Monthly Archives: June 2013

How could I possibly top last week’s marathon run?  How ‘bout a marathon hike to the top of Pikes Peak?

Set my alarm for 3:30am Saturday. Quick shower, geared up, opened the door & Ro bounded into the back seat of my Prius.  Little guy couldn’t have been more excited – Ro LOVES the car.  Destination: Manitou Springs (few miles west of Colorado Springs)

Parking at Barr Trailhead was already full at 5:30am (we’re hardcore in Colorado) so had to pay for a space downtown.  Dodged runners for the first 3 miles – barreling their way down from Manitou Springs Incline (a man-made staircase which no longer allows dogs after multiple owners failed to pick up after their pets – jerks!).  From there another 4 miles to Barr Camp, which is the stopping point for most folks or they camp overnight & continue to Pikes the following day – but not us 🙂

Today’s objective was to hike, hike far & hike with my dog.  I invited friends but no takers for this 28 mile marathon hike with 7,900ft elevation gain.  Biggest hike I’ve ever attempted to date.

3 miles more of treeline, then we found myself exposed to the elements – chief concern: lightning.

As the state with America’s highest average elevation (6,800 feet), Colorado and its mountains see a shocking amount of electrical activity, and 20 of the 48 lightning incidents reported in Colorado since 2000 have involved hikers and campers. The sparkiest spot surrounds 14,115-foot Pikes Peak. A road reaches the summit, but hikers enjoy no such easy route up: The Barr Trail, the most popular footpath, gains 7,400 vertical feet over 13 miles (one way), much of that through exposed meadows and boulderfields above treeline. Motorists can dodge lightning by ducking into their cars, but hikers often find themselves trapped with no fast escape from instant incineration.

Saw rain clouds from both the northeast & the west.  Concerned, my marathon training kicked in.  Ro & I increased our pace, passing old & young alike.  Hi, a quick wave, then a distant memory.

Summit success in 5 hours (guide says 6-8 hours) so super happy to rest outside the Visitors Center, water up & eat another burrito.  Folks (who drove up the mountain) greeted Ro & commented on my backpack.  You hiked up here?  Can I take a picture? Certainly am no Zebulon Pike but I do have a cute dog.  HA!

Snapped a few pics then down the mountain we returned – trying to outrun rain, snow squalls & lightning.  A mile from treeline, took shelter under a large rock overhang with 6 other hikers while the first storm passed.  I still remember being hit [by lightning] on Mount Audubon last August.  Jokingly I tell folks it can’t happen twice but why tempt fate, right?

Similar to my Alaska marathon, I hit the wall just past mile 20.  If there were any possible way for me to sleep at Barr Camp, I would have stayed the night.  Laid against a large tree & snoozed for 45 minutes, then pushed through the remainder our marathon trek.  Ro didn’t tire until the last 3 miles – and even then, he hiked when I hiked.  What an amazing dog I have!  Peeled off shoes & extra layers when I reached the car; Ro circled once & curled to sleep.

Pikes Peak: done, check.  Next up?  ‘Bucket list’ hike destination, Longs Peak on July 13th.

 

Pikes Peak hike (29.06 snow squall)

 

Up early thanks to summer solstice & Alaska’s midnight sun.  Packed bags, checked out of hotel & drove to the designated marathon bus pickup on 10th street by 6:30am.

Lot going on in my head listening to other runners on the bus.  No Alaskans – most everyone flew in for today’s race.  All states were represented except Mississippi & Rhode Island.  (This stat was announced over and over and over – HA!)

Bused to Bartlett High near the mountains.  Today’s run on both road & trail would be void of peeps until approx 4 miles from downtown Anchorage.  From mountains to ocean (Anchorage is actually on the water – who knew? :))

Felt a bit tight from my previous day’s ice climb but mentally was ready to run!  Star Spangled Banner preceded by Alaska’s state song, then bang we’re off!  The course initially followed road.  I quickly tagged a runner running my pace & stayed close for more than 8 miles.  Race route diverged to trail.  Picked up my pace initially then dropped off.

Felt good for 12 miles – averaged 8:08 minutes/mile, then started tightening up.

And of course gotta mention the mosquitoes – Alaska’s unofficial state bird 🙁

Not just a mosquito – SWARMS of mosquitoes.  Water station volunteers sprayed down runners with repellent.  Started dreading all off-road running.  Mosquitoes in my mouth, under my goggles, in my ears – smaller than those in the lower 48 but so so many.  Have been spoiled living in Colorado where the Front Range is virtually mosquito-free because of our elevation & arid climate (standing water is a luxury & uncommon after May/June snow melt).

Hit the wall near mile 20.  All of the ‘I told you so’ folks can now say ‘I told you so’.  No I didn’t taper.  No I didn’t relax days before my race.  Yes I went ice climbing.  And yes, I paid for it.

Would I do things differently?  Maybe.  But boy did I enjoy ice climbing!  Super fun!

My worse race time of the year but I DID finish & complete my marathon goal.  Hobbled over the finish line & was directed to the medic tent. Downed 3 oranges while my right knee was wrapped for a possible ligament tear (similar injury that sidelined me in April).  UPDATE: Only a ligament strain, no tear.  No running for 6-8 weeks.

Walked around a little, decided I wasn’t gonna die so located my rental & drove downtown for lunch.  A deep tissue massage at Sheraton’s Ice Spa an hour later helped make everything better. (Thanks Volker!)

 

On January 12th I started this journey at the Quicker Quaker 5K in Lafayette, Colorado — running in 8 degree temps & snow flurries.  Fast forward 6 months.  Finished 9 races including 4 half marathons, a 10K with 54,000 participants — and a full 26.2 mile marathon in Anchorage, Alaska.  Super empowering!

Thanks to many friends & family who encouraged me during my training.  Very appreciative of everyone’s support.

Congrats on completing your Alaskan marathon!!!  You inspire me everyday with your awesomely amazing goals, even more so with your actual completion of said goals!  Most people have all these great ideas and wishes and dreams of what they want to do, but such a small percentage actually complete them, so go you!

What’s next?  It’s summer & the mountains are calling.  Expect to see a flood of hike pics thru October.

 

6/22/13            HAGA, K R              4:55:28            477           Louisville, CO, USA

 

Although I travelled to Alaska to fulfill my goal to run a full marathon, when planning the trip it was ice climbing I found myself all excited about.  Woke early and hit the road – destination: Matanuska Glacier near Chickaloon, AK.

Matanuska Glacier is a valley glacier in the US state of Alaska. At 27 miles (43 km) long by 4 miles (6.4 km) wide, it is the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. Its terminus is the source of the Matanuska River. It lies near the Glenn Highway about 100 miles (160 km) north-east of Anchorage. Matanuska Glacier flows about 1 foot (30 cm) per day.

Thought I was super smart bringing my GPS (Garmin) to navigate across Alaska.  Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas – but no Alaska.  Who knew?  Plan B – used the rental car map which took me as far as Eagle River (approx 20 minutes east of Anchorage).  From there I watched for road signs.  And in Palmer, I used my iPhone maps app to re-position on Old Glenn Highway heading northeast – not Glen Highway heading northwest to Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin – and no, I could not see Russia :)).

No traffic, no humans, hit or miss cell reception, one moose.

Arrived almost an hour early (thank you midnight sun for the early wake-up call), and geared up.  Shared the day with Mason, Tonya & Gage from Seattle, Mark from Alaska, and Chris (our guide).

The landscape mirrored walking the moon’s surface until we reached Matanuska Glacier.  Gray silt permafrost merged vivid turquoise blue – quite the contrast.  Amazing, beautiful, breathtaking!

Listened for a voiced ‘belay on’ – then one after another we climbed.

Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far.  Climbers should wait for a verbal confirmation from the belayer that he is ready to begin.  In the US, usually the climber asks, “On belay?” or “Belay?” and wait for the belayer to reply “Belay on.”

Will 1000% do this again – LOVE LOVE this sport!

Boots, gloves, ropes, crampons – my kinda gear used in my kinda weather.  River ice (what we have in Colorado) is not as stable as glacial ice but still gonna climb this winter.  I’m hooked – LOVED it!

 

 

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