of worked themselves out a bit. I’ll take today off, then back on to training for the St. George Marathon on October 1. I’m inspired to train my heart out for that race – just 8 weeks away – and do well. I now know I can survive a lot more than I give myself credit for.
Yesterday, I said one and done for the Ascent. That it was in no way fun…and hindsight doesn’t make it more fun – well at least the last 1.5 hours. But I feel like there’s unfinished business. Perhaps my big race next year will be the Ascent…and even the marathon. Why not push my limits? If I don’t, I’ll never know.