Monday, August 23, 2004

Pikes Peak Marathon

Race Report:
Pikes Peak Marathon
Manitou Springs, CO
Sun, Aug 22/04

Warning: If you don't want to read the rantings and ravings and profanities of one pissed-off/frustrated/humiliated and injured runner then fast forward to the great joke that follows this race report.
For some reason this race is cursed for me? As I was driving to Colorado Springs on Sat afternoon there were violent thunderstorms all the way which meant that Pikes Peak was probably getting rain and most likely snow? After I checked in and got my race package I asked a few of the runners who had run the Ascent that day "what was the course like?" There had been rain/snow on Fri night so there was snow, slush and water on the course. Oh Great! However we did get a weather break on Sun - it was sunny and 56F when we lined up at 7am. Since there are 1200 runners in the marathon I took off with the big dogs at the start because I didn't want to be stuck behind a lot of runners when we reached the trail at mile 1. I was surprised when a lot of runners passed my lazy old butt during the first 2 miles?
The first 7 miles of the race/trail are dirt and in good shape so we all made good time in spite of the fact that the trail climbs relentlessy. After mile 7 the trail becomes very steep/rocky and difficult/dangerous.When we reached the tree line above 12,500 ft around mile 11 we started running into a lot of water and some slush. Above 13,000 ft the trail becomes very steep and rocky but I was able to pass a lot of runners who were having a hard time with the altitude. About 2 miles from the Summit we started meeting the lead runners coming back down the mountain and this slowed everyone down since the protocol states that downhill runners have the right-of-way. It was made even more difficult because of snow and slush on the course which made footing very dangerous.
As I approched the Summit I noted one runner coming back down whom looked like he was in my age group. Damn - he had at least 10 minutes on me. I doubted that I could catch him unless he ran into problems on the descent? I reached the Summit in 3:42 - more than 7 minutes slower than my last race on Pikes Peak 3 years ago. I knew that this (slow) time coupled with the dangerous condition of the trail ruled out any chance of breaking 6 hours. I decided to stick with my pre-race stategy to run smart and slower on the descent. I figured as long as I didn't let anyone in my age group pass me I would at least place second?
The descent was very difficult/dangerous especially back to the tree line. I ran very easy/slow/careful. I let a lot of young bucks pass me but nobody in my age group! Finally I was back down below the tree line and the trail got better so I picked up the pace. Around 18 miles I was feeling strong and good about my race. There was only one minor problem. Some dirt and small pebbles had gotten into my left shoe and were irritating my left heel - but I didn't want to lose time to stop and empty my shoe. Very BIG/bad/serious mistake! By mile 20 my left heel was really sore and I decided I would have to scarifice some time to check out and fix the problem. So I stopped beside the trail and cleaned out my left shoe and sock. Damn, there was a blister on the bottom of my heel about the size of a toenail? I hoped it woudn't get any worse now that I had cleaned out my shoe?
By mile 22 my heel was on fire and every footplant on that foot brought agonizing pain. I had to stop again to find out what was happening. The blister now covered the whole bottom of my heel but the skin had not broken yet. There was no way I was going to quit with only 4 miles left in the race and there was no damn way I was going to slow down and lose 2nd place! So I tried to rearrange my sock and tighten the shoe to minimize the friction. It didn't work! The course was all downhill and that causes too much friction on the heel. At mile 24 I reached a water station and asked if there was any medical assistance available? Thank goodness - YES! So I asked if they had any 'second skin' or other blister treatment. YES! So I stopped a 3rd time and took off my shoe. But the friggin bozos couldn't find the blister treatment and after about 3 minutes I was getting ready to put my shoe back on and run the last two miles without it. They finally found it and applied some 2nd skin to my whole heel. I had lost over 5 minutes at that aid station! I had been trying to keep my eye on the trail to see if any runners in my age group had run by/passed me but I was not able to see all the runners? I didn't think any had gone by?
So I took off again for the last 2 miles of the race. The foot felt better for about 1/2 mile and then the pain was back. I slowed down some hoping that would alleviate the pain but it didn't work and soon I was at mile 25 and I decided "to hell with - forget the pain and run the last mile as fast as possible to get this torture/agony over with asap! I made damn sure nobody passed me on that last mile and I limped across the finish line in 6:12:27. I was not pleased with that time but at least I had finished in 2nd place? After receiving my coveted finisher's medal I went directly to the medical tent and requested medical attention for my foot. When the volunteer removed my shoe I was shocked with the sight/mess of my heel. The skin had broken and peeled back for the entire heel. The volunteer called a doctor who told me that he would have to cut off all the skin and sterilize the 'wound'.
While he was doing that another doctor came over and asked me how I felt? "OK" I said - other than my foot. "Well you look like shit" he said and strapped a blood pressure bandage on my arm. My blood pressure was so low (70/40) that he wanted to put an IV in my arm. I told him where to put his IV because I actually felt much better than I normally do after a marathon ( because I had run the last 10K so slow). But I did agree to drink another liter of water to replenish my liquids/blood volume. As soon as they finished treating the heel injury I limped over to the results board and received a huge shock/disappointment. Somebody had finished in 2nd place - FOUR minutes ahead of me.
I know damn well that nobody in my age group passed me on the course/trail during the descent - except maybe when I was receiving the medical attention at mile 24 (which cost me 5 to 6 minutes)! I was so pissed off/frustrated/humiliated that my heel injury and those friggin inept medical volunteers had cost me 2nd place that I didn't even bother staying to collect my 3rd place award. I already have a 3rd place award from Pikes Peak - I don't need another one!
I have decided that it will be a very long time (if ever) before I run this friggin race again. I have run it twice now - and both times I have suffered disasters and injuries.Obviously this course and my body are not compatible?
The biggest disappointment of the race is that the heel injury will cost me at least 2 to 3 weeks of training (and marathons). The doctor said that it will take at least that long before the new skin is tough/thick enough to stand up to running. And I have two marathons scheduled for the next two weekends. Just trying to walk on that foot has convinced me to accept the fact that next weekend's marathon is definitely out. It is a mountain trail marathon almost as tough as Pikes Peak. No way the heel would be able to handle that stress! However I am still hoping that the heel will heal enough by Labor Day Weekend to allow me to run another trail marathon in Colorado Springs. It is a much flatter course so shouldn't cause so much strain on the injury? I'll wait and see.
In spite of the injury and disappointment/consequences let me state unequivocably that if I had to do it all over again knowing what the results would be - I would do it again! There is no way I could ever quit in a marathon after the 20-mile mark. The word 'QUIT' is not in Maddog's vocabulary/dictionary after the 20-mile mark of a marathon! May be stupid - but that's the way it is!(and always will be).
So now it's time to limp out to the garage and check the old bike - looks like I may be doing a lot of biking for the next few weeks?

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