Pikes Peak Marathon Recap
Recently KREW member Tylor Bates took on the Pikes Peak Marathon, climbing over 7,815 feet to the top of the 14,115 foot peak.
In this guest post, he shares how he trained in pancake flat Florida for a mountain race and how his race day unfolded.
Tylor: After finding running a few years ago I continued to look for the next big challenge. First a 5k then a 10k, I continued to work my way up to Marathons and 50Ks always thinking what’s next? I then came across an article talking about this crazy race up Pikes Peak in CO and it got me thinking… Do I have what it takes? Currently I live in Sarasota FL. at 3 feet of elevation and the most elevation change we have is the bridge that takes you over to the beach. So after a long hard 5 mins I said “ let’s do it!” and signed up for the race.
Training was difficult as I had never run through big swings in Elevation before. I work tirelessly every day doing Squats, Lunges, and Wall Sits all to strengthen my legs to endure the beating they will soon experience. Strength was not the only thing I needed, I had to find the most important component to this run and that was elevation gain and loss. I started to run bridges, parking garages, stairs and a 50 foot tall hill in the center of Sarasota. Trying to get 5,000 feet of gain on a 50 foot hill consisted of hours of up and down about 100 times. Training for a mountain race in Florida ended up being harder than I thought but I was determined to get it done
Knowing I could do all the training in the world and it all could come unraveled on race day due to how my body reacts to Altitude I decided to try everything. I tried heat training, breathing exercises, specific diets, you name it I tried it hoping something would work and get me through this race.
Race Day : Woke up three hours before the race and ate my normal pre race meal, Oatmeal and two bananas. Knowing my body would be deprived of oxygen later in the run, I put to work some deep breathing techniques I got from Floris Giermin using the Wim Hoff method as I laid in bed mently preparing for the journey ahead. My body and mind felt great, I was ready to let it rip.
The gun went off at 7am mountain time symbolising the adventure had begun. I had never ran any race like this before coming from Florida. I decided to stick to a pack and run when they run and walk when they walk. We climbed Pikes Peak. One step after the other I made my way up the mountain. The higher I climbed the harder it got. My calves ached and quads burned but I pressed on. The dry air played tricks on me, thinking I was not sweating but knew from everyone's advice to just keep drinking.
As I went past tree-line the air gripped my lungs and my pace came to a slow walk. Remembering the breathing techniques I continued to take long controlled breaths of air trying to saturate my lungs with the little oxygen I had available. The last mile was tough but the amazing views made it amazing, I made the summit in 4hr 5 min!
The summit of Pikes Peak means so much to me and my family. When I was just four years old I lost my mother to cancer and as a family we spread her ashes at the summit of Pikes Peak. standing on the summit looking out over the mountain range tears started to fall. At that moment I knew that my mother was right beside me cheering me on, saying "I am so proud of you!". I wiped the tears from my cheek, filled my bottle and headed down the mountain.
Two miles down at mile 15 I stepped off a rock my leg went one way and my body another then I heard a pop! My left knee was in serious pain. The whole journey had come to a quick halt. I took a few deep breaths and did a few weight tests and realized I could not run anymore. I was determined to finish the race so I started to walk the 11 miles downhill to the finish line. All I kept repeating is that quote we all know “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
After a total of 7hr 55min I crossed the finish line and I officially conquered the Pikes Peak Marathon. I had my ups and downs but in the end I never gave up! A flatlander from sea level ran the Pike Peak Marathon!! I hope this inspires more people to push themselves to see what they are capable of. Our body and minds are more powerful than we think. Adventure is all around us so let the adventure begin!
The clothing I decided to wear for race day: