8/15/13: ‘What was I thinking?’ Pikes Peak Ascent, CO


I had a cold. But I also had the Pikes Peak Ascent in two days.  I figured the cold would be gone by then.

Its difficult to treat a cold and run in an elite race (WADA tested in this case) at the same time because cold medicines can have adverse effects and those that don’t can contain WADA banned substances.  Not knowing much about the specifics of how much/what exactly would test positive I didn’t take anything but some advil to try to treat the cold.  I was optimistic that the cold would run its course by Saturday.

I started driving to the race and I was just an hour from home when I started feeling incredible pressure in my ear.  It got so bad I had to pull over.  It didn’t take long for me to make sense of it.  Within 13 miles, between Red Mountain Pass and Ouray, CO, I dropped 2,500ft. My cold was very sensitive to the pressure change.  All of the sudden my priority was to do something about the pressure in my ear and the closest pharmacy in 30 miles ahead, towards the Pike Peak Ascent.

As I stood in line to talk it over over the pharmacists, my ear drum popped with pain but relief immediately followed.  So I decided to drive on to the race.  If nothing else my parents were visiting other family in Manitou Springs where I was meeting up with them that night before the race.  I would wait to make the decision of  running the race to the morning of the race.

The morning of the race I felt better, so I put the race jersey on and headed to the start line.

About 4 miles in I started sneezing and needing to blow my nose every few minute.  I could fool myself no longer, this cold was still very active and breathing while running was getting increasingly difficult while gaining altitude.  I made it to the A-frame aid-station to drop from the race and to call my parents (we did have this as a back up plan) to let them know I wouldn’t be at the top.  They picked me up at the closest trailhead.

All was well in the immediate, I gave it my best, I called it when I knew it wasn’t going to happen today and I got to spend a good time with my family.

But, I really shouldn’t have even attempted the race, I shouldn’t have pushed it even for the few miles that I did and i say this because I felt pressure and a diminished lung capacity months after that race.  I am sure I over did it that day and I would have been better off in the long run just staying home.

Live and learn, or maybe read this and don’t make the same mistake!