Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A week in Manitou Springs, Colorado

It would have been a shame to head all the way out to Colorado and not make the most out of trip, run as much as possible and experience the area as much as we could in a 1 week trip. Of course the Pikes Peak ascent was the main goal but as we found out there was plenty more running to be had. We only scratched the surface of what Manitou Springs has to offer, but managed to get in the main attractions!

Day 1-

About 12km and 670m of ascent on Barr Trail. We decided it might be a good idea to recce the start of the Pikes Peak Ascent a couple of days before the start of the race. I was interested to see how it felt to run at this altitude. The air was thinner for sure and it was the amount of oxygen was only going to get smaller! We ran up to No Name Creek an important aid station/landmark on the Pikes Peak Ascent.

Our first taste of the Barr Trail

Day 2-
4.5km and 200m ascent. An easy recovery/leg stretch from our amazing accomodation at Glen Eyrie Castle. The castle has its own network of trails within its grounds and sits at an altitude of around 2000m. The only time I put a heart rate monitor on during the trip! It was not steep but did climb and I was taking it very steady. My HR peaked at 161BPM, for my speed and RPE I reckon this is around 10BPM higher than at sea level! Its amazing how much harder the heart was having to work at such a low level of output.
Day 3-
Race day! 21km 2358m of ascent. See previous blog post for more detail.

Team Northern Ireland


Day 4-

The Incline cutting through the trees
About 18km and 829m of ascent. I decided to do a very gentle leg stertch/jog in the morning before breakfast. It was the day after the race but unfortunatly the only day we would be able to experience the famous Manitou Incline! Just under 1 mile in length gaining 620m it is a super steep set of stairs that gains height very quickly! How could we resist a blast up, it would also mean we got to enjoy the descent of Barr Trail again too. I started of well but have to admit lost interest about 2 thirds of the way up, climbing at just above threshold after yesterdays race was mentally very tough. It took me around 30mins, the record is 15! Still most tourists take around 2-2.5hrs so it gives you an idea. We also took an amzing run down into Manitou through the famous Garden of the Gods before the incline, 10km of rolling trail and another tourist tick for the day. We took the trails we most liked the name of, Buckskin Charlie was our favourite.
Day 5-

Pikes Peak summit with Justin
About 40km and 2290m ascent and 2350m descent. Pikes Peak Marathon route. Justin was keen with the Mont Blanc CCC his next race and I was stupid/crazy enough to agree. After the ascent I could not resist the chance to run all the way down Barr trail. I am a mountain runner who loves the downhills and this was some journey. I also wanted to go back up to the summit and as me and Justin disscused, we could not think of any place we would rather be. So back up into the high country it was. We were joking about the aid stations not being in place all the way up, however when we arrived at Barr Camp we discovered Gatorade, grapes. skittles etc. We were told we would be helping by drinking and eating them so we did. We took it steady and stopped for photos and coffe break on the top etc, very civilised. Having experienced to the full route this race is on my list. A banging headache for most of the way down slighlty took away from the experience but added to feeling of satifaction once completed. This is a beast of a route, but beautiful at the same time, a mountain runners dream.
Day 6-

5km, flat. Irish Pub, social 5km, how could we miss this! The famous Jack Quinns 5km, Ian insisted on full kit for this one and it was an amazing experience. We ran along chatting with other runners and it was a great social atmosphere. They reckon they get over 2000 runners some weeks. Have not heard of anything like that in the uk. Organised by the Boulder Running Company, Colorado Springs, its a must do if you are in the area.

As you can see a pretty full week with lots of ascent, time on feet and fantasic running. Recovery was amazing all week, no soreness or inflamation, which I found pretty amazing after tackling the marathon and running down hill for well over 2hrs! A dose of CurraNZ each day helped with that, thanks guys! My La Sportiva shoes also did an amazing job. The superb Helios was the choice for race day, light, stable, fast and with a bouncy feel, perfect. The Bushido was the perfect choice for the marathon, light, stable but with a bit more protection underfoot. - natural NZ Blackcurrant antioxidant sports supplement


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