I've been finding it hard to get excited for this Saturday's jaunt up Pikes Peak as the race wasn't really on my radar until a couple of weeks ago when I decided on a whim to put in for a competitive entry.
So when word came that I was in, I was able to find a bit of enthusiasm, but mostly because I'd be running against some of the best mountain runners in the country, not because this is something I really want to do. Having run up this monster at a decent clip a couple of weeks back, I have no misconceptions about what's ahead: 150 minutes+/- of extended hurt. After a tiring season, that kind of burn is hard to find motivation for. In addition, my training has been pretty lackluster since Bighorn - in and around 50-60 miles per week - which means the run is probably going to hurt that much more.
Don't get me wrong, I know full well that my competitive juices will ensure that I max out on the race, I'm just not looking forward to it that much. My mind is more preoccupied right now with enjoying some sweet high-altitude adventure runs than it is with hyperventilating for two miles and then burning my legs and lungs endlessly uphill for a further 11. I mean there are worse things that I could push myself to do on Pikes, like nudging a peanut up the mountain with my nose - as one guy apparently did 10 years ago (it took him three weeks) - but still it does seem like something of an exercise in futility.
Okay, general lack of motivation and poor-pitiful-me whinging aside; as far as race strategy goes, I have revised my original plan of caning the front half as hard as possible in favor of a more measured let-the-race-dictate-the-pace approach. My goals are twofold: finish top ten and run as close to 2:30 as possible. Considering my current level of fitness and the competition, I consider both of these to be stretch goals. So anyway, I'm going to try and go out with the top couple of packs, while remaining vigilant of my place in the race. Hopefully, I'll be able to run top 15 through the first half and then up the pace past Barr Camp to pick off the guys I need to pick off in order to get into the top ten. My top-end speed is probably weaker than most of the guys shooting for strong finishes, but mountains are great speed equalizers, and I'm confident that come the last few miles I'll be passing some of the early guns, especially as the air thins. So we'll see.
Research on the competition for the Ascent has been done by others in the Front-Range, trail-running blogosphere, so rather than duplicate their efforts, I'll just point anyone who is interested in such things to the previews of Justin Mock and George Zack (both of whom are looking good for top-ten finishes in the Marathon on Sunday).