During off-season (5 weeks between past Saturday’s Rehoboth Beach marathon & next January’s Mississippi Blues full), decided to focus on one BIG weakness – endurance.  Not beating myself up – I completed 17 marathons in 17 different states…that’s a great accomplishment – but I gutted out the last 3, hovering at 4:30 finish times.  I can do better.

Gonna make peace with the beast – HILLS.  Will not only improve marathon results but also increase lung capacity & quad strength for my BIG August 2015 life adventure.  3 days in – breathing like a rookie, sweating hard, struggling.

Day 4: signed up for a 5am meetup at Manitou Incline, 2 hours away – you do the math, mighty early Saturday wake.

Manitou Incline is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs, Colorado. The trail is the remains of a former 3 ft narrow gauge funicular railway whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in 1990. The Incline is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, as steep as 68% in places, making it a fitness challenge for locals in the Colorado Springs area. The Incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile.

2 years ago I hiked Barr Trail (28 miles – crazy long day) but missed the Incline – no dogs allowed.  That day Ro & I salmoned 3 miles up the return trail, dodging runners ‘til we passed the Incline junction.


Arrived first & inadvertently introduced myself to spooked hikers ‘til my new running group arrived.

Tough meeting new folks – not sure of pace or even what folks look like plus this would be my first high altitude run in months (perfect match for my off-season hill challenge, huh 🙂 )

Manitou Incline is only one-mile UP – but with a 2,000ft elevation gain.

Was forewarned to go out slow, advised there is a bail-out point two-thirds up, and that the last third was straight UP.  Picked up pace ½ in, then waited for our group near the Christmas tree summit.  No altitude adjustments needed here 🙂

20 minutes later – MAGIC.  Sunrise pinks & oranges coloured the horizon.

Chatted it up with Jim, a local runner who hits this trail regularly.  Good guy.

Amazing start to the weekend – thin air, cool temps & a mountain sunrise.  FAAAANNNNTASTIC!

Took a spill on the trail run return – mostly superficial scrapes, no muscle damage but busted a toe…will lose the nail in a few weeks.  Ouch.  Never considered I could fall, didn’t try to catch myself – hit hard.  Life lesson.

Big fan of the Springs – beautiful place to run.  I’ll be back; highly recommended.



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