Ultra Part 4 - Dreams Worth Dreaming

This is Merideth's story about her first ultra - the Pikes Peak Ultra 50k. PPU is one of the harder 50ks in the state, with over 7k of climbing, including summiting Mount Rosa at over 11,500 feet before dropping back into the city. I have it split into four parts for easier reading.

At the base of Rosa, I encountered the second to last aide station where one of my friends was volunteering. Not only did I grab my typical potato chips and Coke, she also handed me some candied bacon she had brought with her. My nutrition felt really good at this point, and honestly, I stopped checking my watch. I was within 10 minutes of my target overall time, and I felt really good. I also had a bit of a cell signal at this point, and got a text from my coach - who had already finished - reminding to be mindful on the decent I had in front of me because it had some rough spots.

Just past the aide station, I received a notification on my phone for rain that was supposed to start very soon. I was grateful I was off Rosa in an area with tree cover, but I also knew that I had some technical spots ahead of me that would be more treacherous if they were wet. I also realized that I was past the 20 mile mark, and I was feeling good enough that I could run at a normal downhill pace with a normal gait. I wasn’t hobbling, my feet didn’t hurt, and I wasn’t having any issues with nutrition. I ran for a few miles until I got to the switchbacks on the trail near St. Mary’s Falls, and then I noticed the thunder starting. I had a baseball cap on my vest and a rain jacket in my pack. I grabbed my hat to start, but I didn’t stop since it was attached to the top of my bag. Big mistake. While focusing on getting my hat, I lost sight of the trail for a split second and caught my foot on a root or rock and fell hard. I landed off the side of the trail that was descending, so I started sliding for a few feet. Luckily, I mostly landed on pine needles, which slid with me. I climbed my way back up to the trail and checked myself over. Thankfully, I wasn’t bleeding anywhere. I just had a little rash on the front of my right shin and a good bruise on my left kneecap, but otherwise, no marks. I walked for a few feet to be sure my knee was ok, but then kept running. Once the rain and pea-sized hail started, I slowed down a bit to make sure I didn’t fall again. I also took advantage of the slower pace and ate another gel (which I can thankfully do without taking my eyes off the trail!). It only rained and hailed for a few minutes before everything subsided.

I arrived at the last aide station, the Gold Camp station where my drop bag was located, around mile 25. As I arrived at the aide station, a good friend completely took my vest to refill it for me so I could take care of my nutrition and grab my drop bag. I ignored the mess in my bag as I dug around for the charger for my watch. As she finished filling my bag, I grabbed my go to chips and Coke, as well as a tater tot they were cooking at the aide station. After regrouping, I finished one more small ascent - a mile up High Drive. This is my favorite ascent in all of North Cheyenne Canyon. My legs felt so strong, and I was able to keep a very steady pace all the way to the top. I didn’t even feel like I was 25 miles into a run. When I got to the top of High Drive, I starting processing that I might be able to come in faster than my 10 hour predicted race finish. I tried to keep a steady pace coming the 2.5 miles down High Drive that I ran in the first part of the race. I did walk a few times, but I was very happy with the pace I was able to keep between intervals. As I transitioned at the base of High Drive to the final 2.5 mile push into Bear Creek Park, I power hiked the uphills and ran as much as I could on the downhills.

 

On one of the last hills in Bear Creek
My husband and daughter, as well as a huge group of my friends were at the finish line waiting for me. My daughter was even able to run into the finish with me. I ended up finishing in just over 10 hours, but I felt AMAZING. I was able to run in strong at the finish, and I felt so good. No demons. No dark places in my head. The perfect race. Rain, hail, 7,500+ feet of elevation gain, strength, perseverance, solitude, strangers, friends, family, trails.

Crossing the finish line with my daughter

 
50k - 10:04  I am an ultra runner.

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