Sometimes a race is about more than the clock.
After a grind of a year and a dissatisfying race at Boston, I showed up at Pikes with two goals: 1) Don’t end up in the med tent, and 2) beat my last time by 1 second. I didn’t care about splits. I didn’t try to get down to race weight. I didn’t do any specific training. I did whatever I felt like doing for 4 months.
I ran one 16 miler and a “casual’ mountain 50k with 8000′ vert for the minimal appropriate prep and did some strength and mobility work to mitigate risk of an injury. I showed up to the Pikes start 10 pounds heavier than I was at Boston. Sporting a hipster mustache, my expectation was to just have a good day on the mountain and use the time to think about what’s next in running and why it’s important to me.
I spent 15 minutes at aid stations and chatted up all the volunteers. I high fived a dude wearing a T-Rex suit. I ate a ton of good food. I slogged to the top of the 14,115′ peak, spending a good hour in a pain cave fashioned of my own low volume training and limited altitude exposure.
Tagging the summit was a relief. Mentally I was going to some weird places. Dropping into descent allowed me to shake the demons. Having cleared most of the crowd by the return to A-Frame, the mind fog started to recede and next steps became clear. I wanted to cruise into Barr Camp, take a second to breath and get a hit of sweet caffeinated Coca Cola – and then I wanted to stick my nose in a fight and see what I had left.
Rolling into Barr, I joked with the volunteers and thanked them for spending a long day to help us runners. I felt one last chill of cold water from a Dixie cup.
I ripped around switchbacks and slid on scree past twenty runners the last five miles, cracking the top 100 and beating my previous PR by 9 minutes in 5:51:15.
It was never going to be about a time. It was about rediscovering a need for adventure that elevates life. It was about ignoring protocol and unnecessary expectations. It was about building a community on the mountain.
To my friends, family, and the Peak, thank you. – Nat