THE NIGHT BEFORE
So, yesterday, I picked up my race packet. Check out all this cool stuff…
Last night, I put everything out that I would need for the race…
What you don’t see is a second dose of Ibuprofen for later in the race.
I was full of nervous energy that evening. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I even waxed my legs. Doug found a nice way to distract me until bedtime I finally went to sleep around 10:30 PM. I set the alarm for 6 AM.
At 5:30 AM, I woke up with a start. I looked at the clock. DAMN! I tried to go back to sleep. No luck. I thought about the boys. I thought, “Zander I want your perseverance with me today. Zevan, I want your determination with me today.”
I got up, took my thyroid meds (I have to wait 30 minutes before I can eat any food), got dressed and then laid on the sofa to get some extra sleep. Not working. I spent some time stretching my calfs, glutes and hamstrings while laying on the sofa.
I drank some water. I tried to eat a granola bar. UGH. Not hungry.
I gathered up my stuff. I went online to check email. My cell phone rang. It was my mom. She told me to “Go for it!” and that she’d be praying for me. What a wonderful loving message to start my day with!
I went into our bedroom to kiss my guys good bye. They were laying together, from little to big… Zevan, Zander then Doug. I gave them all two smooches before I left.
I parked a few blocks from the start. I was walking behind 4 marines on their way to the race. They were funny. We saw “that guy I always see on Barr Trail, no matter what day I go” pushing a double stroller and running past us. That was odd.
I got to the park and started looking for May and Brad. I checked my sweat bag. I got in line for the port-a-potties. I was feeling quite anxious. My stomach was churning. With no food in it.
After a while, I found May and Brad. We all wandered around waiting for the start – looking for friends, visiting the water table and the port-a-potties again.
Finally we headed to the starting line. May and Brad went close to the front. I decided to start a little farther back. The last thing Brad told me was, “Stick to your game plan.” That stayed with me throughout the race.
The announcer was talking, but I didn’t hear a word. Until the starting gun/air horn went off…
I jogged a bit on the road. That wasn’t really in my game plan. But it felt okay. Looking back, I should have slowed down a bit more at the start. I jogged until about the fork in the road and then started mostly fast walking. I started chatting with a guy just before Cog railway. We had similar goals (to not kill ourselves to get to the top), and he was local, so I figured I could pace myself with him for a while. I did a grab and go of water at the first aid station, just to get the rhythm of doing that.
Later I found out his name was Dudley and he and his family live in Colorado Springs. We would keep up a good pace, and then we’d pass packs of people together, and run the few downhills. He lead the passing, and I would follow.
Usually I count the switchbacks, but I was distracted, and didn’t start. It made getting to the top of the Ws easier because I was distracted. I was pleasantly surprised when we got to the 12th switchback and aid station. This time I grabbed some Gatorade and kept going.
Since I’m so familiar to the route up to Barr Camp, I started playing tour guide as we briskly hiked. I love getting to the Rock Arch – it’s my favorite land mark. As we got past the creek, the route was shady and wider. I knew where all the slight downhills were, my least favorite steep part past the Rock Arch and the really nice downhill before No Name Creek. Another aid station there – with grapes! I grabbed a handful of those and kept going.
About this time I noticed my right shoe was loose, and needed to figure out how to get to someplace that would give me a chance to re-tie my shoes and then catch up. I found a spot, and let Dudley know. He was confident I would catch back up with him. I did. At this point was when we actually exchanged names.
As we did, I heard a voice call my name. It was Lanel! I had been looking for her the whole time on the switchbacks, not knowing if she was in front of me or behind me. We chatted briefly. Then I saw Dudley press on, so I went to catch up.
We passed the 7.8 to Summit sign, and after what felt like way too long, the 0.5 mile to Barr Camp sign. Then, after the longest 0.5 mile ever, we reached Barr Camp. Here I briefly stopped to stretch my calves, eat some grapes and refill one of my bottles with Gatorade.
I pressed on. Somewhere along the route, I met Ganesh, from Austin Texas, who registered for a double. He was also going at a really compatible pace. When I lost Dudley at Barr Camp, I followed Ganesh for a long time. At 10,000 ft in altitude, I was definitely feeling less chatty.
Barr Camp to A-Frame was BRUTAL. The first half was okay, with the creek nearby and some bridges to cross. The Bottomless Pit sign was a welcome sight. This is the part of the trail I am least familiar with.
After this, it was drudgery. Trudge, trudge, trudge. I had lost Ganesh and Dudley, so I paced myself with another guy for a while, then I introduced myself. I never got his name, but he was local and his wife and he had a 3 1/2 year old boy and an infant baby girl. I continued trudging behind him on the way to the A-Frame.
I had been eating my Margarita Clif Blocks along the way (yum!), but I wanted something really solid. I promised myself a real break at A-Frame. That I would sit and stretch and eat a little. And it seemed like FOREVER. “Just keep moving, just keep moving” was my mantra. “Where the hell is it?!” was my nagging thought.
FINALLY, we reached the aid station. Yahoo! I actually sat down. I took my Ibuprofen and grabbed a handful of salty snack mix to munch on as I stretched my left calf and glute. Ganesh came up a few minutes later, shortly followed by Dudley.
A guy sitting behind me praised the aid station team of A-Frame, declaring it an oasis. I had to agree. I thought it might be a good place to volunteer next year.
I saw Ganesh take off, and Dudley and I followed a minute after. The guy I paced myself with was still resting and waved us on.
After a short time, we passed the actual A-Frame, followed shortly afterwards by the 3 miles to summit sign. I felt relief and dread at the same time. We were past treeline, got a nice breeze, and hoped that the sun would stay behind the clouds.
The last 3 miles are my least favorite: the altitude, the rocks and gravel, the steepness and the switchbacks that make you think Fred Barr had a cruel sense of humor. The cruelest of all was that you could actually hear the announcer at the finish line from this far away. And even see the spectators, so tiny in the distance.
As we continued up the switchbacks, we started seeing some of the fallen. Cramps,lack of oxygen, stomach troubles… There was definitely a higher concentration of EMTs in the last 3 miles. I took a break at 2 miles to go – my most hated mile of the top. I only stopped for a minute or so, and left it at 4:35.
There is one super long switchback that makes it seem like forever. Sometime during this mile, I lost track of Dudley. Ganesh and I passed each other alternately throughout the last few miles. After the 2 miles to go, I was determined to not stop until I got to the top.
I kept looking at the summit. Bad move. So close, but still seems so far away.
1 mile to go. The longest 1 mile ever.
Just before the Cirque, I saw an EMT booking down the mountain on his way to help someone. The next sight was even more sobering – a young guy in glasses, bundled up in a mummy bag. He looked like he was in shock.
I just trudged along, and finally came across the little tiny bridge that signals that the 16 Golden Stairs are just ahead. I started counting the switchbacks, but lost count after the first 6. Then I was looking up at the spectators. And I stepped over a guy, who was stretched across the trail (because there was nowhere else to be), obviously with a horrible leg cramp. Yikes.
A woman behind me said, “Our journey is coming to an end. It’s kind of sad.” Kind of sad?! Is she crazy? I was nothing but overjoyed!
Then I saw the finish line, and nearly wept with relief.
Then I heard my name. I looked up in that direction, but couldn’t see because I had just hit a switchback. As I came back around, I saw my dear friend Shanyn. I felt the emotions start to well up. Then I saw Tiffany next to her, smiling and waving. Then Mike (Candy’s husband) called my name from the other direction. I got a lump in my throat when I found Candy and Misha. The last straw was when I saw Doug, his sister Georgiana and the boys. Zevan’s little face as he looked for me was so beautiful. And Zander waving just filled my heart. I about lost it then.
It was all I could do to get to the finish line. I saw the clock – 6:06 ??? It took a few seconds to realize that I could knock a half hour off for being in the 2nd wave. I tore off my tag and raised my arms in triumph! I did it! I did it!
After I crossed the finish line, and hugged everyone, I totally started sobbing when I got to Doug. Wow. Yahoo!
I did it!
Race Results:184 47/103 May Chan 40 Colorado Spgs CO 4:26:44 387 67/82 Maida C Scott 38 Colorado Spgs CO 5:36:07 417 64/73 Lanel E Welsby 48 Colorado Spgs CO 5:48:32
My pace partners:1083 97/99 Ganesh Krishnamoorthy 26 Austin TX 5:39:00 1136 213/215 Dudley Delffs 42 Colorado Spgs CO 5:59:53