Life is full of challenges. So why add any that aren't already there? I'm not sure, but two reasons that come immediately to mind are 1) Duh! Because it's fun, and 2) To keep from slacking, maintain an edge, and all that warrior stuff.
|After signing up for the 2010 race; photo by my lovely wife.|
I had been told by some people that I would have a very hard time because I don't eat any red meat, so I wouldn't have enough red blood cells, and I'd have trouble breathing once I got above treeline (12,000 feet). They were so wrong. In fact, I had no breathing issues whatsoever--even at the top--the only problem I had was cramping in my feet and calves that started when I was about two-thirds the way up. I hear a lot of beefeaters had the same issues, so there you have it.
Now I'm going for it again, and this year I'm going to train harder and beat my last time (5:20:51). The race begins in Manitou Springs (6,412 feet), and goes (relentlessly!) uphill 13.32 miles to the top of Pikes Peak (14,115 feet). Basically, you're nuts if you even consider it--but it's that departure from normal thinking that makes it possible to go ahead and reach the top--and accomplish most things of note, if you think about it.
|With my bro-in-law, just before the race started, around 7:25 AM|
It's hard to imagine, let alone get your head around the massive size of a "fourteener," and the determination it takes to actually summit--so you're in denial until...oh, about a quarter of the way up. That's when a little respect kicks in--a little late, if you ask me.
|Running up to the finish line.|
|Not so bad...|
My brother-in-law Bill, who's been running the ascent every year for the last 19 years, only beat me by 10 minutes (and was impressed by my running over the finish line--he had been too exhausted to muster that last bit of energy). "Damn!" that voice said, "if I'd known, I would've tried harder!" Yeah, right.
|On top of the world, with medals to prove it.|
Possibly the best moment came that afternoon, when a bunch of us were gathered at a Mexican restaurant in Manitou (where there was pretty much nothing I could eat). We were all a couple of sheets to the wind (at least the margaritas were vegan), when someone asked Bill how it had gone for him. He looked over at me and said something like, "I dunno, I think I should become a grasshopper to Alan and let him teach me the ways of a healthy diet." Maybe it was the margaritas, but I felt a pleasant glow come over me.
|Checking out my official finisher's shirt.|